Check out our interview with actor Matthew August Jeffers who is making his feature film debut in Unidentified Objects, starring alongside Golden Globe nominee Sarah Hay (Flesh & Bone). In the film, he stars as Peter, a Gay dwarf who goes on a road trip adventure with a sex worker (Hay) looking to meet her childhood alien abductors. The film will have its World Premiere at Inside Out Film Festival and Frameline Fest in San Francisco. The film was directed by Juan Felipe Zuleta (Cannes Silver Lion Award). This summer, he will be making his Shakespeare in the Park debut in RICHARD III starring Danai Gurira. Matthew currently recurs on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon) and New Amsterdam (NBC). Past TV credits include FBI (CBS) and The Blacklist (NBC). The recent off-Broadway show includes Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow (MCC), Thunderbodies (Soho Rep), and Light Shining in Buckinghamshire (New York Theatre Workshop).

Follow Matthew @matthewaugustjeffers

Hi Matthew, please tell us a little about you?

Hi! I’m Matthew – I am a human first, actor second. For many years I thought I was the biggest smallest extrovert in the room, but the more I investigate myself, I’ve realized that I prefer to be an active observer, and I have many more questions than answers. Avid cyclist and I’m very big on hugs.

Baltimore native and proud alum of Beth Tfiloh and Towson University.

Describe yourself in 3 words?

Curious, Charismatic, Calming.

How did you get started into acting?

My path to the stage was lovingly directed by my mom. I was a big jock growing up and tried (Valiantly, but unsuccessfully) to make it on to any and all sports teams. Mom recognized very early on that I interacted with humans in unique ways. She signed me up to audition for “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown” in 8th grade, and I was cast as Schroeder. It’s cliche to say the rest is history, but it was a very linear progression from that first show. I majored in Theater in college, and moved to The Big Apple after graduation to see what I could muster.

How has this changed your life? 

I’ve spent so much time trying to answer this question, and now the “backspace” on my keyboard is fading. Perhaps I’m too “in it” right now to be able to step back and see all the tendrils that acting has on my life. Hopefully as I age, I’ll begin to compartmentalize and be able to break down my relationship with acting into chapters (DO I SMELL A MEMOIR???? no).

What is the best and worst part of being an actor?

Unequivocally, the best part of acting is having the chance to connect with another human being on a profoundly personal and intimate level. It is literally why I do what I do. It is a privilege, and it is sacred.

The worst part(s) is a bitter cocktail of frequent rejections mixed with knowing how much of the casting / auditioning process is out of your control.

How do you prepare for a role?

My preparation varies with each project, but I can offer an analogy of my process: The fictional character I’m playing takes centerstage and does their dance. I watch them dance until I know all of their moves. When the dance is complete, I go to them, thank them for showing me the way, and ask permission to step into their spot. Will my dance be exactly like theirs? No – I’m not them. My goal is not to “become” that character, my goal is to honor that character’s dance, their journey, with all of my imperfect but empathic moves.

Tell us about your work on independent feature film “Unidentified Objects,” and about your role as Peter?

I feel that I won the creative lottery. The team behind “Unidentified Objects” is, in many ways, the dream team – young, talented, collaborative, and driven. I cannot ask for anything more. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, I packed my bags and drove up to middle-of-nowhere Maine with a crew of about 14, most of whom are first- or second-generation Americans. We stayed on a little fishing lodge and ventured out each day with our pink Jeep and a commitment to tell the very best story we could tell. Due to the pandemic, everyone’s lives were quiet. It really allowed for this sort of zen filmmaking, where everyone was very much present for each moment, for each take. It took 19 days, 3 states, hard work and many tiny miracles to make the film what it is.

It was an honor to dance with Peter. A really nuanced character, and quite tortured…very isolated. On the first day of rehearsal, Juanfe (director) and I came up with an image of Peter – a big, beautiful, majestic lighthouse, but the lights are turned off. To offer a cycling analogy, playing Peter felt like a ride with really, really steep hills, one after another with virtually no let-up. That’s really how his journey read on the page. And let me tell you, as someone who was stepping into my first feature film in a first leading role, that was intimidating. But just like a steep climb, getting Peter over to the other side felt quite rewarding. This would have been significantly harder to do with a director and a co-star who did not trust me.

What other projects you have been part of?

My first gig in New York City was back in 2013, right when I moved. I played God in a six-hour radical retelling of the Bible, from the creation of man through judgement day. It did not pay one penny, but it was a blast. Many years went by with virtually no work. But in the past few years I’ve been fortunate to work on some exciting projects off-Broadway, with some wonderfully talented directors and actors who have inspired me. More recently I’ve been working in TV, and I just love being on set. It’s a family. I love making something in a room with a dozen people that will eventually reach millions. There exists both an intimacy and a grandness that is quite intoxicating.

What kind of roles do you like or would like to play and why?

Villains intrigue me. Characters with unassuming power. At this point, any character that continues to break through the wall of the long-standing types of characters that LP’s have played on stage and screen.

What is the most rewarding part of your work?

The most rewarding part of the work is letting people know that they are not alone. In “Unidentified Objects”, Peter expresses that he feels alien. At the World Premiere, an audience member came up to me after the Q + A and said, “I just want to tell you that I’ve felt like an alien my entire life, and watching your character go through that was really powerful for me. Thank you.”

What’s your advice for the newer actors? 

Always make it about the work.

What would say are the greatest lessons you learned so far in this business?

A few come to mind: I know everyone says it, but it’s true – this industry is very small. And the more you’re introduced to it, the smaller it becomes. All the more reason to show up on time, take the work seriously, and deliver the goods.

Another lesson I’ve learned is to stay in my lane. As small as this industry is, it is at the time sprawling…it’s controlled chaos, and every person has their job to do. Actors, directors, writers, producers, agents, executives, etc. Sometimes as an actor you want to take the reins of your career and shove and maneuver your way to where you want to be…but no one likes those drivers on the road – they create uncontrolled chaos. Trust in the process and focus on the work (that’s why it’s my big advice for newer actors).

I’ve also learned that everyone is rooting for you. When I was starting out, I’d walk into these audition rooms and I thought the people on the other side of the table were searching for a reason to say NO, when really they were searching for a reason to say YES. That’s a radical difference. Casting directors, agents, directors…they WANT you to be the answer to all of their problems. They want you to make their life easy so they can go cast the next role. We are all collaborators trying to tell the most compelling story possible.

How would your best friend describe you?

I believe they would say that I’m a hard worker who produces really great hugs and surprisingly loud farts.

If you are a book, what would be the title of the book and why?

Dear Shadow.

I think much of what I do is connected with both running from and chasing after the parts of myself that I cannot explain. I’m trying to learn more about myself (like I said, I’m curious!), and acting has been the vessel that I’ve used to explore my shadow. So really, my work is a love letter to my shadow.

What advice would you give to your younger self and why?

Apply sunscreen every day (even on the rainy days), gotta protect my 8X10! Practice patience with action, as we’ve discussed above. Swap alcohol for weed, because alcohol gave me hiccups and hangovers, whereas weed gave me new portals into my conscience (I was a late bloomer to weed). Begin allergy shots, because they take a very long time to work. And go vegan.

What book should every entrepreneur read?

Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker – because sleep is very important for overall health and optimal functioning, and if you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you best be functioning optimally!

What’s next for Matthew August Jeffers in 2022?

This summer I’ll be in The Public’s production of Richard III for Shakespeare in the Park. This is my first Shakespeare production, and I couldn’t ask for anything more than to have it be at the Delacorte in Central Park. “Unidentified Objects” is also kicking off its festival run, so I’m excited to see where that journey takes us. I’m up for an exciting project that I have my fingers crossed for. Right after Richard III closes, I go back to my New Amsterdam family to shoot the final season. And hopefully a little getaway somewhere in there!

What is your favorite healthy food?

My partner Leah introduced me to Pomelos (a sweeter grapefruit) this past February. I’m addicted. I have a dealer in Chinatown.

And your favorite cheat food?


What is your own definition of happiness?

I think I’m in the process of figuring that out. I’ll keep you posted.

If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?

Joaquin Phoenix – What an enigma! I’d have so many questions.

Best advice ever given?

Andre De Shield’s 2019 Tony Speech – Surround yourself with people whose eyes light up when they see you coming, slowly is the fastest way to get to where you want to be, and the top of one mountain is the bottom of the next, so keep climbing.

Do you support any charity?

Everytown for Gun Safety, Razom for Ukraine, SURJ (Showing Up For Racial Justice).

Where do you see yourself and your career in 5 years from now?

Married, a homeowner, with more vacations under my belt, more concerts, more understanding of where I fit in the world. And with my career, my 5-year plan is to nab a series regular – I want to develop a character that audiences can get to know and grow to love (or hate?!) over the course of seasons. And I haven’t told my agent yet but I’m ready to make my Broadway debut. Most hopeful of all – in the next 5 years I hope to acquire enough of a platform where I can begin to share my thoughts and ideas (I have a few) for the tiny ways that we can better our planet.

Favorite song? Why?

No Woman No Cry by Bob Marley. I first discovered it in high school and every time I listen to it puts me in a better mood. What a gift he was. BONUS! My favorite albums are “American Love Call” by Durand Jones and the Indications. I went to school with Aaron Frazer who sings and is the percussionist in the band, and we’ve stayed good friends. The tracks on that album are groovier than the grooviest R&B albums from the 70’s, IMO.

What do you think of social media?

Oy, how much time do we have? I have complicated feelings about social media. Like everything, there are pros and cons. But man, just, like, proceed with caution. It’s lawless. Social Media is both the mascara and the belly button lint of who we. It has helped progress us to a world of literal extremes. And it can be dangerously homogenous so that when important events happen in the world, we’re disseminating and recycling our opinions to those who are like-minded. In that way, social media is further entrenching opposing parties. We’re losing our humanity, our connection with one another. But also! Cute cats and births and weddings and 90th birthdays and graduations! Pros and cons.

Where can we follow you?

Instagram – @matthewaugustjeffers

Book: City of Thieves – David Benioff

Quote: To Thine Own Self Be True

Movie: Her

TV Series: Breaking Bad

Favorite Food: Pizza

Travel Destination: Vancouver

Sports Team: Baltimore Ravens



Cover Photo Credit: Lauren Toub