Jake T. Austin
Jake T. Austin’s filmography from 2002 to 2015 portrays as the dream resume for those brought into the world as a child actor -- appeared in commercials around the age of five, first major voice over roles for Nickelodeon at six, and at 13, starred in a series on the winner of them all, Disney Channel.
In 2007, Austin was playing Max Russo, little brother to Selena Gomez’s character Alex Russo on the Disney series, Wizards of Waverly Place. The show went on to win three Emmy awards over the course of its four seasons. A film even came out of the series, Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie. When looking back at his time with Disney, there isn’t a hint of negativity. “Pretty much the exposer from Disney is what opened up many doors for me,” he recalls. “It was a huge learning experience, getting to be on such a successful groundbreaking show at such a young age. Probably one of the most educational experiences of my life. While most kids were going to school, my education was a film set. The set was my upbringing.”
Fast forward to 2013, Jake found himself on another distinctful series, the ABC Family show The Fosters. Jake took the role of Jesus Adams Foster, twin brother to Mariana, played by Cierra Ramirez. The series went on to last five seasons, but his involvement with the show ended after season two, and his role was recast by Noah Centineo for season three.
There was a lot of speculation as to why he left The Fosters. Talks of bad behavior on and off set went around. Around this time, Austin says he fell into “the trap of being in Hollywood, running with the wrong crowd, making some bad choices and also not taking the work seriously.”
As someone who spent his childhood on multiple series, he believes that taking on the role of someone else for years played a part in his behavior. “For a while I was really enveloped in the characters I was playing and connected to them, but as I was growing up in front of the camera and going through puberty and going through my life, I kind of lost sight of who I was as a person,” he says. “Meaning I knew the characters I was playing really well, and I knew their characteristics and their backstories, but as I started discovering who I was, I started losing touch in many ways.”
Looking back, he thinks that this time in his life is in some ways, indefinsiveable. “Over time, I started losing the sense of the love and passion of things I took for granted. I started not remembering my lines, not taking my craft as seriously as an actor should. That started happening on the second series, on The Fosters, when I was 18 or 19 and I was going through a lot of periods; who do I follow, who do I associate with, influences and things like that, and I just think that there are certain decisions that I made in the past that looking back I would definitely do differently,” he explains.
After The Fosters, there was a gap in his career which hadn’t happened since he was five. And he believes that recast was necessary, saying that being replaced “was probably the best thing that could have happened to me, because it prevented me from getting too big for my britches and really prevented my behavior from getting worse.”
And things have changed. Today Austin is interested in fully embracing his roles, looking at life through a genuine filter, and diving deeper into film. He is currently working on Adverse, opposite Mickey Rourke and Sean Astin. The neo noir drama sets the tone for roles he’d like to take on. “The subject matter is a little bit heavier, a little bit darker, it’s about addiction, it's about the choices that we all make and what happens when we make the wrong ones. I just think there's more depth in this role than some of the roles that I've played in the past,” he says.
Throughout the photoshoot, to which Austin introduces himself to every single person on set and knows each person's name by the end of it, appears incredibly invested in his environment. He asks a multitude of questions from beginning to end, completely absorbed and interested in what everyone has to say. He asks for advice on what area to look into when searching for a new place, compliments the stylists choice of clothing, and makes a waitress who accidentally interrupted mid-interview smile by ensuring that she did absolutely nothing wrong.
When talking of plans surrounding acting, he illuminates a love for filmmaking overall; whether that be acting, directing, or writing. As he explores the layers of stories and characters, Austin explains that he is just now understanding the magnitude and responsibility of the media, where are before he saw himself as, “someone who said lines and didn’t think of the quality and content that I was apart of.”
As someone who has played certain characters for years, he is set on subjects unfamiliar and outside of his reality. “I’m interested in diving deeper beneath that surface, exploring the layers besides the stories and characters. You know, people are very interesting, There is not one perfect person, not one truly evil person. Good and evil can reveal themselves at different times in the same person's life,” he says. “I’m just interested in exploring those sides of humanity through film.”