Jason Dirden shares why Danielle Brooks was the “perfect choice” to play Mahalia Jackson

Jason Dirden plays music-loving Reverend Russell Roberts in the biopic Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia. 

This will be Dirden’s first film with his longtime acting friend Danielle Brooks, who portrays legendary gospel singer and activist Mahalia Jackson in the film.

“This is the first time that we’ve worked together. I’ve watched her work from afar and we’ve known each other in New York just through the arts circle,” said Dirden during a press conference for the film.

The Greenleaf actor said he was drawn to Mahalia after finding out Brooks was involved. 

“One of the reasons why I was excited me about doing the film was that Danielle was in it. And I thought that she was the perfect choice for Mahalia Jackson,” he declares. “She was the right age, she had the right spirit. She had the acting chops. She could sing.”

Dirden recalls embracing Brooks when they both appeared on set after taking COVID-19 precautions. 

“We had both been tested and I hugged her,” he laughs. “I hugged her, I’ll confess. But from that moment on it was just so easy to work with her and the first two scenes we did were…emotional scenes. It made it that much easier that we knew each other and were familiar with each other.”

“I would love [and] welcome the opportunity to work with her again,” Dirden continues. “You never know the universe is funny. Once the universe sees that two people have great chemistry and work together well opportunities present itself. I may talk to her and try to create some things. That would be a definite.” 

Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia premieres Saturday, April 3 at 8 p.m. ET on Lifetime.

By Rachel George
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