With projects like Shots Fired and Dear White People, 2017 is proving to be the year of new & exciting projects and another one added to the list is Giants. For those who don’t know, Giants is a scripted digital drama series that follows three black millennials, each battling their own inner giants as they approach age 30. The series transcends the typical coming of age story by pushing new boundaries of very real issues including mental health, sexual identity, religious skepticism and unorthodox methods of economic survival.
Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing James Bland, the man behind Giants. A graduate of Florida A&M University’s School of Business and Industry, Bland is an actor and filmmaker whose star is definitely on the rise. Besides creating, writing, directing, and starring in Giants, Bland’s resume includes Cocoa Love and First, a web series under the Issa Rae Productions channel on YouTube.
Check out my interview with James Bland where he discusses Giants, what fans can expect for season two, what advice he would give to aspiring talent, and more below.
1-How did you get into acting/directing/producing world?
I’ve always had an interest in the arts. Growing up, I wrote and directed plays for church. I discovered filmmaking in college. I wrote, produced and directed my first film during my senior year of undergrad at FAMU and never looked back.
2-Who is your favorite actor/actress and/or director?
One director I really admire is Xavier Dolan. He’s a French Canadian actor, director, screenwriter, who has had multiple films premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. I had a short in Cannes in 2014, and while I was there, I had the privilege of attending the premiere of Xavier’s film Mommy. It won the Grand Prix that year and is undoubtedly one of the best pieces of cinema I’ve ever seen.
3-You’re part of the critically acclaimed web series, First. How was that experience?
First was a huge learning experience for me. It was the first project I both acted in while also directing. It took me a long time to trust myself enough to try that and I’m happy I got the chance to get my feet wet on First. It prepared me to direct and star in Giants.
4-You created, directed, and star in Giants. How did you come up with the show?
The catalyst for the project stemmed from a conversation I had with my mother after I was robbed at gun point in LA. I ended up fighting the guys that robbed me. Everyone I told that story to said I was dumb, except my mom. She compared the incident to David, in the bible, protecting his sheep from the lion and the bear that tried to come and eat them. She told me that I would have many lions and bears, but they would ultimately prepare me for my Giant. I held that conversation close for years and it served as the thematic inspiration for the series.
5-Are there any similarities between you & your character, Malachi?
Quite a few.
6-The show has gotten so much critical acclaim. How does that feel as a creator?
It’s funny, I use to have this fear that we would do all of this(spend two years and thousands of dollar creating a series) and no one would care. There’s so much content out. People have an abundance of options. There’s never a real guarantee that an audience will connect to your work. I’ve learned that the hard way, but it’s taught me to keep my attention on the work. I’ve learned that good work has legs and if you create from an honest and authentic place, it’ll find its way through the crowd. So, it’s extremely humbling to see so many people connect to the series.
7-What can fans possibly expect from season two?
We’re going deeper in season two. We’ll get to the “why” of our characters issues, see them catch some breaks, and have a few victories along the way.
8-What is your dream role?
I want to be an X-Man.
9-What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into acting/directing/producing?
Just do it. No one can stop you from telling your story, but you.
10-What is NEXT for James Bland?
Giants season two. We’re currently writing the new season and will be in production this summer. New episodes are set to air late fall of 2017.
Photo Credit: James Bland