Sapelo Descendant JL Josiah Watts has been gracing stages and screens since the age of eight. He made his first television appearance on the WJXT television show ‘It’s Elementary’. This is where he answered his first live question on television.. ‘Who has the answer ball? I do!’ Since that time he has always known that he wanted to be on the big screen. He has continuously found himself performing on a stage somewhere at some time or another. He spent his youth growing up primarily in coastal Georgia between Sapelo Island and St. Simons Island. His mother was born and raised on Sapelo while his father, born in Waycross, Georgia, spent part of his youth in Bainbridge, Ga, but eventually came to reside on St. Simons Island with his grandmother. He credits much of his success in the arts with his parents. “My parents are my inspiration. They both came from extremely humble beginnings, but still managed to raise my brother, sister, and I with more love than I can ever be thankful for. From my mother I believe I get my artistic abilities and from my father my determination. Though they are both gone I always pay homage to them in the work that I do; whether with Sapelo or any other project that I write.
Besides acting Josiah also cut his mark in dancing. While in high school he was a member of his cousin’s well known break-dance troupe the M-Street Breakers. The 'M' was for Mallory Street. They were very well known for dancing against any crew that would challenge them; even once famously dancing against members of the New York City Breakers.
His most current projects include working with well-known director and writer David Garrett on his projects Oak Hill and The Wretched End of Reve Clay. He can also currently been seen in Aime' Ce'saire' 'A Tempest' at Theater Emory this winter. The adaptation will be directed by internationally known playwright Paul Carter Harrison. Josiah has also worked with the daughter of historic civil rights leader Rev. Ralph Abernathy, Donzaleigh Abernathy, on her project 'Partners to History'.
In addition, he co-stars in IronE Singleton’s new album debut song ‘J.O.P.’ aka ‘Jelly on Pam’ as Jazz Diesel. He says it was one of the most enriching and entertaining moments to date. IronE Singleton writes, direct, and produces Jelly On Pam. J.O.P. is a jazzy/rock/rap party song and an homage to women; more particularly our "Curvy Women" who do not get the same positive attention in American society as their thinner counterparts. "It was truly an honor to work with IronE on J.O.P." He also works with IronE on his One'Man Show 'Blindsided by the Walking Dead; formerly known as 'IronE the Resurrected' on the production crew.
In addition to his current projects he is looking forward to bringing his highly acclaimed ‘Sapelo Project’ back to the stage. He calls it one of the highlights of his entertainment career.
'The Sapelo Project' was written and curated by Sapelo descendant, actor, and writer JL Josiah Watts. It was presented at Theater Emory February 2014 and directed by Theater Emory Artistic Director Janice Akers. It is a theater piece that integrates music, movement, spoken word, acting, and cinema to capture some of the culture and stories of Sapelo Island and the development of the Saltwater Geechee-Gullah dialect, the history of slavery on the island, and the melding of influences of Arabic, English, Spanish and French.
"The Sapelo Project is a detailed interpretation of the lives of the direct ancestors of enslaved Africans brought from West Africa via the Middle Caicos to America. It is about a people surviving the horrors of one of the worst journeys in recorded human history to somehow build a unique way of life that still survives to this day. The Sapelo Project is a documentation of not only their perseverance, but also their ability to maintain their family traditions while under the very vestiges of slavery. It is a demonstration of how they maintained a foundation of family though they were enslaved. It is about how they maintained their African traditions day in and day out, and passed them along through many generations. It is about how they made music when they couldn't speak, how they danced in ways to feel, how they loved one another through it all." It is not just African history or even African-American history. It is American history. And it belongs to all of us.