January 2003
African-American people in successful TV shows : An Interview with Scott Lawrence (of CBSís JAG)

African-American people in successful TV shows : An Interview with Scott Lawrence (of CBSís JAG)

Playing a strong dynamic character on a Primetime Television Drama series is a demanding job for any actor. Blackfilm.com sat down with CBS JAG star, Scott Lawrence to discuss the impact that a black actor can have within a multicultural cast. JAG airs every Tuesday night 8PM ET/PT.

AH: Tell us a little about your role as Sturgis Turner on the CBS hit, JAG.

SL: My function is as a lead foe in the courtroom. I have been in the business about fifteen (15) years now and been the guest star on a lot of shows. A few recurring roles, pilots that did not go! Itís hard to get a series that is up and running. Its in its eighth season now. Everyone hopes from a hit show.

AH: You were once on the daytime drama, ďOne Life to Live.Ē Do you prefer the soaps or evening, family shows?

SL: My role on OLTL was a recurring role for about a year while I was in New York. I much prefer doing an hour drama like JAG.

AH: Do you have any desire to do feature films or are you content with television?

SL: I like feature film. It takes a lot of time. My long-term goal is to direct theatre. I am mostly a theatre actor and lucky enough to make a living in Hollywood with my theatre habit. After a while of trying to break into the business you can forget what you really wanted to do with your acting career.

AH: What is it like being a part of a multicultural cast, not necessarily targeted to the African-American Audience?

SL: Itís nice, because I get to be the man representing African-Americans on the show. Itís my voice that gets to be heard when those issues arise or a point of view comes up. I like that the show deals with the man, as a man, and his character. He has gone through a lot on the show. They make me, just a lawyer, a good naval officer, and sometimes the fact that I am black comes in. Its good to be ďtheĒ black character on a show because you can make the decisions that are fundamental for what they can do with that black character. Itís a big responsibility and I welcome it.

AH: What was one of the biggest challenges you faced in getting to this point in your career? How would counsel others who are trying to break into the business?

SL: There is no one particular hurdle. There are a series of hurdles that you have to overcome so that you can make a living. Itís a game and those who stay in the game, win. Itís a numbers game. Black, white, all actors that want to be in the business, itís a statistics game. Stay in the game. You cannot win if you are not playing.

AH: What other projects are you working on now?

SL: I am doing a voice for a cartoon on The Cartoon Network. Its mostly for adults, called, ďParty Wagon.Ē It should be out in late 2003. I am really proud of that. I am also raising my kids!

AH: You have done other voice work. Tell us about your work with the Star Wars video game?

SL: Itís a whole different technique and whole different motivation. Itís really fun and its nice work if you can get it.

AH: Who are the actors, directors, producers, or actresses that you would love to work with on a project?

SL: Carl Franklin, who directed ďLaurel AvenueĒ on HBO is one of my favorite directors and is a fantastic talent. He is directing a movie now that I wish I were in. But I want to work with everyone! I want to work with James Earl Jones, Denzel [Washington] and Lawrence Fishborne. Anyone doing dramatic work, I want to work with.

AH: Thank you for your time.

SL: Thank you.