World-Renowned Choreographer Jamal Sims Discusses His New Documentary
Jamal Sims is no doubt one of the biggest choreographers of our time. He has worked with some major players in and out of the LGBTQ entertainment scene including Neil Patrick Harris as well as choreographing major television shows and programs like Dancing with the Stars and the Academy Awards.
And yes, he was that hunky dude you saw on several episodes of the Emmy-award winning RuPaul's Drag Race. Now the multi-talented and charismatic gentleman has a new documentary premiering on LOGO this week, where he finds himself behind the director's chair for the first time ever.
The documentary tells the story of Anthony, who grew up in Atlanta as a heavy-set, gay black kid with a love of dance. Together with his crew of other gay African-American men, they've taken a unique style of dancing knows as "bucking" and grown it into a national movement incorporating fierce competitions and becoming a force of education and affirmation. It premieres tomorrow night at 8:00 PM EST on LOGO.
I spoke with Jamal about the documentary, as well as what inspired him to get into the world of dance, his upcoming work with Will Smith, and how he balances his personal and professional life. Take a look.
At what age did you decide that a life in the world of dance was for you?
I can remember being 8 years old, watching The Wiz and wanting to be a part of that movie.
Did you have any inspirations that got you into it?
The Wiz was a definite source of inspiration and then I would watch Soul Train every Saturday. Those two programs, along with Michael Jackson, inspired me to dance.
You've done choreography for so many major movies. Do you have a favorite?
I am really excited about Aladdin. It comes out in 2019 with Will Smith. I just saw the cut of it and it is fantastic.
Tell us about your switch to the director's seat in When The Beat Drops. Why the big transition?
I have been wanting to direct for the past ten years. I had an opportunity with this documentary to direct dance sequences as well as tell stories about something I am very passionate about. I was given the opportunity and realized that I would have to take the opportunity and that is how When The Beat Drop came about.
Can you tell us more about the film?
The films inception really started in 1997, when I was at Gay Pride in Atlanta. I was exposed to these boys who were bucking. As a professional dancer, I thought I had seen everything under the sun, but bucking was new and it blew my mind. I said then that I would love to do something on them whether it be a documentary or a television show. Over the years I carried the idea of doing this documentary.
What are you hoping the audience gets out of it?
I hope the audience walks away with the understanding that we all have more empathy for each other and we have to be careful about prejudging others that are different from us. These boys have a passion for dance and they are risking it all for their passion for dance.
I know you are partnered to a fabulous man in real life. How do you guys keep the romance going in your relationship?
We are very lucky and fortunate we always try to meet up every two weeks and we get to go to fabulous places and explore the world together. That's what keeps us going. He is based in Atlanta and LA and I am constantly traveling for work to LA and Canada. So it can be tricky with our schedules but making sure we see each other every two weeks makes it work.