Rising Star Jan Haley-Soule: “Let’s start a movement to teach stand up comedy to at-risk teenagers”

One of my dreams is to teach stand up comedy to teenagers at a continuation high school. I used to teach voice over at a continuation high school in the San Francisco Bay Area and it was an amazing experience. I also taught voice over to autistic young adults in Glendale California. Recently I reached out to the principal of a continuation high school in Los Angeles asking if I could volunteer my time to work with his “at risk” teens and teach them stand up. He never answered my email. I need to reach out to other school principals in Los Angeles and hopefully they will be more receptive. I truly believe that if we can find humor in our life story, feel connected to our community, and feel a sense of self worth……..then we will be on our way to true co-existence.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jan Haley-Soule. Jan is a 5th generation Californian, born and raised in Berkeley, California. She currently resides and works in Los Angeles as an actress, model, voice over artist, and filmmaker. Jan recently created her own IGTV show called The Sit Down Comic.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Ever since I was a little girl I knew this was my career path. At 5 years old I knew I was destined to become an actress but I wasn’t sure how I was going to get there. My favorite show was I Love Lucy. I would watch reruns with my abuela. We loved the show because it was partially in Spanish and it made us laugh. No other show had a mix of Spanish and English so Lucy made us feel like a normal family since our household was a mix of those two languages.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

I have agents in different cities throughout California and Nevada. I even have an agent in Atlanta. My LA and Atlanta agents secure my TV/Film roles and the other agents get me fun modeling jobs and the occasional commercial. One day around 6–7 years ago my Reno agent reached out and asked me to put myself on video for a movie that was shooting in the Reno area. These days we call such auditions “self tapes,” and they are very popular and frequently requested. But 7 years ago self tapes were unheard of in LA. My Reno agent sent the script and I shot the little scene in my kitchen using my son Ryan as the other actor in the scene. I emailed the audition and forgot about it. A few weeks later I found out that I got the part. I flew to Reno and in two days my scenes were shot. I got to work opposite Richmond Arquette (of the famous Arquette family,) and I had an amazing time. That little film went on to win Sundance in 2013 and The Independent Spirit Award in 2014. One of the most exciting times in my life was sitting in the Egyptian Theater in Park City, Utah at the Sundance Film Festival watching myself and all the other amazing cast members on screen and hearing such incredible feedback and applause. Sometimes you have no idea which audition is going to bring so many gifts.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting?

In my teens I used to sit in my bedroom in Berkeley California and write letters to the Screen Actor’s Guild in LA asking permission to join the guild. I would also write letters to very famous agents in Hollywood asking for representation. This was back when the Internet did not exist so I had to rely on information I found at the library. Most of the best acting books were always out on loan and the Yellow Pages didn’t tell me much. I actually thought that agents would want to sign me based on my letter.

Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

To be generous with information about the business. If anyone asks me how to get started in acting I am always more than willing to help out. These days there is tons of information on the Internet but not all of it is accurate,. Beginners should seek out mentors or ask for advice from people who are actually working in Hollywood.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I recently shot two independent shorts that were both shot on 35mm and to me that was so exciting. These days everything is shot digitally so a level of quality is lost from the days of 35mm. The two projects are well written with impressive directors so it was super exciting to work with them and 35mm!!

Another fun project is stand up comedy. In 2018 I decided to give it a try and I had so much fun getting up on stage, all alone with a microphone and my own material. I have been trying to get to more open mics in LA but my schedule is very full so I decided to create my own show on Instagram’s fairly new platform called IGTV. My show is called The Sit Down Comic I have received tons of new followers and lots of fantastic feedback. I play the lead character Lucy and I cast Jenn Bogard for the voice over role of Violet. We are having so much fun working on this together.

Actors are always told to not sit idle waiting for people to cast us but instead create our own content so I did just that. I have been so busy creating the show and in between shooting episodes producers are seeking me out for their own projects. Since I started my own show I have never been busier with new bookings.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

I was in a comedy sketch on The Jimmy Kimmel Show and the star that night was Bryan Cranston. I was so impressed with both Bryan and Jimmy. Bryan is so focused, talented and hilarious and Jimmy was incredibly kind. I hope someday people will describe me as focused, talented, hilarious and incredibly kind.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Every once in awhile try something new. That is how I started doing stand up comedy. My acting class asked us to step outside of our comfort zone during pilot season to take our focus off of the intensity of the season. I was terrified to try stand up but I ended up loving it. Sometimes I will take hip hop dance, juggling, or train for a half marathon. Anything to take my mind off of acting for a specific period of time.

And definitely take a vacation from everything in the entertainment world. I have a place in Lake Tahoe and Tahoe is definitely my place to unplug. I love to sit outside every morning with my coffee and my corgi Max. It’s just us, the pine trees, the Stellar’s Jays, and an occasional bear walking by.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

One of my dreams is to teach stand up comedy to teenagers at a continuation high school. I used to teach voice over at a continuation high school in the San Francisco Bay Area and it was an amazing experience. I also taught voice over to autistic young adults in Glendale California. Recently I reached out to the principal of a continuation high school in Los Angeles asking if I could volunteer my time to work with his “at risk” teens and teach them stand up. He never answered my email. I need to reach out to other school principals in Los Angeles and hopefully they will be more receptive. I truly believe that if we can find humor in our life story, feel connected to our community, and feel a sense of self worth……..then we will be on our way to true co-existence.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. COME TO LA WITH AT LEAST ONE YEAR OF LIVING EXPENSES. — you need time to find the neighborhood you want to live in, the acting school you want to work with, the survival job that will work well with your lifestyle/career, and you want to do all of that without worrying about money.
  2. STAY AWAY FROM CREDIT CARDS — if you can’t pay cash for something…….you can’t afford it. If you charge headshots, acting classes, drinks, dinners……..you will be a prisoner to your survival job. You need financial freedom to be able to flourish as a creative in this town.
  3. HIRE A CONSULTANT OR MENTOR IN LA — there are individuals here that can guide you and help you create a plan and ultimately save tons of time and money. It is an investment but it will be well worth it. Seek out recommendations and then book an appointment.
  4. FIND YOUR TRIBE — cultivate a circle of like-minded friends. Join groups, churches, synagogues, gyms, Meetups…….anything that will help you feel connected to your community and provide much needed friendships.
  5. VOLUNTEER — nothing helps you feel more involved in your community than volunteering. There are tons of opportunities such as working at a pet shelter, afterschool programs, beach cleanup, the food bank, donation centers and so much more.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?

“Success is not final

Failure is not fatal

It is the courage to continue that counts”

_Winston Churchill

Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

This quote has been a great reminder that we are always a “work in progress” and that if we have a setback……keep going. It takes great courage to keep going and I am very proud of myself that I have courage.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I met a man named Don Phillip Smith in an acting class in LA. Don taught the 3 week class and at that time he was the associate casting director for Passions Daytime Drama. He was so nice to me and he made me feel talented and worthy. He went on to cast me as Wendy in Passions and I played that role on and off for the next four years. I don’t think he ever knew how much he helped me in my career.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)

Matthew Weiner

I would love to meet him and just chat about things in general. His writing causes me to feel every emotion possible. I laugh, cry, hurt, feel inspired, feel loved, and feel changed forever when I see his work. I often wonder what he is like just to hang out with as a friend.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

IG @starjan

Twitter @starjan

Facebook and LinkedIn Jan Haley-Soule

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!