How This Actor Worked His Way To The Top

How This Actor Worked His Way To The Top

Looking at Jason’s profile and listening to him talk, you wouldn’t believe that he grew up in a tough area of London, and had to motivate himself to start his acting career.

His journey is a special one, and he’s met lots of amazing people along the way, who have given him solid advice – but never helped him – as he has only himself to thank for staying determined through the tough times.

If you’re not getting acting roles, or have no idea where to start your career – whether to go to drama school, or which agency to join, we spoke with Jason Newell to answer all of your worries.

Hi Jason. Can you please tell us about what you do at the moment?

I’m currently being considered for a number of professional acting roles that I’ve been sent letters of intent for.

I’ve also recently been asked to self-tape twice by a world leading casting director from the Casting Society of America and The Casting Directors Guild, whom has cast over a billion dollars worth of films for a central lead protagonist role in an undisclosed production.

How was your experience at New York Film Academy and how did this prepare you to enter the industry?

I loved The New York Film Academy.

I really came out of my shell there thanks to Professor Caroline McGee. She gave me the fearlessness which is required in this industry to break the mold and shine to get noticed.

Caroline is a world leading expert in the arts and drama so to have her coach me was a great honour. She’s taught at some of the world’s leading arts and drama institutes such as The New York Conservatory For Dramatic Arts, Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler.

She cast and directed my short films at NYFA which was really cool, and she hooked me up with a hot young blonde Swedish girl for a kiss scene. She’s absolutely awesome so I bought her a vintage bottle of scotch for the hook up! haha.

What do you think helped make your audition successful for The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute, New York?

My audition was based on improvisation being directed by the coaches which I loved doing.

I think I’ve got a bit of a talent for improv which I think is very important in drama as you can really catch an intimate moment.

The technique actually got me a lead role in a web series pilot for 21st Century FOX’s Endemol Beyond production company; I’m not yet allowed to reveal much of, but in all honesty, I think what sealed the deal for me was a written a personal recommendation by Caroline.

She taught there for years, so it wasn’t very hard for me to get in which proves that connections are everything in our world.

In moments of doubt, how do you motivate yourself to keep going?

I look back at how far I’ve come from where I began with what little I had.

I came from an extremely difficult background in East London and it’s a tough place to grow up – it can either make or break you. Luckily it made me after breaking me.

You have plenty of qualifications and education in acting, do you think it’s important that an actor studies their craft?

I don’t think the actual qualifications in acting are necessary. I think you need to be extremely savvy and have a hustlers mentality.

I’ve never paid for a headshot or my showreel. Nothing like that. I would recommend casting workshops and some screen acting classes and that’s about it. A few documentaries on acting for film and stuff like that. Most people I know with an acting degree usually end up teaching!

I think you also need to have some serious life skills. Know how to budget and be prepared for poverty!

I’ve had to bunk trains to get to castings and all sorts. It’s the harsh reality for an actor from a poor working class background. The arts are increasingly becoming a hobby for wealthy people and it’s very sad, but I suspect this is just another ploy from the establishment to maintain their utopia.

If you drive the poor righteous out of commercial arts, then the poorer communities lose their voice and the debt that comes with education in this country is crippling. It completely put me off pursuing higher education.

When did you know that acting was what you wanted to do?

Acting for me was a complete accident. I had no desire to pursue it after school even though I got an A in GCSE Drama.

Ten years after leaving school, I found myself signing up to an extras agency, then I got a dancing gig on a music video!

I soon came around and started trying to find actual roles on Facebook and through other actors/extras I met along the way. Oh my how far I’ve come in four years!

I think this summer is going to be huge for me.

I’ve already attracted the attention of some serious people in L.A. who have worked for Scorsese, Marvel, Paramount and lot’s more etc. I think it’s this face only a mother could love. Haha!

For someone who’s working in another industry, but wants to do acting, how do you suggest they transition into the field?

I would strongly recommend that you save as much money as you possibly can before moving over. Set up a strong network and talk to people with the same goals you are achieving them.

Find out about all of the relevant unions and organisations that support actors. People need to lose this myth about being spotted in the street. It’s a one in a billion chance and you have to have something extremely limited only to yourself in terms of being special.

Don’t be afraid to be an extra on your way up. People get all snobby about this and I just don’t get it. You’ll earn way more money as an extra/supporting artist than you will as an actor when you first start out – and it’s a good way to earn money on set and learn from the pros by watching them.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

This was from Noel Clarke. He told me that I will hear no more than anything else in this game and that’s if you’re even lucky to get a response at all. I love that Clarke geezer.

He first saw me in a crowd of extras on the Anomaly and through a swanky bear skin coat over me and said to walk with him and Ian Somerhaldor as their henchmen in Soho Square. That was an awesome night.

I’ve recently been directed by Noel in a scene which he and Jason Maza invited me to come down to for the sequal to AdULTHOOD, BrOTHERHOOD. It was a quick but valuable experience and such a pleasure to have his name on my CV.

He’s got a lot more lined up for me and we stay in contact when I share my latest work with him. If you’re ever unsuccessful in a casting, feel proud that you’re even been seen and also feel lucky that you’ve even been told!

I’m at a point now where I’ve been up against household names at castings but I still don’t lose faith even though I have a very slim chance of being cast.

Learn from it all, seriously. It’s all experience.

What was your last audition and how was the experience?

My last casting was for a Gillette commercial. I had to play a modern Italian American, “Man of Honour”, which was really fun as I began learning to speak as one for a couple of days solid leading up to it.

The casting director was very happy with my elocution of the accent and I intend on sharpening it more and more as I feel I have a good “New York” look.

What does the future hold for you and how do you plan to reach your goals?

My future is all in my hands right now. I’ve done all of the groundwork.

It is going to be a lifelong adventure for me. I’ve just been accepted into Equity so I’m now covered up to £10M in public liability insurance and I have a basis for legal help in the industry.

Every actor should join the union as we are all much more powerful together.

I have a catalogue of film options at the moment but I’m now in a position where I can be more choosy and artsy – so all in all, I am doing great. I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be and I’m in full control of my career.

I’m working with Shone Romulus, who plays Dris in TopBoy soon, in a movie named Only Wolves. I’m also playing a gangster named in a fantastic true life story about a drug runner and addict named Jason Cook. It’s based on his novel series which has done really well at Waterstones and WHSmiths.

It’s called The Devil’s Dandruff and I play one of Jason’s best friends, Treeny.

Although it may seem like he’s already accomplished so much, this is just the start for Jason. He’s ambitious, courageous and positive, and won’t allow anything to stand in his way.

So whatever your background or experience, take his advice and never stop doing what you love, because like it has for him, the hard work will all pay off.

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