Jharrel Jerome Taps Into The Clumsy Confidence Of 13-Foot-Tall Cootie In ‘I’m A Virgo’ [Exclusive]


Even before stepping into the shoes of a 13-foot-tall Oakland teenager Jharrel Jerome was a really big deal.

I'm A Virgo Key Art

Source: Courtesy / Prime Video

Jharrel Jerome Says Boots Riley Hooked Him With An Email

Jerome has tackled several challenging roles in the past, including the complicated younger version of Kevin in Barry Jenkins’ Oscar-award-winning film Moonlight, and his role as Korey Wise, in Ava Duvernay’s Central Park 5 limited series When They See Us which garnered him an Emmy Award. Super successful at a young age, Jerome now has his pick of roles, but he told Global Grind that writer and director Boots Riley’s unique pitch for I’m A Virgo all started with an email subject line that piqued his attention.

“Boots Riley emailed me personally and the title of the e-mail said, “13-Foot-Tall Black Man In Oakland,” Jerome recalled. “That’s all it said and that’s all it had to say, because that alone is very intriguing and it sparked my curiosity. The second I read through the e-mail I hit him back right away. We met for lunch a week later and he painted the entire vision and my jaw was to the floor. Like you said, creative is an understatement, I can’t even understand how he comes up with certain ideas. And not only coming up with the idea but executing it and having the confidence in yourself to be able to execute and then convince everyone around you to execute it with you? This is one of those projects where you gotta be the boss to get it done and so Boots definitely was.”

Prime Video 'I'm A Virgo' Stills

Source: Courtesy of Prime Video / Prime Video

I’m A Virgo is essentially the coming of age story of a young Black giant named Cootie, whose parents (played by Carmen Ejogo and Mike Epps) have sheltered him from the world, keeping him inside for as long as they could. Finally breaking free from his isolation he steps out into the world full of his own ideas, some which run very counter to the community around him. His innocence and perspective are refreshing, but Jharrel says he was actually most taken by Cootie’s assuredness.

“I think Cootie’s strongest quality is his confidence,” Jharrel told Global Grind. “I know one of the biggest traits of a Virgo is that they know it all and sometimes that’s not always a bad thing. When he goes outside he is immediately seen as different. Some people might villainize him, some people might be scared and think that he’s going to be a monster some people might be like ‘Damn he’s just big and weird,’ but Cootie doesn’t see any of that. Cootie wakes up as Cootie every day and for him his height is just part of who he is. There’s a lot of scenes where he says things and people are looking at him like ‘Boy what are you talking about? That makes no sense.’ But he doesn’t care. He doesn’t go, ‘Wait that was wrong. Oh this is awkward.’ He goes, ‘No I’m pretty sure that was right, but whatever… I’ll move past it.’ I think there’s a beauty in that because there’s just confidence and there’s a self understanding that Cootie has that I would love to always work on and be. I want to make sure that no matter what room I’m in I know who I am to the point where I’m comfortable.”

I’m A Virgo premieres today on Prime Video. Make sure to check it out and let us know what you think!