Patrick Oliver Jones, Actor and Podcaster: on Connection (Part 2)
By Liam Klenk
Patrick Oliver Jones is an American actor and creator of the podcast Why I’ll Never Make It. In our chat, Patrick shares valuable personal insights on connection, belonging, and on what it means to truly show up for all that you do. Let yourself be inspired. The interview is in two parts. This is part two.
Here is Patrick, continuing in his own words:
I have been very blessed over the years with a few minor instances where I had to take another job because I couldn’t perform. But mostly, I’ve been able to make a living as an actor. I’ve been able to create savings solely from acting and performing. I feel very grateful to have that.
On my own podcast Why I’ll Never Make It, I talk how there are times when we have to do something else because we need money. I sold used cars for a time, for example.
To be able to find success is often very momentary, very fleeting. We just have to go on until we find another contract…
One time, I didn’t find another contract for eleven months. I produced two one-act plays for a festival. But no money is coming from that. I went those eleven months without booking any work. It’s a long time to be auditioning and to not get anywhere.
When I can get contracts back-to-back, it makes me very appreciative.
It is that sense of challenge and uncertainty that us actors can get lost in.
Which brings me to Covid. A challenge on a whole new level. The time with Covid was hard.
It’s an entire other thing if there is nothing to audition for and your livelihood, your industry is just gone. Other industries found a way to keep going. But theatre found no way to keep going.
I still have issues with this industry not thinking more out of the box. It’s incredible that our industry couldn’t find a way to keep going. Yeah, there is Zoom. But it’s just not the same as live theatre.
The pandemic has made all of us take a step back to reconsider why we are doing this.
I have done musical theatre, theme park, cruise ship. And I’ve been involved in the backstage side of it too. In and around the arts. Not just performing. Producing, coordinating. I have been in the office of theatre organizations.
But this pandemic really made me reconsider what acting means to me. It’s come to the point where, over this last year, I have realized I don’t need the affirmation of a contract to know I am a performer at heart.
I realize it’s something that’s innate of me. Being a performer is part of me. If I am in a theatre or not.
My podcast Why I’ll Never Make It has enabled me to sit down with other artists, producers, etc. to delve into their own processes. Why have done what they have done? What challenges have they faced? What setbacks?
It’s that connection of, “Oh yeah, I have that too.” Or “Oh, I have never thought of it like that before.”
Recently, I had a New York acting teacher on my podcast. Terry Knickerbocker. Something he brought up was the courage it takes to be an actor. And the fear that comes with the uncertainty of our profession. Will I make it in the audition, will I get another contract, will I make it onstage, etc.
Then he said, “Bravery is not dismissing the fear but acknowledging the fear and doing it anyway.”
This was a great moment for me.
The other thing he said is that auditioning and stage each have a different dynamic.
A different purpose. Acting in an audition is the commercial side of theatre. We are acting to get hired. Which is a much different purpose than acting to connect with an audience.
It’s two sides of the coin. And we have to be able to do both.
It was an interesting delineation between the two that I hadn’t heard like this before.
So, there are these light bulb moments for me in my podcasts. And I hope for the audience as well.
The podcast has given me a deeper sense of what ‘making it’ can mean to different people. What is success? And why are or aren’t you achieving that?
It’s been my mission to try and explain this. Especially for new artists. Last year, people have graduated. They thought, “I can begin my career now.” And they couldn’t.
Without diminishing that passion and excitement there needs to be an acknowledgement that ours is, in fact, a hard and uncertain career.
You can’t compare yourself to other people because your passion is bound to lead you down a different path from theirs. And your passion might change over time.
My passion in coming to New York was going to Broadway. However, I haven’t reached Broadway yet. I’ve done tours, I have almost been there. I’ve worked with amazing Broadway caliber people.
So, have I failed? I haven’t achieved my goal in the last twelve years. But I have achieved a lot of other things. The term success has changed for me since I’ve come to New York.
It’s brought me back to that sense of connection and belonging to other people.
At the moment, I am a stand-in for Jimmy Fallon on the Tonight Show. It’s a job I have had for the last three years.
I found this gig through Actors Access. It is an online auditioning platform where actors can go to see where they can submit auditions to. The Tonight Show had posted an audition there.
They use a handful of stand-ins for various purposes.
Sometimes they need a shot of just the hand or the legs. Other times I am basically doing a tech rehearsal. Standing in for Jimmy Fallon as if I am interviewing the guest or doing a monologue.
I will go through the technical blocking aspect of it all. It’s kind of a surreal experience. I am sitting behind the desk, going through the motions of what Jimmy does. So that by the time he comes in the crew is prepared.
I am connecting with people backstage and contributing something to a type of performing I have never considered before. It’s not Broadway. It’s not one of the things that meant success for me before.
But it is valuable. I am helping the show. I am helping myself creatively. And again, there is a sense of belonging that is bigger than myself.
That sense of belonging is just a continuous journey I have been on.
Both personally and professionally.
Patrick’s Social Media Links:
Instagram – @pojnyc
All social media of podcast: @winmipodcast