A Fil-Am actor’s life: Jason Rogel
(Fourth of a series)
LOS ANGELES—“Those highs and lows, and all the experiences, rejections and gigs in between are what make me the actor and person I am today,” said Jason Rogel about his journey so far as a Filipino-American actor in Hollywood.
Jason’s credits include playing Ricky, the office gossip, on Freeform’s “Kevin From Work,” and most recently, recurred as Sebastian on Season 2 of Disney Channel’s “Raven’s Home.”
Jason’s other credits include various commercials, TV shows and films, including “This Is Us,” “Homecoming” (starring Julia Roberts), “The Office,” “How I Met Your Mother,” the Netflix original “Rim of the World” and ABC Family’s “The Mistle-Tones.”
Next, Jason appears in Netflix’s “Tall Girl” starring Ava Michelle, Sabrina Carpenter and Steve Zahn, and is in the voice cast of Jo Koy’s animated series, “This Functional Family.”
Born and raised in Long Beach, California, Jason holds a bachelor’s degree in theater arts from the California State University of Long Beach. He also studied at Australia’s National Institute of Dramatic Art in Sydney.
Excerpts from our chat:
How would you describe your journey as an actor so far? A roller-coaster ride. A crazy, long and winding, but mostly exciting roller-coaster—with the highest highs and the lowest lows. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Those highs and lows, and all the experiences, rejections and gigs in between are what make me the actor and person I am today.
How do you prepare for an audition? Any good luck rituals? Ideally, I’d have a day or two to memorize my lines and prepare the material. But even if I don’t, I try to familiarize myself with the script and the character as much as possible, and just do the best I can. This is not necessarily a good luck ritual, but I do like being “off-book” with my lines as much as possible. It frees me up and helps me feel more prepared and ready to play.
What is the most frustrating part of trying to land roles in Hollywood? I’m not going to lie—there are so many frustrating parts about working in this town, and they all alternate at being the most frustrating. For me, at this moment, it’s the “in between.” More specifically, trying to stay proactive, focused and productive while “in between” projects.
But these are also good times to explore other ways to stay creative, like writing or doing theater, sharpening skills with classes, or just refreshing yourself with a nice vacation.
How do you handle rejection? Travel is my salvation. Obviously not after every rejection. You definitely need a thick skin and little ways to deal with the day-to-day rejection. Honestly, it’s part of the job, so I’m pretty OK with it.
That doesn’t mean rejection doesn’t take its toll on you, so I make sure I take a nice physical and mental vacation as often as I can—like during those “in-between” periods.
Have there been times when you almost gave up? Not really. There were times when I almost had to take on a side job for financial reasons, but I never once considered giving up on acting.
At this point, I’m too old to start anything new. But in all honesty, there’s nothing else I would rather be doing. It’s what I love, and I know I have more to offer.
Do you, as an actor of color, feel that opportunities for minority actors are improving or getting worse? There are definitely more opportunities, specifically for Asians, than when I first started. And I especially love that Asian men are being given the opportunities to play romantic leads in mainstream films and shows. It’s about time.
Are you encouraged by the acclaim that three recent films focusing on Asian-American stories—“Crazy Rich Asians,” “Always Be My Maybe” and “The Farewell”—received? Absolutely. People have been craving to see themselves in mainstream media—and the success of these three films, as well as movies like “Black Panther” and the saving of “One Day at a Time,” is a reflection of that.
Hopefully, Hollywood truly recognizes this and actually follows through with more opportunities for us to tell our stories.
What’s your stand on whitewashing—or the casting practice in which white actors are cast in nonwhite character roles—in Hollywood? I just don’t see why in 2019 it’s still happening. I understand the draw and security of name actors, but hopefully, producers are seeing the success of these movies and TV shows starring actors of color and start taking a chance.
Also, if you want a Scarlett Johansson-level Asian box-office starlet, you have to start somewhere and give an Asian starlet the opportunity to become that box-office starlet.
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