Cold. Brisk and cold air, leaving me short of breath, desperately grasping towards some sort of tangible heat. I scurried along the street, almost stepping over myself as I rushed to Jordan’s apartment. I had foolishly not put my coat on after getting off the taxi, leaving me exposed to the stinging winds of the Hudson. We finally walked into the lobby of his building, a very modern and well lit room. As I was trying to compose myself and get used to the heat I was greeted by an even warmer smile and adorable dog. There he was, Jordan Fisher. Immediately, he greeted us with inviting hugs. I could tell right away that Jordan was a genuine and kind individual; the epitome of wholesome.
Jordan grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. When he was a kid he was sporty, loved to do gymnastics and also played soccer. For a while he surrounded himself with all things sports, until he got to fifth grade when he met a girl who he had a crush on. She was really into drama and, in an attempt to get her attention, he joined drama club. This quest for young love grew into a passion and currently his career, “ I knew that I loved music, and I knew that I loved movies but I didn’t really know these were things that I could pursue. Specially because, in the south, you just don’t. And there’s an incredible theatre community in Birmingham which I am so grateful for, but even within that I didn’t know that moving to LA and pursuing a career in the arts was within the realms of possibilities until way later in my life”. To get the practice and have more credits on his resume, Jordan continued to be very involved in theatre, “laying that foundation really took a lot of time and effort”. Eventually, at the age of 13, he got on a plane to LA and began his journey. “It all took a long time, I as the kind of almost for like seven years. I would be called straight to testing for different series and for films and be the final two, but they would always go with the other guy”, but with every no he got one step closer to what he wanted, and he was never discouraged. “You’re incredible, but this just isn’t the right project. This was the same song I would hear for years and years, so I would do commercials and guest posts until 2010 rolled around. That is when The Secret Life of American Teenager rolled around and that was the beginning of everything”. From this Jordan got a real feel of what it was like to be constantly working, from that point on the projects and auditions got better and the doors flew open. “I’m a bit of an obsessive personality: if there’s something I want to achieve Im going ot make it happen. That’s just how it is, I work hard and it’s all worked out. The belief in me is very genuine and right and I think that’s key”, his drive is admirable. From ABC Family to Disney, Jordan has, in many ways, become staple of next generation’s childhoods.
Growing up I remember watching Disney Channel constantly. I would sit, wide eyed, in front of the TV obsessing over High School Musical or Hannah Montana. I think for our generation, it was our home. Those characters felt more like friends than strangers and in them lived our dreams. Jordan remembers this too, which is why having worked on Liv and Maddie and Teen Beach Movie has been so incredible for him. Teen Beach Movie is a movie about two surfing lovers, whose doomed relationship is nearing to a close. They find themselves swept into a dimension traversing wave that sends them into a beach movie musical in the 60’s. “I got a call and three days later I was on plane to Puerto Rico to shoot it. I had been in for 80 something Disney projects that all almost happened, so I was naturally like “of course’”. Since its release, Teen Beach Movie has become, essentially, the next High School Musical. But the cast, including Jordan, were not completely aware of this until they started reading press releases, “we knew were were a part of something special but we didn’t know fully what it was going to be until we were on set for a month and we started seeing budgets and the effort being put into it”. As any kid and they will sing every song on Teen Beach Movie without missing a beat, and to be completely frank, so would I! The music is great. This was another one of those jump-starts of Jordan, what put him on the map with flashing lights. After Teen Beach Movie he was able to work on another staple show on Disney Channel, Liv and Maddie. Here he played Holden, who is the romantic interest of one of the twins, Liv. Jordan loves being able to work in Disney, “I actually got signed to Hollywood Records because someone at the label saw a video that I did for the channel. And they were interested to see what I was doing musically which was amazing”. Opportunity after opportunity, music seems to follow Jordan in all of his projects, and even more prominently so in the past few months.
In his Birmingham theatre community, Jordan’s first dream was contrived: to be on Broadway. I’m not sure you have ever heard on this pretty popular Broadway show, it’s called Hamilton? Well, our kid from Birmingham is on that stage every night singing his heart out. Hamilton is a musical which follows the life of Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers. The musical is a mixture of traditional Broadway-style songs and rap, something that had been unheard of before Lin Manuel Miranda, the man behind the music, lyrics and book, created the show. Hamilton received essentially unanimous praise from both critics and the public. It received a record breaking Tony nominations with 16 nominations and 11 wins. Jordan plays John Laurens and Philip Hamilton, “I found out only two days before I got here, I got a call and I just had to say yes”. When he spoke to me about his experience on the show his love for it radiated. As he is with all of his projects, Jordan is truly passionate about Hamilton, “I just have so much fun every night. I have done over 70 shows and I feel like I have only done a couple, it’s bananas. The cast is family, I’ve never been a part of a show like this where I love everybody in that theatre, everybody. From the house to the lobby to the actors to the backstage, I adore everybody and that just doesn’t normally happen”. Being on a show so huge where literally thousands of people are on waiting lists to watch it, you might think that Jordan would be nervous or anxious, but he faces this pressure with so much grace and just does: no hesitations and no regrets. “I think I was just such a fan that being on it was surreal, there’s a part in the song The World Was Wide Enough, and in the musical Burr is really humanized. He’s explaining what happened when he killed his friend [Alexander Hamilton], you know, he killed somebody who was very respected in the city and he says he hears wailing in the streets. That quickly people already knows what happened, and somebody tells him he better run and hide but all he knows to do is just to go get a drink. That’s really when his world turn to mayhem, his life goes twisted after. But the line that gets me, and it gets me every night and I’m on stage when this is happening so I had to really calm myself down the first couple shows. He says “Death doesn’t discriminate between the sinners and the saints, it takes and it takes and it takes, and history obliterates and every picture it paints it paints me and all my mistakes”, because he made a handful of mistakes but was also a human being, a widowed man and single father. Hamilton made a bunch of mistakes but he’s this unsung hero, Burr was a human being that worked very cautiously and very hard to get to a place where he wanted to be, but we all viewed him as a villain for hundreds of years. And I think that Hamilton tells his story properly, and that’s what he says after that first bit, “when Alexander aimed at the sky he might have been the first one to die but I’m the one who paid for it”’ at this point Jordan let out a scream and kicked his leg, “every time, every time it gets me. Lin, shut up!”. The way in which he carried himself and the way he spoke, so graciously and eloquently inspired me: he was unique. I have never meet anyone more truly grateful to be a part of anything, and it is with this devotion that Jordan spoke about Grease: Live as well.
Jordan starred as Doody in the TV event Grease: Live. It was one of the first few remakes of musicals which have been done in this format: completely live on national television. The show was extremely successful with over 2.2 million viewers that night. The production was enormous, with over 12 sets and taking up almost half the Warner Brother’s lot. Grease has a special place in many people’s hearts; from the 70’s traditional film to the play which has been performed probably in every high school across America. “We were doing the most successful musical of all time in a format which has never been touched and where pressure is concerned that’s enough to make somebody want to puke. But we all have tremendous trust in Thomas Kail, who was the director, we would follow him into a burning building if he said it was right. Him guiding us is really what kept us all moving and there was never a sense of what if this doesn’t work,” this was another moment where Jordan gushed and smiled, “I adore him, he’s a great friend and his leadership is just unbelievable. And we didn’t feel the pressure of “million of people are going to be watching this” because by the time it went on air we had run the show top to bottom over 60 times! By the second week we were running it. So when it came to the night it was just a matter of doing it and realizing it was the last time”. His experience in Grease: Live as described by him sounds incredible, the passion he feels for it can be clearly seen. While the entire night was incredible and filled with wonderful cast members and moments, Jordan stole the show his rendition of the song ‘Those Magic Changes’. It was regarded as the highlight of the show by many critics and the public too, me included. Every time I hear that song I was filled with a complete sense of joy, Jordan’s vocals are impeccable and it is so relaxing. When I asked him if he was expecting that kind of response he said absolutely not, “I mean, I was playing a character named Doody. I expected to have a great time but not much. I went to my dressing room after the show and someone texted me, during the show, and told me to just turn off my phone. They told me that the internet was freaking out and that my phone was going to explode and to turn it back on tomorrow, just focus on enjoying the moment. And when I did I read all the articles and I just could not believe it, I am so grateful that it happened”. This is another one of those moments that took Jordan to the next level, and thank God because he is incredible.
“The goal in my life is to find a rotation where I can tour and work on a film and work on a Broadway show, go on tour again, put out another record, develop a television show and then also be a dad and coach little league and, well then go back on tour!”. What truly struck me about Jordan was how humble he was. He is so unbelievably grateful for every single experience he has had, unapologetically himself and truly wonderful. If there has a ever been a person who deserved every single thing he has, it is Jordan. So much is coming for Jordan in this year of 2017, a new album and plenty more exciting projects. Jordan came out with and EP last year, he he hoped to harness the inspiration from that in his album and continue to make new music. “I really get my inspiration from day to day things; my relationships and friendships, experiences. And this album is my baby, I’ve been working on it for two years are people are finally about to hear it. It’s me, not Jordan Fisher being anyone else, it’s 100% me”. Personally, I am beyond excited to hear his album and see what Jordan has to offer. Keep an eye on Jordan Fisher, he is sure to be the next big thing.
Words by Ana Sandoval
Photos by Anna Zhang
Grooming by Angela Calisti at Dew Beauty Agency
Originally published in Volume II, Issue No. 001 – Winter 2017.