Transcript of Jason’s chat presented in conjunction with Jessica Simpson and Jason Raize in Concert
July 10, 2000
Zoogerator: Get ready, Zoogers! Gather ’round, Raizins! Jason Raize is on his way to chat with YOU!
Jason Raize: Hey, everyone! This is Jason! It’s Monday night! How’s it going?
Kitty: How did you get started in the singing business?
Jason Raize: Wow! Pretty late. I was in tenth grade, and I started performing with a girlfriend way back when. She encouraged me to act, and I began to sing in shows. Singing for me was always attached to being in a show. After I did a few shows, I realized that what I liked was singing, as opposed to just acting. It went crazy, like a big snowball going down a mountain. I was lucky enough to get a few shows, and here I am!
Zoogerator: Did you have formal training?
Jason Raize: I didn’t have any formal training. Just at the American Musical Dramatic Academy in Manhattan (AMDA) after high school. But I’m not a huge fan of school, so I left after a year and started working on shows. That was my year of training … but it was really good to have a system to get you used to living in a city like this. I didn’t grow up in Manhattan.
JonLvr4113: Hey! How did you get into the music industry after doing Broadway???
Jason Raize: That was exhilarating! 🙂 I think the process of doing “Lion King” was very high profile. A lot of people pay attention to what Disney does. Record companies and music industry people were paying attention to me in “Lion King,” and I started to get offers right away — even out of town, before we came to Broadway. The record companies … once we had decided who I wanted to work with and I got the best offer I could ever imagine … it was a process of making my album at the same time I was in the show. It was difficult, but I had something else to work on while working in the show. That was about two and a half years.
runner1417: How did you like playing Simba in Broadway’s “Lion King?”
Jason Raize: It’s amazing! I was a big fan of the movie, so I knew the material. I absolutely LOVED the role of Simba when I went in to audition. It’s got a lot of similarities with my life. And I’m still playing Simba until August 20.
Strodthoff44: I love singing, but am afraid that if I sing in front of other people, they’ll make fun of me. Do you have any suggestions?
Jason Raize: Absolutely! Start slowly. Start singing alone, but add, if you can … find either a video camera that you can set up, or a set of mirrors that you can stand in front of and sing. Do that as often as you can. Slowly, start inviting your best friends to come and watch you perform. That process will slowly get you used to people watching you. If you want criticism, tell them that. If you just want them to watch, tell them that. That will get you comfortable around people.
Zoogerator: Tell us about your “In Concert Special” on Disney Channel. What was that process like?
Jason Raize: That was amazing too! The week that I spent in Los Angeles, I was still in the show, so I had to take a week off the show. Disney Channel had everything prepared, so I got a week of activities and to do a concert! We did a concert, went to Disneyland, and went mountain-biking and jet-skiing. It was more like a vacation!
zoogerloverinTN: What is the most embarrassing time when you were on stage during a live concert?
Jason Raize: Man! I’d have to say during “Lion King.” My head, which is my mask that fits over my head, flew off during one of my dances! It went into the pit, which is where the orchestra plays under the stage. I couldn’t get it back. And my microphone is located inside my mask! So I didn’t have my mic or my mask, and I had to do the whole number without it!!
Sunkiss771412: Jason, my name is Kristyn, I was wondering what you like to do in your free time?
Jason Raize: All kinds of things. I love to read, and I love going to the park here in New York, playing frisbee and all the summer stuff. A lot of our time, my friends and I, we spend walking around the city — the Village — go window-shopping. I have a dog, so I take Ruby out for walks. And always movies. I love movies!
zOoGiEzOoGeR: What was it like to perform with Jessica Simpson?
Jason Raize: Ha! I actually didn’t get to do that, because Nick Lachey cornered the market! We had a great time, because we got to spend a lot of time together, but we didn’t actually sing together. Jessica and her sister are a blast together! They’re really nice people. We played volleyball on the beach a lot.
Toni_18: Where did you grow up at? I mean, like what city
Jason Raize: I grew up right around Oneonta, New York.
MANDERS: What’s your favorite sport?
Jason Raize: It used to be soccer. I don’t know if you can consider mountain-biking a sport, but that would be my favorite.
Toni_18: Jason, do you have a girlfriend?
Jason Raize: Ha! I don’t have a girlfriend right now … that’s a good thing!
lawanya: Do you ever get stage fright?
Jason Raize: I don’t know … stage fright comes in so many different forms, I think, when you get nervous a bit. I get nervous only if family members are in the audience. They’ve seen me perform a lot, and they know every little thing I do. So I want to make sure I do a great show. Other than that, when you perform something for so long, it eases a bit. But when I start something new, I get nervous and you try to take that nervous energy and turn it into excitement. It seems to help me a lot.
Jackaroo: Jason, what is the best thing about getting to go on tour?
Jason Raize: Everything! You’re getting … you’re working, and you’re allowed to travel. And I love to travel. Getting to go on tour and see all sorts of fantastic cities and meet people constantly is the fun part of touring. Some people don’t like it, because it takes you away from home. But I love coming home! New York City is now my home.
bsbfreeak1293: Who inspired you the most to start singing??!?
Jason Raize: Gosh … I guess … definitely would be my friend I told you about earlier. She was my inspiration for me getting on the stage. When I started singing, nobody in my family had ever been a performer, so they didn’t know about what I was doing. I had to really dream about performing the way someone would dream about doing something completely foreign. It really turned it into a real dream for me. And from there, people helped me all along the way. Mentors in theater, mentors here in the city …
princess: How is it being famous? Is it scary?
Jason Raize: Ha! It’s not scary … I think that, for people that have fame that goes far beyond mine, I imagine it can get pretty confining, like you’re caught in a cage, but I don’t feel that at all. Sometimes people talk to you at a time or a place that it’s difficult. But as performers, if we’re going to put ourselves out there, I think we need to be available around the clock. Of course, people also need to respect everyone’s privacy. People are pretty great about that.
missprincess2000: I think you are so cute. Are you the only child?
Jason Raize: Thank you. No. I have an older sister. She’s five years older than I am, and she’s pregnant! So I’m going to be an uncle!
cam13: Are you going to be touring anytime soon?
Jason Raize: I don’t know yet, actually. Everything we’re doing is planning itself out. “You Win Again” is my next single. It’s in stores and online now. That’s determining everything I’m going to do in the future months!
tweetygirl10013: How old are you?
Jason Raize: I’m 24.
poohbear_: What is your favorite food?
Jason Raize: Ugh! There’s a bunch! I love lasagna.
kristy: Are you a good dancer? And you are very fine.
Jason Raize: Thank you very much! 🙂
Smilygirl92: I have two questions. What is the name of your CD? And what is your favorite song on it?
Jason Raize: The name of the CD is “NYC.” My favorite song on it is “You Win Again.” That’s one of my favorites. And “It Was You.”
jettrocker^: What do you do when you have a sore throat and you have to do a concert?
Jason Raize: Ha! Depending on the sore throat, you may not do the concert. You try your best, but if you can’t perform to a level that is a performance that the audience will appreciate, it’s your responsibility not to do it. There’s a space where you only go out when you give a performance that the audience deserves. For “Lion King,” I’ve had to take a few performances off in three years, but there are three understudies.
ZOOGER: Do you play any instruments?
Jason Raize: My voice! 🙂 I would love to play the piano, but I don’t.
ZOOGER: Do you get a lot of mail?
Jason Raize: Yeah, at the theater. I think we get splashes of it. A lot of mail goes to different places in the city. When it comes to the theater, I get a lot.
Tiffiniw: Do you Like music by other artists?
Jason Raize: I love anything current and contemporary. Macy Gray … Destiny’s Child, which surprised me … and … gosh! They all sort of float away when you get asked!
RaizenGirl: Do you enjoy signing autographs and talking to your fans?
Jason Raize: Definitely! 🙂 No matter what, it all comes down to your communication with people who are watching you and giving their time to see you. When I come out of the theater, it doesn’t matter if I’m tired. My responsibility is to give time and energy to people who have done the same to me. The people are very interesting, and I stay out there as long as I have to. And a lot of kids, they make me smile.
girlyzoog: What is your middle name?
Jason Raize: Ha! I don’t have one!
RaizenGirl: Is there any role on Broadway that you’d like to do?
Jason Raize: Wow! That’s a good question. I thought for a while that I wanted to do “Miss Saigon,” and I always thought it would be interesting to be the “Phantom,” but I’m not old enough yet. Check back in a few years. I think originating a role on Broadway is the most exciting process, and if I could get that chance again, I would take it.
TOMGIRLOF200007: If you have a role model, would you tell us who it is?
Jason Raize: Wow! I don’t think I have an individual role model, but like most of us, we take inspiration and advice from a bunch of different people whom we respect and admire. And that’s not always from a celebrity figure. Sometimes, it’s friends or family. It would be way too hard to narrow it down to one person, but I am indebted to a lot of people I’ve worked with.
melanieann11: I am starting singing lessons. Do you have any advice for me?
Jason Raize: Be sure you enjoy what you’re hearing. Professional coaches now recommend that you have more than one teacher. If you have just one voice teacher, it is very advantageous to see someone else now and then. Like a doctor — you get two opinions. And good luck!
zoogdisneyluvbug: Do you go on tour around the world?
Jason Raize: Not yet. I’ve gone to London several times, but I haven’t yet done a world tour. But I absolutely cannot wait, because I love to travel! We’re waiting now to see which markets are going to be big for me. I think Japan, and, definitely, Europe.
Angel: What do you think about seeing yourself on TV?
Jason Raize: It’s funny for somebody who has worked in theater a lot. To do television or film, your work is frozen and you can’t change it. It’s much different doing a live performance than watching yourself on TV. Disney Channel did such an awesome job cutting together the conference. All of us who did it had a party and watched the concert, and we all had a great time!
zOoGiE452: Jason, did you ever once think about appearing on Disney again?
Jason Raize: Absolutely! Disney is one of the best companies for entertainment that exists. They have such high-quality work. It’s a lot of fun to work for them, because they have their ducks in a row. I would love to be on Disney Channel again!
bugz: You have the finest body! Do you work out a lot?????????????????????????????
Jason Raize: Ha! Yes! Thank you very much. I definitely have to, because in the costume I wear in “Lion King,” the upper half of my body is naked. I can’t afford NOT to go to the gym. Thank you very much.
marie777702: If there was one thing you could change about yourself, what would it be?
Jason Raize: My gosh … whew! I really don’t know! I think if you start to ask yourself that question, you’re going to come up with too many answers!
jettrocker^: When you walk out of buildings, do crowds of people ask for your autograph?
Jason Raize: Yeah. At different shows, there are different numbers of people. If it’s a night show, we’ll get a big group. Sundays, cold and rainy, you don’t get such a big group.
bugz: What type girl would you date?
Jason Raize: Man! I think it’s silly to answer questions like that. You never know before you meet them. I would date redheads that are 6’5″ and then a brunette that is 4’5″. I guess, really, it’s just a matter of walking through your day. When you’re blown away by something, you’re blown away!
zabby2001: What is your favorite movie?
Jason Raize: I don’t have a favorite movie either. It’s so hard to do the favorite lists, because I don’t typically have one favorite. I love movies so much. I really liked “Mission Impossible 2.” I really didn’t like “The Patriot” that much, and I’m going to see Disney’s “The Kid” tomorrow night.
jessi: When is your next tour date going to be?
Jason Raize: We don’t have a date for it yet. The dates happen so fast in the industry. I almost went on tour with Cher at the beginning of this year. We were still talking about it just two weeks before I would have been there. So there’s not a lot of advance notice. We’ll keep you posted through the Web site.
neonmeac: What is the make-up and costume process like for “The Lion King?”
Jason Raize: The makeup is 45 minutes, and it’s full face. And I have to wear a big red Z on my chest and back, so it’s a lot of body paint, and you can still see it after I take it off. The costume for me is pretty simple. It’s an African beaded corset and a mask that goes on my head. The other characters on the show have to wear very heavy and very complicated costumes.
gohsts: Are you shy when you’re on stage?
Jason Raize: Sometimes, yeah, actually. That’s a really good question. You have moods day by day. The moods come out onstage, as well. No matter what day it is for you, you have to be onstage in front of a lot of people live. The shyness comes when I do stuff other than “Lion King,” but it’s also part of who you are as a performer.
zoogeena: How do you feel about the concert you had???
Jason Raize: Incredibly happy, and very proud of my entire group — the dancers! We had a lot of fun. If you watch the dancers, you can see that they had a lot of fun and a lot of energy. They came with me from New York.
Zoogerator: How did you find your dancers? Are they friends of yours?
Jason Raize: It was a great experience. The dancers are pros from New York. I knew two of them before hand, and the other two, I didn’t. We had auditions. In New York, you still have to audition your friends as well. You need a group that looks good together. I’m friends with two of them. One of them, JD, works with me on my career. He did the choreography.
babyj200035: Hey, Jason!! I was wondering, what ever got you into Broadway?
Jason Raize: Lots and lots and lots of auditioning! Like I said before about Disney having great quality work, because of that, they are very conscious and thorough when they’re looking for people who will be part of their productions. You have to go through a lot of auditioning. For Simba, they had lots of interest from the top people. They wanted to make sure they were getting the right person. So I had to come back and dance and sing, and dance and sing. They brought me to LA, and I met with Peter Schneider and Thomas Schumacher, who, basically, run the studio now. Those two guys were my final audition. We had a great time, and I actually forgot that I was in an audition. And a few weeks later, I found out that I got the part.
Zoogerator: Who was the first person you called?
Jason Raize: My sister. And then I called my dad. I had a bunch of friends with me. I was in the exact same theater that I would later be in a few months later with “The Lion King.” I was in Minneapolis in the theater doing the “King and I” tour. A lot of friends were with me when I found out. I was screaming, and then I had to go onstage.
babyj200035: I totally loved you on the “In Concert!!” When is your album, “NYC” coming out, or is it already out?
Jason Raize: “NYC” will come out after “You Win Again.” “You Win Again” was just released. We’re waiting for the airplay and attention to come around. Then we will release “NYC.” The release date for the album comes pretty quickly. There’s not much notice in this business. If you have a favorite radio station, call them and ask them to play “You Win Again.” It would be awesome.
NYCgirl: You’ve accomplished so much in the past three years, including a starring role in a Broadway show and releasing a solo album. Do you have any other goals that you want to accomplish?
Jason Raize: I just did a movie about four months ago. It was my first lead role in a film. It should air on TV in September. I like to do a lot of different things, so I don’t like to commit my time to doing just one kind of thing. I like to do a little of this, and a little of that. Hopefully, together, it all makes a career.
supernatural: What’s on your new CD?
Jason Raize: Pop music that has a bunch of different flavors in each song. From R&B to alternative. Some songs are like boy band pop songs. Some songs are more akin to a solo — just one person singing. It will be an adjustment for some people going from harmonies with five people to solos. Basically, it’s pop music!
BlondGoddess: What things do you do differently when you perform as a pop star, than when you perform as Simba in “The Lion King?”
Jason Raize: Wow! Virtually everything! Except you’re using the same instrument. The biggest challenge for theater actors is going into a pop career. Onstage, you’re playing a character. You need to be connected and give an honest performance. I love performing as myself, because you’re using your experience and your thoughts. It’s much more personal.
sigmaration: In “In Concert,” you looked like you had so much fun. Had you ever been jet skiing before?
Jason Raize: Once before! I didn’t do too well! The jet skis that Disney Channel had for me were amazing. It went so fast! If you see the special, it wasn’t really that funny. The water was really cold, but I had a wet suit, so I couldn’t feel a thing! We were lucky, because there weren’t that many people out there on the water. If you watch the special, you see me fall off three times! But they edited it, and I really only fell off once, and they showed it three times!
bridget111: I heard you were designated as a Goodwill Ambassador to the UN? How did you receive this honor?
Jason Raize: I did a lot of communication with the UN. I was always very interested in the United Nations as a concept — the fact that there is a group that unites most of the world, and we have one place where all of these countries can get together and discuss issues. Our generation takes that for granted. Past generations realize that this is not normal, and that countries didn’t always get together and communicate like this. As a generation, I wanted to make sure that we didn’t miss the boat. I wanted to speak with some of the people at the UN and make sure that they were trying to communicate with my generation. They wanted to meet with me and talk about ways to communicate in a more productive way.
sto_a3: Do you ever feel overwhelmed with all of this popularity?
Jason Raize: With the popularity, no. I feel sometimes overwhelmed with the day. When you wake up in the morning and you just want to get out of bed and have breakfast and chill out, but you see a list of things in your fax, or in your notebook, of all the things you need to do that day. And you get tired looking at that list and want to take a vacation, sometimes. Sometimes I unplug the phone and go to the park with my friends, but that’s not often!
nsynclava101: When you were little, what did you think you were going to be?
Jason Raize: I had no idea, whatsoever! My dad is a lawyer and a college professor. My mother worked with computers. But what I’m doing — it feels right to pursue this. I didn’t know what I wanted to go to college for. I wasn’t very good at math or science.
RaizenGirl: What’s your favorite Broadway play, ever?
Jason Raize: Wow! “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Not the one that’s on Broadway right now, though …
LanceLance107: Do you like Broadway?
Jason Raize: Yes, I love it! Do I want to do it forever? No. I never got bored with “Lion King.” There was something magical about that. I have fun every time I go out there to do the show. That’s unique, though, and I don’t see myself wanting to go from show to show to show.
chichibeanie: Jason, what other jobs did you have?
Jason Raize: I had survival jobs when I was younger — waiting tables, and night manager for a restaurant in Los Angeles. That was pretty much it. Oh, sorry! Going to school here in New York, I worked at a big toy store, and it was so much fun! Sometimes, when you’re tired, when you have a day like we talked about, it’s fun to go places like that.
alastair: What is your most memorable moment while appearing in “Disney’s Sizzling Summer Weekend?”
Jason Raize: When I first saw the previews that Disney Channel was putting on … because I admire a lot of people who were on that. It was a lot of fun to be a part of that, with so many fantastic artists involved.
curiousgeorge: What do you hope for in the future? Do you want to continue singing?
Jason Raize: Definitely, continue singing. I don’t think I will ever give up singing. I have goals that lie on the business side of the industry, as well. I want to learn a lot about the production side of music and film. That goes along with my desire to do a lot of different things. I don’t think I’ll ever give up singing, but I will reach out into other areas — some of which I don’t even know yet!
Whateverdude: Do you like to dance? If you do, can you tell me how?
Jason Raize: I didn’t have training in dancing. It was so cool that I was given a chance to do productions even without that training. Dancing is very amazing to me. It’s very physical, and I like sports. Even the choreographer of “Lion King” gave me a lot of chances. They wanted somebody who could do the physical dances and movements of Simba and who could also sing the vocal range. Garth gave me a chance to come into the production when they did have choices of people who were more experienced dancers. They tricked me into coming to an audition that was for dancers only. The dancers in our production are from Alvin Ailey and Harlem Dance. I had to go audition with them. They’re really good, and I was the only one in the room without 15 years of dance experience. They wanted to see if I would chicken out and leave, or if they could work with me. There was one part with lots of jumps, and I like to jump. So I did that, and Garth liked what he saw.
Nicole: I love to sing, but I get really shy when it comes to people watching me perform. What should I do?
Jason Raize: Have more and more people who are close to you watch you. One person, then two, then three, etc. Just have small groups watch you, and ask them for support. You’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll become comfortable.
Jason Raize: Thanks everyone for hanging out for the hour. Thanks for everyone at Disney, too. Definitely come to the theater and watch the show! And watch the concert on Disney Channel. It airs again on July 20.
Zoogerator: Can You Taste the Tears? That’s because it’s time to say thank you and goodbye to the sweet, wonderful, and drop-dead gorgeous Jason Raize!