"If we're too religious..."
Jovian Jiminez is the total package. A comedian, youth pastor and singer, Jovian took AMTC by storm when he received a standing ovation and became a finalist in the Standup and Overall Adult Singer Showcases at SHINE. Born in Panama, Central America and now native to Ocala, Florida, Jovian travels to many countries leading worship and sharing Christ with kids and adults through his unique brand of comedic ministry. Also a model, actor and activist, Jovian is using his talents to tell others about Jesus while unknowingly becoming a multi-cultural icon.
How did you first get involved with standup comedy?
Well, it honestly was all AMTC. When I went through the program, it was like a miracle story. I was ready to go to SHINE, and my father-in-law got sick. We had to cancel the whole trip to Orlando, and I was so upset because I had practiced, and I was ready to go. But he needed help financially, so we put SHINE on pause. Then when I came back to training, my AMTC acting coach gave me the idea of doing standup, and I was like, “No, I’m already ready, I know what I’m doing.” But he really insisted. And you know what? I said, “All right, let’s add one more showcase.” While he was preparing and helping me write my material, I was not very confident. But when I did the showcase at SHINE, I had a standing ovation, and I didn’t even expect it. I was like, “Man! Okay! Maybe I’m supposed to do standup comedy.” So that was like God’s way of telling me, “Yes; I have something here for you.” After that I was one of the finalists. I had callbacks from VH1, Tyler Perry Studios, and BET, and they all wanted to see my standup routine, like on the spot. I was invited to go to Atlanta to audition for a Tyler Perry TV show. So the more that I advanced, I realized that there’s something here that I need to improve and tap into.
You’re a funny guy. Many aspiring comedians want to know, is there a recipe for writing a good joke? Or does it come from experience?
You know, I think it’s both. Take for example the website I did for one of my characters, Justo. Justo is a guy who’s surviving immigration through comedy. So the Justo character, he brings together the American culture and the Latin culture in one room, in one specific place. He’s an immigrant living in the United States, and he’s basically trying to learn English, so the creativity that comes through him honestly comes through everything that we’ve experienced as Latinos; Hispanics. Anything that I see from my dad, my kids, from my friends, I think, man, what would Justo say about that? So it is also showcasing the Latino culture to the American society.
What were some of the benefits of AMTC for you as a performer?
Number one, I would have to say confidence. AMTC gave me the confidence to do what I never thought I would be able to. I have been a youth pastor and a singer over twenty years; at one point I was even signed to a record label. But through AMTC, I saw ministry in a whole different spectrum. Through the program I got the encouragement to be an actor, to say, “Wow, there are Christian actors in Hollywood that really serve God, they’re doing their craft, and they’re taking acting beyond the local church on a Sunday. I realized there’s actually a whole world of Christian actors, and I had no idea before I went to AMTC. And what’s awesome too, of course, is the networking, the support system. To know that there are other Christian actors out there who are working their craft, who are not ashamed of the gospel, it is so encouraging. To be honest, there are a lot of religious people that cannot stand me doing comedy. Because being a pastor for so long, and being a worship leader, they feel that I’ve abandoned the alter for some reason. But AMTC has motivated me to be an example unto others. Because I know that at the heart of Actors Models and Talent for Christ, Christ is most important. We need to have people that are sold out. And let me tell you, I’m not ashamed to say that I am sold out, I am not afraid to express the gospel, and even say “Jesus “ wherever God takes me. I think that has opened so many doors.
What role does Christ play in your career as a performer?
So I think this might answer that. My wife and I, we got invited two years ago to Indianapolis, for the Super Bowl. We were at the ESPN party and we were sitting there; there were so many people drinking and smoking, just doing what they do. And the CEO for Van Heusen, he introduced me to this man, we don’t have to mention his name, but he just starts talking to me, for like a whole hour! It was an interesting conversation, and he asked me what I did for a living. I didn’t say I was an actor, I told him, “I’m a youth pastor.” And he was like, “What? What are you doing here?” He said, “Hey man, I was in and out of jail, and one time I met God in prison…” and totally opens up. We exchanged phone numbers, and when I got back to our hotel that night, I realized his name. He was asking me questions about if miracles are real, and we talked and talked and talked. I think he was open, because he’s used to talking to many actors, and he’s used to talking to so many famous people. But here’s this youth pastor, and it caught him off guard, you know? It allowed me to actually talk with him and network with him. So it was a blessing for my wife and I. I still text him every week! And that’s the other side of the coin. Because if we’re too religious, we’re not going to go to places where God wants to take us. I was so honored to be around so many celebrities, but I have to understand that I am different. And I think a lot of people; they want to blend in with everybody else. What separates us is not blending, you know?
You tour the states and Central America singing and leading worship. What do you love about being a worship leader?
When you’re a worship leader, it keeps you grounded in who you are. What you’re doing is not for you; it’s all for God. A lot of people want to put “worshiper” and “actor” in different categories. But being a worshiper allows me to focus on, this is all God’s work. And last year was one of the most amazing years yet because me and my family were able to tour Europe, China, Cuba; it was just amazing… even Brazil, last year, and through those tours, I’m leading people in worship, but I’m also able to tell them, “You know what? In this moment of worship I want to tell you, if you’re an actor, God wants to use you. If you’re a writer, God wants to use you.” So worship sets the atmosphere for people to be encouraged.
As an actor, you have gotten the chance to work in several commercials and films including portraying a part in the major motion picture, Stand Your Ground. Any advice to performers going out for their first audition?
Of course, pray. Prepare. These are the simple things. But I will say, have patience. I thought that right when I got out of AMTC and SHINE, I was going to land every commercial in the world (laughs), and it took me a long time to land my first. I didn’t even have an agent. I had to work really hard after SHINE for my first agent.
As a model, you have been featured in Superbowl XLVI and GQ Magazine. What’s other shoots would you like to do?
I’ve worked with Van Heusen, and I would absolutely love to work for them more on a corporate level. But as a commercial model… Steve Harvey! I know Steve Harvey does his own clothing line. And he’s a comedian as well, so that would be insane. But you know what? God placed it in my heart about three years ago to begin launching my own clothing line. So last year, my wife and I, we spent time in Italy and China studying textiles and how the industry runs, and little by little we’re moving toward that area.
Do you feel that entertainers have a responsibility to give something back to society?
Absolutely. This is all about people, you know? Yes, this is about us honing our craft, but if people don’t know how to receive your message, if people don’t receive you, we’ve failed. As entertainers we have a responsibility to bring joy, bring happiness, bring awareness… so absolutely, this is all about people. This ministry is all about people.