We had the good fortune of connecting with Jason James and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jason, can you share a quote or affirmation with us?
In my very first semester of undergraduate work in New York City, my acting teacher at the time, Mark Riherd said “there is a great discrepancy between the perception of acting and its reality.” I didn’t know what that meant at the time, however almost twenty years later, I think I am starting to figure it out. The craft of acting is a process. It is never ending. We must constantly be studying, reading, training, and discovering new things. With social media being such a priority in our industry’s eyes and on our culture as a whole, the perception of what acting is has become diluted. The art itself isn’t about followers or likes, it is about doing good work. And good work takes time, focus, patience, and determination. It is a quote I have carried with me all these years. It reminds me of why I do the work, why I continue to study hard, work hard, and keep my own view of the work in focus.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
The Actor’s Establishment (TAE) was developed as a space for actors to harness their work and to freely express their own creative interpretations. TAE’s mission is simple, -It’s All About Returning To The Work. TAE creates an environment for actors’ exploration of their individual training needs through sharing knowledge and insight from master teachers in the art of acting. TAE’s focus is on the fundamental core techniques integrated with a deep understanding of script and text analysis allowing the discovery of circumstances, relationships, and intentions. Unlike so many other instructional offerings, TAE does not teach one specific method or technique but rather offers a myriad of workshops taught by professional experts trained in a wide range of specific skills. This approach accompanied by qualified instructors allows actors to choose workshops they connect with most while giving them the opportunity to explore new disciplines and vast possibilities. TAE is continually motivated by giving each actor a platform to expand their abilities, discover new avenues of growth and find or reconnect with the artist within. Over the past several years I have thought a lot about this endeavor, now realized as The Actor’s Establishment. What I never imagined is that our world would look the way it does in its current state. This pandemic has certainly caused added stress and tension within our families and in our country and I cannot help but think that the arts has done more than it’s part to help people escape from the monotony of day to day isolation. It’s because of this isolation and a need to do more, that I began working on the conceptualization for The Actor’s Establishment. I was teaching an online script analysis workshop, to give my mind something positive to focus on, as well as the creative outlet I so desperately needed when one of the actors in the workshop said to me, “more people need to be doing this kind of work. We need teachers and directors in Los Angeles that ask these kinds of questions and make us actors think more.” And so it began. TAE is an exploratory idea I have had for a while now. It’s a combination between an acting company and an acting studio. (I used the term “studio” descriptively, not literally) My goal for TAE is to build an ensemble of actors, passionate and driven by exciting and invigorating work, who are collaborative and eager to learn and train with each other, from each other and through each each other. I believe that actors have the ability to feed each other inspiration and at TAE, my hope is that together we will create an environment of learning conducive to each actor’s needs. The workshops, sessions, and coaching TAE offers is open to anyone. I am a firm believer in quality and technical acting training and in creating TAE I want the training to always be at the forefront of what we do. However, with that said, in the training there must be an element of exploration, discovery, and humanity. Starting something is never easy. It’s downright frightening to be honest. Whether it’s a research paper, the first lyric of a new song, memorization, a relationship, a move to a new city, or a new job, we all have those moments of fear and self doubt. I have seen the fear and doubt within actors for so many years and I think the conversation needs to be had that acting isn’t just about technique or hitting the mark each time. It’s about the self. The mind, the body, and the soul. Stella Adler said “The actor has to develop his body. The actor has to work on his voice. But the most important thing the actor has to work on is his mind.” Understanding your authentic self along with a comprehension of human behavior is a strong element of TAE’s mission. We absolutely teach solid fundamental technique, but what TAE integrates into their teachings is understanding the “why” within the text and within our own lives, compassion for oneself, and a respect for working through the process. The Actor’s Establishment doesn’t just offer actors technique, we create an atmosphere for actors to establish who they are as artists and regain their connection to the work. I’ve have realized through the years of working in this business is that not everyone is going to like what you say, how you create, or how you are a person. It’s what makes the world go round, right? What It has taken me YEARS to figure out and it is a constant struggle, is that the work I do comes from an honest place and that cannot be taken diminished. I had a job where I was not acknowledged, not made to feel appreciated, and taken for granted. But I stayed because I enjoyed the people I worked with and the relationships I had made through the years. However, what I didn’t realize at the time, was that because of this job I had pushed my own needs, wants, and aspiration aside to make someone else’s dream a reality. It was also easier to stay where I was then try and start again from scratch. I think we have all been there. We don’t leave an unhealthy environment because the unknown is so much scarier. In reality, when we step aside and take a look from the observers point of view…everything seems to refocus and align as it was meant to. Even though I have gone through my own struggles and frustrations, I have learned that if we stand by the things we believe in, the qualities that frame us and identify who we are as a human being, we can never go off course. Holding true to your ethics and values, not matter how hard it may be, will always reign victorious. I have a strong sense of justice. I am fiercely loyal, and am constantly working to treat each and every person I meet and work with a sense of compassion and humanity. This is why The Actor’s Establishment is different and this is why I know what I have created is meant for something bigger than myself.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Oh no! This question is my worst fear. It’s sad to say but I don’t go anywhere. Awful I know! Ok, but If I had to give it a shot, I would drive up the coast. The 1 here in California is absolutely gorgeous. Stop off in Santa Barbara for a little lunch. Continue driving to Hearst’s castle. Stay a day or two and go on a couple tours to see the extravagance. Maybe then over to Napa Valley for a little wine tasting and a final stop in San Francisco, where we could do all of the best touristy stuff there is to do! That sounds fun to me!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Shoutout to my rock, Kara Masek. She has encouraged and supported me in continuing my own journey.. She has been by my side as I continue my studies and explore all possible avenues of growth. Without her I would never have had the courage to jump into academia, finish my BFA and go onto a masters program. Shoutout to the Renaissance Man, Justin Key! HIs support and guidance has been instrumental in my professional pursuits.