We had the good fortune of connecting with Jake Ferree and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jake, how do you define success?
How do I define success? The idea of success in the world of Hollywood in all its glitz and glamour is often one that is equated to physical wealth or holding some golden statue and thanking your peers. That’s not to say that those aren’t things of value to me, but that they are just as fleeting as the next great new project. So if not that, what could be defined as true success and value? In an industry as unpredictable and unforgiving as acting in showbusiness, it’s important to remember it’s largely about being useful and understanding what level of value you possess in that usefulness in a given time. But more than that, it’s not staying complacent or equating your level or status and worth to that said project. Just because you booked the (insert jaw dropping movie or TV show here) means that you’ve “made it” or won’t ever have to fight for your next gig. So what does that mean? It means you have to love it. I find that if you enjoy the journey and love the hustle that it brings, you appreciate the devastating lows as well as the triumphant highs. There is always something to learn. Your job will never truly make you happy but building your own private empire in whatever that means for you will. If you’re happy doing what you love and make a comfortable living doing it I’d say you’re doing better than most people in life. This industry can be very soul crushing, so my happiness is number one. I try not to wrap all my joy into my work yet take pride in what I do. In essence, it’s a multileveled response that has no simple answer for me. As subjective as this is, for me success is making a living doing what I love with the respect and admiration of my peers while never compromising my happiness or who I am. Surround yourself with happy and successful people that make you happy and successful. keep your work honest and enjoy the grind. If that is not success, then I don’t know what is.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
This is always a difficult question when I’m asked to speak on behalf of my work/brand/profession. But right before the pandemic I had just completed filming three seasons of a new television show called “The Baxters” based on the New York Times best selling series of books by Karen Kingsbury. Needless to say I as well as the rest of the cast were and still are excited for it’s launch whenever this nightmare of quarantine is over. But luckily the universe has allowed me the opportunity to do several voiceover gigs for Netflix during the pandemic. So I’ll defiantly celebrate all the little victories on the way. One of the things I’m proud of is back in 2019, I successfully produced and acted in “Sex With Strangers.” a beautiful and provocative play by the talented Laura Eason. Not only is she an outstanding writer but a sweet and down to earth one at that. Thanks for friendly encouragement Laura. On a sperate note as wonderful as these recent accolades are, I wouldn’t be here today without plenty of struggle and obstacles along the way. Like many simply showing up and doing the work sometimes isn’t enough. It requires problem solving of a different kind. I’ve rebranded my feel as an actor going out for more slightly “rough around the edges” characters while still staying true to my midwestern roots. I suppose playing the “all American reject with a heart of gold” or some variation of it is that sweet spot my team and I are pitching as of lately. But we try not to pigeon hole me into one set of characters.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m a huge history nerd. So if a friend came to visit the city I’d take them to any and all spots relating to Hollywood’s golden age of cinema. I feel I’ve given the same personal “Hollywood tour” to friends and family whenever they come to visit. I’m defiantly not complaining as I have even given the same tour to a random Italian tourist I met off the subway by the Grand Central Market. I have a book called, “Of All The Gin Joints” which I got as a gift that speaks of all the notorious alcoholic actors and their favorite dives from back in the day. I suppose I cherish it for same reason I cherish showing people Charlie Chaplin’s old mansion or grabbing In-and-Out after watching “A Rebel Without a Cause” and driving to the Griffith Observatory. Maybe I’m an old soul or just old fashioned. It might be the same reason I love vinyl records so much. It’s history and someday people will be talking about us with fondness or revulsion the same way we speak about them and the places that echo their past. If you see me on the street ask for a tour. I love a good reason to explore this amazing city.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I love that the Shoutout series recognizes that success rarely if ever is a solo journey. I too like so many before me are at the place in my career because someone saw something in me and gave me a chance. The friendships I’ve developed over the years have only strengthened the idea and beautify that showbusiness is a celebrative profession that I am lucky and grateful to be apart of. My dear friend John Paul Panelli who directed me in my first movie comes to mind here as well in recent years Roma Downey, Ted McGinley, and our show runner Jessie Rosen of the TV show “The Baxter’s”. I’m also eternally grateful to all the awful individuals that taught me the pitfalls and dark aspects of this profession. They educated me on what sorts of cancers to avoid and remove from my life. But I won’t mention them by name out of principle. On a more positive note, I suppose it’s cliché, but my family (especially my mother) always pushed me and supported me to live my passion and be my best self in this creative pursuit. I’ve had several professors and teachers throughout the years help mold me in the craft. One of the first that come to mind is Kenneth L. Stilson at my university and two acting guru’s once I moved to Los Angeles. Those being Anthony Meindl and Scott Sedita. Their staff as well as several other acting coach’s throughout my time in LA (too many to name) have added new levels of inspiration and success. And lastly, where would we all be without friends. The misfit family we choose. There are so many to list on a personal and professional level, so all I’ll say here is,” You know who you are and you know what you did. Thank you and I love you.”