BY KAT VISTI
Jake Allyn is an up and coming actor who stars in the new series titled The Quad (the season finale airs on March 29th) on BET where he plays BoJohn Folsom. He's also made appearances in multiple other shows such as The Middle and Blood Relatives. We sat down with Jake to hear more about his projects and roles!
You're set to star in a new series entitled The Quad - can you tell us about it?
JAKE: The Quad is a socially conscious drama about a college. Anika Noni Rose, who plays the school’s president, headlines as the newly elected head of the school who is brought in to revamp a struggling historical black college in the deep south. While she tries to juggle her own personal life, she brings in an eclectic freshman class to mix things up on the normally historically conservative school. She brings in a genius computer programmer who’s also a world class musician, a young rapper trying to escape the dangerous streets of Chicago, and me, a small town quarterback recruit who’s dealing with a world of emotional issues from a childhood of domestic abuse. While the freshman class sparks the college back into the spotlight, we also bring along a few problems for the school, and Anika, to tend with!
You've also made a name for yourself starring in television shows such as The Middle, Blood Relatives, and Killer Kids – what was your favorite one to be apart of?
JAKE: I learned a lot from my first few professional sets like Killer Kids and Blood Relatives, but working on a network sitcom like The Middle was definitely when I entered the big leagues. There’s just a level of professionalism and talent on those network shows that can’t be beat, and as a young actor, you want to be a part of it. It makes for great shows and no one wants to be the actor who comes in for a guest star and isn’t prepared. The Middle really taught me to always bring my A game. Because even the series regular who’d been on the show for years never took a scene off, they never mailed it in, they always gave it their best and that’s what professionals do.
You're writing and starring in two new thriller films entitled Wicked Love and Ex-Patriot - what was your inspiration for writing these?
JAKE: I’ve always wanted to revamp a Shakespeare play to modern times and Macbeth is a play that has themes that always stuff with me. So Conor (my older brother) and I revamped Macbeth to be set in modern day in a rural America town. Our Macbeth is the high school quarterback, his father Duncan is a local king as the high school football coach, and lady Macbeth is the girl from the wrong side of the tracks that Macbeth falls in the love with. It made for a gritty love story with plenty of blood! Ex-Patriot started with my brother. He’d been really inspired by the Edward Snowden CIA scandal a few years back. So we just started brainstorming on “what if's” from that case. What we kept coming back to was “what if Snowden had blown the whistle and the CIA was right all along. What if the people they were illegally watching really were terrorists”… From there we were off and running to make a great thriller!
You've been apart of a lot of horror/thriller types of shows and movies like Zoe Gone, Pocket Listing, and more. Was horror and thriller something that always interested you?
JAKE: When I was first acting in LA, any genre that would pay me money to act was something I was interested in! Though I can’t say I prefer horror/thriller to other genres like dramas for instance, I do think that because I had a background in writing thrillers and dark stories, I think I had a little easier time jumping into those roles when it came time to audition so those were the type of roles that I book. I find now that I’m writing more dramas and personal stories, I end up booking a show like The Quad that’s solely based on personal stories and very complicated relationships. I’m glad I can go into multiple genres, I think even as fun as doing a horror movie is, I’d get bored if all I ever made was horror movies.
How do you prepare yourself for roles? Do you have a certain routine?
JAKE: The first thing I do is figure out my character’s history, his goals, and the important relationships in his life. If you know those things, you’re able to handle whatever the writers or producers bring to you during a season run like we just had on The Quad. Viggo Mortensen brings his research down to one simple sentence, “I figure out what’s happened to this character from his birth until page one of the script”. I try and do the same (and let’s face it, Viggo is a pretty damn good actor to copy from!)
You're an actor, writer, and producer, therefore very involved in the industry - what's your favorite aspect to be apart of and why?
JAKE: Acting. I grew up playing sports. In baseball, I was a pitcher. In football, I was a receiver. And now in the film business, I’m an actor. While they may all seem different, what those three have in common is that all those positions want the pressure. When it comes down to a big moment in the game or on set, they all want the ball. When it’s the ninth inning and the game is tied, I want to be on the mound throwing that pitch. When it’s 3AM and the production crew is losing the overhead light to shoot in this huge field in the middle of nowhere Oklahoma, I want to be the one they count on to perform that scene in the clutch (that really happened to me by the way). Anyway, that’s the best way I can explain it so hopefully at least one sports fan out there will understand that, haha.
What got you into acting?
JAKE: To continue the sports train, after my college football career was coming to an end, I was looking for something to fill the soon to be hole in my life. I’d always loved movies and seemed to be more interested in the great acting rather than a big stunt or fantastic directing, so I started taking acting classes and fell in love. The butterflies in my stomach I get just before a big scene are the same ones I used to get in the tunnel before running onto the field on Saturday afternoons. I hope I never lose those butterflies.
What advice would you give to someone who is trying to go into acting, writing, and producing?
JAKE: Go get really good at acting! Don’t rush your training to start auditioning or in hopes of becoming famous. There’s plenty of time for all that. My best friend growing up, Chris Robbs, is currently in med school to become a doctor. He’s 26 years old and still about 2 years away from legally being able to call himself a doctor. Actors are lucky because we don’t have to do all that to call ourselves actors. Hey, the day I loaded up my truck and moved into my brother’s couch in Venice, I called myself an actor. And that’s okay, it’s one of the beauty’s of our job, that’s why there’s so many interesting stories about actors and how they came to be in this industry. But I know for a fact if you treat acting like you're training to become a doctor and put as much time into the craft of acting as a doctor does in earning a PHD, good things will happen. You won’t need luck, social media followers, or an introduction to some famous producer, you’ll have a real craft you can rely on. And that will always be respected in this industry.