On the January 9 episode of LIVE with Kelly, Tony nominee Chris Jackson appeared alongside the host and her guest co-host, Jerry O’Connell.
Born in Illinois, Jackson talked of how he always wanted to make it to New York. “I knew I wanted to be in the business. I knew I wanted to be in the arts and acting,” he said. “There’s only one Broadway and that’s in New York City.”
Jackson originated the role of Benny in In The Heights, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first Tony-winning musical. He spoke of his close friendship with his Hamilton creator and co-star. “We met in 2002 when he and Tommy Kail had really started to put what became In The Heights together and we were fast friends,” said Jackson. “After that we’ve been inseparable.”
Watch Jackson and Mandy Gonzalez, who played Nina in In The Heights and took over the role of Angelica Schuyler in Broadway’s Hamilton, reunite in their #Ham4Ham:
Of course, that’s not new news to theatre fans, but what you may not know is that Jackson not only found his best friend with In The Heights, he also found his wife. “It was the only chemistry read I’ve ever done in my entire life, for a reading, not for the actual production,” said Jackson of meeting his wife, Veronica Vazquez-Jackson. “She played my love interest in an early iteration of In The Heights.” While she did not continue on to Broadway with the show, she and Jackson continued their relationship. They now have two children.
Jackson earned a Drama Desk Award as part of the Outstanding Ensemble with In The Heights. He has also appeared on Broadway as Simba in The Lion King, Delray in Memphis, Bobby Sturges/Derek Jeter in Bronx Bombers, After Midnight, and Holler If Ya Hear Me. He originated the role of George Washington in Hamilton, for which he was nominated for a Tony Award. Jackson can now be seen as a series regular on CBS’ Bull.