By Linnda Durre’
What a baptism into show business for a first timer moving to Los Angeles to get cast in a hit show! Aaron Jackson didn’t even have an agent but went on a casting call for an NBC series called, California Dreams, the long running, live-action musical comedy series on NBC. The show followed the exploits of seven high school friends in Southern California. Together they formed a rock and roll band called “California Dreams,” and Aaron’s character, Mark Winkle, was one of the band’s lead singers.
“Scott Wolf and I were both up for California Dreams and also for Party of Five. Fox was a fledgling network at the time,” he said. “Scott got Party of Five and I got California Dreams. I signed on for 39 episodes, which was enough for three seasons. And I did a total of 59 episodes.”
“Being on a national TV show on NBC was such an amazing thing!” he recollected. “I was so green when I moved there that I didn't even know that I was going to have a dressing room, so it was an eye opening experience. I got to work with an amazing cast and crew week in and week out.”
He was with the series from 1994 until 1998, joining in the third season.
“I remember the first week that my show aired. I flew back to my home town in Pittsburgh and my dad had this huge party the day that it aired,” he remembered. “However, it was a Saturday morning show so it was early. Shortly after that I started to get fan mail and I was on covers of magazines like the Big Bopper and Teen Machine, and not to forget - Tiger Beat,” he laughed.
He, Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ, Frequency), and Kevin Sorbo (Hercules) were all signed by manager, Beverly Dean of Beverly Dean Management. She certainly had a gold mine with the three of them. Aaron later signed Arthur Toretzky at Paradigm for agent representation.
Aaron began acting when he was five years old in Pittsburgh. “My first play was, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” he recalled. “I was in the chorus, but I got bit by the acting bug. I think I passed out in the show. And not on
purpose. I just shake my head to this!”
He certainly didn’t let that auspicious introduction to acting deter his career.
Besides being on California Dreams, Aaron’s other television credits include Silk Stalkings and a pilot called Impact, a talk show for teens. Aaron is a
proud member of SAG and AFTRA.
Prior to landing and after his role on California Dreams, Aaron appeared in a wide range of theatrical productions, including five plays at the Cultural Park Theater in Cape Coral, Florida, where he played Sgt. Trotter in Mousetrap, Elwood P. Dowd in Harvey, Felix in The Owl and the Pussycat, and Mortimer in Arsenic and Old Lace.
“That play (Arsenic and Old Lace) did so well that we did it again the following year at a different theater,” he added. “I love to do live theater. There is just something about the live audience there - the what if factor.”
He had supporting parts in Guys and Dolls, Scrooge, The Man Who Came to Dinner, and Gemini, just to name a few. He played Rocco in the critically acclaimed, Bobby Socs It To Ya in London.
Aaron starred in two plays at the Sherwood Forest Theater in Pittsburgh, playing the roles of Joseph and Zebulun in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and as Ken in Rumors. He played David in Torch Song Trilogy at the Upstairs Theater also in Pennsylvania, Conrad Birdie in Bye-Bye Birdie at the Washington Playhouse in Washington, Pennsylvania, and Tom Lee in Tea and Sympathy at the South Park Conservatory Theatre in Pittsburgh, not to be confused with the TV series.
Some of His film credits include Oscar nominated Lorenzo’s Oil (with Nick Nolte and Susan Sarandon), From Venus, and Children of the Corn: Fields of Terror, (with Eva Mendez and the late David Carradine), which is based on the book, Children of the Corn by Steven King. Other film credits include Wicked Spring, Heaven’s Neighbor, Tangy Guacamole, Captain, Passed Away (with Bob Hoskins), and Bob Roberts, directed by Tim Robbins.
“Bob Roberts was the second film I was a part of. I got it because it was filming at the same time Lorenzo's Oil was and Susan Sarandon was with Tim [Robbins] at the time. They said they need a 15 year old boy for a very small part. So they cast me. But to quote someone, ‘There are no small parts just small actors,’ as they say,“ he laughed.
He also starred in and was an associate producer on An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, which was a remake of the 1962 Academy Award winning film. He was also in The Pain Within released 2010 and also was executive producer of and starred in Biophage, which was just released in 2011.
Most recently, he was in production of a documentary called Why God Quit Talking.
“I directed it and I’m the co-executive producer with Good life Media and my company, Dangerous Curves. It’s due out in 2012 and we got to film in Germany, London, and Belgium,” he recounted.
Aaron has also done a variety of national commercials, including a P.S.A. on AIDS that he received the “ACE Award,” which was the cable equivalent of the Emmys, which eventually absorbed them.
“I remember my first national commercial was with Paul Rodriguez. He was Pepsi man and I was Pepsi pup or kid. We filmed it at Kennywood Park, a theme park in Pennsylvania. They shut down the park to film. It was so awesome!!!! I think I rode the laser loop like 10 times in row" he recalled.
His training includes study with Anna Strasberg at the Lee Strasberg Studio in London and Janet Alhanti at Black Box Theater in Los Angeles. “She was intense!” he recalls.
Aaron also studied with Shari Rhodes in Columbus, Ohio, Tom Capps in Pennsylvania, John Kirby also in Los Angeles, and Kenneth Gargaro at the Pittsburgh Playhouse.
“Barry Wood was the first professional director I ever worked with and to this day I still talk to him and have done many shows with him,” he reminisced.
About his years in London, Aaron says, "What can I say? I was at one of the most famous acting schools in the world - The Actors Studio - and working on a show. I was in heaven! I loved London and it is a home away from home to me. I was sad to leave when I did. But I knew something big was going to happen!” he predicted. And it did. That is when he ¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬ ¬¬¬left London England and moved to Los Angeles.
Aaron is most proud of the work he has done helping aspiring actors break into the acting industry. He travels the country coaching up and coming talent in the art of acting, specializing in monologue and audition preparation, scene study, character breakdown, and improvisation.
“I like love working with kids that are on the same path that was on. I get them before they are jaded. When I start with them, this is all new and exciting to them. They are not in it for the money or the fame. There in it cause they love to perform! And that's what this is all about,” he stated emphatically.
His dedication to teaching young people is evident.
“Yes, you have to love this - sleep this - eat this. But you've got to love to perform. When I started Dangerous Curves, my studio in Cape Coral, Florida, I did it because there was no outlet for young performers on this coast to get training. I also want to give these young actors the real info they need! I don't care if you’re 100 years old - you can still learn more about yourself and your craft,” he remarked.
In his off time, Aaron speaks to students about drugs, peer pressure, and many other topics affecting them.
“I go around the country to high schools and middle schools and I do a reenactment of a situation to get these kids aware of their choices, and how one mistake can cost you your future,” he warned.
He also works hand-in-hand with non-profit organizations, such as D.A.R.E., Make-A-Wish, St. Jude’s Hospital, Special Olympics, the Love Ride for MDA, and the Ami Thom Foundation, just to name a few.
“I enjoy giving back to the community that has given me so much. It’s the least I can do and try to help others that might be facing adversity in life,” he philosophized. “And if I can help in any way shape or form I will. We need to use our gifts in any way we can to help.”
For fun, his special skills include dancing, juggling with pins and balls, motor and pedal cycling, wrestling, snow skiing, various forms of skating, including ice, roller, inline, and speed. He prides himself on his various dialects and voices.
Aaron, when he was five years old, may been overwhelmed by his initial experience of acting and passed out in his first play, You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, but his is alive, alert, and has been totally committed to his acting career ever since. Aaron is available for training, classes, and seminars. He can be contacted at 818-370-8593 cell or email email@example.com
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