A Friend Like Michael James Scott

A Friend Like Michael James Scott

“I may be dreamy, but I’m no hallucination.” (Disney's Aladdin JR.) An awe-inspiring character like the Genie needs an awe-inspiring performer – which is where we introduce Michael James Scott, currently in Disney’s Aladdin on Broadway. In celebration and recognition of Black History Month, we're putting the spotlight on Mr. Scott and what he brings to the Genie - an iconic role with a rich history.

Born in Baltimore, Maryland and raised in Apopka, Florida, Scott always had a passion for performing. He began working in commercials, television shows, musicals and concerts when he was a child and soon after found his calling. His training can be traced back to the distinguished Broadway Theatre Project, which was started by the legendary Ann Reinking. He trained with performing greats such as Julie Andrews, Gregory Hines, and Gwen Verdon.

After receiving his BFA from The Conservatory of Theatre Arts program at Webster University, Scott went on to perform in countless national and international tours, and various shows on Broadway after making his debut in 2005. In 2014, Scott made his debut in Aladdin as a Standby for Genie, and for 8 years since has performed in over 20 destinations, including London and Australia. Since 2019, Michael James Scott performs as the Genie on Broadway, bringing the audience to its feet night after night.

We were able to have a conversation with Mr. Scott and learn about his process, the history of the Genie, and his experience performing that history.

How does the history of Disney’s Genie inspire your portrayal? 

There’s so much about the History of the Genie that has inspired me. Specifically in our production we went back to a lot of the original inspirations for the Genie. Things like Cab Calloway and Fats Waller and that old school style of incredible music to infuse in this new modern version of our Genie. 

The Genie was inspired by Cab Calloway, a notable Black bandleader and vaudeville performer – How did you use that information to prepare for the role? 

I’ve always been inspired by the incredible history of people like the legendary Cab Calloway, so when I  learned that was an inspiration for the Genie in our production, I was absolutely THRILLED. There was a lot of trust with the creative team on allowing me to be me and that’s a dream. I wanted to pay homage to a lot of the old school men of color in my Genie…. From Cab Calloway to Fats Waller to Sammy Davis Jr. to Gregory Hinds to Ben Vereen to LL. Cool J to Eddie Murphy to my own father to Beyonce!!

What's your favorite part about being the Genie?

The fact that people want to love you, and they want to laugh and be entertained and feel joy. That to me is incredibly rewarding and special.

You trained at the Broadway Theatre Project and learned from some acting greats. What was one thing they impressed upon you?

When I really think about the Broadway Theatre Project, my mind is blown with the legends who I got to work with and learn from. There are so many things that were impressed upon me, but if I had to choose one I’d say the idea of performing every time like it’s your last.

You’ve toured all over the world before your Broadway debut. What was different about every tour?

I’ve said it before, but besides of course the obviously geographical elements in different places - people say the universal language is music. Well, I say Aladdin is a universal show. It’s unreal how this show translates in each city and country. It’s such a beloved story and the response feels the same no matter where you go!

What advice do you have for young performers of color that want to get into the Broadway industry but aren’t sure where to start?

Research every kind of resource in your hometowns. There are so many different kinds of places where you can go to start performing, I think people would be surprised. AND believe that the thing you have is special because no one has it because they are NOT you.

We are thankful to Michael James Scott for taking the time to tell us about his amazing career and craft! You can find him at the New Amsterdam Theatre in Disney's Aladdin on Broadway.

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