Ai LIVE: Jamal Sims Shares His Choreography Journey

By: Janessa Armstrong Filed under: Film & Production

May 16, 2022

On this episode of Ai LIVE, we’re reviewing an older interview given by Jamal Sims. This interview was hosted by Octavius Terry, Fashion Program Coordinator at The Art Institute of Atlanta. Sims discusses how he started his journey as a choreographer and answered some questions from students.

Jamal Sims

When Sims was 7, the film “The Wiz” came out, featuring the likes of Diana Ross and Michael Jackson. Sims was enthralled by the dancing and wanted to be a part of the vibrant movement he saw. His father encouraged him, saying that “As long as you keep dancing, something will work out for you.” In the meantime, Sims continued to dance, performing wherever he could, including talent shows.

At 17, Sims got the opportunity of a lifetime: after reading about an audition happening in L.A., he went to the city to try his luck. In the end, he ended up appearing in the music video for Michael Jackson’s “Remember The Time.” This job, however, wasn’t the watershed moment Sims was hoping for, as after this, other producers weren’t impressed that he’d worked with the King of Pop. In spite of this setback, this experience motivated Sims to keep pursing dance as he knew he could get another high-profile job.

With time, Sims served on several films as choreographer, such as “Hairspray,” the “Footloose” remake, “The Best Man Holiday,” and many others. Sims also began working with celebrities such as Miley Cyrus and Madonna. He even appeared as Dr. Facilier in the Disney Channel Original Movie, “Descendants 3.” However, one of his biggest achievements was the live-action “Aladdin” adaptation.

One factor that stalled the production of the 2019 film was the lack of a choreographer. Thanks to Sims’ previous work with Miley Cyrus, a connection with Disney was already established. According to Sims, initially the director didn’t have too many choreographed numbers in mind for the film. But after seeing the first number that Sims had prepared, the director changed his mind. Sims also acted as a body double for some of the dance sequences.

After sharing his experiences about the film, the interview was opened up for a Q&A session for the attending students. Sims shared his insight into what he believes makes a good career: work to build a relationship and put forth your best effort; you can’t always see where the next job is, but letting go of the faith that one will arrive makes the fall that much harder; “no” doesn’t mean you’re a failure, it just means it’s not your time.

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By: Janessa Armstrong Filed under: Film & Production

May 16, 2022