By Betsy Finklea
Darryle Jermaine is no stranger to adversity, but he has used his experiences to not only better his own life but to serve as an inspiration for others who are chasing their dreams.
Darryle was born in Brooklyn. His parents had drug problems, and when he was only one year old, his grandmother took him and his brother, adopted them, and moved them to Dillon.
Darryle said he first realized he had talent when he was at Gordon Elementary School in the sixth grade. He loved the television show “Family Matters” and the character on the show, Steve Urkel. On field day, he dressed as Steve Urkel and kept saying his famous line, “Did I do that?” The other kids thought it was funny, and he knew he had talent. “I knew I had something here,” Darryle said.
Darryle went on to seventh grade. He played football. He didn’t reconnect with entertainment until he was in ninth grade at J.V. Martin Junior High School. In tenth grade, Darryle did a documentary for his drama class.
However, at age 17, things took a turn. Darryle said he found himself locked up for armed robbery and landed in the South Carolina Department of Corrections. “I saw everything there is to see in the Department of Corrections,” Darryle said. He first went to admissions at Kirkland and then went to Lee County from 1999-2001 and then served the rest of his time in Kershaw County from 2001-2007. Darryle said he had a conversation one day with a man who had two life sentences. The man asked him what he was doing there. He said he made a mistake, but the conversation stuck with him. He began to question God and himself. “Why am I here?”
As he got older, he realized that God put him there to save his life. He knew he had a message to deliver to people, to inspire them, and to show them it’s okay to make a mistake, but you can’t let it control your life. He knew it was time for him to turn his life around and make an impact on the world.
When Darryle got out of prison, it was quite an adjustment. He was 17 years old going into prison, and he was 26 years old getting out, and while he was an adult, mentally he was still a kid. He didn’t know how to do simple things like pup gas or use a credit card, and when he got out, he didn’t have any place to go. He went to a shelter in Mullins and got a job, but his dream still burned inside of him.
Darryle had been doing some rapping, which at the time was new in a small town like Dillon. He thought it would be the doorway to get into film.
It was not long before Darryle got off probation and was finally free. “It was now or never to chase this dream,” Darryle said.
With $15 in his pocket, Darryle struck out on faith. He was scared. It would be a big change to go from a small town like Dillon to a big city, but he took the Amtrak to New York. His aunt, and her husband, picked him up at the train station. He said when he exited the station everything was “so beautiful.” He said the lights hit him, and he knew that he was where he needed to be to make his dreams come true.
It took a few months for Darryle to adjust to city life. He had some head shots done and did some modeling.
Soon, he had the opportunity to be on a tv show. He was telling everyone he was going to be on a show. When the show finally aired, his name wasn’t even in the opening credits. He didn’t make the post-production cut. His dreams were left on the cutting room floor. “It almost broke me,” said Darryle. “It hurt because I never got rejected like that.”
He didn’t know what to do at that point, but he was encouraged to keep on going. He took some classes. He started to see that the road to achieve his dream was long.
In 2011, he was walking in the park and a film crew was shooting “The Wolf of Wall Street.” He saw a poster and went and applied for a part. He was cast as a stockbroker in the film, which starred Leonardo DiCaprio. He got his vouchers and became SAG (Screen Actors Guild) eligible, but he didn’t join right away. He wanted to get more experience. He applied for student films and other films and began to get casted for various roles. He was able to build his resume. He joined SAG in 2019. Things didn’t go well the first year, but then came “Law and Order.” He was put on the show as an FBI agent.
Then, the pandemic struck. Down on his luck, Darryle became homeless in 2021. He didn’t know what to do. He was barely getting by. He had money to eat and that was all. He went to a shelter in Manhattan and figured some things out. Darryle was homeless about six months. Then things got better. He was cast on a show by Fifty Cents, Power Book 2: Ghost. He went on set and they loved him. He got a character part in Season Three, and they are now shooting Season Four of Power Book 2: Ghost. He also had a part recently in FBI on CBS. Most recently, he has been cast as as Undercover Detective Donald “Dibz” Macmillan in L.A. W. A Production by Todd L. Johnson.
Darryle is also doing his own film called “Dillon,” which will be released later this year and has a book in the works.
Darryle said he feels so blessed to be able to share his story and inspire others, and he is honored to be doing what he’s doing.
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