James Kyson (@ ) is a seasoned actor that has been featured on a variety of different television programs from Heroes to Sleepy Hollow. During a recent interview with The Hype Magazine, James spoke about training six weeks for his upcoming role in Banana Season. Studying his craft through different mixed martial art techniques that including, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai, kickboxing, wrestling, grappling. He even decided to watch UFC matches while gaining the utmost respect for the craft.
In addition, James talked about his time in college at Boston University & New England Institute of the Arts and attending a degree in communications & broadcasting. His goal is to own a professional basketball team at some point in his life. Even discuss each genre that he enjoys listening to throughout the day.
Finally, James and his Wife Jamee have a mini web series entitled “Love Bytes” sharing their journey of marriage through a Neuroscience perspective. The full interview can be seen below and make sure you follow Jamee and James Web Series “Love Bytes” on jamesandjamee.com
What was it like training as a Mixed Martial Arts fighter for six weeks for the project Banana Season?
That was a very transformative experience because of what I had to put my body through. I had to train for six weeks and I was not a really a UFC fan before the movie. I didn’t really grasp the concept at first, but when I started to train I begin to really pay attention to some of the matches to help me prepare and learn the craft from the bottom up. So, I started to train in everything from Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai, kickboxing, wrestling, grappling to improve my stand up and ground game. I really respect these ladies and gentlemen because it takes ten years plus to be a master of their craft. In addition, I was training three times a day during the 6-month period to prepare for this role.
Can you tell us about your character “Detective Joon-Ho Kim” from Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders compared to “James Kang” NCIS: Los Angeles?
Beyond Borders is obviously a spinoff of Criminal Minds and what is unique about the show is they get to travel around the world to different countries to catch criminals. The episode that I am featured in takes place in South Korea and each show has a lead guest detective and during the episode, there are a series of mysterious murders with a connecting theme or partner in the terms of the victims from age range and type. So, there is the suspect that my character has been after for quite some time and the character is portraying a wealthy CEO and I am partnering with the Criminal Minds team to catch this individual. Another aspect of the plot is my personal history with one of the suspects. Keep your eyes peeled for the episode it is a real thriller.
As for my character “James Kang” on NCIS, he was very special to me because I had to build three layers of personalities to his character. He was originally from North Korea and he enlisted in the South Korean Navy and became an officer on a top-secret operation to help the USA. So, it was like three different plots taking place at the same time. The producer that was involved in the episode that I am featured in by the name of Joe Sachs actually informed me that he wanted the episode to bring to light the human trafficking and he is actually on the board of an organization that fights against human trafficking called “Coalition To Abolish Slavery” or “CAST.” So, that episode was very special to me because I have been involved with the organization on a personal level as far as speeches and readings to shed light on this issue.
Do you think you could have done a past performance better? What was the performance? Why could you have done it better?
We as actors or actresses always feel we could have done a role better because we grow as people and depending on when those projects are introduced to the public it could be months or years after we filmed. And what I’m referring to is you can be a different person as far as, studying your craft and for me personally, I try not to judge my performance in terms of I don’t feel I’m watching myself as a character I see a story that was created in that time frame. In addition, that you have to take into consideration with making a television series or a motion picture; the editing, performance, camera positions, and the story plot itself.
What character was the toughest for you to change into?
Banana Season was very physically demanding, but once we started to film the movie I really enjoyed the experience. As for the toughest character, I was working with the Syfy Network and we were filming in Bulgaria and there was a little bit of a language barrier and some of the things that we say mean the opposite in Bulgarian.
You have been working non-stop since 2003 when you were featured on The Lone Ranger and JAG. How do manage to find quality time for self and your family?
Balance is everything and getting married has helped me focus my priorities around not just myself, but now I am responsible for taking my wife and children. This has also made me really think about the projects, that I want to be a part of because I’m a role model for my kids. I want them to be able to grow up and when they look back at my career I want to make them proud.
How did you get involved with the video games “Grand Theft Auto V” and “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare” as a voice over actor?
I have been involved with some voice over work in video games because games have storylines and need someone to help narrate it. When I was younger being in those video games were a great opportunity at the time and then I realized some of these video games can be violent and send a negative message to the public. That’s why now I am really going to be very selective on which projects I agree to participate in. The gaming world has a high platform and provides numerous storylines and content. I will just have to assess each opportunity on a case-by-case basis.
You graduated from both Boston University & New England Institute of the Arts with a degree in communications & broadcasting. If you weren’t an actor what field of work would you choose instead?
I attended Boston University and then transferred to New England Institute of the Arts after two years to finish up my undergrad. And to answer your question, I would probably want to be an NBA analyst because of my passion for professional basketball. So, I thought I would be covering sports for the NBA or at ESPN. It was just a dream of mine, but maybe down the road, I will have an opportunity to have ownership in a team.
Being that you trained in dance and music as well, what are some of the genres of music you enjoy listening to these days?
Obviously, I enjoy listening to hip-hop and jazz. In fact, jazz might be my favorite genre because I have such an appreciation for the art. You have 40s artists like Tony Bennett, Alan Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong and more. Music has really been a big part of my life, I love Soul, Rock, R&B, Blues, and I think that is my other language. In fact, I host a music event called “Music and Flow” in Los Angeles as an opportunity for music and poets to show their talents.
You play for the Hollywood Knights a charity celebrity team, and participated in Robbie Williams’ Soccer Aid for UNICEF, at Manchester United’s Old Trafford in England. Are there any events we should be expecting heading into 2017?
In 2016 my wife Jamee and I ran a marathon to help raise money for water in Africa. The Campaign was called run for water and this year we will be partnering with a company called “We Journey” and we will be participating in another marathon to build homes in Latin America later this year.
Have thought about forming your own production company or label?
My wife and I started a mini digital series called “Love Bytes” sharing our journey of marriage through a Neuroscience perspective, since, my wife Jamee is a neuroscientist. We are a media and life company that concentrates on empowering the mind, body, and soul through creating TV shows, video series, books, workshops, and events.
Would you be interested in partnering with Netflix?
We would be interested in a deal with Netflix if the right opportunity presented itself or if any other streaming platform was to offer the right project involving humanity within science and bring positivity.
What advice would you like to pass on to all the aspiring entertainers looking get into the business?
First, have some sort of meditation practice and second actually study the craft of acting or being an entertainer. I would also say, make sure it’s something you are passionate about and have a plan to achieve your goals.