Ayana Jackson is approaching her two-year anniversary with the cast of MJ The Musical as Jackson family matriarch, Katherine Jackson. This week, The Broadway Show is looking back on her contemplative walk to work with Charlie Cooper. On their stroll to the Neil Simon Theatre, Jackson reflects on her overdue Broadway arrival and the ways in which her 50s have been a time of “blooming,” as she’s come to call it.
“I decided I didn’t want to be afraid anymore,” says Jackson, who nearly skipped the MJ audition out of fear she wasn’t up to the challenge. “When I was approached with the opportunity to audition for the role, my first response was, ‘No, I can’t do that. I’m not a Broadway singer.’” Clearly it was a risk worth taking, and one that’s changed her perspective as an artist and as a human being. “I literally choose bravery every day,” says Jackson as she makes her way to the nearly 1,500-seat house in Broadway’s legendary theater district. “I now go toward the things that scare me.”