Check out our interview with actor and singer Patrick Oliver Jones.
Starting out performing in the fabulous shows at Walt Disney World, he eventually brought his southern charm to the stages of New York City appearing in National Tours and Off-Broadway World Premieres. This baritone was an original cast member of FIRST WIVES CLUB in Chicago as well as performing in two National Tours of THE ADAMS FAMILY and EVITA.
On screen Patrick has co-starred on BLUE BLOODS with TOM SELLECK and DONNIE WAHLBERG and LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT with VINCENT D’ONOFRIO. With all his successes, there have been far more failures which led him to his newest podcast venture. WHY I’LL NEVER MAKE IT is an innovative podcast that explores the reasons why actors and creative professionals don’t succeed while delving into what it really means to “make it” in this industry.
Follow Patrick @pojnyc
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Patient. Culinary. Searching.
How did you get started into music and acting?
It all started back in third grade church choir, then came roles in the Christmas plays and church musicals. Music classes in elementary school also laid a great foundation for understanding the basics of music notation and reading scores.
How has this changed your life?
It gave me a purpose and an interest unlike any other in my lifetime. I’ve had a lot of hobbies and activities, but none have matched the passion and dedication I’ve given to this art form. Being an actor and singer has become synonymous with who I am as a person, which has its pluses and minuses. On the one hand, I have a sense of direction and calling in my life, yet on the other it is so integrated that I am sometimes at a loss to describe who I am part from being a performer.
Describe your sound in 3 words?
Baritone. Resonant. Memorable.
Who influenced you and why did you choose to make music?
My mother was the one who actually got me interested in doing more with music than just learn about it in school. When she joined the church choir is when I joined, so at that time is was more of a social endeavor than anything artistic. As my experience and knowledge grew, though, I learned of its power to affect not only the listener but the singer as well – emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Music connects us in ways that other art forms or medium cannot. That’s why musicals are so engaging and popular, they can bring out laughter or sorrow and everything in between in a truly visceral and tangible way. Which remarkable considering music is something we can neither see or touch.
Do you play any instrument?
Much to the chagrin of my piano teachers, I can only plunk out a few melodies or notes. My only real instrument is the voice.
Do you ever get nervous?
There’s generally only two reasons I get nervous. If I haven’t prepared as much as I should’ve, if there is some question as to what exactly is going to come out, then I get tense and worried about my audition or performance. Also, if there are higher stakes, then I can get in my head. Maybe it’s someone special or important in the audience or behind the table, or it’s final callbacks for a Broadway show…that’s gonna affect anyone’s nerves at least a little.
How is being part of shows at Walt Disney World and at National Tours and Off-Broadway World Premieres?
All three have been such different yet rewarding experiences. Disney has been very good to me over the years, providing four different types of contract that brought financial stability I’ve not usually had from other shows or theaters, not to mention the wonderful people I’ve gotten to know and work with. The National Tours brought me into the Broadway community, although adjacently, by putting me onstage with veterans and icons of theater. I learned a sense of professionalism and responsibility to the craft and business of being an actor and singer. My off-Broadway premieres had a special energy being here in New York City. That first time I was lead in a musical appearing on 42nd Street was a joyously big step for my career and my own confidence as a performer.
What is the best and worst part of being an actor?
Best: the different people I get to work with and learn from, a wide variety of personalties that can make it not seem like work
Worst: the uncertainty of work and constant rejection, which can often mess with my own sense of worth and belief in my self
Tell us about your work in BLUE BLOODS and LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT?
For my first TV job to be in a scene with Tom Selleck was pretty amazing. This is one of those high stakes performances where the nerves kicked in for sure, but Selleck was a pro and very personable off set. Fortunately, I only had one line in a crowd scene so little chance to mess that up. I was ready each take and make sure I hit my marks. L&O was similar in stakes because I was on-camera with another big star, Vincent D’Onofrio. Only this time it was just the two of us and one other person in the scene. Again, I had one line but it was important exposition to the story. However, as the filming of the scene went on with different angles and takes, I was gradually repositioned out of the shot. By the end I was literally in the corner with the other two still at the table in the center of the interrogation room. When that episode finally aired, I was simply a blurry unrecognizable body in the background with only voice actually appearing in the scene. To this day, that’s kind of messed with my head. Add to the fact that I’ve not booked another network TV since L&O, and it really shook my confidence for on-camera work.
How do you prepare for a role?
It’s mostly a conversation and exploration with the director. While sometimes research can help, especially for historical characters, I find most of my work comes on my feet in the rehearsals, finding motivations and intentions with the other actors and director.
What other projects have you been part of?
My pride and joy are the four productions I’ve done of MAN OF LA MANCHA. The score is beautiful, the characters are rich and layers, and the message is so universal and applicable to anyone. Three times I played Duke/Carrasco and was blessed to actually play Cervantes/Quixote once. It’s the kind of show I could do for the rest of my life and still find new nuggets of wisdom and nuance with each performance and production.
What kind of roles do you like or would like to play and why?
I truly love the villain. During my Disney days I’ve played Jafar and Gaston, which were both so delicious in their maniacal narcissism. I’d also love to do other outlandish bad guys like Franklin Hart in 9 TO 5 or Black Stashe in PETER AND THE STARCATCHER. There is such a challenge in bringing these guys to life, making their actions believable and human. I always approach every villain as the hero of the story, because they often have very real objectives and grievances that propel their storyline.
Now tell us about your successful podcast WHY I’LL NEVER MAKE IT?
It’s a theater podcast where each week, I sit down with artists and creative professionals in the performing arts as they share stories of success and setbacks in the arts, opening up about their own journey and what keeps them going. Though it’s geared toward fellow actors to remind them they aren’t alone, there’s also plenty of insight and wisdom for any theater lover.
When did you decide to create your own podcast?
Back in August 2017, I approached my friend and fellow actor Dewey Caddell about starting a podcast. He and I riffing on various subjects or maybe just one topic or field. I don’t know. It was just an idea and wanted to get his thoughts and input as well. A couple of months later we met up and brainstormed some ideas, recorded an initial episode (originally called “PodCast & Crew”), shared it with a few friends, and finally landed on the main thrust of an entertainment podcast. Sharing stories of making it and not making it in addition to the reasons why we still pursue it as a career.
What is different from your podcast to other podcasts?
After the second season, Dewey moved on to greener pastures and I became lone host of the show. The show’s focus shifted more onto the guests, although I have done a solo show here or there. I wanted to hear from other creatives about their journey, the pitfalls they’ve faced, and what they did to keep going and overcome them. Everyone’s definition of success and “making it” is different. Most guests are artists who do amazing work out of the limelight, grinding out a living by doing what they love most. But I’ve also talked to stars like *NSYNC’s Joey Fatone, THE PROM’s Caitlin Kinnunen, and American Idol’s Justin Guarini. But no matter their level of their fame or the size of their accomplishments, each guest opens up and shares their own struggles in this business and offer us a reflection of our own challenges. I strive to go beyond the glitz and glam of most entertainment interviews and shine a light on the realities of this business and the true difficulties that comes with it. Thankfully it continues to grow and has become a Top 25 Theater Podcast on Feedspot.
How often do you release new content?
For Season Five I started releasing interviews in two half-hour episodes, the first on Wednesday and the second on Friday.
What do you think is the secret to have a successful podcast?
Engagement. For me success looks like a loyal and vocal listenership who interact and share the podcast with others. There’s immediacy and enlightenment with each episode that makes people want to come back time and time again to listen.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
Whether as a performer or podcaster, the most rewarding aspect are the connections I make with others. Getting to know those who love this business like I do, have found various levels of success, and give generously of their time and efforts to make a successful production.
How would your best friend describe you?
I think he was would say I’m funny and smart, with a dry wit and dad humor that can be eye-rolling at times but endearing nonetheless. He also knows I’m very loyal and care deeply…and that we don’t see or talk to each other enough.
What’s next for Patrick Oliver Jones in 2021?
I’m currently in pre-production for a TV pilot called IMPOSTERS. We just had our first reading last week and will soon begin navigating the new and seemingly ever-changing requirements for filming in this era of Covid. So it’ll be so wonderful to have a new project to work on! In the meantime, I’m making appearances on other podcasts as well as the second season of The Food That Built America on History Channel.
What is your favorite healthy food?
Carrots, I could sit down with a bowl of those anytime and be happy.
And your favorite cheat food?
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. Chewy gooey chocolatey goodness.
How would you explain your fashion style?
Casual and comfortable. I’m definitely function over fashion, much to my husband’s disappointment. Haha.
What is your own definition of happiness?
Contentment. The state of being at peace with your surroundings and yourself, while still being open to new experiences without expectation.
If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?
I’d most want to meet and work with Ricky Gervais. I love his story of not really hitting it big till he was 40 and the juggernaut of a career he’s has since. I appreciate his variety of work and the constant ideas and projects he works on. He’s an inspiration to the kind of career and dedication i’d like to have as a performer and creator.
Best advice ever given?
The best advice I ever got from a director was “show up.“ We were doing a production of THE TEMPEST, and I think for most of the performances up to that point I had simply been going through the motions, reciting the lines as written. But she was telling me it was time to show up and be present on that stage and in that character. It was a great reminder/admonishment of what all actors have to be able to do at every audition and in every performance: be fully engaged and invested in the moment, giving 100% of what you have on that particular day.
Do you support any charity?
I simply love Only Make Believe, a wonderful organization bring interactive theater into children’s hospitals and care facilities. Like all theater companies they were in-person before COVID and have now gone virtual, but there work remains the same: to bring joy and laughter to children who have been rocked with illnesses and disabilities, giving them a few precious moments of not being a patient but just being a kid.
Where do you see yourself and your career in 5 years from now?
For years my dream has been Broadway, and it will continue to be my long-term goal until it’s reached. I realize it is just one location among many where I can perform and work with great artists and supportive audiences. But Broadway is still the ultimate destination for any theater actor, and so I still hold on to that dream.
Favorite song? Why?
ONE song?? Haha. I guess if I could only listen to one song over and over again, I’d have to say the remix version of a song by Above & Beyond called “Good For Me” featuring Zoë Johnston. It’s a love song that is heartfelt but also hopeful, and the dance remix gives it an edge and immediacy that is infectious. Overall, Above & Beyond is one of my favorite groups but their collaborations with Johnston are next level. Her voice is simply beautiful and ethereal and transports me to another place.
What do you think of Social Media?
Mostly as a necessary evil. I see it’s original benefit and contribution to connecting people. And for that purpose, I utilize Instagram most often to connect with and reach out to others. But social media’s focus as a means of importance and influence has grown out of control and prioritizes anything but connection, rather an over emphasis on popularity and outward appearance. Lives curated for constant videos and posts are as real as the characters I portray onstage. And this new reliance on it by casting directors and producers is just plain lazy and near-sighted. Real talent and artistry is second to followership and marketability. It’s sad really.
Where we can follow you?
Book: To Kill a Mockingbird
Quote: “Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success.” C.S. Lewis
Movie: Moulin Rouge
Tv Series: Andy Griffith Show
Favorite Food: Pizza
Travel Destination: Italy
Sports Team: Chicago White Sox
Cover: Ted Ely
Blue Shirt: Michael Carins