Shalom Life | August 23, 2014

EXCLUSIVE: Q & A With Justin Berfield, Child Star and Virgin Produced CCO

The former ‘Malcolm in the Middle’ star talks his new career behind the camera

By: Ashley Baylen

Published: March 19th, 2013 in Culture » Society » Interviews

27-year-old, Justin Berfield, has been in the “industry” since he was 4 years old. The Los Angeles native landed a Folgers coffee commercial while in kindergarten, and went on to star in over 20 ads.

At 8 years old, Berfield was cast in TV’s ‘The Good Life’ alongside Drew Carey, leading to guest-starring roles on other popular sitcoms of the time including ‘The Mommies’ and ‘Duckman’. The following year, he landed his first lead role as Ross Malloy in The WB’s ‘Unhappily Ever After’.

Berfield achieved international success in 2000 playing Reese in ‘Malcolm in the Middle’. In fact, when ‘MITM’ aired it’s 100th episode, he became the youngest actor in screen history to have appeared in 100 episodes of two different series (including ‘Unhappily Ever After’).

Since ‘Malcolm in the Middle’s’ end in 2006, Berfield has focused all his creative energy on work behind the camera. As of 2010, he is Chief Creative Officer of Virgin Produced, a new film & TV development and production company under the Virgin Group.

Berfield has joined us for a Q & A, chatting about Virgin Produced, his longtime working relationship with Jason Felts, and the company’s latest release ’21 and Over’.

ASHLEY BAYLEN (AB): The majority of people know you from your roles in ‘Malcolm in the Middle’ and ‘Unhappily Ever After’. What they don’t know is that you’ve been equally successful behind the camera, and are currently the Chief Creative officer of Virgin Produced. Why did you decide to focus on producing instead of acting?

JUSTIN BERFIELD (JB): After ‘Malcolm’ ended, I realized that I had spent my entire since- since I was 4-in front of the camera. I had worked on four back-to-back television series with really only a few month of breaks during and in between. It was then that I decided that I would shift my focus to behind the camera in producing. During ‘Malcolm’, I had formed my own production company called J2 and had co-created and produced my first television show. J2 was acquired in 2010 by Virgin, and I currently oversee my team on all creative aspects of development and production by Virgin Produced.

AB: Prior to joining the Virgin team, you and partner Jason Felts, ran J2. What would you say are the major differences between working in the indie world vs. the Virgin world?

JB: I like to say I’m the same guy, same producer that I was at my “indie” company, as you say. However, now with a cooler looking business card. While both companies and opportunities are very different in size and domestic vs. global reach, they are pretty similar in a lot of ways. When my business partner and I formed our then company, J2, our first goal was to create an environment focused primarily on fostering emerging talent and providing a place where they could develop their ideas with the freedom of doing it however they want; not feeling like they had to conform to an archaic development model often found at other places. I feel people are most creative when they are working in a collaborative environment, focused first on creative quality. At both J2 and at Virgin, this is the focus. If the creative is treated as a priority, then the financial upside will ultimately occur.

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