Our interview with actor, filmmaker, producer and writer Jake Raymond who recently completed his feature film Ashes. Ashes made its world premiere at the 2017 Milledgeville Film Festival in Georgia and will be making its festival circuit this 2017.”
Ashes follows the story of Liam played by Jake Raymond, who after discovering his deceased parents’ final wishes are to have their ashes scattered where they first met, sets out with his closest friends to explore the place for themselves as they navigate old memories while creating new ones. Ashes also stars Sara Mitich, Craig Arnold, Raymond Ablack and Kristian Bruun.
Hi Jake please tell us a little about you?
I’m an actor and filmmaker, currently promoting my feature film Ashes that I wrote, produced, and starred in. I was also a gymnast my entire life and currently writing a feature film Chalk that will let me combine my love of the sport with my love of filmmaking.
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Ambitious, dedicated, and determined.
How did you get started acting?
I have to credit the musical theatre productions in elementary school as the place it all started. I feel very fortunate to have attended a school that believed in the arts. Every year the school put on a musical and I’ll never forget my first time on stage in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. It was a surreal experience that has had a lifelong impact on me. I kept acting as a hobby all the way through university and after graduating, I knew I had more to discover with it. I moved to Toronto, got an agent, and never looked back.
Did your family support your decision to become an actor/producer?
They really did. I feel extremely fortunate to have such a supportive family. In fact, while we were making Ashes, my parents were on set everyday doing all the catering and really taking care of the cast and crew. The movie wouldn’t have been possible without them.
How do you prepare for a role?
It’s different every time and it has actually taken me a few years to find confidence in that approach. I remember taking some acting classes when I first started and feeling so lost and frustrated that I didn’t understand their “method”. It was actually a Q&A with Jesse Eisenberg and Dakota Fanning at the Toronto International Film Festival, where they both discussed never really following a set “method” that was a big breakthrough and confidence booster for me. Now, I love the constant evolution and discovering new things with each role.
Tell us about your feature film “Ashes”?
Ashes is a passion project and my first feature film as a writer and producer. The motivation for the film was to create an acting opportunity for myself and my friends. There are so many talented actors these days, most of the time just getting an audition is a win in itself, so I wanted to write a script that I could cast my friends in and give us all an opportunity to work together. In the story, we find my character Liam, after discovering his parents’ final wishes are to have their ashes scattered where they first met. Joined by his closest friends, they set out to explore the place for themselves as they navigate old memories while creating new ones.
What role would you love to play that you haven’t yet?
I love this question (laughs) and hopefully someone reading this can make it happen. I’m often told I resemble one of my favorite actors, Eddie Redmayne, so I’m determined to play his brother in a movie one day. He is such an amazing actor and it would be a dream-come-true to work with him.
What advice would you give to those who want to be in this business?
Never stop chasing your dreams. We are constantly faced with so much rejection but we have to keep pushing forward. Know that you are not alone and it’s okay to feel down sometimes. It is so important to keep doing what you love and to do everything you can to make your dreams a reality. Join forces with your friends and make a short film; or a feature film if you’re crazy like me (laughs)… but keep pushing forward. Your success is right around the corner and it will always over power the struggle.
If you could choose one, what it will be, Writer, Producer & Actor?
Actor all the way. It will always be my number one.
What other projects you have been part of?
It’s been a really lucky year for me and I have two other feature films currently doing the festival circuit. You can find me in White Night which recently had its world premiere at the Julien Dubuque International Film Festival, and in The Meaning of Life which just had its world premiere at the Dances With Films Festival.
What we can expect of Jake Raymond in 2017?
I’ll be appearing in the first episode of Salvation that airs July 12th on CBS. It was one of the best sets I have ever been on in my life. I got to work alongside Charlie Rowe and Dewshane Williams, two phenomenal actors that I have a great deal of respect for. The three of us play friends at MIT. Our director, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, was so generous and gave us a lot of freedom on set. This really allowed us to find the fun in the friendship of our characters.
What are the 3 things you can’t live without?
Netflix, my bed, and being on set.
How do you stay fit?
I was a national gymnast growing up so the sport has always had a huge impact on my fitness. It has recently come back into my life in a big way as I have resumed training in preparation to play an elite gymnast in my next movie, Chalk.
Do you have any diet?
I don’t follow any specific diet but have always been very health conscious in my food choices. I think it comes naturally when you grow up as an elite athlete. I will admit that I cave sometimes and my guilty pleasure is McDonald’s breakfast… and now that it’s available 24/7, I might be in trouble.
What is your favorite healthy food?
Every morning I make myself a smoothie of mixed berries, kale, ginger root, honey, and peanut butter. I also have to plug the MatéBros team (matebros.com), who have created a natural energy drink that is healthy and works wonders. I highly recommend it.
And your favorite cheat food?
I guess I already let this one slip… McDonald’s all the way.
How’s your typical day?
I try to keep the same morning routine of making a smoothie when I wake up and going to the gym for a workout. In the afternoon, I’m hopefully working on an audition or will likely be doing some screen writing. Depending on the night of the week, my evening will either consist of gymnastics practice, catching up with friends, or my latest TV binge.
Something people don’t know about you?
I was severely bullied as a kid and it’s something I’m trying to be more vocal about. I hope any success I have as an actor will continue to give me a platform to speak out against it.
Five years from now you will be….
Giving my acceptance speech at the Oscars for “best actor”… or I guess “best supporting actor” would be okay too (laughs).
What kind of music do you like? And don’t like?
I don’t know if there’s any music that I don’t like. My taste in music is quite vast and if you hit shuffle on my playlist you’re likely to land on anything from Linkin Park to Justin Bieber.
Do you support any charity?
I’m actually wearing one of my To Write Love On Her Arms shirts as I answer these questions. It’s an amazing non-profit movement that is passionate about mental health and you should definitely check them out! (twloha.com)
Your idea of a perfect Sunday is…?
Sitting by the lake at a cottage, all technology turned off, just reading a book and enjoying nature.
Do you have any other hobbies?
Outside of filmmaking and fitness, I have three nephews and a niece. Being Uncle Jake to those four is one of the greatest things in the world to me.
What do you think of the Social Media?
I think it’s incredible in the way it lets us share our successes with each other and inspire each other to greatness. As an actor though, I feel a responsibility and try my best to also share the struggles. It’s important to know that everyone has them and to keep pushing forward through them.
Where we can follow you?
Quote: Never stop chasing your dreams.
Favorite Book: Harry Potter (all of them).
Sports Team: Toronto Blue Jays.
Drink: I don’t drink very often but if I’m going to have one, it’s usually a wheat beer.
Favorite music: All over the place on that one.
Travel destination: Wales.
Movie: Dazed and Confused.
Tv Show: Too many, but currently really into: Bloodline, The 100, and Entourage.