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‘5th Ward’ TV Star Justin Mabrie reveals how he Discovered his passion for acting

He lives by the old adage his father used to tell him as a child.

“If a task is once begun, never leave it till it’s done. Be the labor great or small. Do it well or not at all,” Justin Mabrie cited his father.

Sure enough, when Mabrie discovered his interests in acting as a college student he applied that adage. Mabrie recently starred in Urban Movie Channel’s (UMC) “5th Ward” television show, which aired six episodes earlier this spring. Playing Tony, Mina Kennedy’s boyfriend (played by Mya), through his story line he shows the “struggles and internal conflict one goes through” when in jail, he said. There was also a special connection for Mabrie when filming the show. It was filmed in the fifth ward of Houston, Texas where his mother was raised and also where his childhood church was based at.

justinmabrie
Justin Mabrie

Growing up in a strong Christian Catholic upbringing, Mabrie was active with his church. Along with his religious values he learned the value of hard work. His early aspiration was to bring joy to others which is why he initially thought he’d become an ice cream truck driver.

When the ice cream truck drove through the neighborhood it made everybody happy, Mabrie said. He later changed his course of action hoping to follow his father’s footsteps. Footsteps that meant he’d pursue a career in health as he enrolled into a health profession high school. His plan was that he’d become a psychiatrist. Plans changed again when he decided to join Hampton University’s five-year MBA program, which he still graduated with, but through the experience found his calling in theatre.

Inspired to go to a historically black college and university after watching “A Different World” he chose Hampton because he felt the experience would be unlike any other traditional school. While campus life kept him busy he also found ways to make his career off campus work. And it was a career in modeling and acting, a childhood dream of his that was not supported by his family. However, after enrolling into a theater course he knew it was what he wanted to get into.

He later joined an agency, about an hour from campus, that would help him book gigs for photo shoots and commercials. That summer he stayed at Hampton to take on the full load including the following: working towards his newfound career path, taking courses as a college student and staying active with on campus activities.

The idea of understanding what a character is going through and expressing it to the audience where people can identity with the character is what Mabrie loved about the profession.

Prior to “5th Ward,” Mabrie has made appearances in ABC’s popular soap opera “General Hospital” and ABC’s former prime time television show “Body of Proof” that starred Dana Delany.

By Gino Terrell

This was originally published in Creative Unity.

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Gino Terrell is the Director of Content at Hidden Valley Culture Blog/In-Depth section. Terrell covered local artists and reviewed mainstream shows in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area under the Twin Cities Daily Planet (2014-15). He also freelanced for MinnPost and interned at Pioneer Press, KSTP TV (the Minneapolis ABC News Affiliate) and American Public Media Group. He's accumulated over 30 awards from the Associated Collegiate Press, Society of Professional Journalists and National Association of Black Journalists and founded award winning student-magazine Pipers In-Depth at Hamline University (St. Paul, Minnesota). He was once the sports editor for the school newspaper, The Oracle. Follow him on Twitter: @Gin026

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