This month I had the pleasure of interviewing Austen Jaye, actor and star of the Black&SexyTV web series Yellow. Yellow is a semi-scripted series, with improv, documenting “the pleasures and problems of the light skinned black man.” Austen Jaye plays Austin, a young man in the L.A. area trying to navigate the dating scene.
How did the idea for YELLOW come about?
- When we were on the set of Roomieloverfriends and Hello Cupid, they [the cast] would make light skin comments, “light skin dudes think they in style,” and all different kinds of stuff. And then Numa said, ‘hey we should do this show about light-skin dudes, you gotta be able to laugh at yourself.’ It was originally called ‘Light Skin Man’ but that’s too obvious. My mom called me yellow one day, and Numa remembered that story so she called it “Yellow: The Problems and Pleasures of a Light Skinned Man.” It over exaggerates things to prove a point and show people how silly it is to buy into colorism, and why we’re still stuck dealing with this.
How did you feel doing your first sex scene and being nude on camera in the first episode “Butterscotch”?
- It was really fun. It was free flowing. When I read it I was like, alright let’s do it! And When Maya [actress Maya Morales] read it she was like, alright let’s do it! No one batted an eye.
How did the audience react to the show?
- There’s really no in between. Either they like it or they hate it. I consider Yellow to be like the Wayans brothers. You either love Shawn and Marlon, or Keenan and Damon or you hate them.
What was your favorite episode to film?
- The episode of Hello Cupid where we’re in the car [The Double Date Part 1], it was a lot of fun and the first episode of Yellow.
How can people get in touch with you to show their appreciation?
- They can hit me up on Twitter @AustenJaye. I try to respond to everybody. I think it does matter to some [fans] if you can say something as simple as “thank you” or “keep supporting, we appreciate you.” When someone says to you, “You’re really doing something,” it really affects you. In this world, no matter what you do everyone wants to be appreciated.
What do you see for yourself in the future?
- I would love to do Agents of Shield or this new show Agent Carter, anything Marvel. Can a brother get into Marvel? Ha ha. I’m always exploring. As an artist you should always be willing to do new things whether it’s theatre, film, or television.
You just wrapped up a movie recently, Cuffing Season. It’s about a group of friends, three women, who want a man for ‘cuffing season.’ You play one of the dates. What’s the difference in your character Anderson on Cuffing Season and your character on Yellow?
- I’m this confident, well put together guy and I happen to meet this girl and we just hit it off. In Yellow, there’s a little bit more insecurity in who he is and what he’s about. He’s a nice guy but is finding the wrong girls, finding the wrong people and is in the most awkward situations because he doesn’t know himself. In Cuffing Season, he’s like “this is what i need, this is who I want. Oh you’re attractive, let’s hang out! Let’s go!” It’s pretty simple in Cuffing Season.
You were also in a short film, “15 Minutes” which recently screened at the Women of African Descent Film Festival in Brooklyn, NY. You play a man who doesn’t date Black women, what’s that character like?
- I am an investment banker at Goldman Sachs. The woman I meet is a writer, a screen writer. Her film is screening at Tribeca so she is a well known name. So I’m like “what up girl!” One of my lines is, I say we should meet up some time and she says, “I thought you didn’t date Black women?” I say, “But you ain’t like them!” That got a lot of women angry.
Wow. I think I’d be angry too, ha ha! Aside from being an actor, you call yourself a fanbro. What makes you a fanbro?
- I’ve always been a fanbro since I was younger. I collected comic books, comic book cards and I had pongs. I don’t know if anyone remembers Pongs but I had ones with Spiderman on it. I used to watch the cartoons too, like the X-Men.
A hot topic right now is the new Batman movie. What do you think of Ben Affleck as the new Batman?
- I like to give people a chance. I like to see where it plays out versus saying no you can’t do it. I think he could be a good Bruce Wayne. I don’t know how he’s going to be as Batman.
Have you ever been to Comic Con?
- Yes, I went to San Diego comic con. I first went because I went to school with Phil Morris’s son* and he invited me. If you have the opportunity to go, go. It is an experience. I saw a girl with a functional Iron Man hand, it glowed and everything.
*Phil Morris is an actor who has done voices for Green Lantern: the Animated Series, Atlantis: The Lost Empire and The PJs.
Would you ever cosplay?
- No. I will not do that. I’m not hating, I just wouldn’t do it. I don’t even celebrate Halloween. I’m not the dress up type, unless I’m acting.
Would you wear a superhero or comic t-shirt? [Sidenote: before I finished asking the question he said he’d wear a FanBros shirt!]
- Yeah. I have a Batman shirt, an X-Men shirt and I have a Ironman shirt where the chest piece glows in the dark. I’d wear the Ironman shirt to the club!
XBox, Playstation or the Wii?
- Team XBox. You shouldn’t have a Wii after the age of 16. Just throw them out.
What games do you like?
- I like Assassin’s Creed, Batman: Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, more so Arkham City. It’s an open world but it’s really dope. I like single-player games because there’s more intrigue, you have to figure things out. Whereas sports games you play the same thing over and over.
What is your favorite comic? animation? film?
- I recently read Spiderman 700 and I recommend Hulk vs Wolverine. I like Batman: The Animated Series. My favorite movie is X-Men First Class.
Favorite superhero and villain?
- Wolverine and the Joker
If you could be a superhero, what would your powers and and weakness be? What would your villain be like?
- I would be Rubix. My powers would be, I’d be fast like the Flash, fly like Superman, healing like Wolverine, and see through things. My achilles heel is my strength. Like once you catch me, I’d have to use my wit to get out of the situation. My villain would be called Nero. He’s a combination of Magneto and the Joker. His downfall would be his ego. He’d overlook something in his plans. [sidenote: I picked the names Rubix and Nero, nice right?]
This part is called Either/Or, where you have to pick between two choices. Ready? Let’s go.
Would you rather be a henchman for the Joker or Lex Luthor?
- I gotta go with Lex Luthor. If I’m a henchman for the Joker there’s a good chance I could die. [with Lex Luthor] I could go into hiding instead of just dying.
Which is worse, Halle Berry’s Catwoman or Ben Affleck’s Daredevil?
- Ooooh….I gotta go with, they’re both so bad! If I had to watch one or the other I’d watch Daredevil. Catwoman was so bad. Halle Berry just didn’t fit this character. The depth in it wasn’t there. I feel like Daredevil was more of an experiment and Catwoman was just bad.
Favorite friend duo, R2-D2 and C3PO or Luke Cage and Iron Fist?
- R2-D2 and C3PO because you don’t understand what they’re saying but you get a sense of their connection. It’s really dope.
Who’s your favorite green guy, Piccolo or Yoda?
- Yoda. Yoda be bringing out that lightsaber like it ain’t nothin’! I’m just tired of the way he talks sometimes.
Best TV Dad, Uncle Phil or Dr. Huxtable?
- Uncle Phil was good, but ain’t nobody better than Dr. Huxtable. I think he’s the best TV dad of all time.
Favorite pest Steve Urkel or Roger?
- Roger wasn’t funny. Steve was really fun, he was hilarious. Steve was the better character by far. He was a lovable pest.
Jay Z or Nas
- I don’t really listen to either one of them. I say Michael Jackson, all day.
Black&SexyTV is a YouTube channel with original content founded by Numa Perrier, Dennis Dortch, Brian Ali Harding and Jeanine Daniels. The channel features six web series, including Yellow, as well as older shows and shorts. Check out their series here, and follow them on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.