I am using my platform to advocate for the elimination of single-use plastics. Single use plastics are wreaking havoc on our oceans, environment and food chain. I feel that it is important for the youth of today to understand the short and long term impact of the continued consumption of these plastics in particular.
Asa part of my series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Jackson Dollinger.
Born in Southern California, Jackson started acting at the age of 9. He immediately landed several national commercials for Nissan Motor Company and Petsmart. He got his first big break as the recurring role of “Charlie” in the Disney animated series Puppy Dog Pals. Jackson made his stage debut at The Road Theater’s world premiere production of John is a Father, which starred Hollywood vet Sam Anderson. Shortly after, Jackson went on to secure television spots on great projects such as *Loosely Exactly Nicole and Jimmy Kimmel Live. In 2018, Jackson booked his first series regular role as the skateboard-loving Young Max in Disney’s Sydney to the Max, captivating the room by landing an “ollie” over a Disney VP on his skateboard, at his final audition. Season 2 is set to premiere in March 2020 and the third season is currently in production.
Jackson is also big on helping the environment by effortlessly doing work in reducing single use plastics and volunteering in various beach clean ups. When he is not working or saving the environment, he loves to stay active. He enjoys skateboarding, surfing and basketball.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Iwas born and raised in Los Angeles. My parents went to the same high school and married later in life. I started skateboarding at the age of 21⁄2 and I haven’t stopped since. I attended a public elementary school that was a magnet for gifted students. I filled my time with school, sports, friends, travel, and of course, skateboarding. I spent my summers on Catalina Island and participated in Junior Lifeguards. I have always been surrounded by love and laughter and family and friends. Overall, I am having a pretty great childhood.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
Well, I started acting because of a friend. I’d always ask him if he wanted to come over after school and he would always reply that he had an audition. This became the constant answer and I decided that I wanted to try acting. Finally, I asked my mom and dad to submit me to agents. They did and my very first audition was for a Nissan commercial and I booked it. Then, I wanted to step it up and do theatrical. I got some small roles in the first year and then landed my role as Young Max on Disney Channel’s, Sydney to the Max.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I think it would be the process of auditioning for the role of Young Max. I went to the wrong location for my first Sydney to the Max audition and missed it altogether. I thought that was it . . . it just wasn’t meant to be. Then I got a call asking me to come in to audition for the producer the very next day. Then, at the test for the role, I was asked to ollie over a network executive in the conference room that I was testing in. Surprisingly, I wasn’t even a little nervous. It was all very impromptu and fun. I landed the trick, everyone cheered and it was by far the most memorable of any audition ever.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you first started your career? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
At an audition, I extended my hand to greet the casting director with a handshake and he rejected me. It was kind of embarrassing. I understand why he wouldn’t want to shake everyone’s hand. He sees a lot of people everyday and is probably worried about getting sick. I am glad I learned this lesson early on.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Sydney to the Max was picked up for a third season and so I am excited to head back to work to get started on the new season. There are some projects in the mix that I can’t share just yet, but I am super excited about them.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
I can name more than three reasons why it is important to have diversity represented in film and television, but I will stick with only three. First, itIt is very important for minority groups to be represented and have equal opportunities. Next, it brings attention to otherwise underrepresented communities. Last, I want that little girl or boy to be able to turn on the TV and be proud that people that look like him/her are on the screen. I want that to inspire that child that no matter what he or she looks like, they should always dream big and that they can be anything they want to be.
What do you love most about working in television?
I really love the bond that I’ve developed with the cast and crew. It’s like my second family and I’m very thankful to get to work with so many amazing and talented people.
If you could work with another TV actor you never worked with before, who would it be and why?
I’d love to work with Hugh Jackman. He sings, dances, and is an action hero. I also heard that he is a great guy because my dad has worked with him and he says he is awesome.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1) I wish someone told me to always have 2 monologues prepared. One time I was in a meeting and they asked me to do a monologue and I didn’t have one prepared. Proper preparation prevents poor performance!
2) You will get the role that is meant for you.
3) Always take your sides in the room with you, even if you are off-book.
4) Expect the unexpected because you never know what could happen in an audition.
5) I wish someone told me that if you’re uncertain about a direction, it is ok to ask the casting director a question to clarify.
Which tips would you recommend to aspiring actors in your industry to help them to thrive?
Work super hard and never give up because you might get a lot of “no’s,” before you get your first “yes,” and surround yourself with good people. Most importantly, follow your dreams.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Great question! I am using my platform to advocate for the elimination of single-use plastics. Single use plastics are wreaking havoc on our oceans, environment and food chain. I feel that it is important for the youth of today to understand the short and long term impact of the continued consumption of these plastics in particular. I am working with a company called Footprint Inc. to raise awareness, I have served as an Ocean Ambassador for Heal the Bay’s World Cleanup Day and I adopted Malibu Surfrider Beachfor the year 2020, where we are doing multiple beach cleanups with members of the community. I feel that saving the planet touches the entire population of the world and any contribution I can make to the cause will help. Together, we can make a change.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular
person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
When I first started my theatrical career, I met Harriet Greenspan, a casting director and coach. She coached me for the first movie role I auditioned for. A week later she reached out to my mother and said that she couldn’t stop thinking about our session and encouraged and guided my mother and I through the process of getting a manager. Harriet coached me and mentored me every step of the way during that first year and a half. I am so grateful that she took an interest in my career and tirelessly supported me. She will forever be a dear friend to me and my family. Having said that, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my mom. Child actors are so reliant on their parents to help them on their journey. She tirelessly drives me to auditions and stays with me at work, she helps me learn my lines, and just loves and supports me every day. I could not do this without her.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground.” This quote is important to me because you should always dream big and if success comes, always stay humble and grounded.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?
I think it would probably be Tony Hawk because I feel like he could give me great advice. He has proven to be successful and translated his passion into a business.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you guys so much!! Readers can follow me @jacksondollinger on Instagram and Twitter and
@officialjacksondollinger on tiktok.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much!