Eden, North Carolina native, Jamil Winfield, cannot think back to a time when he wasn’t acting. But the 35-year-old father of Kloe and Polo has regularly taken to the stage only in the last four years. “As a kid, I would watch TV and movies and wish I could do those things. I would act it out with the show,” Winfield said. The Last Dragon by Barry Gordy is his favorite movie. “It’s a timeless classic. I’ve loved it since I was a kid.”
The desire to act never waned. Winfield dreamed of fulfilling the roles of actors he had watched on the screen. “Becoming an actor was the only way to do that,” he added.
Winfield prepares for a role with, “practice, practice, practice.” He often reads lines until places are called. “I’ve learned to go over the script. After that, I deep-dive into the backstory of who my character really is, and then I go back through the script and try to figure out my ‘whys’ — like why is he saying this or why does he move there after such-and-such and not before?” Once Winfield has a solid grasp on his role, he answers those questions to build out the character. “Then I run lines over and over again,” he added.
Knowing your character is only one trait in nailing the role. Next comes winning over the audience. Winfield said to make your audience believe in the role, you first have to believe in it. “You have to ‘be that’ in that moment. If you’re not, people will see through it, or it won’t come off quite right.”
So far, Winfield’s favorite role has been Glenn Cooper in Neil Simon’s Rumors. “It was the opening show for Smokestack Theatre Company’s building. It was also my first role in a stage play in 14 years. I was just extremely grateful at the shot. Everything worked out great and now there’s no looking back — full steam ahead.”
Winfield said he doesn’t have a specific dream role but would love a part in an action movie. “I’ve always been an athlete, so I feel that would be a perfect role for me.”
For aspiring actors, Winfield offers this advice. “Go for it. When you let go of whatever you might be holding on to and just go for it, the sky’s the limit.”
Winfield is looking at 2023 as a year of personal and family growth. He hopes to expand his acting abilities and those of his children who act with the Smokestack Theatre Company. Speaking of growth, he is looking forward to Smokestack’s future, too. “I feel with having our own space and being able to make our stage how we want, it leaves us with more options in the long run. I really want to see what’s next in the journey Smokestack is on as well.” Winfield concluded.