Skai Jackson Auditioned For This Role in ‘Black Panther’ & Hopes to ‘One Day’ Play Riri Williams

Skai Jackson
Photo: Courtesy of Alex Kruk. Design: Cierra Miller/STYLECASTER.

Not many people can say they’ve inspired a Marvel superhero, but when Skai Jackson first heard that Riri Williams, a.k.a. Ironheart, was based on her in 2016, she thought the news was fake.

“I thought it was fake when I first saw it!” she tells STYLECASTER. “Because people were tweeting it to me, I was like, ‘There’s no way I inspired something Marvel.’ People were like, ‘No, they really were inspired by you for the character.’ That was such a great moment for me. Not a lot of people can say that Marvel took them for a character. I was inspired by it and very thankful. Hopefully one day I can actually be the character.”

Riri, who first appeared in the Iron Man comics, will make her on-screen debut in 2022’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which sees actress Dominique Thorne star as the character. Though Jackson inspired Riri, she can’t confirm whether she auditioned for her. “See, this is the thing. I don’t know if I’ve auditioned for it,” she says.” Because I have auditioned for Marvel things, but they don’t tell you what you’re auditioning for. They create a fake character. They don’t even tell you what the character is about. So I could have, but I have no idea.”

While Jackson doesn’t know if she’s auditioned for Riri, she can confirm that she’s auditioned for one of the Spider-Man films and the first Black Panther movie. “I’ve auditioned for Spider-Man before. They liked me, but everybody in that high school looked so much older that I looked like a middle schooler. So that was one of the reasons [I wasn’t cast],” she says. “It was a fake role. They don’t tell you what it is. They create a whole different name. They just give you sides. They’re not even real sides that are going to be in the film. It’s kind of a fake audition but it’s real.”

For Black Panther, Jackson went out for Shuri, the younger sister of T’Challa (a.k.a. Black Panther), who is played by Letitia Wright. “I auditioned to be in the Black Panther. I auditioned for the sister that was in it,” Jackson says. “[Letitia] did an amazing job. It came down to me and a couple others. They liked me. I just looked too young for the role, and that’s OK. But I’m so glad that she got it. She killed the role. I’m so excited to see her in the new one.”

Despite her busy career, Jackson, who is also a full-time college student, still finds time to take care of her mental health. One of the ways she does so is with OLLY’s Goodbye Stress Gummies
, which she uses to calm herself down when she has a packed schedule. 

“I tend to get stressed out easily. I’m a full-time college student. I’m working. I’m developing projects. It’s a lot of stuff combined,” says Jackson, who is also a fan of OLLY’s The Perfect Women’s Multi Vitamins. “I like to detach myself from my phone. I like to clear my mind. Take a break. Sometimes it’s really hard for me to do that.I feel like, because I am a public figure, I always need to be on Instagram. I always need to be on my phone, but sometimes your mental health is just way more important than that. Since I’ve been taking OLLY too, it’s been helping my stress levels. “

Ahead, Jackson talked to STYLECASTER about her time on the Disney Channel, why she wouldn’t return for a Jessie reboot and why it’s still “hard” for fans to see her as an adult. 

On how she’s moved on from the Disney Channel

“I started doing that when I had just turned 10. It’s nothing shady towards them or anything. I’m almost 20 years old. I’ve done two Disney Channel shows. I feel like I’ve grown out of it. I’ve played the same character for seven years in total. That’s a really long time. I’ve enjoyed doing it, but it’s just time for me to move on. I’m very grateful for the platform they gave me, but I now have the opportunity to do other cool stuff.”

On why she wouldn’t do a Jessie reboot 

“I feel like it wouldn’t be the same. I feel like it’s not necessary. What would be cool is what they did with Fresh Prince where the cast met up again and they did a short little catching-up with their lives. But I don’t think a reboot is necessary. What are we rebooting? We don’t need a nanny no more. What’s the point? Of course, Cameron [Boyce] isn’t here either. Jessie was a really good show. It was a great memory for me and the people watching. So I think it should just be left alone.”

On how it’s still hard for fans to see her as an adult

“It is hard for people to see me as an adult. People get shocked when I say, ‘I’m going to be 20 in April.’ They’re like, ‘What?’ They alway have that reaction. People think that, because I look so young, that my body doesn’t grow. I’m like, ‘I’m not shaped like a 9 year old anymore.’ I’ve developed a little bit, which is OK. It’s a normal thing. People sometimes get a little shocked by it or they can’t process it because they watch me on TV and they’re like, ‘Wait a minute. She’s older than me when I was watching her?’ It’s kind of a mind thing. People will catch up eventually.”

On her TikTok journey

“I feel like TikTok is that one app where you cannot care about how you look. TikTok is literally just an app for fun. If you want to do something stupid, do it on TikTok. If you have this funny skit idea, do it on TikTok. At first, I wasn’t into the idea of TikTok. I was like, ‘No. I’m not really with it.’ But my friends were like, ‘No. Get on TikTok. You’ll like it.’ I started doing it, and in the first day, I had a million followers. I was like, ‘OK. Maybe I’ll keep doing this.’ Now I think I have 18 million. I have a different audience there. Some of the videos I make, they’re stupid in my mind, but just recently, my stupid video got 40 million views.”

On how she defines self-care

“Self-care, for me, is taking care of yourself, focusing on yourself and doing whatever makes you happy. That’s what I do in my everyday life, whether it be going outside, whether it be taking my OLLY gummies to make me feel better. I need to do whatever I need to do in my life to make sure I get to that point where I’m focused on myself and I’m ready. That’s how I define self care. It’s really caring about yourself. You can, of course, care about other people, but just make sure you’re as important as those other people too.”

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