Jamie Moore is an actor and improv artist. His credits include Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013), Identity Thief (2013) and Let’s Be Cops (2014). More info at his personal website: http://www.thejamiemoore.com
Where are you from originally and when did you know you want to be an actor?
I was born and raised in Atlanta and the Atlanta metro area. I pretty much knew I wanted to be an actor as soon as I had an awareness of what an actor was. I was always a performer in my family. I was always doing skits or sketches for my family at family gatherings, and I’d play games that were actually improv games without realizing it. I just thought up these little exercises to do with my friends and things like that. So, it’s just been inherent in my DNA since as far back as I can remember. Drama in high school was the first time I got to really be instructed and involved in an organized way. And then, as I got out of high school, I just started doing research on my own to find out what I needed to do to get started. Unfortunately, there was no Internet at that time. But I was fortunate enough to stumble into an opportunity to meet with an agent, and I went in there and did a monologue, and the rest is history.
Did you go to college for theater?
I was going to go to college, but this is another thing: I had no guidance at all. My mom and dad didn’t encourage me to go to college. They didn’t take me through any of the paces of what it took, and my school counselors too failed me in that respect I think. I had no guidance or influence to go to college. I couldn’t afford or figure out a way to go to a big drama school. I didn’t even know of any back then. So I just dove in headfirst into the business.
Was your family supportive once you started to pursue this more seriously, getting an agent and taking classes?
No, not at first. My mom never wanted me to be an actor. She wanted me to get a job with benefits. No one’s gonna want to marry you unless you’ve got benefits, she’d say. My parents are very old school in their way of thinking. But I just decided that this is what I wanted to do and eventually first appeared on TV for a Georgia Lottery commercial. My mom saw me on television and that’s when she was suddenly like, “Yay, you can do this!” And since then my goal has been to just work consistently doing what I love to do and I’ve been fortunate enough to be able do that.
Do you have other ways to supplement your income as well?
I also teach. I will also do other little side gigs. At one point I did singing telegrams. A lot of people would look at that like, “That must be so embarrassing to tell people that,” but I was like, “No, I’m getting paid to perform to a captive audience.” Sure there are some people who do singing telegrams that are terrible and could never make it as a film or television actor, so it gets a reputation, and I get that. But I had fun. I loved doing it. I hosted karaoke shows. I hosted trivia shows. Any outlet I had to perform, I took it. This is a nonstop learning industry. There’s always something new you can learn.
So when you started, did you take any classes in town? Do you continue to train?
Yes, I took classes. I took a lot more when I was younger than I do now. Unfortunately, I don’t have as much time nowadays. I think a class environment is just a great way to flex your muscles and stay on your toes regardless as to whether you’re a beginner or working professional. And I also get the opportunity to learn from my students as I teach. You know, we’re constantly evolving and learning together.
Where do you teach?
I’m a freelancer, but I right now teach mainly at Orbit Arts Academy in Sandy Springs.
You teach on-camera audition technique?
Yes. I teach a lot of different facets of on-camera. And I also teach improvisation because I’m a big-time improv guy.
How did you go about getting your first agent?
It was through a series of friendly connections. And I went in there and I did a monologue, and they liked me. Genesis was the agency, no longer in existence. They recommended some people I could take classes from and they signed me. If you were referred, that means somebody that they like likes you. So it’s that a nice little connection. You get an instant sort of in depending on who the person is.
What do you do in terms of marketing and networking?
I am the worst at that. I don’t get out as much as a lot of people do. I know a lot of people will go to every single meeting of Georgia Film whatever and this, that, and the other thing. I really should be better at it. I guess the closest thing I do to actual “marketing” is just making friends. I hate non-genuine “networking”. I can’t do it. Some people can get out there and they can suck up to everybody they meet and they tell them exactly what they want to hear. I can’t do it. I’m terrible at it. I would rather you do your job, I’ll do my job, and if we’re friends, great.
You are in one of the more competitive categories as a young White male but you’ve done quite well for yourself. What do you think has been working in your favor?
A lot of it is about attitude. A lot of people will go into an audition nervous, for example. I never get nervous because I know that the person on the other side of the table is rooting for me. They want me to be awesome. They want me to be the one. So I never get nervous. I prepare. That’s the one thing I have control over. If I’m not prepared that would be grounds for nerves, but I take care of my own business. I’m prepared. Another thing is that I love what I do, and when you love what you do, there’s not a work element to it. It’s like there’s no burden, ever, so I think having love for it really also can make a difference.
On a more practical side though, the idea of being a good auditioner or a bad auditioner…I think I’m a good auditioner. Auditions don’t make me nervous. But I just do well in the room because I look at it like a performance for a captive audience that’s rooting for me, and I get my chance to exercise my craft right here, right now, on this day. Which is a beautiful thing, right? I get to do what I love to do. I’m not getting paid for it, but it’s still an outlet and I get to do it.
The other part is that a lot of people get bummed about rejection, and it can wear on them, and it can actually show itself in future auditions. They start to get stressed, try to fix something. If I can make a sports analogy, it’s like a hitter who’s going through a slump and then they try to adjust their grip, they do all these funky things that take them away from who they truly are and it doesn’t necessarily help.
The way I look at it, I’ve never once been rejected. That doesn’t mean I’ve booked every role, but I can walk out of that door and whether I book it or not, if I went in there and performed the way I wanted to perform at least once, then I have done my job. I don’t worry about it again. I don’t think about when does that book or when is it coming up, am I going to get it, etc. That’s poison. You just do your job, and for most actors their job should be auditioning. You don’t get paid to do it, but it is your job.
Is this the mindset you’ve always had naturally or is this something you’ve developed over time?
It evolved over time, but it didn’t take me long to figure it out. I’d always heard about how it’s so competitive. Fortunately, when I came in, I didn’t experience that. I experienced a helping hand. There was always somebody watching out for somebody else and so I’ve tried to pass that on. I’ve tried to always have that sort of positive mindset. If there are people that I’ve worked with, that I enjoyed working with, that I think are talented, I’m gonna refer them too. And if there are people I know that need help, I’m gonna help them. I’m gonna give them that advice. I’m gonna give them that nugget that I think is the difference in them continuing to pursue this career or deciding to quit. Because that’s okay too.
And I have this mantra, this sort of idea of the basic ground rules of life. One of them is find something you love to do and do it passionately. And if that means you want to build things, then build things. If you want to play in the dirt, then dig in a garden, but find something you love and do it passionately. So many people lose sight of that idea and it becomes about material things or fame. But if your heart’s not in it, you’re destined to fail.
A lot of actors will go into an audition for a big picture with a big star and they’re spending the money before they even walk in the audition door. And that is even worse than being nervous because now you’re doing something else. You’re trying too hard. The fact is: you are who you are. If you try to walk into an audition and push yourself beyond something that you can actually do, you’re not being who you are. You’re not being true to yourself. If you’re truly awesome at something, then don’t worry about it. You’ll be awesome at it. Just be awesome.
I don’t say that to say you can’t work at things or you can’t try to do new things. What I mean is, for example, you wouldn’t walk into an audition and try to do a backflip if you can’t do a backflip. You’ll just look like a person who can’t do a backflip and probably hurt yourself. You have to know your own limitations as well as where to stretch, and that’s what classes are for. You go take classes to learn new techniques and ways of expressing yourself or ways to do things you can or can’t do. That’s where the evolution never stops.
That’s one of the reasons I love improv as well is because improv teaches the idea that taking giant risks to risk failure can ultimately lead to success. In that classroom environment, you get to learn that and you get to learn how to harness that, how to take a big risk in an improv and to fail. Then when you go into an audition, you know where your limits are. It’s a two-sided coin. Don’t make yourself look like an idiot, but at the same time don’t be afraid to look like an idiot! There’s a distinction there, and it takes a while to learn.
What do you see as the future of acting being in Atlanta? Do you see the opportunity to book bigger roles here?
The idea that has been around for so long has been that New York and L.A. are where all the talented people are. But I have learned that Atlanta is such a wonderfully powerful market, and there are other markets that are producing wonderful talent as well, like Chicago, for example. But, unfortunately, right now, most of the productions that come into town are still holding onto that regional bias for New York and L.A. So a lot of the Atlanta talent right now are reading for the same old tiny faceless nameless parts, such as Man at Bar or Attendant #1.
My hope is that as the industry becomes more entrenched in Atlanta, more opportunities will arise and they will start to see that there is some talent here that can hold up with anybody from anywhere. Hopefully it will lead to that. Change is happening, but it’s very slow. I hope in maybe ten years, we’ll start to see leads and series regulars on a bigger basis booked out of Atlanta. I think it’s just a matter of time.
What do you think Atlanta actors need to do to step up their game?
I think that everybody needs to train, and a lot of people are training. They’ve been told by their mom and their grandma that “oh, baby, you’re so talented,” that kind of thing, and they might do some high school drama or what not and then they think they’re ready to just jump in full force. They forget to continue to train. Whether you go to theater school or just take classes and pursue it, whatever, everyone should train. Training is one of the elements that American actors are just missing generally.
That’s probably why so many British and Australian actors booking lead roles in the US now, right?
Yeah, I think that’s probably a big reason for it.
Do you have representation outside Atlanta?
I don’t have anybody on the west coast. I’ve had flirtations with representation in New Orleans, but I haven’t had a need. I might stoke those fires again someday, but for right now it’s local.
Any plans in the near future to move to L.A?
At one point that was my plan, but then as John Lennon so brilliantly stated, “Life is what happens when you are busy making plans.” That’s exactly what happened to me. A life event occurred, and I put that on hold, and at this point I don’t know when or if I would go, but it’s never off the table.
What do you wish someone had told you at the beginning of your career? Or if you had to redo your career all over again, what would you do differently?
There are some things I would do differently. One is I would have taken some classes in business and economics because the economics of being an independent contractor are so very different than the way you work on a salary W-2 sort of thing. So I wish I would have had someone to advise me in money because I’ve had to learn the hard way as I went along. If I had to advise anybody, it would be learn about business and finance, because the truth is, it’s show business. But there’s a lot more business than show. Not only do you have to hone your craft as an actor, you have to hone your craft as a business owner. That’s what you are. You’re a business owner. When you go into the acting world, you are running your own small business, and that’s you. So I just wish that little nugget had been passed onto me. I would say maybe take a small business class. There are things like that available at online schools and community colleges. The information is out there.