Please introduce yourself. What do you do? Why? What do you want people to know about you?
I an actor living in Los Angeles and I am often cast as the “bad guy”. It’s a great character to get to play because he can be so different each time, and it often allows me the most creative freedom. The bad “bad” things and I love when I get to create the backstory for him. One of my more well known roles is actually a “good guy”; an advertising superhero for Feeding San Diego and the San Diego Comic-Con Museum called Hunger Halter. Hunger Halter fights food over-production and food waste, an honor to be cast as such an important hero. If I get to work AND make a difference to the community, that’s my most ideal situation. Being an actor takes a lot of discipline and patience, not to mention training. Whether I’m on film or hosting my weekly talk show “Coffee Breaks Thursdays with Jason Zlatkus”, I’m all about the art of acting. My talk show allows me to get to know other working actors and share the realities of being an actor. Truly being involved with other actors and creating a meaningful project is my aspiration.
What qualities make you different and unique from everyone else in the industry?
I’m 6’4″ and have a deep voice, which is often compared to Tony Robbins. I’m often portrayed as “intimidating”, “intense”, or as I said before, the Bad Guy. The truth is, I’m far from it. I love to be on set, and I love to have fun with other actors and the crew. I’m the one on set looking for the most fun behind the scenes photos. I live to act. If I’m not auditioning, acting on set, working on my show, I’m watching movies, connecting with other actors on social media or out at events and movie premieres. I pride myself on being on time to set, knowing my lines and ready to work. I used to own a toy store and a popular online toy monster website and I learned a lot about marketing and sales, which I now use in my acting career. The product I’m selling has just changed to be me, instead of toys. It has helped me build a following and a community in the film industry. I have to keep a mind-set of gratitude, this is a tough industry to get into, and I’m lucky to have been welcomed into it.
Describe THAT moment when you realized you’re doing what you were born to do.
I found that living my childhood dream of owning a toy store didn’t necessarily make me happy and I closed my store. I floated from one meaningless retail job to another, with no purpose or drive, but even working retail is part of my story. My modeling career started when I was “found” while working in a little candy store. It was really out of my comfort zone, but the woman that found me, trained me and put me on the runway. I got more confident, and reached out for more modeling jobs. I had to quit my retail job because it was getting in the way of modeling jobs. After about a year, I was given an opportunity in an independent film. When I arrived on my first set, they informed me that their sound person canceled and they asked if I would do the sound for the film. I had no idea how to do sound but they showed me the ropes. I got to be a part of every scene, either acting or doing sound, and I got to really see how movies were filmed. Of course I was nervous but I went with the flow. At one point during filming and being on set, I could feel this overwhelming sensation that this was a great moment in my life, like I’d finally found my calling. I had an almost out of body experience where I could see myself and looking around on set truly feeling for the first time that this was what I was supposed to be doing. I was watching other actors act, the line producer and director going over a scene, seeing other actors in the makeup chair and eating at the crafty table, it all seemed so magical. As if I’d gone against the grain long enough and it was time to truly pursue my passion. It showed me that I actually could be part of the film industry and that I truly could be an actor. That there were roles for me and it wasn’t too late to get involved. From there I jumped in head first. I connected with as many actors and movie makers as I could, I auditioned for any role just to be on set, and it was working. I was so well received, by such an incredible community of people, and I loved it. So, the only logical next step was to go where the movies were being made, and we moved our family to Southern California. Not only was this a great move for my career, but also I didn’t know I would love living here so much.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve had to go through and how did you grow through it?
Ultimately it comes down to training. When I started I was trained as a model, but not as an actor. It didn’t stop me from getting cast in independent pictures, but when it came to making larger movies or big brand commercials it became a problem. It was obvious that I was untrained, and inexperienced, and this was unacceptable in my career. Finding the right acting classes was hard and some were very expensive. Through some trial and error, and some good advice, I was lucky to find some great teachers. It took some ego crushing, and hearing hard criticisms to break me out of my shell. I continue to do some kind of training every day and strive to be the best actor I can be. It used to be enough that I was cast in projects, now it’s more important to me that I give my best performance and truly present interesting and compelling characters. I want the respect of my peers and I want to bring projects to life. This is art, and I am serious about making that happen.
Who are the TOP 3 people you’d want to meet that could elevate your career or business? Why these specific individuals?
Eli Roth tops my list. He’s not only successful as a director but he’s a fan. I also am a huge fan of pop culture in films and I respect that about him. I feel that he’s truly living the dream and I’d love to be a part of creating something with him.
Tony Robbins, I get told I sound I like him so much, that I think we could collaborate on something fun and maybe even… motivational!
Kevin Smith, again he’s a fan of films. I ‘m a big fan of his comic book writing and I think his projects reflect his love for the genre. His passion really shines, and he gets to create and involve his friends in the process. This is definitely the dream, in my book.
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