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Eight times a week, the adorable Jaysin McCollum joins “The Circle of Life” at the Minskoff Theater on Broadway as one of the graceful gazelles or ferocious hyenas in one of the greatest phenomena ever to hit the stage, The Lion King.

Jaysin, how did you get started in theater?
I went to The School for Creative and Performing Arts. I majored in musical theater and dance from seventh to twelfth grade

Where was the school?
I’m from Cincinnati, Ohio.

So you’ve been doing this for a while.
A little bit, yeah.

So what is your role in The Lion King?
I’m a dancer, actor. In the ensemble I’m a gazelle. Pretty much I’m singing and dancing the entire show. I also understudy one of the principle hyenas. From time to time I get to go on and just be crazy and be an actor for a while.

What does it feel like to be a hyena?
It’s amazing actually. I can’t believe I’m getting paid to just run around the stage and be crazy.

Is this the first show you’ve been in?
It’s my first major Broadway show.

Just for the record, where is The Lion King, and when are the performances?
It’s at The Minskoff Theater on 45th Street between 7th and 8th in NYC, and we do eight shows a week, Tuesday through Sunday.

What do you see in the future for you as far as theater goes?
I like the show a lot. I’m [not] sure I’ll be with them forever, but I’m sure I’ll be in the Broadway community. I might come out and do an outside job, and hopefully in my next show I’ll be a principle and get out of the chorus for a little bit.

What do you do for fun?
Well, I do eight shows a week.

So you don’t have too much fun.
It kind of limits my going out. I’ll have my friends over, and we’ll have a cocktail party.

When did you move to New York?
I moved to New York about 5 years ago, and before that I was in Vegas.

What’s your favorite city club?
Probably Industry because there’s so many people in our industry and community that are there.

Are you single?
I’m not. I’m currently dating someone.

What celebrity would you most like to have sex with?
Probably Britney Spears.

If you could pick two celebrities to be your parents, who would you choose?
Probably Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah Winfrey.

Good choices. You’re a new addition to a crayon box; what color are you?
I’m red for sure. It’s my favorite color, and I think it’s like the first one anyone should go to.

You’re standing naked in a store and you’re holding a sign up. What does that sign say?
“Slippery When Wet.”

If you had one day on earth to do anything you want and as much of it as you want, what would you do?
Probably go home and spend it with family.

Aww. Does your family come to New York to see you?
Every now and then, yeah. It’s quite a distance. They’ve all been down here at least once or twice.
What’s the one thing about you that you want me to know?
I’m a pretty down to earth guy. I’m just an everyday guy.

What’s the funniest or most embarrassing experience you’ve had while performing?
On stage, actually at work, I completely zoned out at one point. The music started [and] I just started walking, and I was supposed to be standing. The spotlight came on, everyone was laughing. By the time you start walking you can’t stop. I guess I gotta commit to it now.

If there was a soundtrack to your life, what songs would be on it?
That’s a good one. Probably something from Britney Spears. I really love her.

What in this world can you simply not live without?
My dogs. I have two small Chihuahuas.

Do you sing in the chorus in The Lion King?
Yeah, I do. The entire ensemble does. We’re all singing and dancing at the same time.

What do you like best about The Lion King, the cast?
The sheer talent that everybody has. I work with some of the most talented people in the country right now, and just to see them out there every night giving 100%. And they’re good people to be around too.

If you could change places with anyone for one day who would it be?
That’s a good one too. Barack Obama, that’s a good one.

No one’s ever said him. So do you believe in love at first sight?
I do. I mean, maybe not love, but from that first moment you just know the chemistry is definitely there.

What was the most difficult period in your life and how did you deal with it?
Probably just growing up. I didn’t grow up very wealthy. I just tried to overcome all my struggles and go on. My mom tried to keep me in the arts, and it was so expensive. I have two older brothers and a sister also. All of us together, it was hard pushing to get me out the door, but I made it.

 

PHOTO BY
Rick Stockwell
stockwellphotography.com

 

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Eileen Shapiro
Best selling author of "The Star Trek Medical Reference Manual", and feature celebrity correspondent for Get Out Magazine, Louder Than War, and Huffington Post contributor, I've interviewed artists from Adam Ant, Cyndi Lauper, and Annie Lennox to Jennifer Hudson, Rick Springfield, LeAnn Rimes, and thousands in between. My interviews challenge the threat of imagination....

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