…stop saying “when I make it”. That’s not reality. You are “making it” everyday that you are working as an actor. It’s the whole journey you’re on. It’s a marathon not a sprint. There will be many “making it” moments but if you’re constantly waiting to MAKE IT, you’re missing out on being in the moment and fully experiencing all the great times along the way.
As a part of my series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Jasper Cole. Jasper was awarded Best Screen Villain by the International Nollywood Film Festival in 2019. As a veteran character actor with over a 100 TV/film credits, Jasper continues his villainous streak having co-starred in the box office smash hit film, The Purge: Anarchy as a “Homeless Man” produced by Michael Bay and Jason Blum, in Captured, as “Shelly” starring Brittany Curran and Kristin Prout and Model Home as “Walker” opposite Emmy winner Kathy Baker and Monique Gabriella Curnen. He will soon be seen in the lead role of “Bad Cop” in the horror/thriller Savage Sistas and as “Dark Butler” in the horror film Spirits opposite Lynn Lowry as well as “Peter” in Awaken The Shadowman, starring Jean Smart. He appears as “Jacques De Leon” in the new Cbs Drama, Training Day, opposite Bill Paxton. He will also be seen Guest Starring in the 2017 season of American Horror Story and booked roles on Baskets and WestWorld. Watch for him in 2019 as “Goobler” in the new series Palamino & Swissy” and he’s also appearing as “Crack Head Fred” in the new Abc Series The Rookie. He also played a “Homeless Man” opposite Tatiana Ali in the Tv movie. Second Sight. He was seen in the third season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine as “The Oolong Slayer” opposite Andy Samberg and Andre Baugher. Jasper also co-starred in the 2013 hit horror film, Hansel & Gretel as “John”,iconic actress, Dee Wallace’s son. Jasper has appeared in dozens of theatrical productions and national TV commercials and has Guest Starred on some of television’s top shows,including,C.S.I., Married With Children, Saved By The Bell, Touched by An Angel,Party Of Five, LaFemme Nakita, Tales From The Crypt,Baywatch,Pacific Blue and Clueless.More recently, Jasper has obtained critical acclaim for his work on Michael Eisner’s Emmy Nominated series, Prom Queen, his unforgettable stint on Everybody Hates Chris and his recurring role on the ABC series, The Forgotten, starring, Christian Slater. He has also guest starred on HBO’s hit series Funny Or Die Presents and appeared regularly in various comedy sketches for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Film and Tv audiences will also remember Jasper as “Reno”, the bad cowboy, in the award winning Showdown at Seven commercials for the popular movie website, Fandango, and he appeared in the popular national DirecTV commercials opposite Rob Lowe. You can see him worldwide as a Pirate in the 1–800-contact commercials as well. Nickelodeon fans know Jasper as “Oswald” in the final season of their hit series Victorious and he appeared in several episodes of the hit syndicated series, Outlaw Empires. Once established as Hollywood’s “bad guy”, it was a matter of time before Jasper graced the big screen. He has appeared in multiple films such as18 Again, Alien Nation, Get Your Stuff, Friday the 13th Part VIII, and Urban Assault-Tko. Jasper flaunted his sinister side and became an International sensation as Val Kilmer’s sidekick, Zeke Pleshette” in the blockbuster MacGruber alongside Ryan Phillipe, Kristin Wiig and Will Forte. The film is gaining cult status on Dvd and TV. Jasper is also the host of the nationally syndicated Radio/TV show, One On One With Jasper Cole.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I grew up the youngest of 4 boys in the college town of Athens, Georgia. The town is a nice blend of diversity because of the University of Georgia. I was lucky to grow up with people from all around the world whose parents moved to Athens to either attend or work at the college. We played sports, rode our bikes in the neighborhood and lived a great middle class life. I graduated from Clarke Central High School in 1982 and began my acting career in Atlanta after two brief years at The University of Georgia.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I was always a closeted THESPIAN growing up, meaning that I loved theatre and TV/film but was too shy to actually try it. I would long to be in the drama dept. in High school and was highly influenced by a school production of THE WIZARD OF OZ. I squirmed in my seat watching it because I really wanted to jump on stage even though I’m tone deaf and can’t sing a note. lol. My first taste of acting came when a Hollywood indie film called TENNESSEE STALLION was being shot in Athens and I was able to wrangle a small role in the film which was eventually cut out but nonetheless I met Vincent Van Patten and Judy and Audry Landers and as far as I was concerned I had been bitten by the acting bug and was on my way. Shortly after, I moved to Atlanta, enrolled in The Alliance Theatre program and began doing theatre and commercials and anything I could find in Atlanta. Remember Atlanta at this time was NOT the film/TV mecca that it is now. I made a few trips out to LA for auditions during TV Pilot seasons and fell in love with the city. After teaming up with fellow Georgian Actress and writer Becky Canady, we co-created a play called WILLOW SPRINGS NOW. We starred in it and wrote it and after a brief run in Atlanta we packed up our cars and moved it and ourselves to Hollywood. Our first morning in LA was the Whittier Earthquake which up to that point was the biggest one LA had ever had. We met a Producer who let us put the play up in his theatre as a late night comedy and it worked and we stayed and the Hollywood journey began and that was Oct, 1, 1989. We will celebrate our 32nd anniversary this year and Becky is still one of my best friends.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Wow, I’ve been blessed to experience so many amazing things in these past 32 years on both on stage and on TV and Film. The things that always stick out to me are the chance encounters that I’ve had with so many iconic people here in Hollywood. Shortly after I arrived in LA, I still had the GA license plates on my car. I was parked on Sunset Blvd with my flashers on while I ran up to the ATM machine at my bank. Suddenly I hear someone yelling “Hello Mr. Georgia Peach” I slowly turn to see a long White Stretch limo with the back window open. It was none other than LITTLE RICHARD in full make up and regalia. He called me over, introduced himself and told me he was born in Macon Georgia and I told him I was from Athens. He asked all bout my career and family and he cautioned me to never lose my good southern manners and roots and he would be watching out for me. Window rolled up, limo pulls away….that was 1990 and I never saw him again….UNTIL….Many years later in 2010, I was at our local SAG Federal Credit union, ironically another bank and as I was walking into the lobby who did I see walking out towards me but none other than LITTLE RICHARD himself once again in FULL REGALIA. Well lets just say I look nothing like I did in 1990 especially now with my long hair and beard so I knew he wouldn’t remember me. I decided I would just hold the door for him as he passed by. He took three steps through the door then turned and said..”Well hello there Mr. Georgia Peach. Don’t think I haven’t been SEEING YOU and the fact that you held the door for me tells me you are still that same good southern gentleman I met so many moons ago. I’m proud of you” He gave me a big hug and sauntered down the hallway just as strong as fierce as ever.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I first got to Atlanta in 1984. like many young actors, I was hell bent on getting an agent even though I had no real credits or nothing to “agent” at that time. I would send out these long letters to the few agents in town. At that time the top agency was Atlanta Models & Talent and Kathy Hardigree owned and ran the agency so I wrote her many times with no responses. Each letter got a little more insistent until finally one day I received in the mail a letter from ATLANTA MODELS & TALENT. I thought finally she has seen the light and realizes what she’s been missing by not calling me in for a meeting. When I opened the letter and began to read it my heart sank. It began something like..”Dear Mr. Cole…I’ve received all your fiery letters and have enjoyed reading them. My advice to you is to channel your misplaced energy into acting classes and theatre and working on your craft and then I have no doubt you will one day be able to have the career that you seem to think you have NOW” WOW..talk about hitting the nail on the head. She was so right and that letter motivated me to get serious and set out being the best actor I could. I regret that I never got to meet her or thank her for that advice so I’m doing ot now. She was so right.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I have two new films coming soon. CAPTURED is a thriller based on a young Rock group and the lead singer’s family secrets. I play “Shelly” the longtime Groundskeeper at her family’s old estate who seems to know ‘where all the bodies are buried”. Also MODEL HOME is another psychological thriller about the concept of actually paying a family to live in a house for sale as a LIVE STAGING event. Unfortunately the single Mother that moves in with her young son is not what she appears to be. I play “Walker” a creepy desert rat who is at the wrong place at the wrong time. CAPTURED will be released January 2020 and MODEL HOME later this fall. I’m also producing several projects including a reality docu series and two scripted dramas. I’m looking forward to working on the next season of the hit Amazon Series BRONX SIU which garnered 3 Emmy nominations last year. It stars Denise Boutte, Brian White and Shanty Lowry. My radio podcast ONE ON ONE WITH JASPER COLE is now in its 8th year and counting and we are having a blast talking more politics this year and highlighting the horrors of the Homeless Crisis here in LA and across the country.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
The most important reason for diversity is that it will finally represent the audience that watches TV and Films. For way too long we had shows like FRIENDS set in NYC and yet we rarely if ever saw an African American, Asian or Hispanic actor walk across the screen. That goes for SEINFELD and FRAZIER and so many other hit TV shows. Thankfully we now have so many other platforms besides just network TV to highlight the diversity of talent and stories across the board including the LGBTQ and Trans community with shows like POSE. The change really happens at the decision making levels at the studios and networks and as more minorities take on positions of power we will start to see a more fair representation of America. We need diversity in entertainment more than ever now with our current political crisis in this country where minorities’ rights are in danger everyday of being taken away. Art and Entertainment should reflect what’s REAL in our world and can be used to bring people together not tear them apart.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- I think the first thing I wish someone had told me early on was forget about chasing an agent and parts…find a great therapist that you can trust because it’s not an easy path you’ve chosen and your friends and family can’t spend hours everyday listening to you whine about your career or lack there of. lol. Actors tend to be self involved as its the nature of the beast and having a great professional you trust to help you navigate the ups and downs is great.
- Secondly, stop saying “when I make it”. That’s not reality. You are “making it” everyday that you are working as an actor. It’s the whole journey you’re on. It’s a marathon not a sprint. There will be many “making it” moments but if you’re constantly waiting to MAKE IT, you’re missing out on being in the moment and fully experiencing all the great times along the way.
- Third, in the beginning take every job you can and absorb it all. No job or part is too small for you because you will learn each time.
- Fourth, Try to be “off book” at auditions and give them a performance that they will see on set especially today with all our self tapes and on tape with casting in the rooms. When Producers watch our tapes they need to see us as the character not fumbling with pages or reading lines off the paper. I say to myself now with all auditions…”I’m shooting this job today.” They may choose not to use it but I’m treating this as a JOB!
- Lastly, we can’t play every and ALL parts. I wish I had learned early on to know my type and pick a lane and pursue those roles. It took me years to be “typecast” and it’s been a blessing not a bad thing. Don’t waste years falling in between the cracks trying to go out for every type role there is…market yourself in the lane you belong and become the best at it.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I think the most important thing is to have a full well rounded life. Don’t forgo relationships and kids and family all in some crazy pursuit of a dream. You have to have good quality of life. Acting is NOT BRAIN surgery contrary to what some over priced and frankly over rated acting teachers will tell you. What makes one a good actor is being a good listener and caring about people and the human spirit. Get out of yourself and be of service to others and the community. Have compassion and empathy for others. This makes us good people and in turn good actors. For me Acting is all about listening and reacting HONESTLY in the moment, just like real life.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire 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. :-)
It sounds and obvious but how about a movement that lets everyone have a fair chance in life starting with education regardless of their economic status. Education is the key to greater opportunities in life. It should be offered to everyone in this country. This movement would also guarantee basic human rights of equality to everyone. PERIOD. Regardless of Color, Gender, Sexual orientation and beyond.
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?
Well of course it all started for me with my parents. They tried to be there for me even when they didn’t understand this crazy dream I had about showbiz. I was so determined to leave home and pursue my career which meant mvoing 3000 miles away at a very young age and looking back I see why they understandably thought I was crazy..lol…but they stood by and helped me and I always knew they were there for me. What a HUGE blessing that was because it’s rare and I never take it for granted. There were several teachers along the way as well as agents and managers. For the past 22 years its been my husband Dennis Turrone who has been my biggest fan and the fact that he isn’t in the entertainment industry is also a blessing because he keeps me grounded and humble and real.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
One of the best for me was and is “Always trust your instincts” As I’ve gotten older and hopefully wiser, I really try to live by this motto because when I don’t I regret it. I have really great instincts and I’ve learned to listen to that little “Voice of Reason” “Voice of God “Voice or your higher power” or whatever you call it. Don’t ignore it.
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 just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)
There are too many to name from all walks of life but the first person that popped into my head was Former President Obama. I would want to thank him for the most amazing 8 years of his presidency and for all the great work he did to unite this country and move us forward. I refuse to let the current political situation overshadow his great accomplishments and the sense of decency he and Michelle brought to the White House. Voting for him the first time was the only time I actually stood in line to vote rather than send in an absentee ballot because I knew it was gonna be history making and it was and I’m glad I was on the right side of history then and I still am now. Everyone reading this please get out and VOTE in 2020. The planet is counting on us to save it!
How can our readers follow you on social media?
My website is www.jaspercole.com Twitter and instagram @jaspercolesays and I have an actor page on facebook as Jasper Cole
This was very meaningful, thank you so much!
Thank you so much for taking the time to interview me and thanks to my fans and supporters all these years. I love meeting you and I never take for granted how grateful I am for you and for having this career. God Bless.