Jalyn Hall has his sights set on playing a superhero. PHOTOGRAPHED BY ANTWON MAXWELL
ACTOR JALYN HALL TACKLES HIS FIRST TURN ON THE BIG SCREEN—THE HISTORICAL ROLE OF CIVIL RIGHTS ICON EMMETT TILL IN TILL.
A just 15 years old, Jalyn Hall is already known by fans as a series regular on The CW’s All American. This fall, he takes on the role of Emmett Till, whom Hall was familiar with but not as in depth as the role taught him. “I really deep dived into this person, this boy, and figured out all there was,” he says. “My director, Chinonye Chukwu, also sent me a lot of information about the time period, things going on at that time and about Till’s family, his relationship with his mother and his personality.”
When asked if there was something about the historical story that surprised him, Hall, who grew up in Atlanta, says, “There was a lot to learn, but one thing that really intrigued me was that not a lot of people know about his mother and the depth that she went to, to put things in motion [and try to get justice following his death]. She was an activist, a person who is credited with helping make our community what it is today, all based on the belief of doing what was right for her son,” he adds.
The biggest challenge for Hall, who began acting at the age of 4, was accepting that Till was a real person, not just a character he was playing. “This was an actual human being who went through this, who had emotions, who had aspirations, hopes, beliefs, dreams, goals, but, unfortunately, that was all cut short for him at [the] young age [of 14]. The hardest thing for me was knowing that this could happen—me and him only have a one-year age difference [from the age he was murdered], so it’s crazy to think about,” he says. “You can’t help but think, ‘Wow, something like that could have happened to me.’”
As for a dream role, the young actor says he would love to play a superhero. “It doesn’t matter if it’s for a series or a movie,” he shares. “I grew up [watching] superheroes—Marvel, DC, you name it. There’s actually speculation that there’s going to be a Miles Morales [role coming up]—that’s on my radar for sure.”