Wake up earlier than almost everyone else. Imagine if you could start the race before your competition, your chances of winning go way up! I heard Ryan Seacrest talk on this subject once and immediately started getting up early — it’s drastically changed my life for the better. I accomplish so much while the rest of the world is still dreaming, hungover, or zombie-like.
Asa part of our series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Jason Lockhart.
Jason Lockhart is a talent agent from Los Angeles who relocated to the Southeast market in 2017 as the Head of Film & TV at one of the most prestigious agencies in Atlanta. Lockhart released his book, Ask an Agent: Brutally Answered Questions for Actors of All Stages, on May 5, 2020, and it’s already a #1 Best Seller on Amazon in Performing Arts. His mission was to utilize this unique industry slowdown from COVID-19 and give actors some brutally honest knowledge in hopes to make them more powerful and successful moving forward. Lockhart is also an accomplished filmmaker, having worked with National Lampoon and sold two feature films as an award-winning Writer/Director, one of which The CW picked up as a Movie of the Week. Having grown up as a child actor, Lockhart has over 20 years of experience and education in the industry, but after bouncing around several seats in Hollywood, he finds it most rewarding behind the talent agent’s desk, helping others pursue their dreams.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Thanks for having me! I’m still a small-town, midwest boy at heart, having grown up in Sanduksy, Ohio. I was that kid who spent his kindergarten years watching The Making of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, over and over on VHS, instead of being glued to cartoons. I think what we’re introduced to and gravitate toward at an early age is extremely telling for the future. I also feel fortunate to come from a loving family with very supportive parents. My little sister and I were always told that we could be anything we wanted to be. My dad came from very little but worked his ass off and eventually joined the Navy just to put himself through dental school. He’s one of the smartest
guys and hardest workers I’ve ever known. Being around that kind of story has always been inspirational.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
“Hollywood” felt like a magical land, super far away to a kid surrounded by flatlands in the middle of the country. Thankfully, commercials and industrial films shoot everywhere, though, and between that kind of work and live theatre, I got bit by the acting bug at an early age. After a college degree and some struggling artistic years in Los Angeles, I finally sought out other avenues within the industry that could provide excitement and a stable living. That’s really when the job of a being “talent agent” found me, and as I often joke, it’s the perfect collection of my limited skill set.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
The transition of moving from Los Angeles to Atlanta is by far the most interesting journey I’ve
encountered. I went from representing roughly 90 actors to over 1,000, and while learning about all these new people, I also had to navigate how an entirely different beast operates. ATL is NOTHING like LA. There’s drastically less competition and only a handful of casting directors, but just as much (if not more)realistic opportunities to tackle nearly 24/7. I thought the southeast would be a cakewalk, but man was I wrong! It’s truly exploding and has even grown tremendously in the three years I’ve been there now. I don’t know if the history of cinema has ever had a market with so many paid job opportunities and such a contained number of people vying for them. That being said, it’s still a competitive game, and you’ve got to swim like a shark, ignoring sea size.
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?
How about my first 20 mistakes? Hah. You never want to piss off the biggest casting directors in town, but damn was I close once trying to demand more money for a role requiring nudity on Ozark. It wasn’t until some co-workers in my department strongly suggested I let the actress’s opinion take control of
responding to casting and put my passion to rest. I could’ve lost her the role, putting up what I felt to be a valiant fight, but at the end of the day, my client’s voice and career rest on their decisions, not my own. What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? I’m a HUGE superhero nerd, so it’s been fun geeking out over all the Marvel projects shooting in Atlanta. There are three shows for Disney+, along with a few movies. And in secret news, my nephew may or may not be a superhero in the making! DC Comics also has a strong presence in our market with “Black
Lightning,” “Stargirl,” “Doom Patrol,” “Swamp Thing,” and hopefully, the new pilot, “DMZ,” gets picked up for more.
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?
As an agent, I’m obsessed with finding diverse talent and pushing them hard. Casting directors are super responsive and supportive as well, so it’s like we work together on this venture. I believe fighting for equal rights goes hand in hand with the entertainment industry because film and tv have the largest
viewership known to man. Having such a wide audience can effectively create change, showing the world what a fair and equal way of life should look. It’s also great to represent different cultures and share diverse stories. Knowledge is so accessible through the entertainment medium, especially to youngsters who are learning the ways of the world for the first time. Information helps overcome ignorance. And finally, in this binge-worthy culture we’re currently living in, the world can never get enough hope for a peaceful future. Let’s continually feed the hungry with new ideas, building new audiences, and projecting love.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Ask yourself, “What do you really want out of life?” Had I known how much more I’d smile having a more affordable cost of living, I would’ve left Beverly Hills a long time ago. Watching my money go further truly lets me enjoy daily life in a whole different way. And a happier person works happier for other people.
- Answer, “How do you make the world better?” When I was simply an “artist,” I wasn’t finding ways to do anything for others. Life was too self-indulgent and not fulfilling. As soon as I began helping others on a daily basis, my whole world grew exponentially better.
- “Practice patience.” I swear, half the shit we worry about never happens or happens when it’s supposed to. Don’t rush, and don’t worry so much. A lot of my biggest bookings came through the patience of building worthy relationships over time.
- “Persistence is a must for true success.” Once I began to expect failures around every corner, I cared less about them and started to see tiny wins. I still get knocked down and around daily, but I don’t really feel the burns. The grandiose victories carry so much more weight. I am continually striving for them, no matter what. A big gain has been watching my client, David Shae, who began acting in Los Angeles around the year 2000, and finally earned health insurance form SAG/AFTRA nearly 17 years later. Now he makes way more money than I do, and owns an amazing house, which coincidentally enough, hosted my epic luau birthday party,
- “Positivity is a choice.” Not only will it inspire you, but those around you. It’s an energy and a momentum that feels amazing. Cherish it. Positivity has led to really strong relationships with casting directors, which has made us REAL friends, and able to trust one another. This energy undoubtedly has helped my clients and simply made my life more fun.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I’ll give you two, and these could actually help anyone in any competitive industry.
- Wake up earlier than almost everyone else. Imagine if you could start the race before your competition, your chances of winning go way up! I heard Ryan Seacrest talk on this subject once and immediately started getting up early — it’s drastically changed my life for the better. I accomplish so much while the rest of the world is still dreaming, hungover, or zombie-like.
- You are what you eat. I purposely put tons of healthy nutrients in my body daily. It affects not only my overall health but my mood as well. Feeling great leads to accomplishing great things.
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’d love to start a “Say YES” movement. It’s so easy to say no. Saying yes usually requires tons of follow up and actual efforts. And I always say, “Saying no gets you nowhere, but saying yes can open doors to all kinds of possibility.” Let’s take more chances and try new things! 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?
Although I’m currently single, I’ve had a few significant others that have really helped inspire and push me to be better. I think it’s important to date someone who not only believes in you, but brings out your best, without being too pushy, and projects your strengths in future-talk form. While the romances might not have worked out, I’m extremely grateful for some of the women in my life, and while I won’t name them here, they know who they are, and that trust we’re likely friends for life.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Might sound ridiculous, but I quote Heath Ledger’s Joker even in my email signature with “Why so serious?” Just because someone has a typo doesn’t mean they’re an idiot. People take shit way too seriously and let negative energy control far too much. I look back at many of my mistakes in life and am
thankful they’ve led me to where I am today.
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. 🙂
That’s a tough one because the list is long and probably always evolving based on where I am in life. I’d say Jerry Maguire, but he’s a fictional character, one whom I respect for being a “shark in a suit” that fully transitions into a good-loving man. But I’d also really love to hang with Ellen DeGeneres. She’s so
positive and adventurous, and REAL, not to mention almost everything she touches turns to gold.
How can our readers follow you online?
You can find me and my dog on Instagram through @Jason_Lockhart. Hope to see you there! This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success! Right back ‘atcha, thanks for YOUR time! And to anyone who reads this, I also wish YOU much success. #nevergiveup