Who is DJ Qualls?
Donald Joseph Qualls, better known as DJ Qualls, is an American actor, producer, and fashion model. Shooting to fame for his work in ‘Road Trip’, he has since appeared in over 20 feature films including ‘The New Guy’, ‘Hustle & Flow’, and ‘The Core’. He has also appeared in more than 22 television series including ‘Breaking Bad’, ‘Supernatural’, ‘Scrubs’, ‘‘Lost’, ‘Law & Order’, and others. A survivor of Hodgkin's lymphoma, which he was diagnosed with at the age of 14, Qualls is a fighter. After two years of treatment, his cancer went into remission. But the treatment at such an early age left severe impact on his body and thwarted his development. Once he started acting, financial security seemed to be his ultimate goal as he had seen poverty throughout his childhood. “I’ve lived so frugally for so long, I have to have that financial security or the world feels out of control for me,” he said in an interview. He also looks back at his own childhood and wants to do something about the issue of bullying. “Cruelty breaks my heart,” he says. DJ’s ideal role is to be a father, in reel as well as in real life. “But,” he admits, “Directors don’t cast me in those roles.” Someday he would love to be a father himself, when he would be able to devote less time to his career and more to his child.
Childhood & Early Life
DJ Qualls was born on June 10, 1978 in Nashville, Tennessee, to teenage parents Debbie and Donnie Qualls. “I was born to the wrong parents in the wrong place. It always felt so foreign to me,” DJ said in an interview. “I was so different from other kids; I was just weird.” He has four siblings. He was raised in Manchester, Tennessee, and attended a school nearby.
When he was 14, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer of lymphatic system, which is a part of the immune system. After two years of radiation and chemotherapy, his cancer went into remission. However, the severe treatment left an impact on his metabolism and stopped his development, which explains his slender frame.
He attended Coffee County Central High School where he was an active member in the Red Raider Band. After graduating from Coffee County, he attended King's College in London, where he studied English language and literature.
He then went to the University of London to study law as he knew that a career in law would help him make a lot of money. But he was not enthusiastic about becoming a lawyer and was more interested in acting. Thus he returned to Tennessee and attended Belmont University in Nashville. At the same time, he also began acting in a local theater company.
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In 1994, when DJ Qualls began looking for work in the film industry, he started as an extra in the HBO film ‘Against the Wall’. In 1997, he landed the small role of Jason in the mini-series ‘Mama Flora's Family,’ adapted from a historical fiction novel by Alex Haley and David Stevens. During that time, he participated in community theatre as well.
He also worked as a model for Prada, an Italian luxury fashion house, and for photographers like David LaChapelle and Steve Klein. During the early phase of his career DJ appeared in a cameo in Britney Spears' music video ‘Boys,’ and in the video ‘I'm Just a Kid’ by Simple Plan.
In 2000, after auditioning for a one-liner in ‘Road Trip’, an American comedy film directed by Todd Phillips and written by Scot Armstrong and Phillips, DJ was asked to come from the Atlanta office to meet producer Ivan Reitman in California. He debuted in the film as Kyle Edwards, a shy virgin.
With a strong performance in his first feature film ‘Road Trip’, Qualls started finding work in good projects like ‘Cherry Falls’, a 2000 American film directed by Geoffrey Wright, wherein he played Wally, another virgin. In 2001, he played Neil Lawrence in ‘Chasing Holden’.
He played Junior in the film ‘Lone Star State of Mind’; high school loser Dizzy Gillespie Harrison in the film ‘The New Guy’, a teen comedy film directed by Ed Decter; and Rat in ‘The Core’ a 2003 science fiction disaster film.
In 2005, he appeared as Shelby in the film ‘Hustle & Flow’, an independent drama film written and directed by Craig Brewer. In 2007, he starred in the comedy ‘Delta Farce’ a spoof/comedy.
In 2009, he acted, and was the executive producer of the film ‘Last Day of Summer’, a drama-comedy film written, produced, and directed by Vlad Yudin of The Vladar Company.
In 2012, he played Artie in ‘Small Apartments’, a comedy film directed by Jonas Åkerlund. He portrayed as JJ in ‘Pawn Shop Chronicles’, a 2013 crime comedy film directed by Wayne Kramer and written by Adam Minarovich. He then co-starred as Billy Nugent, a man with muscular dystrophy, on the television series ‘Legit’.
His appeared as an eccentric hunter Garth Fitzgerald IV in ‘Supernatural’, a fantasy horror television series created by Eric Kripke. He also starred on ‘Monk’, a comedy-drama detective mystery television series created by Andy Breckman.
DJ Qualls also appeared in television series like ‘Scrubs’, a medical comedy-drama created by Bill Lawrence and ‘Criminal Minds’, a police procedural crime drama television series created by Jeff Davis. He also appeared in ‘Lost’, ‘Law & Order: Criminal Intent’, ‘CSI: Crime Scene Investigation’, ‘Numb3rs’, ‘My Name Is Earl’, ‘Breaking Bad’, ‘The Big Bang Theory’, and ‘Memphis Beat’.
In 2017, he played the role of a Y2K prophet opposite Rami Malek in the science fiction mystery thriller ‘Buster's Mal Heart’, written and directed by Sarah Adina Smith.
In 2002, DJ Qualls played Archie in the film ‘Comic Book Villains’, an American black comedy film written and directed by James Robinson. He was a co-producer of the film as well. In the same year, he played Andrew in the film ‘Big Trouble’, a comedy film based on the novel ‘Big Trouble’ by Dave Barry.
DJ Qualls is not married as yet. He says he is a nerd, and would marry someone who is as interested in comic books and science fiction as he is. He prefers that his future wife or girlfriend comes from the same professional background as his, as that would help them to understand each other better.
He says that he would get married after accomplishing everything he wishes to accomplish in his life, as marriage might hinder his professional goals.
In 2011, he bought his first house in California, after living in Los Angeles for years in a modest one-bedroom apartment.