Virginia Beach has a new star on the rise.
Meet 10-year-old Jakari Fraser. He’s been in the biz for half of his life, but he’s just getting started.
You might be familiar with some of his recent work. He voices the adventurous techie AJ on Nickelodeon’s “Blaze and the Monster Machines” — a CGI-animated show that teaches STEM skills — and plays the baby-faced Liam in the 2018 movie “Ben Is Back,” alongside Julia Roberts and Courtney B. Vance.
Fraser got his start when he was 5.
“I was watching TV and I went to my mom and said acting looks fun. I kinda want to try it,” he said.
His mom’s response?
“She said, boy, are you crazy?” Fraser said, laughing.
His mother, Jenny Fraser, took him seriously, though, and the family relocated to New York. In the ensuing months, his face popped up in print ads and commercials all over the place.
After his first string of success, Fraser said, his mom put him on a brief hiatus. Eager to make it to the big screen, he pressed her to help him find more challenging acting roles.
The break was “ruining his life,” Fraser said facetiously.
“My mom said OK, I’ll see what I can do.”
Fraser went on to book roles in two made-for-TV movies, “Dinner for Two” and “Baking Christmas,” which he said his younger sisters became fast fans of because of its holiday theme. He also appeared in two TV series, “The Bobby Brown Story” and “Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts.”
In 2020, he appeared in two more films, “Superintelligence,” starring Melissa McCarthy and Bobby Cannavale, and “Embattled,” starring Donald Faison, Stephen Dorff and Elizabeth Reaser.
But for him, nothing compares to working on “Ben Is Back.”
“We had snowball fights and it was just a fun movie overall,” Fraser gushed. “And Julia Roberts is the sweetest person I’ve ever met.”
Roberts and Fraser connected over their left-handedness, he said, and became close friends while filming. So much so that after the cameras shut down, she gave him a stuffed animal that once belonged to her son, Phinnaeus “Finn” Moder.
“I still have it and I sleep with it to this day,” Fraser said.
His biggest surprise came when he landed the role of AJ. Even though Fraser said he slayed the audition, the phone call from his agent was unexpected.
“I was just screaming,” Fraser said.
Of all his roles, Fraser said he identifies with his animated character most. They’re both adventurous, funny and like to teach people cool things.
“I really like to help out my friends and so does AJ,” he said.
As for his real-life friends, they like to check out Fraser’s work. He gets a kick each time a friend messages him they’ve watched one of his acting endeavors.
When he’s not on set somewhere, Fraser said, he’s likely at his family’s California home skateboarding, doing parkour or eating pepperoni pizza like his favorite on-screen characters, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
“I’m gonna be honest right now, I was only introduced to pizza because of the Ninja Turtles, and I love it,” he said.
He also loves the beach, but West Coast beaches are too cold, he said. He’s eager to visit his hometown beaches later this year so he can take a dip in warmer waters.
His next appearance will be on ABC’s “Station 19” in the coming weeks. After that, Fraser said he has some big projects coming up, but he signed non-disclosure agreements and can’t talk about any of it just yet.
“It’s kind of hard to keep a secret, but trust me, the new shows are huge!”
Amy Poulter, 757-446-2705, email@example.com