Actor Nathan Jackson’s Passion undimmed after Accident and Leukemia Diagnosis

Published 10:07 pm Monday, June 3, 2024

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Nathan Jackson, a member of the Sumter players, was rehearsing for the play Love Sex and the IRS when an accident made him take a detour. Despite recovering from a fall and a recent diagnosis of leukemia, Jackson’s love of theater remains undimmed. He avidly described his initial experiences on the stage: “I’ve been acting since 10th grade, and after high school I stopped for a couple years and it wasn’t until we had our production of Narnia that got me back on the stage.”

He talked about how the role with the Sumter Players drew him back into acting. “That show was really special to me. Not only did it get me back on the stage, but it got me back on the stage in the role of Aslan, which is a really important character to me. The roar of the crowd at the curtain call, it let me [know] I was back home.”

His first experience with theater came after a teacher suggested he try it after all the art classes, his first choice, were filled. Previously a shy student, he talked about how that changed the night they put on the play A Murderer’s got Talent. “When I got out there, and the crowd was cheering me on and they were loving the song, something happened. That’s the moment my shell broke. That’s the moment I knew I had to be in theater.”

Jackson described the camaraderie among the Sumter Players, which include his brother and sister. “We’re all friends. We’re all family. So oftentimes, someone’s clowning about. I won’t even lie, it’s usually me. But it’s all in the name of fun because it’s not just a job for us. This is a hobby, it’s a way of life. It’s what we do.”

Jackson talked about the accident that initially put his acting on hold, and the scene that led to it. “My character has a bit of a confrontation with his roommate. So in the confrontation, I felt it best for Lesley as the character that he is, to do something kind of jumpy, frantic, to get out of the way of John, because John has broken people’s bones before.”

He described the scene where his character, Leslie, escaped John. “So what I ended up doing was I’d sit on the middle of our couch that we have in there and I’d grab the back end and I’d fling myself over the couch. It was a whole flip. For weeks, consistently, every night of rehearsal, I’d do that perfectly. Landed right on my feet like spider man.”

A change in set up left him off balance, with fellow cast mates sitting where he normally made the maneuver. “I flipped myself over the couch and I tried also not kicking them in the face, which caused my body to turn and torque in a different motion, and instead of landing on my feet, I landed on my head, my wrist and my right knee. The knee’s fine. But it ended up shaking my brain around, fractured a bone in my hand.”

Despite the injury he was able to get through a page and a half monologue. “I got through that entire monologue with a head injury. And then I said, ‘Hey, I gotta throw up.’ I got through it without a single mistake.”

During the brain surgery, it was discovered Jackson had leukemia. He mentioned the injury could be responsible for the rapid progression. When asked how the treatment was going, Jackson replied: “The treatment so far has been pretty good. I’ve got medicine that I’m taking every day.” He remains optimistic. “We’re expecting a full recovery from everything including the Leukemia with remission within five years.” The Sumter Players plan on postponing Love Sex and the IRS in order for Jackson to resume his role after his recovery.

Jackson concluded with a thank you: “I can’t explain how loved I felt from the overwhelming support not just from Americus, but from the surrounding counties [because] I’ve kind of grown up everywhere here. I didn’t really know how many people actually cared about me. But just seeing the support come out of everywhere and people messaging me and the people I haven’t heard from in years, friends that I didn’t think I was friends with anymore, it’s been amazing. It kept my spirits up.”