Jade Hassouné is no stranger to donning many hats. The Lebanese-Canadian actor is also a talented musician. Hassouné was born and raised in Montreal, Quebec. He was exposed to the arts at a young age. In 2008, the performer enrolled at John Abbott College where he trained in musical theater. Additionally, he’s an alumnus of the CBC Actor’s Conservatory and George Brown College’s cartooning program.
Now, you may recognize Hassouné from his breakout role as Meliorn in Freeform’s Shadowhunters. Or his brief stint on BBC America’s Orphan Black. Hassouné also served as a guest judge in reality TV series Canada’s Drag Race, which premiered July 2nd on Crave.
Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Hassouné to discuss all things acting, his newly released EP “Love Letter to a Fandom” (under his musical pseudonym J4DE), and manifesting your dreams.
Melody McCune: Since we’re a geeky site and we love superheroes, what’s your origin story?
Jade Hassouné: I love geeks and am super geeky. My origin story is…I was a hyper-evolved super-advanced galactic being looking for the most challenging virtual reality game, similar to The Sims, and I found Earth. I didn’t think before I plugged myself here that I would forget my origins, until the time was right. And the time is NOW! As I am remembering who I am, I can remind all the geeks out there of our epic origins. Let’s go!!!
MM: You guest starred as Meliorn in Freeform’s Shadowhunters. Did you initially audition for that character? What was the audition process like for Shadowhunters?
JH: Yea!! The audition process was long and challenging like all audition processes. Nope, I did not audition for Meliorn right away, I auditioned for Alaric. The following week I auditioned for Raphael. Then, the following week I auditioned for Meliorn. That’s when my Spider Sense kicked in and I knew exactly that this role was meant for me. I auditioned three more times and a month after my original audition before I was on set shooting the show! It was a marathon, but once I got the role it was a sprint. I read the first two books in a day and a half and was thrown into my new life.
MM: Do you have a favorite set memory from Shadowhunters?
JH: There are so many memories that it’s impossible to pinpoint any specific one. Shooting the finale episodes were probably the most fun because we were all together shooting big epic group scenes, which I’d been waiting for all those years. Since our friendships had much time and adventures to grow over the years, you can imagine what it was like when we were fully into a night shoot after 10 hours and that everyone starts becoming silly.
MM: You were recently in an episode of Canada’s Drag Race. How did that come about? What was it like guest hosting for the show?
JH: It was a dream come true in every sense!!! I’d been telling people over the last few years that this was at the top of my career goals to achieve. I seriously thought it would be coming in a few years, but life has a way to bring you what you dream of. It came at the right time as I’d been putting all my energy and actions into manifesting my music career. Through synchronicity, the magic of the universe made sure that things would align for my DragRace dream without me even knowing it! No one from my agents knew I wanted that, so when they sent me the email invitation they weren’t sure I’d be interested. I freaked out and cried.
It happened because last year I appeared on ET Canada Pride for an interview about The 410, a series on CBC Gem. The week before, Brooke Lynn Hytes was also a guest, as she was in the Top 2 of RuPaul’s Drag Race at that time. The host of the show, Stephen, is such a fan of DragRace and we both fanboyed/geeked out about it and talked about Brooke Lynn. We got connected that way. We became friends and then, without me knowing, she secretly pitched me to the producers. Next thing I know I’m saying RuPaul’s iconic lines in my favourite competition show of all time. Dreams come true, if you’re reading this, know that it’s enough to simply dream a dream for it to come true. As long as you don’t get in the way, the universe will do its thing and will bring it to you.
Pictured: Jade Hassouné
MM: The processes for filming a TV show vs. a movie are quite different. Do you prefer one over the other? Are there similar challenges for each medium?
JH: They are both fun. It depends what type of work you wanna do and what mood you’re in. For TV, it’s very fast and you don’t have time on set to really dig too deep. For films, you’ll spend a whole day on one or two scenes sometimes. In TV you can shoot 8-10 scenes in one day. Also, it depends what kind of role you have and if you’re just a guest for the day or for the whole production. All the dynamics are constantly changing. I go with my mood. Sometimes I say no to a project because at that time in my life I’d rather do one or the other.
MM: What’s your dream role? Could be in TV, film, or stage.
JH: I’m dreaming of performing at music festivals right now. For acting, I don’t know, I’m letting the projects and roles surprise me. There’s nothing in particular that I’m after. Although, playing a superhero would be epic. Bring it on.
MM: We’re seeing the entertainment industry is undergoing a much-needed revitalization by way of diversity, but obviously we still have a long way to go. As a Lebanese actor, have you encountered setbacks while working in this industry? Do you think there will come a day when we’ll see diversity across the board? In TV, movies, music, etc.?
JH: I think we see it pretty well. Look at all the roles that are being changed right now. I see a rainbow. Of course, I’ve never had the role of the blonde jock because that’s not who and what I am. I’ve never let it limit my belief in my dreams. The roles that I’d get are always the interesting/different types of characters that usually are played by a diverse actor. So it has allowed me to be faeries and aliens and queer fun colourful people. I saw it as an advantage that people never really know how to fit me in their projects, so I end up playing the magical people. You get to decide your success, not your skin colour.
MM: Some actors listen to music to get into character while some write as their character. Do you have a specific method that you use to help you prepare for a role?
JH: I usually day-dream about the character 24/7. Then I speak from that place of knowing their interior world. I’m not the type of actor that will have one thousand written notes in my script. You’ll usually find doodles there.
MM: Your debut EP “Love Letter to a Fandom” officially dropped July 17th, which is an homage to your fandom. First of all, congratulations! That’s quite an achievement. I love the idea of honoring your fanbase. What was the process behind writing and recording this EP?
JH: Thank you so much! I’m so proud of it and the new life I’m leading. The process began two years ago when I came back from the Shadowhunters fan world tour. I was so inspired by all the love and the fact that I was traveling the world to meet fans in so many countries — all the way to Asia and back around the Earth. I realized that my dream of being a pop artist was now or never. So, when I heard our show had been canceled, every cell in my body said “Do it now!!” I started, and a year after that I had my first single out. Every couple months I released a new single. I wanted to give the fans (and myself) something we could use to move forward, to take what we had built with Shadowhunters.
Honour our bond and our past. Move into the future, excited for what’s to come. Music is the best way to do that. And I’m finally sharing some of my more private thoughts and inner world. Recording the EP was so much fun, all done 100% in house with a really good friend of mine. We’d been making music for 10 years and finally made it official. The songs came to me — the melodies and the words were mostly inspired by my experiences traveling and the adventures that come with having fans. My main goal is to empower people to be who they are, to shine as bright and as colourful as they can. That’s how the world becomes better and more fun.
MM: What artists influence your musical style?
JH: All the sounds of pop artists with the swag of hip-hop artists. The sexy colourfulness of the queer artists mixed with the underground rave vibe of electronic artists and the spice of Latin artists.
MM: Do you have a dream musician or band that you’d love to collaborate with on future projects?
JH: Working with Kim Petras would be super fun.
MM: What’s the story behind your first single “Insta Story?”
JH: Fell in love with a boy and he didn’t love me back. I kept seeing him on Instagram. I decided I’d have to stop clicking on his icon to watch his story and torture myself. I did it anyway, but then I wrote an awesome song! [laughs]
MM: Any plans to release a full-length album in the future?
JH: Absolutely! I’ve got a bunch of new singles lined up and I’m working with new producers. But after that, when I know what my new message will be is when I’ll start to write new music with a specific intention.
Pictured: Jade Hassouné
MM: Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?
JH: Keep doing it! Never stop connecting to the feeling you feel when you create. Focus on that. The feeling of it will grow and grow. Know that dreams come true. Use me as an example. Believe it for yourself first, and people will catch on later.
MM: Is there someone in your life that inspires you?
JH: All my friends around me who also are manifesting and working and living for their art. Anyone who believes in something that others can’t see yet. Anyone who has a vision and brings it into this reality.
MM: Do you ever get nervous prior to a performance? If so, have you adopted a practice to calm your nerves?
JH: I always get nervous! Especially before magazine/radio interviews. But once I’m in it, my heart opens and it flows.
MM: Have you binge watched anything during quarantine?
JH: Oh yes! Tiger King, RuPaul’s Drag Race, The Circle: France, Hollywood, Big Brother Canada, and all the seasons of Survivor.
MM: What’s next for you? Any exciting projects coming up the pipeline?
JH: Yep! But all the acting productions I was supposed to do have been moved. Right now, I’m focusing on my music and releasing exclusive behind-the-scenes content for my fans on my Patreon page. Check it out here.
MM: As a member of the LGBTQ community, do you think we’ll ever get to a place in the entertainment industry where we’ll see more LGBTQ representation? Will we get to a point where it’s commonplace just like heterosexual relationships are showcased in TV and film?
JH: I think we’re making really good progress. Start noticing that we are everywhere! Celebrate what we do have. Appreciate how far we’ve come!
What I do: I'm Managing Editor, Senior Contributor, and Press Coordinator. I manage, contribute, and coordinate. Sometimes all at once. Joking aside, I oversee day-to-day operations for GGA, write, edit, and assess interview opportunities/press events.
Who I am: Before moving to Los Angeles after studying theater in college, I was born and raised in Amish country, Ohio. No, I am not Amish, even if I sometimes sport a modest bonnet. Bylines in: Culturess, Sideshow Collectibles, inkMend on Medium. I love cheese. I love geek. I love lamp.
Melody.McCune@geekgirlauthority.comWhat I do: I'm Managing Editor, Senior Contributor, and Press Coordinator. I manage, contribute, and coordinate. Sometimes all at once. Joking aside, I oversee day-to-day operations for GGA, write, edit, and assess interview opportunities/press events.Who I am: Before moving to Los Angeles after studying theater in college, I was born and raised in Amish country, Ohio. No, I am not Amish, even if I sometimes sport a modest bonnet. Bylines in: Culturess, Sideshow Collectibles, inkMend on Medium. I love cheese. I love geek. I love lamp.