Jayah Kaisamba's Unlikely Path To Stay on the Gridiron Leads Him to Big Screen
Aug 13, 2013
The Georgetown football career of Jayah Kaisambawinded down, as the Hoyas fell to Lehigh in the 2011 Patriot League Championship Game, but the decorated cornerback from Fort Worth, Texas still had more football left in his system. It would just eventually come via a different avenue.
The two-time All-Patriot League and 2010 ECAC First Team selection continued training through the winter and spring of his senior season, trying to pique the interest of pro scouts in the U.S. and Canada. But as draft day came and went without a phone call, Kaisamba began preparing for life beyond the gridiron. He earned his degree in management from the McDonough School of Business in May 2012, moved back to Texas and met up with former Georgetown football player and 2001 graduate Reed Wakefield, who helped him land a job at Century Interactive along with Georgetown men's lacrosse graduate Patrick Schmitz.
At the time, Kaisamba remembered thinking: "I'm just happy that I have a job, especially for my parents. I can't go to Georgetown and come back empty handed."
But Kaisamba kept his eyes open for football opportunities. In Texas there are a host of semi-pro outdoor and arena teams in the area, but one lead quickly grabbed his interest. Kaisamba learned of an opportunity to follow the path of Hoya alums Matt Bassuener and Brent Craft (who appeared in the television series Friday Night Lights) and take his football abilities to the big screen.
"It was kind of random," Kaisamba remembered. "I still follow my high school football team's Facebook page and one of the current team Mom's posted information about a movie audition. I looked up the information and the try-out was down the street from me, so I figured, I played football in college, so I think I can play football and act in a movie."
The movie, One Heart, is based on real-life events surrounding an iconic 2008 high school football game between Texas 5A powerhouse Grapevine Faith Christian School and the maximum security facility, Gainesville State School, a story Kaisamba had some familiarity with, having been a senior at LD Bell when the game took place.
Filmmakers were in search of athletes with at least high school football experience, as former student-athletes from TCU, Vanderbilt and Dartmouth were on hand. For Kaisamba, the movie audition played more like a football try-out to, as his conditioning helped pay dividends during the process.
"There were 400-plus people that tried out and it got down to about 70 guys, so it was intense," Kaisamba said. "It felt like a real try-out, we were out there running forty's, one-on-one's, seven-on-seven's, individual drills, you name it."
Kaisamba made the final cut and almost immediately began trying to make a smooth transition from football player to actor. The worked involved, made the two-a-days on Multi-Sport Field seem tame, but he had athletes that had appeared in other football shows like Unnecessary Roughness and a couple that had even done the football scene from The Dark Knight Rises, to give him an idea of what to expect.
"Once the lights came on they expect you to be at this yard mark at this certain time period, so it's a lot of pressure in terms of being able to match the story and be at the right spot at the right time," Kaisamba said about the transition from football player to actor-football player. "I definitely carry my football traits into the movie, but at the same time there is a lot of stop and go. For example, I love cornerback blitzes, but just imagine doing the same cornerback blitz 15 times in a row to get the right angle and the right speed. A lot of long nights and long days, I love football, but sometimes 10 hours of football can be a little much."
Kaisamba, who lined up for Grapevine Faith in a film that stars Marc Blucas, Matthew Lillard and Romeo Miller, said that his role will not make him a household name; he did mention that Georgetown football fans and alumni may be able to notice him when the film eventually becomes available for a mass audience.
"We have our helmets on for the most part, but there are a couple nice big hits that I have, so I'll definitely be telling people, "that's me!" Kaisamba said excitedly. "I'm actually wearing the same number from Georgetown, so people will be able to say, "that's number 21, Jayah Kaisambafrom Georgetown," There will be some close up shots of me, but I'm not sure that they are ready for my face yet on the big screen."
While Kaisamba waits on the film release, he continues working at Century Interactive and keeping his football playing opportunities open. This summer, Kaisamba helped the Wichita Falls Nighthawks win a championship in the Professional American Football League and expects to play for the squad again as they transition into the Gridiron Developmental Football League.
"It was an awesome experience and season," Kaisamba said. "We went undefeated for the season and won the inaugural championship in the team's first year of existence. I tied for lead with three interceptions and we went 12-0 overall."
Kaisamba continues to build his personal football resume and stay in shape with his eyes on the CFL, NFL or even more acting opportunities, as some of his teammates in Wichita Falls have already made the move to the CFL.
"I want to keep the door open," Kaisamba said. "I'm still in top shape, so they are keeping my contact information and if they call me and say, "hey would you like to do this?" you better believe I'll be out there. We'll take baby steps. It was a random opportunity that came up, but if the opportunity came up again I'd definitely take advantage of it."