Community//

Rising Star Jason Stuart: “Only be in showbiz if you have a need to do it; So many people want to be in the industry and don’t realize the the psychological toll it takes on you as a human being”

Only be in showbiz if you have a need to do it. So many people want to be in the industry and don’t realize the the psychological toll it takes on you as a human being. If you can do anything else and be happy, do it. For me, it’s my passion and my longest […]



Only be in showbiz if you have a need to do it. So many people want to be in the industry and don’t realize the the psychological toll it takes on you as a human being. If you can do anything else and be happy, do it. For me, it’s my passion and my longest relationship. I’m a journeyman actor and comedian. So, for me there was never a choice.


As a part of my series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Jason Stuart. Born in the Bronx and raised in Los Angeles, Jason Stuart has been working professionally as an actor and comedian for thirty years, ultimately making a name for himself when a personal decision — to finally publically acknowledge his identity as a gay man — gave him some prominence in an era when many performers remained closeted. Nearly twenty-five years later, Jason admits that being gay is only a small part of his identity, and he has transcended any sort of label through his increasingly impressive range of dramatic work far removed from his success as a stand-up comedian. Acting alongside Armie Hammer and Jackie Earle Haley as one of the brutal plantation owners in Nate Parker’s searing drama “The Birth of a Nation” showed the world that Stuart’s talent is formidable. That’s not to say that he isn’t hilarious — and still evolving as a performer and as a human being hoping to make the world a better place. Talking with Jason Stuart offers the perspective of a master of his craft and insider who knows all too well what it means to be “that guy” that every project needs. He talks about his life and work in his memoir “Shut Up, I’m Talking” due out this summer.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I grew up in the Fairfax area of Hollywood, Ca. I come from a crazy Jewish family. We were what I call “weekend Jews.” If there was a wedding, a bar mitzvah, or a funeral we were Jewish. Otherwise, we just complained a lot and had matzo ball soup. A lot of yelling and a lot of food and that’s why the title of my new book is called “Shut Up, I’m Talking” a memoir of me “Coming Out In Hollywood and Making It To The Middle.”

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

I was a funny and sad kid. It was the 70s and I didn’t know where I fit as a young gay man. I started to do community theatre as a young child and did a play called “Santa Clause For President” and wore a fat suit. I played the whole role as if I was Lucille Ball pregnant! I loved “I Love Lucy” and saw how she used her body to get laughs with the extra weight. So, I did the same. At the end of the show the director said to me, “You’re going to be an actor”. I said “Yes” for the first time, I was hooked.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

The bigger casting directors would look right through me when I was a kid. It was painful, but made me want it even more. Most would tell my agent I was too “light in the loafers” and that there was no place for me. Well, I worked on my voice and my way of being and began to play all different kinds of roles.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I played the role of The Manager of the appliance department on “The Drew Carey Show.” They would have a contest where we had to play sport games with the appliances. I don’t know anything about sports. So, I was afraid to ask, “Is there a such thing as vacuum cleaner race!” My friend Kathy Kinney, who played “Mimi” asked me if I knew how to play any of these games with the appliances. I said, “No as I don’t do sports!” She laughed and said, “They are not real games!” So, I finally asked the writers and learned that if you don’t know something it is OK to ask.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

My Book “Shut Up, I’m Talking” comes out this June from CCB Publishing and will be sold on my website and Amazon! This year, I will be seen as “Det. Walter” in the action film “Abducted”; and the thriller “Immortal” opposite Sam Levine (Freaks & Geeks) and Dylan Baker (Homeland). Lastly, I’m playing the title character award winning film “Hank” (Los Angles Independent Film Festival, Best LGBTQ Show), screening at the Palm Springs International Short film Festival on June 19th at 1:15pm.

I’m 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?

We need to make the world a safer and more equal place. I always ask the question, “If you break the ground, can you walk on it?” Well I say, “Yes.” And I am trying my best to do that.

From your personal experience, can you recommend three things the community/society/the industry can do help address some of the diversity issues in the entertainment business?

Show up, come out, and be you. Also, be the best actor you can be and act the same way straight white men act. They just walk in and take their space. I did not know how to do that, so I just watched them and did the same.

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. You don’t have to be so scared all the time.
  2. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
  3. You’re not a one trick pony.
  4. You’re not fat!
  5. There is a place for you, just create it.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Only be in showbiz if you have a need to do it. So many people want to be in the industry and don’t realize the the psychological toll it takes on you as a human being. If you can do anything else and be happy, do it. For me, it’s my passion and my longest relationship. I’m a journeyman actor and comedian. So, for me there was never a choice.

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. 🙂

I love color-blind casting and the idea that people of age are just as interesting to watch as our younger counterparts.

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?

Yes, the out heard legal at Sag Aftra, Duncan Crabtree Ireland. He taught me how to be a leader by taking the time to talk with me and showing me by example. The Oscar winning producer Bruce Cohen, for always giving me the time and respect. And my parents for teaching me to take care of myself, with humor and forgiveness.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“When people show you who they are, believe them the first time,” and “When you know better, you do better” both by Maya Angelou.

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? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Oprah Winfrey. I think she would really understand my journey and see me. That would blow my mind if I ever heard from her! Another is Barbra Streisand. She is an original and has had great success from being herself. She did not take no for an answer and her talent won out. I just wish she would act more, as she gave me such hope as a little boy. She took a very sad childhood and made it more fun and it gave me strength.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Go to http://www.JasonStuart.com and all my social media is on the home page.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much!

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.