Part 7 in a continuing series (inspired by THIS POST) where I ask the same five questions of different creative professionals with the goal of forming a better idea of what success looks like at various rungs on the ladder in industries such as film, comics, music, and more.
Jacob York is an incredibly gifted theatre and film actor living in Atlanta, GA (with less desirable Kentucky roots). He’s been in like a bazillion plays, but I had the pleasure of working with him as the star of our short film, Rooney’s World. Jacob is also a talented writer and has that rare star quality that almost guarantees that he’ll get me into an exclusive club one day… as long as I can still get him to return my calls.
At what point did you consider yourself a success?
Hmm. I honestly don’t know that I consider myself a success yet. I’m a success in that I am paying all of my bills by people giving me money for saying things with my mouth, which is awesome, but I’m still not at the level that I’d like to be. For instance, I’m a fairly successful theatre actor in Atlanta, working pretty consistently, However, I’ve had virtually no success on camera, with Rooney’s World being the only film I’ve been paid to be in.
It’s all in the eye of the beholder, though, and I do recognize that I’m incredibly fortunate to be working as much as I am, which is quite a bit.
How long did it take you to get there?
I got started late and milled around Western Kentucky for much longer than I should have. I got started on my professional acting career, in earnest, when I was… what, 24? 25? Thereabouts. But, once I got started, “success”, so to speak, came reasonably quickly. It was just a matter of getting out there and doing the work.
Who do you look at in the film and/or theater industry as someone you respect, that is “doing it right?”
Personally, my buddy Nick Arapoglou is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, doing it right. He’s a super successful theatre actor, and is constantly booking things on camera. Examples of him doing it right are easy. He’s a hard worker, a nice guy, a talented actor, he knows how to take advantage of his opportunities without screwing people over. He’s top notch, and is going to work forever.
Also, in a general sense, anyone who is doing their own work, obstacles be damned, is doing it right.
What’s the biggest surprise for how you expected life to be at your level vs. how it actually is?
I feel like these questions are presuming that I’m a lot more successful than I am. I’ll be honest, I didn’t anticipate that I’d ever be able to make a living through acting. I always assumed I’d end up being a teacher of some sort. So, frankly, the surprise is that I can actually do it. I expected my life to be different because I wouldn’t have this life. I have it! How exciting!
What advice would you give to someone wanting to break in to acting?
A quote from Aziz Ansari –
“Never stop hustlin’. When you feel like quitting the hustle, start hustling harder. When you’ve hustled harder and you’re like, “Ok, I can take a break from hustling.” Then.. YOU HUSTLE EVEN HARDER.”
If you want it, go get it. Because no one is going to give you anything.