You think you know Jazmyn Simon.
You’ve seen her play the fierce, wife and backbone Julie Greene on the HBO series Ballers media (90% of that personality is her). And if you don’t watch Ballers, then you probably saw her (could be a movie itself) wedding with actor and fellow Ballers star Dulé Hill.
Everything about her screams the cool aunt, the down for anything best friend, or the girlfriend your boys can get relationship advice from. But that speaks to her nature. She exudes nurturing and protectiveness and the innate ability to make you feel welcome in her world but also protected in that space.
We got to chat with her about who she is, the newest addition to her family and her newest role for Netflix’s superhero origin story Raising Dion, where she dons the mantle of protective big sister and aunt single mother and newly super-powered nephew.
C: So, what made you want this role in Raising Dion?
JS: Originally when I read Raising Dion I had been a single mother for 10 years. And so any show that’s going to highlight a single mother in any light, I should be a part of it. And once they cast Alisha (Wainwright) as Nicole the single mom, they called me and asked me if I wanted to be a part of this program. I said yep. I didn’t even read what Kat was about. It’s funny because I had worked with the producing director Steve Mann on Ballers so I had known him. So I thought If Steve is doing this project and it’s about a single mom I’m on.
C: What’s your favorite part about playing Kat?
JS: She shoots from the hip. If she thinks you’re being crazy, she’s going to tell you you’re being crazy. If she thinks you’re wrong she’s going to tell you. But when she realizes that she is wrong she’s the first to apologize. And I really love that characteristic about her. She’s not going to pull any punches. And she has this side of her that when she realizes she is wrong, she’s going to try to make up for it and that humanity in her I really love. And I love the sisterly relationship between Nicole and Kat. I feel like anytime you can bring something like that to television, we should– to show the humanity and love in people. To show that people make mistakes and that they are willing to apologize for those mistakes. You know, somewhere along the way Kat makes some mistakes but she realizes them apologizes and they move forward together as a team.
C: Do you see aspects of yourself in Kat?
JS: Well Julie from Ballers was 90% me and 10% acting. Her snappiness, her sassiness; that was me. I was like wearing a pair of pants and going to work. Kat was a little bit different. I had to act a little more with Kat. Because I wasn’t a wife. I was an aunt. I’m a single child, I don’t have any siblings. I grew up by myself, so I didn’t know what it was like to be a big sister. But I knew what It was like to love someone so I kind of just drew from that. I feel like Kat’s probably 45% me and the rest is the writing. Which is pretty good because Carol Barbee wrote the hell out of Kat. She gave me a lot of material to work with. The love, all the nurturing, all the affection, that’s definitely me. The Scene in the school? Yeah, that’s definitely me. Can we go a little further with this? The part that aren’t me is that like Kat only says like one bad word the whole series and that’s definitely not me I have such a bad mouth (laughs).
…so any show that’s going to highlight a single mother in any light, I should be a part of it.
C: That’s funny to me because the roles –or at least their personalities– seemed similar.
JS: Well that’s because that part is me. Maybe I’m giving a lot of credit to the writing and not giving myself enough credit because whatever you see in Julie and Kat is Jazmyn. I think it’s just because, one, I don’t have a sister and two, I’m not an aunt. I’m an aunt by marriage but not for little babies. So I think for that part that wasn’t me. I think with Julie she was so strong. She was a backbone for Charles and she kept him in line and I can see that in me. That’s why I say she was me. That’s me and as the series went on they wrote it to me. They were like, ‘what would Jazmyn say? Ok, let’s do that.’ I think as Raising Dion goes on Kat will become more of me. They wrote the series not knowing Jazmyn was going to be Kat. And I remember at a table read they were like, ‘oh we can’t wait to keep writing Kat now that we know it’s you.’ And I think as the series –please God!– continues to grow and we get a season 2 you’ll see more of me. And some curse words!
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What a wonderful birthday I had, surrounded by love. Thank you to everyone who reached out to wish me a happy birthday- I had no WiFi yesterday but felt all the love. Thank you to @dulehill for treating everyday like my birthday- but for showing out and brining our family to South Africa for my special day. I love you to infinity. #2017WasAGoodYear #WellForMe #NotForAmerica #SouthAfrica #MommaAfrica #BirthdayThings #12/30
C: You play doctors in both shows, was that coincidence or did you secretly want to be a doctor?
JS: You know what, I think I am manifesting. So in real life Jazmyn can’t stand the sight of blood. So when the little baby got shots I was like, ok Dule, my husband, this is on you, and had to wait in the hallway. So God is allowing me to grow and be a doctor on TV. But I will say that I loved when I found out Kat was a doctor because I love playing professional women. When you see me you don’t think doctor. You don’t think lesbian. But that’s what Kat is. We get an idea in our heads of what something is supposed to look like and they’re like oh she’s sexy she can’t be a doctor. My doctors are gorgeous– my pediatrician is beautiful. But sometimes we get in our head what you’re supposed to look like to be those things. So I loved that they wrote her as a doctor and Julie as a doctor. Funny enough though, when I got the script for Ballers, Julie was a nurse. And so we go to set and on the first day Omar (Miller) and the show’s creator Stephen Levinson, who also produced Entourage, we had a talk and they were like, ‘Julie is way too strong to be a nurse. She wouldn’t have stopped at being a nurse. She would have went on and became a doctor.’ And at that moment they said CHANGE IT TO A DOCTOR and that’s how she became a doctor.
C: How are you scared of blood but you surf and do these extreme activities?
JS: I’m a roller coaster fanatic I love extreme thing and I just pray for Jesus’ blood to cover me so I don’t have to see my own blood.
C: What else do you do for fun?
JS: I love to eat. I like roller coasters and all the fun things. But my husband and I love to eat. Like that’s our thing. Like we go to other countries and find places to eat. We could go to a museum… but why don’t we go eat and just hope that I fit in my clothes afterward.
I’m a geek and I’m proud of it.
C: With all the extreme activities, would you like to see an adventure or an action hero role in the future?
JS: 100%. So my husband calls me Jazzie Fantastic. I’m my own little superhero. So I would love to be a superhero or a villain, but a good villain. Like a villain that turns good. Like if somehow Kat can get zapped by the crooked man and then turn into the crooked woman but still love Dion, I would. I’m not trying to tell these people how to write their show but if I can get just a little zap and turn into the crooked woman, but be good. I’d be down. But I would love to get into my own space to have a superhero something under my belt.
C: What powers would you have?
JS: Telekinesis and mind-reading because as a married woman I already think I can read my husband’s mind. So might as well make it official. I would love to read minds. One of my favorite activities at home is acting like I know what my husband is going to say. Especially with a little baby, he would never cry.
C: How would you handle if one of your kids had superpowers?
JS: Oh my goodness I would protect them with my life. I think I would do what, I don’t want to give anything way But in Daniel Liu’s exceptional short the mom is training the boy to use his powers and I think that is so great. And I would 100% have homeschooled. Like you go to school and then you come back for mommy to teach you how to use these powers. I think that our first instinct as parents is to protect our children at all costs, which Nicole does. She’s definitely protecting her son and I think it’s important because she’s going to help him hone his powers. If my kid had superpowers I’d be like, ‘okay how do we use this to our advantage?’ I’d call T’Challa himself.
C: You have a firm grasp on superpowers and mentioned T’Challa. Are you a geek Jazmyn?
JS: Listen. I am a huge Harry Potter fanatic. One Mother’s Day about four years ago when Universal opened up the Harry Potter stuff in Florida, I was there with my wand, my robe and my glasses on. And I think I had a Gryffindor scarf. I love all the superhero stuff. I have watched all the Marvel universe movies. I am well-versed in the DC comics universe, I am currently while feeding my son, reading him Harry Potter. I’m a geek and I’m proud of it.
C: You play a very super protective role. So, what type of advice would you give young men?
JS: Be kind to yourself and be kind to others. I think a lot of times young men are taught to be tough and not taught to be kind. To themselves and kind to others. I would definitely tell the world that what the world needs now is kindness. And kindness doesn’t always look the same. Like especially what’s on little Dion’s shoulders. In a way, he has to protect his mother too. He doesn’t get to be just a child and has to be the man of his home and I think a lot of young men have the world on their shoulders. They don’t give themselves enough slack. Give yourself permission to be weak at times, to be emotional at times. Big sister Jaz would say be kind to yourself and be kind to others. Everybody is running their own race, everybody has something going on.