South Sudanese rapper turned actor Emmanuel Jal has given an inside look into what it is like to work with Hollywood stars.
The former child soldier was speaking to Word Is during his Nairobi premiere of The Good Lie film.
“Reese (Witherspoon) was funny and very humble. I was surprised on how down to earth she is. Actually, I give her credit because I failed auditions almost seven times but the director kept saying, ‘Look, I like this guy, there is something he can pick from the character’.
“So, they asked if I could do an audition with Reese, I noticed Reese wasn’t following the script she was free-styling so I also did it off my head and they said, ‘That is what we were looking for’. They were not supposed to tell me I had gotten the part but from their reaction I knew.”
“The most difficult part of shooting the movie was crying. In our culture men do not cry. We cry on the inside. In the movie, there is another character played by Ger (Duany) he gets emotional and cries. He says ‘I’m in America, men here cry all the time.
“This is not South Sudan if you want to cry cry.’ They put those things that make people cry, called cryers, so I had to think about my childhood and village back home and that is when I was able to get the tears and be vulnerable.” He continued.
On meeting Forest Whitaker, Jal said,
“Gosh, that guy is something else. On the day I met him he took me to his daughter’s birthday.
“He is so passionate about South Sudan. On UN Day, he was breaking down, he couldn’t believe how families are scared of their own government, that they live in the refugee camps. Also how other villages are terrified out there because they think the rebels will kill them.”
He also revealed what it was like performing on Richard Branson’s private island.
”That one was good. It was part of the Ignite Change campaign with Virgin. What they do is invite 50 multimillionaires and the ticket ranges from 50,000USD to 100,000 USD. The proceeds are used for charity.”