Life on the set of HBO’s new dramedy Ballers (Sundays at 10pm) for Jazmyn Simon was pretty amazing. Luxurious mansions, amazing cars and Dwayne Johnson — not bad for the new girl.
“It was amazing. It didn’t suck at all,” Simon laughs. “The cars alone — there’s one episode you’ll see, I think it’s episode 6, there is just a driveway full of the nicest cars you could ever imagine. They all belong to like two people. It’s like this is ridiculous, but you know, art imitates life, because that’s really how it is. We had writers in the writing room that were ex-NFL players and we had NFL players and football players on set and making cameos. They were like, ‘Yeah. This is how it is. This is pretty accurate. Yeah, I have that car. Actually that might be mine.’”
If only, right!? Simon jokes about wanting to ask for a ride home. “I’m in a Volkswagen, that Passat over there is what I’m driving.”
While the cars were cool, Simon gives equal cred to Johnson (see our star struck question below). “You couldn’t ask to work with a better or bigger movie star than Dwayne. I think right now he has 47 million Facebook fans. That’s 47 million. I’m like, ‘Give me a freaking break.’”
And speaking of breaks, Simon took time to answer our “7 Questions With” column …
1. I read in one of your interviews that you actually worked for HBO before you got into the acting. Tell us that story.
Jazmyn Simon: Life is full circle sometimes. After college I got a degree in communications and I was like, “All right. What am I going to do?” I have always been a fan of HBO. I remember when I was a kid, HBO wasn’t what it is. It had movies that would show constantly. It had Babar. So I was a little girl watching Babar on HBO and thinking, “This is the coolest thing ever.” When I graduated, HBO was huge at that point and I was like, “Well, what a great company to work for.” I applied and I was an account assistant in a satellite office for HBO in Chicago. I worked for a lady by the name of Carla Moore, who’s actually at this point the Vice President of Talent Acquisition at HBO still. … I worked with them for a little over a year. It had nothing to do with acting. Couldn’t be further from acting, but I loved it. HBO was by far the coolest business I had ever worked for. They get summer hours from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Every Friday you get to leave work early and they pay you for the full day. I was just out of college and like, “This is the best job ever.” I got free DVDs of The Sopranos and Sex in the City. “This job is it. This job is where it’s at.” All my family got DVDs for Christmas, and the funniest part is one day someone is going to give out Ballers to somebody and be like, “Here you go. Merry Christmas.” They were equally as wonderful to their employees as they are to their talent. They’re great and gracious to me and I really love everyone in business affairs that I deal with and on set. HBO is bar none the best. They are just exquisite people.
2. Is there a story behind the spelling of your name — Jazmyn?
I wish there was, but there’s not. I believe the way the story goes is my mother, or my father named me. He picked Jazmyn, and my mother was like, “Well if you get to pick it, I get to spell it.” They just, like, “All right. I’m going to have some input in this,” and she just spelled it that way. I’m going to tell you, though, I hated it. Oh my God, I hated it because when I was a child, all I wanted was a license plate on my bicycle and they never had my name. They’d be like, “Well, we have this, Jasmine.” I’d be like, “But that’s not my name.” When you’re in school in the 2nd grade, and all the girls come back and have pencils with their names on it? Guess who never got one? This girl. For the longest time I was like, “Why couldn’t I just have a regular name.” Then Aladdin came out and Princess Jasmine was the other way and I was like, “This just really blows.” However, now as an adult — and as an actor — people ask me all the time, “Is that a stage name?’ I’m like, “Is it cool enough to be a stage name?”
[Editor’s note: We couldn’t find a license plate either, that’s photoshop.]
3. You’re at a magazine rack and can only pick three titles. Which do you choose?
Vogue, People and Nylon.
4. If your TV carried just three shows or networks, what would they be?
HBO, ABC, Food Network.
5. Tell us about a time when you were starstruck.
This is going to sound so cheesy because I work with this guy, but the day I did my table read, I don’t get starstruck easily. I just don’t. I think if I met President Obama, I would be really starstruck, or like Jay-Z, I’d be really starstruck. I walked into the table read at HBO. I had never met any of my cast, except a couple of the guys I auditioned with, and I walked in and it was a big network table read and I sit down and I am directly across from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and for two hours, my knee would not stop shaking under the table. I’m dying, I was like, “Lord, please don’t let my voice crack when it comes to my part in this pilot.” Because he was sitting right across from me and I was like, “Oh my Gosh. That is the Rock. That is the Tooth Fairy sitting right across from me.” I was super, super starstruck. Then, you know, I just had to act like a grownup and get over it. The 5th, 6th, 7th, 15th time that I saw him, I was like, “OK, Jazmyn, it’s about time that you just get over it.” You know what? He’s such a great guy. It’s like, “Yeah. He’s just one of the guys.”
6. What’s a movie you could watch over and over again and never get tired of?
The Notebook. I know. That’s so cheesy, isn’t it? I love that movie.
7. What are three things you have to have in your fridge or pantry?
Organic strawberries, white chocolate peanut butter, which is amazing, and green tea. [Editor’s note: White chocolate peanut butter? Never had it.] Oh my God. Let me tell you the brand. You have to try this. It is the best thing. I eat it for breakfast, for protein. It’s called White Chocolate Wonderful. They sell it in Target or the grocery store, but I always get mine from Target. It is the best. I often eat it with those strawberries.