Jadiel Dowlin plays Phoenix Brooks in Nickelodeon’s Star Falls, a deep and thoughtful character who has had to live with the stardom of his Hollywood star father Craig Daniels (played by Dion Johnstone). At a young age and with the support of his family, Dowlin began pursuing that creative itch in entertainment through modeling and commercials. In 2013, he was cast in Amazon Prime’s original series, Annedroids, and is now a fast rising actor and writer as well. Get to know this inspiring young man through my chat with him below!
Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions, Jadiel! What inspired you to become an actor and how did you get started? Were you always a creative person?
Glad to be taking part in this interview!
I enjoyed “pretending” at a very young age. I wasn’t allowed to watch TV Monday through Friday, so it became a daily habit to read, write and play make-believe with my parents, especially my dad. We would play superheroes for hours. Then in grade five, I started writing speeches and winning speech competitions in every grade, at the school and regional level, to the point that I went to the finals in grade seven. It was then that my mom’s best friend from Panama, my Tia Lourdes (auntie in Spanish), told her that she has to put me into some kind of drama related activity because she noticed that I was a natural at acting and doing impersonations. My parents disagreed with her because they were focused on “building my character” they were afraid I would become like other child stars that we see in the media.
We had a family meeting—we’ve been doing this as long as I can remember—and we talked about it. I told them we don’t hear about the “good child stars” because the media doesn’t talk about them only the ones in trouble! So, we agreed that we’ll start slowly; first modeling, some commercials and we’ll see how it goes from there, but education would have to come first, and the activities couldn’t impact my grades. Well, in 2012 when I started in the industry, it simply took off and then I got two lead roles in 2013. Although I missed a lot of school, I was actually learning more because I discovered ways to manage my time when I was on set and still excelled in my school work. So I proved them wrong, obviously!
Tell us about your character, Phoenix Brooks, in Nickelodeon’s Star Falls. What do you have in common with Phoenix?
Phoenix is the oldest child of Craig Brooks, a mega Hollywood movie star, but he’s not a typical teenager. He’s a deep thinker and always trying to find the true meaning of life. So, we are somewhat alike in that I’m pursuing a double major in Philosophy and Film Studies at Ryerson University in Toronto. The timing for this role was perfect, preparing for the role actually helped me for my first year of Philosophy–I really know who Phoenix is!
There are so many special and funny stories, behind the scenes and bloopers, which I hope never gets released. Well one time, we had a goat on set, because the character Sophia helps her mom out at their vet. One day when we were shooting, the goat started peeing, and pooing, at the same time! It was definitely um…. a unique experience. We also had a “sausage fight” scene in the first episode. Let’s just say after we stopped rolling, we were very much still in character.
One of our favorite activities to do on set was riddles. We would each bring riddles and whoever solved them before the days end would get a prize: bragging rights. It got really competitive. Even today we still keep in touch, either by meeting up at the Nickelodeon’s Kids Choice Awards in March or to get together for the premiere. We keep in-touch daily on our private Instagram chat where we just keep sending hearts until someone breaks the chain to make a comment or ask a question. We’ve only been able to reach to about 30, which was off the chain!
What do you hope to do in the future as an actor and creator? Is there a genre of film or television you would like to pursue, or a dream project?
My passion is to create and act in thriller and drama TV and film productions that will impact others’ lives in a positive manner. Whether that be through it inspiring them to commence their own career in the arts, or through giving people a chance to escape and live vicariously through the roles I’ve created or I’m performing. Overall, I enjoy all genres, but drama and thrillers really speak to me. Their sense of depth and realism is attractive, and to be able to adequately represent that art form on the big screen or on the small screen will be a dream. I look forward to doing more of that in the future.
Who are your biggest influences in your life and career?
Definitely my parents! They shaped me to be the man that I’m becoming and I’m so glad “I chose them to be in my life” (smile). For my career, it’s not just one person–I have a whole team behind me. My parents helped to shape my career–although they knew nothing about the industry, but my mom is business savvy, she researched and learned the best strategy to raise a child in the industry while they still kept me grounded. The creators of Annedroids, J.J. Johnson and Christin Simms, both of Sinking Ship Entertainment, are amazing human beings for giving me a chance as a rookie actor with no experience. It’s because of their character Nick on Annedroids that I was able to be recognized as an actor by winning two awards in 2015, a Young Artist Awards for Outstanding Young Ensemble in a TV Series in the USA, and the Joey Award for Best Actor in a TV Action Leading Role in Canada. I also received a Daytime Emmy Awards nomination as Outstanding Performer in a Children’s or Pre-school Children’s Series (2016).
I know you’re also a scriptwriter for Dino Dana. Can you tell us about the show and what it’s like working as a writer?
Dino Dana is about a feisty 10-year-old “paleontologist in training,” Dana, who is obsessed about dinos and has many adventures with dinosaurs. Although it’s for children, many adults and parents enjoy the show because who doesn’t like dinosaurs? And secondly, the dialogue doesn’t talk-down to children. A huge bonus with Dino Dana series is that every episode has a “social-concept” to learn about relationships or something of the sort. Dino Dana is a spin-off of Sinking Ship’s Emmy nominated Dino Dan and Trek’s Adventures. This is Dino Dana’s first year to be awarded Daytime Emmy Awards nominations. I’m so happy for Sinking Ship!
At a very young age, I’ve loved words and to find ways to bring them to life. So as actor, it was a natural segway to reveal my story-telling through scriptwriting! It’s amazing that at only 18 year-old I’m already considered a scriptwriter. Many people go to school to learn and it would take them years to officially become one. I think it’s because of my mom’s background in adult education that has allowed me to “learn by experiencing.” And to think I get paid to do something that I love!
Lastly, if you woke up with superpowers one morning— what would they be and would you be a superhero or a super villain?
Without a doubt, I would be the superhero Static Shock of DC Comics, known as Virgil Hawkins, and who happens to be African-American. I’m a huge comic fan and by far he’s my favorite because he acquired electromagnetic powers during a fight, plus it explains why I love track and field – I’m a sprinter! I feel that in the era we live in we’ve become so dependent on electricity that we rely on it subconsciously, until we realize it’s not available. Static Shock will be able to bring electricity to everyone’s consciousness on its importance and not to exploit it. He would be a solution to natural resource because I doubt we’ll be using less. For instance, we now have charging stations in public places, and that says a lot.
Visit his website at www.JadielDowlin.com.