An Extraordinary Q&A with Johnathon L. Jackson (creator of, UPSTAIRS)

 Johnathon L. Jackson is a writer, director, and actor from Cleveland, Ohio. He has kept busy over the years, consistently producing his own work and staying active in the theater scene. He is also a very beloved acting teacher. As a father, husband and artist, balancing family and work can be a daunting task, but it’s something Johnathon learned to do. He has been married to Imani Jackson since 2011, and they’re still going strong!

Johnathon L. Jackson is a writer, director, and actor from Cleveland, Ohio. He has kept busy over the years, consistently producing his own work and staying active in the theater scene. He is also a very beloved acting teacher. As a father, husband and artist, balancing family and work can be a daunting task, but it’s something Johnathon learned to do. He has been married to Imani Jackson since 2011, and they’re still going strong!

1. What was your biggest inspiration behind creating UPSTAIRS?

For me, the biggest inspiration behind creating Upstairs was simple. I didn't want to do what people were telling me to do or just do something because it was different just for the sake of being different. I wanted to create something that I would love when it was completed. Regardless of if you've seen it before or whatever, I wanted to tell the stories that I love and mean the most to me. I miss the vibe of the shows and movies I grew up watching. I'm a guy that loves romcoms and sitcoms. I love everything from Boomerang to The Wood, from Hanging with Mr. Cooper to The Game. I loved that stuff. When I watch TV and go to the movies these days, I just really don't see it. Everything is so serious and deep or trying to make a point. Let people live, man.  

2. There's so much independent content out right now via web series. What makes your stories extraordinary and stand out from the rest?

I think what makes Upstairs stand out is how simple it is. It's so relatable. The circumstances are so real. The situations are ones you've been in before. The people are people you know, if not you yourself. Also, there's something for almost everybody. Shows are often so specific to a certain group or perspective that people who aren't exactly niched into it can't relate. Upstairs finds that sweet spot between generalities and specificity; it's called reality. It doesn't play on extremes or focus on specific issues per episode. The people in that world are just living. Whatever problems arise, they do so naturally. In staying simple, Upstairs allows us to really deal with the extraordinary complexities of life.

3. What has been the greatest hurdle for UPSTAIRS?

The greatest hurdle was scheduling. All the people involved with the project are working artists. They had plays, commercials, day jobs, life emergencies, etc. It's par for the course when doing indie-film on a shoestring budget. On one hand, you want the most talented people, but on the other hand, they're usually booked. When you don't have the budget to pay people to shut their lives down for three weeks, you have to work around it. It was tough but it's also part of the process. Especially considering this project was made in Cleveland. It's not like Chicago, Atlanta, NY, or LA. Life is different here. Expectations are different. It's hard to explain. It's not about better, it's just different. People who grew up in smaller cities and have spent time in the larger markets know exactly what I mean. You have to learn to fall in love with the process and embrace every part of your journey. The struggles can't be skipped. 

4. Where do you see your vision for your content in the next 5 years?

Well since I've been creating content, every year has leveled up for me. Five years ago I had a staged reading for a play. Four years ago I did my first trailer. Three years ago I produced my first play. Two years ago I did my first short film. Last year I did Upstairs. If I keep up this pace, in five years I’ll probably be writing and directing Black Panther 3: The Last Panther or Black Panther 3: The Fall of Wakanda. I don't know which one I like best, yet. If not that, I'll for sure still be producing my own stuff. I should be on my second feature in five years. It's called Finding Home Again. It's a true story about a regular girl in some extraordinary circumstances. I have a plan for the next thirty. You know what they say about those who fail to plan right?

5. How can people support what you're building and keep in touch with you?

To support what I'm building, connect with me on Facebook, Instagram , and my website, www.TheJohnLJackson.com. This is a sure fire way to stay up on everything I'm doing. I'm always down to collab with people who are doing dope things!

In regards to Upstairs. We're getting ready to gear up for season two and looking for collaborators right now! We can be reached on our website, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, and Facebook

To get a glimpse of what Johnathon has been creating with Upstairs, watch the first episode here: