On my Facebook page, Author Cyrus Alderwood (a pen name) I have a lot of actors as friends on that list. Initially I set the page up to promote my latest book, but I got a lot more out of that just a few book sales. I paid attention to a lot of the posts that actors put up (many of whom would be considered as struggling actors chasing their dreams) and learned a good bit about the best of human nature and desire.
I am fortunate to have as a friend an actor named Jake Lawson who is originally from Gate City, Virginia, not far from where I grew up. I met Jake some time ago through mutual friends in the area (yes it is a small world in rural Virginia) and learned a good deal about the path that his life had taken and what kind of sacrifices and dedication it takes to follow your dreams. In short you need courage. And true to the title of this blog, it takes heart.
I sat down to talk with Jake a while back to interview him about his chosen career path and the struggles that come along with it. If you are an optimistic person that is chasing a goal or dream, Jake’s story should be a bit of inspiration. You see, Jake recently had a great turn in his acting career having filmed “Solace” with Anthony Hopkins and Colin Farrell. Following on the heels of that breakthrough he was picked up for a major role in “Field of Shoes,” a story set back during the times of slavery in the South. Both major films will be released in 2014. If you don’t know who Jake Lawson is, you very well might by this time next year.
I asked Jake what it takes to chase your dreams and barely get by in L.A. for 9 years before getting a break.
“You have to have that never say die attitude,” he says. “Life in this business is tough. You have to keep improving and believing in yourself. And now, finally, after nine years I’m seeing good results from the hard work I put into it. You have to have family and friends to lean on through the tough times. They get you through them.”
He worked countless jobs in L.A. to get by. Just like most actors that are trying to make their way, he worked in food services, worked as a substitute teacher, worked construction, and countless other tough jobs just to get by. However, Jake didn’t leave for L.A. right after college to chase his dreams. He started out as a school teacher in the Gate City school system teaching English and coaching the basketball team.
“Growing up I always loved basketball. I have a passion for it. I wanted to be the next Mike Kryzewski and that’s why I took the collegiate path I chose. I wanted to coach for a career.”
Jake decided to go back to graduate school in order to chase that goal. He coached for a small college for four years before taking a job coaching another high school team in Oak Ridge, TN. The transition back to high school was tough so he left that job and went back to Gate City. After working for a local attorney and politician for a short while he knew that it was time to take the plunge into acting, something that he had been wanting to try since he was a kid. Jake went to Nashville where he got his Screen Actors Guild card after filming a couple of commercials for the U.S. Army and Goodwill. In 2003 he left for L.A.
He had the courage to leave behind a steady job, predictable income, and health benefits to follow a dream that had been a part of him for most of his life. When I asked how tough that was, he said it wasn’t a hard choice at all. “This was what I was always supposed to do.”
“I just want to keep the momentum going,” he said when he explained that he just signed with the top talent agent in the southeast.
I asked him what his thoughts were as he reflected back on the past nine difficult years.
“Thank God for all those old jobs and struggles. That was my path to travel. You have to enjoy the journey.”
Jake is a great example of hard work and dedication. I always keep a simple philosophy in my head when things are tough and find that you don’t have many supporters in your corner. Winners focus on what they are going to. Losers focus on what they are going through.
You can get more information about Jakes acting career at the Internet Movie Database: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2743448/?ref_=sr_1
One of my favorites, he played the crazy old preacher in a small town zombie movie spoof.