Brandon Robinson-Connolly on Daniel J. Watts
Daniel J. Watts is an American actor, writer and storyteller who grew up bouncing around from North and South Carolina.
After university Daniel moved around frequently doing regional theatre and remembers taking the time to really write whilst also performing in various regional and dinner theatres.
His writing style has evolved into poetry, spoken word and hip-hop, over time.
In 2006, he moved to New York and on his first night there saw The Color Purple. A few months later Daniel was cast in his first Broadway show as a swing for the very same production of The Colour Purple which he had seen on his first night in New York.
Daniel has since been seen on Broadway in The Little Mermaid, In The Heights, Memphis, Ghost The Musical, Motown, After Midnight, Hamilton and most recently in Tina: The Tina Turner Musical which marked his ninth Broadway show for which he received his first Tony Award nomination earlier this month.
Watts said his performance as Ike Turner was about portraying a person who is hurt and unfolding the humanity in that person so that the Ike Turners in the audience can see themselves and possibly make a change: ‘I care about what black men think when they come and see themselves on the stage, because often times that is the only representation they have, so If I am the representation of black men I at least want to see a human being to be seen as opposed to just a monster’.
Aside from his theatre and television work, Watts is also the creator of The Jam which is where I first came across his talent. The Jam is Watts’ one man show named in homage to his great grandmother who used to make jam: ‘You can’t make it a jar at a time, you have to make it in bulk so she would make herself a jar and give the rest away’.
At the beginning of this pandemic Daniel took his Jam performances online, performing from his home in a moment where he wanted people to take care of themselves and each other, showing ‘love is a weapon of mass construction’.
When I was feeling very low at the beginning of lockdown I came across Daniel J. Watts’ work online and heard him say ‘It’s hard to feel full if you believe you’re just a crescent moon, heart standing tall when there’s a giant next to you, so keep shining so they can see the best in you, keep pressing through, take with you the lessons you learn along the way, crawl, walk, run ,fly, you’ll be jetting soon, it’s eminent as long as you do your due diligence until there’s nothing left to do’.
That helped me get through a very tricky time with a whole new level of strength and love.
Everything Daniel J. Watts says is worth hearing. He has shown me that our responsibility as human beings is to keep showing up for each other and if you have not been showing up then Daniel’s words have taught me this isn’t about calling a person out, this calling someone ‘up’.
Previous performed Jams can be watched on the link below.WATCH HERE
Follow Daniel on Instagram at @dwattswords
Follow Daniel on Twitter at @dwattswords