We had the good fortune of connecting with JJ Nolan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi JJ, how do you think about risk?
As an actor, your entire existence is about taking risks. You forgo stability and instead, opt for a life of uncertainty. You can’t control the consistency with which you get to work, and there is no formula to success. There is no manual and frankly, the industry doesn’t need you. It’s a lifestyle–and not only that–the art of acting in and of itself is all about taking risks. If you don’t take risks in your performance, no one is going to remember you and no one is going to care. It’s your job to take chances, make bold choices, and most of all, to not be boring. Personally, improv has helped shape me as an artist because it has been the greatest practice in taking risks. You can’t plan in improv, and you always feel like you’re jumping out of a plane without a parachute. Sometimes you don’t stick the landing, but when you do–when you really allow yourself to be patient and let things unfold in the moment, you’re creating magic. For me, there’s no greater feeling than surprising myself in the moment. I have immense respect for my fellow performers. We’re all gamblers, hoping for a life rich with windfalls. And just like gambling, acting will take your money and slowly chip away at your self worth over time if you let it. The amount of rejection we face in our industry is unparalleled, and honestly, unbearable at times. But if you’re addicted to your craft, then the risk is no match for the reward; and eventually the cards will be stacked in your favor.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Being a professional actor is the furthest thing from easy. You have to work on yourself constantly. My inward journey has been the key to maintaining my sanity. With so little control over my career, I’ve found that the only thing I can control is my reaction to my circumstances. You have to become a gold medal mental Olympian to endure the kind of rejection we experience on a regular basis. One minute you’re signing a life-changing contract for a network series, and the next minute your agents are calling to let you know the network is going a different direction. You have to be able to let it go. I got pinned and released from thirteen jobs in a row one year. It was…well, it sucked. The industry has also changed so much over the years–there’s no more “getting discovered”. You can’t just walk into The Galleria, get discovered by a scout, get an agent, and be on a CW show tomorrow. Nobody wants to see you if you don’t have credits, but you can’t get credits if nobody wants to see you. It’s a big catch 22 and the only workaround is creating content. Actors aren’t just actors anymore, they’re writers, directors, and producers. There’s nothing easy about any of it!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
HUGE shoutout to my mom and dad for encouraging me to pursue my dreams and take risks; and for always being there when I fall on my face. And of course my brother and sister for teaching me everything I know about anything (according to them). My family’s support is everything to me.
#1 (headshot) James DePietro