From the age of five, Nadji learned the value of hard work when he started dancing and landed his first job as Little Harry the Hawk, the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks mini mascot. A few years later, the Atlanta native earned an opportunity to dance for R&B crooner Usher’s New Look Foundation Gala in 2005, and performed for music legend Quincy Jones, who reportedly said Nadji reminds him of the younger Michael Jackson.
“They were great opportunities and time flew by so fast,” Nadji comments, as he reflects on his earlier years.
The actor admits he knew at age seven he wanted to pursue acting as well, but his mother knew a move to Los Angeles would provide more opportunities and take him to the level. Nadji, and his mother Nadine, made the move to L.A. in 2007, where he scored more guest star roles both on the camera and on the stage as a backup dancer.
“My mom motivates me because she’s always pushed me and inspired me to get into the business,” Nadji says. “She’s my best friend and my right hand man.”
That encouragement both fostered and nurtured Nadji’s talents, which played an influential role in his development into a rising star in the acting industry, a business he says he takes seriously as he listens to and takes heed to the advice of veterans and co-stars Tracee Ellis Ross and Malcolm-Jamal Warner.
“It’s such an honor to be a part of the show,” Nadji adds, about co-starring on Reed Between the Lines. They’re [Tracee and Malcolm-Jamal] the best to have on the set because they’re great people and they’ve been acting teachers we listen to.”
With lessons from his actor mentors and the friends and family who Nadji comments keep him grounded, the 15-year-old pays it forward as a Star Power Ambassador for Starlight Children’s Foundation, an organization that grants the wishes of seriously ill children to meet child celebrities.
“I’ve always wanted to give back to the community and this is a great opportunity to do it,” he says.
With summer looming by, Nadji plans to work as he films Grown Ups 2 and to continue to shine his light for others who aspire to break into the industry.
“Seek God first, never give up, stay focused and believe,” he says. “It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s worth it.”
Follow Nadji Jeter on Twitter @NajJeter
Photo by Robert Kazadjian