Florida A&M University alum James Bland is excelling on the world wide web and making his mark in Hollywood.
A 2008 graduate of the School of Business and Industry, Bland created the web series, FAIL, with his friend and co-star Vanessa Baden, and patterned the show after some of his experiences from The Hill.
“FAIL was created about the college experience,” said Bland, a native of Titusville, Fla. “College students will be able to directly relate to the content and they’ll probably see themselves and their friends in the characters.” he said. “There are some good life lessons in the show that students can benefit from.”
Geared towards college students, “Fail” follows six main characters, Hope (Vanessa Baden) Jet (Jeryn Mays), Jones (Bland), C.K (Andrew Bachelor), Alicia (Tristin Mays) and Billie Jean (Whitney Reed), who started a study group to help each other pass their courses, but eventually realized that college is all about finding themselves and obtaining lifelong friends.
Reed, also FAMU alum, said she wanted to be a part of the show because of its freshness and how much she related to the character.
“I try to think about myself during my freshman year at Florida A&M University and how naive I was about a number of events that happened around me,” she said with a laugh. “I constantly try to implement the feelings of not understanding and searching for sensible answers into Billie Jean.”
Bland says he chose to air the show via the Internet because of the amount of time students spend online.
“College students live on the internet because it’s normally accessible to them 24 hours a day via their phone, computer, iPod or iPad,” he said.” They spend more time on the internet than they do watching television and every now and then college students need some entertainment or laughter during breaks from studying and why not get that in a show that’s about college students.”
Bland admits it’s challenging working and acting on a show he produces.
“The role of a producer involves putting out fires and solving problems all day,” Bland said. “There’s a lot going on in a producers mind at one point. I have to balance that all while remembering my lines and cues and being in character while in front of the camera. But overall, it was a tremendous experience and very rewarding.”
This is not Bland or Baden’s first times in front of or behind the camera. Bland executive produced the short film, “Cocoa Love,” which appeared on BET’s Lens on Talent and placed in many talent competitions.
Baden, a graduate of Florida State University, appeared on “Gullah Gullah Island” and “Kenan and Kel.”
“Hope is my alter ego,” said Baden, a native of Titusville. “The one that rarely comes out but always lingers. Every once in a while I’ll say something and a friend will say, ‘you sound like Hope.'”
Bland says FAMU has been a big part of his success.
“From giving me the confidence to simply knowing that I could compete and flourish in Hollywood to instilling in me the concept of chasing excellence. I pride myself in knowing that I’ve been cut from a different cloth. I pledged at FAMU.,” said Bland, who now lives in Los Angeles, Calif.
“I ran political campaigns at FAMU. I marched on the state capitol and shut down a major intersection in the name of justice at FAMU. So, when I decided to create my own show, there was no doubt that I could get it done.”
Bland encourages individuals to follow their passion, regardless of the field, and always know the power of networking.
“It’s important to surround yourself with ambitious, hard-working people because chances are they’ll be the future moguls, bosses and entrepreneurs that you’ll partner with to do business, create projects and bring visions to fruition.”
To check out webisodes of ‘FAIL,’ visit, www.FAILSHOW.com.