JD McCrary plays Brett in the new Netflix adaptation 13: The Musical, which was released earlier this month, based on the stage musical 13, with the music and lyrics written by Jason Robert Brown. In 2019, JD voiced Young Simba in the computer-animated remake of The Lion King, alongside a cast including Donald Glover and Beyoncé, and he reunited with the cast for the red carpet premiere. Amongst his numerous screen roles, JD played Isaac in feature film Little, and Young Ernie in Disney’s K.C. Undercover. As a singer, JD released his first official single Inviting All of You in 2018, with his new single Don’t Go now available on streaming platforms, and he will be releasing another single Trip soon. Chatting to us, JD speaks about playing Brett in the recent release of 13: The Musical, voicing Young Simba in the 2019 remake of The Lion King and his upcoming projects.
You play Brett in the new Netflix adaptation 13: The Musical, can you tell us about your character and what was he like to play?
It was fun playing Brett, because we are actually very similar. He is tall, athletic, can sing, dance and is one of the popular kids, who eventually has to make up for a mistake he made.
How did you find the experience being on set of the film and working with the rest of the cast?
It was really different because we filmed in Canada. And this is the first time being on set with so many of my peers. Since I’m homeschooled, I felt like I was actually in an eighth grade class. And I actually was in the eighth grade when we filmed lol.
Was there anything that drew you to the musical and the role of Brett?
It was mostly being able to sing, dance and act all in one project. That’s always a bonus for me.
What did you enjoy most about playing Brett and what are some of your favourite memories from filming 13: The Musical?
It was super interesting planning a date night out behind our parents back, because that’s something I wouldn’t do, so that was fun. Our first day of filming was memorable, because we were all anxious to put all this practice in front of the camera.
Can you say about voicing the role of Young Simba in the 2019 computer-animated remake of The Lion King and how did you prepare to voice the character?
I was already familiar with the film, so that made it pretty easy having a template. But knowing I was going to be alongside Beyoncé and Donald Glover, I did put in extra vocal rehearsals.
How was it seeing the completed film for the first time and attending the red carpet premiere?
It was super exciting being able to see it on the big screen. It made me start thinking about the behind the scenes and how many takes it took or funny moments from that scene, since you wait so long in between it being shot and being put out.
Do you have any stand-out highlights from being part of the cast of The Lion King?
Well, previous to the premiere, meeting Beyoncé was crazy. She was so nice and said she knew who I was, which made my jaw drop, and by the way, she smells like roses. Lol.
And also being able to take a virtual tour through Pride Rock with Mr. (Jon) Favreau.
How was your time filming Little as Isaac?
That was a good time in Atlanta. And being able to work and watch Marsai Martin do her thing at such a young age was inspiring.
What do you remember most from playing Young Ernie in K.C. Undercover?
It was super fun, I remember Zendaya always being so nice and treating me like a little brother.
As a singer, you’ve recently released your new single Don’t Go, can you tell us about it?
That’s my most recent release, it’s a slower tempo song and I wanted to show off a little more vocal range.
You’ve also released a music video for the song, can you tell us about filming it and what was it like to do?
It was super fun making the video. It was a super cool location with a lot of neon colours and the rooftop scene overlooking LA was a bonus. The director Augustine Zapeda was really easy to work with and my co-star Alyssa was really cool.
What has the response been like to Don’t Go and what can listeners expect from your upcoming single Trip?
It’s been really positive. The video is heading towards 500k and it’s streaming really well. I’m super excited for Trip, it’s an upbeat song with a lot of dancing, so I’m looking forward to everyone’s TikToks to it.
How long have you been working on your upcoming EP and what are you looking forward to for the release?
It’s been in the workings, I started writing songs while I was in Canada, so I’m anxious for everyone to hear the hard work my team and I have put in.
You released your first official single Inviting All of You in 2018, how did this feel?
It felt great. That song meant a lot to me. I was much younger, so now I’m excited about the new things I can sing about and the different sounds I can tackle.
How has your music changed over time and do you have a favourite aspect of being a music artist?
Well, now that I’m 15, the content has matured from when I started at ten. And I’m writing all my songs. One of my favourite parts of music is performing. Being in front of a crowd is amazing.
Who do you think your music will appeal to and how is it interacting with your listeners on your social media platforms?
I think my music appeals to everyone. I make music to feel something, to dance and to inspire. So I think that’s something that’s universal. On social media I get comments from kids to adults. There are so many young, talented artists up and coming like myself, and we can’t let our age slow us down or stop us. We’ve got to keep going, we’re up next!!!
What would you say are some of your career highlights so far?
Music is always a top goal, so I’m always recording and practicing my vocals, so performing at the Grammys was definitely a highlight of my career.
Where does your love of acting and music come from and what do you enjoy most about performing?
I come from a musical family so I believe it’s just a blessing from God. Seeing people smile makes it all worth it.
Do you have any favourite films and TV shows to watch and music artists to listen to?
I love Marvel films, anime and would love to work with The Rock, Kevin Hart, Jamie Foxx, Bruno Mars, Chris Brown and Justin Bieber.
How do you like to spend your time away from your career?
Playing video games. That’s my favourite pastime.
Do you have any projects coming up that you can tell us about and what are you hoping the rest of 2022 brings for you?
I’m currently working on my cartoon series. My EP will be out in the fall. And I’m looking forward to seeing 13: The Musical go #1 on Netflix.
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