“I hope to be back for the holidays,” says actor Jason Dirden. The Houston native shares he doesn’t get to visit home often because of work, but he happened to be in town at the time of this interview.Partly because of family; His sister celebrated a milestone 50th birthday and he attended a local charity event, “Dine WithMerci” on behalf of the WithMerci Foundation hosted by founder and Houston Texans, Whitney Mercilus. Jason is authentically funny. Something we acknowledge in the first few minutes of our conversation. “I don’t know why they always cast me in gangster roles,” he says through laughter. Jason is talking about his latest part in the new BET Drama Series, American Soul. It’s the story of Don Cornelius, creator of the legendary music and dance show, Soul Train. He plays Gerald Aims, Cornelius’ close associate. “I got the role like most come about in my relatively young career, I had to audition,” he says in humor and causing us to laugh as well. He admits it took four auditions and an initial reading of the pilot before he was cast. The character he portrays was a known hustler and club owner who introduced Cornelius to the decadent world of Los Angeles. “We handle many factual events in Don’s personal life where you will see who he was as a man,” says Jason. “Many knew him as only being a TV host and pioneer, but there was his relationship with his wife, son and the things he had to sacrifice back home in Chicago in order to make Soul Train happen.” One of the things Jason also mentions is Cornelius’ move to LA was so the show could become nationally syndicated. “In this industry, I don’t care what year or what decade you are in you are going to have to sacrifice personal things in order to make a career in entertainment.”

So how will the series handle the later-in-life troubles of a man who was synonymous with the phrase; ‘Love, Peace and Soul and who died of an apparent suicide on February 1, 2012?

To READ more check out our cover story of Jason Dirden inside the BSM print issue Here!! Contact [email protected] to start receiving print copies of BSM.

PHOTO BY: Jamal Murray