JD is an Actor and screenwriter from Wales but grew up in Manchester. He now lives in London where he has been for the last 6 years, building the foundations of his career and making opportunities!
ActorsLIFE: Tell us about your career. When did it start? How did you discover your talent?
JD: I started as most do, in Drama class at school but I didn’t follow the conventional path. My parents couldn’t afford to send me to drama school, so I simply never asked. My hunger grew years later when I began working in the theatres as a stagehand when I was 23 and I was attending private acting tuition in Manchester.
ActorsLIFE: How is your career unfolding?
JD: You need a strong will in order to keep pushing forward, it’s not for the bone idle. I’ve not expected over night success but have instead enjoyed being able to take the time to practice, learn, make decisions, research the industry and even write my own screenplays. I thrive on progression and the past year has been a lot more active, some films I’ve been involved in have made it all worth it, so far.
ActorsLIFE: What do you enjoy the most about acting?
JD: For me it’s all about forming the layers of a character. I don’t go through the “100 questions” routine with my characters but I do relate to the relevant things like place of birth, social status, life attitude and even what type of diet they might have. This is why I’m more attracted to playing bad guys, they have all the layers an actor could ever hope for in just one role!
ActorsLIFE: What were some of your favorite experiences as an actor?
JD: Shooting a scene with Tom Hardy for film ‘Legend’ was great. I played the prison orderly that allows Ronnie to escape. Another was more recently, playing the role of ‘Agent Villinski’ in a short called ‘Faro’ directed by Tony Ogunyinka. Villinski was interesting to create, I exhilarated myself through him and produced a fun character to play with.
ActorsLIFE: What are some of your personal and/or professional goals for the future?
JD: My main goal is to play a main James Bond “bad guy” since i begun gravitating towards playing bad guys. If I could make it that far, I’d die a happy man! My writing goal is to have a successful feature trilogy shot and/or TV series. Personally, I’d also like to learn how to ride a motorbike, properly. I’ve crashed every one I’ve got on, straight away!
You need a strong will in order to keep pushing forward, it's not for the bone idle. Click To Tweet
ActorsLIFE: What has been your personal key to success?
JD: Professional persistence. When I set out I made a serious decision. I researched things, took things into consideration and finally accepted that it will probably be the toughest journey of my life! I became very pro-active, getting more roles for myself than any agent had. The obvious key to any success is your own will power and mental strength to get up and do something about it!
ActorsLIFE: Who are the actors you most admire?
JD: I grew up with action heroes like Arnie and Stallone but since I took up my journey it’s been actors like Colin Farrell, Idris Elba, Vicky McClure and James McAvoy. They cover a wide range of skills and their performances are more like a masterclass.
ActorsLIFE: What are the best ways to get a job?
JD: Research! You can misunderstand a script or character, even get the casting directors name wrong, so be on the ball with everything connected to your audition. Other than that use your spotlight and Casting call pro or Star now. Sometimes emailing a casting director can help. Build a foundation for your career, you are your product, sell it!
ActorsLIFE: What do you think are the main challenges facing actors today?
JD: I think it’s still very much the case of the “starving artist”. Actors struggle to even get seen let a lone get a role that pays enough to survive on and this is why a lot of us have day jobs still. I still work as a builder, otherwise I’d not afford to live in London. Another problem is the “lack of diversity”. I’m not sure where the real problem can come from in the start but the fact they will cast a white girl in a Japanese girls role, even when it’s an established character is quite ridiculous. A Japanese actor obviously missed out on a role there.
ActorsLIFE: What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to become an actor?
JD: Firstly, make sure you understand the sacrifices you will make. Once you push on and find your feet you will have a new understanding and your goals will grow along with your enthusiasm, knowledge and persistence to succeed. A girl I know started out at just 17 and in 4 years she has acted, modeled, written, directed and produced her own short films all because she had the right kind of attitude to persist and learn. It can be done.
ActorsLIFE: How is the job market now in the industry? How do you think it will be in five years?
JD: There’s been a lot of American shoots over in the UK since the tax breaks, so the types of job opportunities are great but they get inundated with submissions. As for the future of the industry, I think more actors have become multi-skilled in order to move with the industry around them. I have a stage/set building background and found an interest in screenwriting. Most artists skills overlap and it’s the same for the actor.
ActorsLIFE: Do you need an agent? How do you get one?
JD: I have been with my new agent for about a year. He’s very approachable so it’s easy to communicate with him and put ideas across. You need to compile a comprehensive list of agents (25-50 contacts) that are going to fit with your career. Always make the email short and to the point. Use something to catch their eye. I got my first professional agent because I wrote “Tom Hardy” in the subject line and mentioned that I had recently shot with him on ‘Legend’. I had more replies from those emails than any other times. Include your spotlight link or link to your reel. Be bold yet humbling in your message so it’s appreciated by the agent and they will take the time to read it.
ActorsLIFE: Are there any upcoming projects and/or events that you would like to mention?
JD: I’m filming from next week until mid May, on ‘Winter ridge, in Devon’. I play ‘Officer Dan Harper’ along side actors Matt Hookings, Hannah Waddingham and Alan Ford. I have just shot my own short called ‘Faro’ with actor Jason Beeston and I’m currently in talks with an LA contact to possibly shoot one of my screenplays here in London.
ActorsLIFE: Tell us something that nobody else might not know about you!?
JD: I sold everything I owned, quit my job and came to London to pursue an acting career, starting out as an extra and sword fighter. What a lot of people don’t know is that I actually lived in my car all that time. I lived in the Pinewood studio car park for 5 days, twice, when sword fighting on ‘Snow white & the huntsman’. It gave me freedom to travel but was also a massive disadvantage as I had to park in side streets where they didn’t have parking restrictions or were close to a supermarket so I could wash. The first year it was exciting but it soon turned into a catch 22. After nearly 5 years in my car I was finally starting to be taken seriously as an actor.
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