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Actor of the Month

TJ Power

Interviewed by: Jessica Sherman, CSA

1)    Has there been a Casting Director that has encouraged and/or supported you in your career? I am grateful to remember lots of moments with different casting directors who offered support, meaningful words of encouragement or kind gestures. Wendy O’Brien sat & just chatted with me for 5 minutes before a call-back for the first US recurring guest spot I booked. That genuine act was to make me feel confident & set aside all my nerves & fears. She is always so welcoming & disarming & takes time to get to know the actor & the person. Speaking of taking time to get to know the actors, Jessica Sherman pays special attention in this area & has done so with me &, in turn, it inspires me to deliver my best work when I get an audition from her. I want to respect her respect, if that makes sense. I remember, after Becky Silverman recently cast me in a role, she greeted me with a welcoming hug before a read, immediately eliminating any reason to be nervous. That’s not common practice, or something we’ll see a lot of post-2020, but it’s a vivid example of those disarming moments of support that take the audition from feeling like a daunting ‘test’ to a personable experience between colleagues, and that is when I feel supported & encouraged to do good work.


2) What work are you most proud of? Come on, this is like comparing your children! I guess the “craft” I am most proud of is a feature called “The Little Death” by Josh Lawson. It’s a beautiful, wickedly funny comedy & I played a lonely deaf man using an interpreter service to call a phone-sex line. I studied sign language & the physicality of my deaf cousin & his friends & really spent time on the script to honor every part of Josh’s genius writing. I put in the work & it paid off. But the “work” I am most proud of is being cast in Criminal Minds as the Unsub. I say this because the “work” was the road to get there. After coming to the US from Australia, I had auditioned for that show about 9 or 10 times before finally getting the call. It was only one episode but it was bigger than just that episode to me. It was the validation of my work ethic & the sacrifices I’d made to get here because the fact that they kept calling me back in for role after role meant that they thought I was good enough to do the job when the right role for me came along. Again, I put in the work & it paid off.


3) What or who inspired you to pursue acting as a career? I always thought I’d be a music artist. I played in bands all my life, wrote, recorded & performed songs (and collected too many guitars…). But there was something limiting about that life path to me and something so alluring about the world of acting - It seemed like the ultimate adventure for someone who likes to try everything (which is me) with opportunities to learn new & strange skills with every role. So that’s how the fascination started but it wasn’t until my training at WAAPA that I developed a real love for the craft and found meaning in what it is and what it can be. I had great classmates & teachers who taught me how necessary the profession is & has been for humanity. If you are part of telling a story that resonates with a lot of people while also having a ball, that’s a special kind of buzz you can’t synthesize anywhere else. That buzz is what keeps me pursuing acting as a career.


4) What was your first IMDBPro credit and how did you feel when you saw it? I’d had a couple of other credits before Eat Pray Love but wasn’t aware of IMDbPro until that film’s premiere in 2010. On the advice of my friends I signed up & went down the rabbit hole of looking up all the other actors in the movie before attending the premiere. Great way to feel intimidated before meeting them! Eat Pray Love was a huge movie at the time, so having that as my first credit on a worldwide database (that I was aware of) was pretty surreal. I still go down the IMDb rabbit hole almost daily…


5) How has IMDBPro helped you market yourself to filmmakers? I don’t have a website (there, I admit it) so IMDBPro is my professional resume online. It’s my go-to for industry reference & an amazing tool for navigating around productions & the people involved. It has helped me dodge a couple of bullets by allowing me to research the work of others before being attached to a train wreck but on the other hand it has enabled me to successfully connect with other creatives for my directing projects.


6) Any funny casting room stories? In my early days in LA, I auditioned for a character I knew I wasn’t right for. I was overwhelmed by the number of auditions I had at the time & despised giving sub-par work so decided that this was the one I would have to pass on, to free up space for the others. I told my agent but after they pressed how hard they pitched me for this role, I felt a duty of loyalty to them & went in for it. This character was a superhero… with HUGE muscles… as clearly stated in the breakdown. Now, I’m a fit guy, but I’m what kind body builders would call “lean” on a good day (Aka: “Noodles”). So I enter the waiting room, spot fifteen guys fresh from the gym, buttons barely holding the shirt around their chests & while they are crushing protein shakes, I find a quiet corner to crush my lines. When I finally go into the room, the casting director seems surprised to see me & even asks what role I’m auditioning for - great start. When I tell her it’s for the ‘hero’ she politely sighs and relaxes as if in a lecture she knows she doesn’t have to listen to. I do the read, but after her initial reaction, the obvious futility of me reading that role and all the overwhelm of the week I can’t help but save gas & knock my performance back a couple of gears for sheer embarrassment. I finished, there seemed to be an eternal silence, before the casting director rose from her chair, and gave me a hug. Finally, she mercifully said, “It’s ok”. But that small piece of mercy was, of course, undone when her hand gripped my upper arm in what I believe was less of a compassionate grip of sympathy but more her saying, without words, “What are these? Noodles? Get out of my office.”


7) Tell us a fun fact about you outside of acting: Kelly Slater once saved my life and he doesn’t know it. I was surfing at Bells Beach & he was there warming up for the Pro event. I was totally in fan-boy mode sitting next to him in the line up when all of a sudden he just started paddling hard out to the sea. Sensing the world's greatest surfer knew something I didn’t, I paddled hard too! Sure enough, the biggest rogue wave I’d ever seen steamed through, with Kelly & I just making it before it tipped to crash leaving a horrible mess of snapped boards or leashes for all the surfers who didn’t have Kelly’s sixth sense. If you’re out there, Kelly, thank you!

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