New York Film Academy was proud to welcome actor, producer, and now, director Jon Abrahams to their Los Angeles campus. Students from both the high school and teen summer program were in attendance. The comedy classic, Meet the Parents, was screened after which Tova Laiter, producer of The Scarlet Letter and Varsity Blue, and Christopher Cass, Associate Chair for Acting for Film Studies, conducted an interview with Abrahams.
Abrahams began his career when he was still in high school. He was discovered in Washington Square Park when filmmakers, Harmony Korine and Larry Clark, were casting their film Kids. Abrahams wasn’t their first choice. He was selected to play Steven after the first actor cast was arrested. Upon release, parents and school systems alike were outraged by the films’ perceived message, but Kids would later become a cult classic and the standard by which all gritty coming-of-age stories would be judged.
From there Abrahams went on to star in films such as House of Wax, Scary Movie, Meet the Parents, Mourning Glory, and Hitchcock. He’s also had a long established career in television. Some of his roles include Jerry on Masters of the House, Zach Fischer on Boston Public, and guest appearances on Boston Legal, Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU, The Astronaut Wives Club, and The Mentalist.
When asked about his preparation Abrahams described going to acting class like going to the gym. This work ethic was cultivated when he was still in high school. At his performing arts school, he would spend time after classes doing improvisational work with a teacher. The result, he was able to, “…better flex his (acting) muscle.”
He’s a fierce student having not only studied with The Groundlings but also with famed acting coach Margie Haber.
Abrahams revealed he’s recently taken a turn at directing. After being named the guardian of both his cousin’s children and his best friend’s children, Abrahams began thinking, “What if, god forbid, something should happen to both my cousin and best friend on the same day and I’m suddenly the guardian to three kids?” Abrahams, having grown up in Tribeca, still had some unresolved issues about 9/11 that he wanted to explore. His writing partner thought perhaps the two ideas could be combined to tell a story. They were able to secure an investor for their human-interest piece, a rare feat. They’ve just begun the festival application process and are hoping to sell the film later in the year.
Next, it was time for the students to ask questions. Makayla, a student in the high school summer program asked, “What tips do you have for high school and college students wanting to get a start in the industry?”
“My tip is do anything and everything that comes your way. I’ve always had a kind of blue-collar approach to acting. I like to work. I like to punch in and out.” He continues, “And no job is too small, for me. I love movies. I grew up watching movies all the time. I always will remember the guy who had one line in the movie, if they were really great. So, you know, don’t have an ego about it. Also, don’t hold it all so precious. Do something. Be bad at it. You’re going to do something else. You’re going to grow. No one is expecting you to be a high school actor be the most wonderful actor ever…”
“Work really hard, but to come into it and be a perfectionist in the first gig, is silly. Look at it as you’re going to be working for your whole life. Do anything and everything. Student films, commercials, whatever. Work extra so you know how a set works. And then, stick around. I think Clint Eastwood said, ‘Don’t go to lunch. Stay around the crew during lunch. Figure out what they’re doing. Know what lens they’re using. Knowing these things is great. Just learn. Just be there to learn. The best schooling you can get is working.’”
Later another student inquired about how to get back up after one has performed poorly. Abrahams responded, “I once had someone refer to making a movie as boxing match. If you lost the second round you can come back tomorrow shoot and do another scene. That’s round three. You could win round three. You could win round four.”
New York Film Academy would like to thank Jon Abrahams for his time. You can learn about Abrahams’ forthcoming film by clicking here.