Jesse McCartney is on a roll. With his new album In Technicolor out Tuesday, and as he prepares for a North American tour, he's also the star of the new Lifetime movie Expecting Amish. Jesse took time out of his packed schedule Wednesday to talk with us about the movie, the album, and how he's been both a successful singer and actor for so long.
"It was just such an original story," he said of Expecting Amish, and why he signed on for the male lead. "AJ Michalka is a good friend of mine; I knew that she was doing the film, and it seemed like a really sweet project. It shot here in Los Angeles with a nice little group of actors that I knew. The director, Richard Gabai, he just knew what kind of film he wanted to make."
"It is a love story at the end of the day," he explained. "It's [about] a young Amish woman who's caught between living out a lifestyle that she grew up knowing, or making a huge change and leaving the Amish land and coming to Los Angeles to live a life as we all know it. I think that's sort of the drama in the movie. I play a DJ in the film, and she comes out to Los Angeles to sort of explore and see what life is like outside of the Amish community. She's out for about a month for what's known as Rumspringa in the Amish culture. She meets me and we end up falling in love."
It's not hard to see why somebody would fall for someone he plays, given how down to earth and charismatic Jesse is in real life; he's one of the entertainment industry's good guys, and that translates when you see him on screen. But will AJ's character Hannah stay with Jesse's character Josh, or go back home and to the young man she's expected to marry, played by Baby Daddy's Jean-Luc Bilodeau? You'll have to watch and find out, and pay attention especially as you near the conclusion of the film. "There's a big dramatic scene at the end," Jesse told us.
It certainly was an asset to the film that his scene partner was someone he already knew. "AJ's a fantastic actress and I have known her for a long time. She and I were on the same record label," he told us. "We had a friendship prior to making this movie and that definitely helped on screen."
This isn't new territory he's into; Jesse's been acting about as long as he's been singing. His first major role was as Adam Chandler, Jr. on ABC's soap All My Children back from 1998 to 2001, and he earned two Daytime Emmy nominations for it. He also had a great arc on Lifetime's Army Wives as Private Tim Truman. Even with the equal demands of his music career, acting is still important to him.
"A lot of people don't know [about] that, because the music is kind of what drove me into the public eye," he told us. "The goal is to sort of maintain both careers as long as the fans will let me. I certainly enjoy acting just as much as I do performing and singing. It's all about balance."
Having said that, he's also excited about the release of In Technicolor, which is his first full studio album since 2008's Departure and its 2009 reissue. "This is probably the album I'm most proud of on a personal level," Jesse explained. "It was recorded under my record company, Eight0Eight Records. I'm now independent of any major record label. We're doing it all on our own. It's all in-house now, which is nice. It's harder and there's a lot more to do but it's a lot more rewarding as well. It's nice being able to have creative freedom to do whatever you want, and not have anyone to answer to!"
A retro record inspired by artists like Michael Jackson, Prince, and Earth, Wind and Fire, In Technicolor drops on July 22nd - but if you pre-order it via Jesse's website, you can actually get a hold of the album early. Pre-ordering the record also gets you pre-sale access for the accompanying North American tour, which begins in Charlotte on July 25 and will take him coast to coast. You can check out all the tour dates and buy tickets at his website.
So wait a minute: he's starring in a movie, dropping an album, and headlining a nationwide tour. Even with "an awesome team" helping him, how does Jesse manage all this? Is he ever going to get a break? "I am waiting for that day to happen," he laughed. "I don't think so, not for a while. This tour is pretty full on. Were doing 26 shows in the next five weeks. But this is what I love to do. This is what dreams are made of. I'm very fortunate and blessed to have so much going on."
Expecting Amish airs Saturday at 8 PM ET/PT on Lifetime (check your local listings for specific channel). For more on Jesse, including information on his upcoming tour, be sure to visit his website (jessemac.com) and follow him on Twitter (@jessemccartney).