Jak Wyld, on Acting, Time in the Military, & Latest Role on New Zealand's Longest Running Drama - Shortland Street.
January 29, 2016
I was born in the Midlands, in the United Kingdom and grew up in a small village in Derbyshire. When I was 13 my family emigrated to New Zealand where I attended school in a small country town.
When I finished high school I joined the military.
In 2002 I moved to Sydney, Australia. I was involved in school productions from an early age and really enjoyed diving into different character roles.
We had a comedy troupe at high school and I was involved in the annual school play. I guess you could say I caught the acting bug early on.
First Job in the Entertainment Industry
When I first started training as an actor I enrolled with an extras agency so I could get some on set experience.
One if my first paying jobs was as an extra in a telemovie called ‘Atomic Twister.’
I had just had my wisdom teeth taken out the day before, my agent called me because some people had pulled out last minute.
So, off I went with a handful of painkillers and face like a chipmunk. It was a looong day!
To be honest I’d have to say living today; a great movie, a painting, a moving piece of music. I really enjoy people watching. After all acting is about interaction, listening and reacting.
Seeing how different people react and interact is often surprising and inspiring.
If you had to lock me down to specifics it’s probably when you are sitting in a movie or a play and that moment you realise you are watching something truly special.
I got that feeling just recently watching Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant.
As an actor you get an opportunity to put yourself in someone else's shoes. I enjoy getting deeply into character and seeing things through the eyes of another.
It is a study of human nature and human interaction, an insight into how people respond to events or challenges. People consume media to be entertained, but they also learn through media live, feel and grow through the media they consume.
I always feel very honoured to be invited through the lens into the minds and homes of an audience.
I haven’t had a huge amount of theatre experience. Plenty throughout school and I know, that’s not quite the same. I had a job at a refinery for many years that was shift work.
It made it very difficult to commit to a long term theatre project. I have worked on Short and Sweet, the largest festival of 10 minute plays in the world, which was a great experience.
There is definitely more noise out there than there was. Working on your craft is simply not enough anymore. Social media has given everyone access to a larger audience and getting seen and heard is a lot more difficult.
I guess having the ability to self-tape or Skype an audition has certainly made more roles available but that comes at the price of more competition.
The world is getting smaller every day.
I love working on TV, it’s like this giant machine that just keeps moving.
No matter how big or small the role I always feel like I have caught a moving bus, its absolute organized chaos onboard, then when I am done I get off and watch it disappear over the horizon.
Sometimes I just think ‘what the hell just happened’ - I have been working on Shortland Street in New Zealand lately.
The show has been running since 1992 so it really feels like a family when you get into the studios. Such a great cast and crew.
Be prepared to have your heart broken on a daily basis, rejection is a huge part of acting, plus, I wish it wasn’t the case but you need to be able to support yourself.
There aren’t many actors who live solely from acting.
Plus it’s expensive; headshots, reels, online casting subscriptions, workshops, training. It never ends.
My advice would be have a bankable skill or skills you can fall back on during the lean times.
I think is important is to understand your brand and what it is you are offering to as an actor. Remember that the entertainment business is very much ‘feast or famine.’
Whereas TV is a crazy whirlwind, film feels a lot more measured. You have a lot more time to work on character and rehearsals.
One of my favourite roles was playing Corporal Updike in The 25th Reich.
I spent 6 weeks in Melbourne, Australia. The film was shot around Tooborac, which was three hours north.
I remember hiking to the location for over an hour one day, coming up on top of this ridge looking out to nothing but bush and thinking 'Holy crap I’m in the middle of bloody nowhere.'
Coming into the profession later in life was challenging, as great as it was having life experiences to draw on the simple fact was I was up against actors that had been doing it a lot longer than me.
I decided to train for a term then try and work on a project, then go back and apply what I had learnt to another training block.
I think it worked well as it kind of fast tracked my apprenticeship. The other thing I tried to do was find projects that allowed me to do something or be a character I hadn’t done before therefore expanding my knowledge base and range rapidly.
Current Career Goals
Well, simply put, I want to continue to grow as a person and an actor, and take advantage of what opportunities present themselves.
I am currently contracted to Shortland Street in New Zealand, I have a strong recurring role there. I am reading for other projects as well.
You never know what’s around the corner.
That’s the amazing and terrifying thing about a career in the arts.
Military Experience as Preparation for a Career in Entertainment
My military time has had a huge impact on my career.
I honestly think everyone should serve their country for a short time.
Skills like punctuality, respect and a good work ethic help out in any situation but it’s the military roles I do when I get to draw on weapon, survival, drill and basic military decorum.
These skills add a whole new level of authenticity to the role. I think directors and audiences both appreciate when you look and act the part straight away.
Getting into Character
I read the script over and over to get a real sense of where, when, who, how, what. I learnt some great skills whilst training in LA for doing that which I use all the time.
Top Moments in Entertainment Industry
5. My first lead role in a feature, what a great experience. I got to work with some great people.
4. My first commercial, what a crazy different world from any other gig.
3. Signing with Bohemia Group, my reps in the USA. That really felt like leaving one world and entering a much larger one.
2. Travelling to LA and training at the Margie Haber Studio, I learnt so much about the craft and made some great lifelong friends.
1. Booking a long term recurring role on New Zealand’s longest running drama Shortland Street.
What is something about your career that you’d like people to know?
I am fortunate to be able to work in both New Zealand and Australia and what not many people know is Shortland Street is the fastest single unit show in the world.
You really have to be on your game!
When I first started I did some workshops with NZ casting directors and then when I moved Sydney I enrolled in a couple of screen acting schools and did a few terms.
In recent years I have made it a point to work with as many Australian and NZ casting directors as possible.
I have studied at NIDA (National Institute for Dramatic Art) but I think the best training I did was in LA at The Margie Haber Studio.
I also think life experience adds a huge dimension to your acting as well.
My friend Tania Frampton, I have known Tania for many years.
She is one of the best production managers in Sydney and has never stopped believing in me.
I’d also like to shout out to my NZ agent Gail Cowan who has always looked out for me and been a great friend.