SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW WITH ACTOR, JORDAN L. ELSASS
Jordan Luke Elsass is no stranger to the acting scene. But he's' only 18, and Jordan is already making a name for himself, turning a childhood hobby into a dream job.
On August 28th, 2001, Jordan was born in Kingman, Arizona. At age 3, his family packed their bags. They lived in various states such as Arkansas, Washington, and east Texas until Jordan was ten. After that, Jordan returned to live in Austin, where Carrie and Paul grew up. Jordan also has one older brother, Derek.
Jordan's' interest in acting began in 2012 when his mother inspired him to try out acting. "My mom told me, "I think you'd' enjoy acting." She was trying to get me to branch out. She even gave me extra video game time to try something new. So one day, I agreed to try it. I stepped outside my comfort zone and auditioned for a play at the local theater in Georgetown, Texas. I went into this audition not knowing what would happen. I didn't know that if you mess up, it's' okay. I'm' a perfectionist. I walked in, and I fumbled in the monologue. I was in tears afterward because I thought I had ruined the audition. Luckily, that wasn't' the case."
In Annie Get Your Gun at Georgetown's community theater, Jordan's first role was landing a part in the ensemble cast.
Later, I ask Jordan if he's' had a pivotal moment when he realized acting for him is more than a summer fling.
Jordan shares, "Music has always been an enormous factor for me. Music affects my mood and the way I think. It also motivates me. I remember when I was going to school at Austin Community College. I had one semester where I was taking five challenging classes. I had these big exams, and I was having a rough day. I was sitting in the gas station parking lot next to my school. I had just grabbed a Red Bull. I was sitting in my car listening to G-Eazy's song "Easy."
He is one of my favorite artists. The lyrics of the song made me think. I broke down, reflectively thinking, "I have to do this. I will get this job, and if I don't' get it, I will make sure the next thing I audition for is significant, and I will get it. I will do this. My time is coming. I want my chance to shine." I want to be in something significant."
Jordan proceeds, saying, "Eventually, I did some shows with theaters in Austin. Later on, a local agent in San Antonio discovered me, and later I started working with other agents and a manager in the Southeast and L.A. It's' been fantastic. Doors keep opening. I never thought of acting as a career until I booked Little Fires Everywhere."
Afterward, Jordan reveals, "A year to two years ago, I wasn't sure I could make acting as a career work. I thought it was a kind of one of those dream jobs because, for many, it is a dream job. But, it is still a job, and there are stressful and tough things. It can get me down sometimes, and it can also be a mentally straining job. I feel people may not realize that. But, it is still one of my passions and something I genuinely love."
With eagerness, Jordan expounds further, "As I started getting bigger roles, I realized that I might make a career of acting, and when I booked Little Fires Everywhere, that solidified things. Since then, I've' booked two other shows, and I am looking forward to getting back to them! It sometimes seems surreal to have this job, including the excellent and not-so-great aspects. I love doing the job itself, but I am not interested in the trappings of fame."
JORDAN OFF CAMERA
Jordan's' disposition is affable. He appears gregarious, humble, sincere, and beyond grateful. Jordan depicts his personality as "respectful, humorous, easy-going, forgiving, and energetic." It is a character role that requires no tryouts or dress rehearsals.
He relishes in various pastimes when Jordan isn't' on-set getting into character and rehearsing lines. He expresses, "I enjoy hanging out with my family and friends, working out, reading, and playing video games. In addition, I am a genuine car fan. I go to car dealerships to look around and test drive cars.
Jordan tidbit shares, "When I booked Little Fires Everywhere, I was a few months away from earning my black belt in mixed martial arts. When I was 3, I had a musical globe. I taught myself all the world's countries, along with many capitals and bodies of water. I could do the same on any map or globe. Unfortunately, I didn't keep the knowledge and would be hard-pressed to find most countries on a globe or map today. My hair was stick-straight until a few years ago when it became very curly."
LIFE & THE HAPPINESS FACTORS
Happiness, for many, is a two-way street. I impart a quote from the late Heath Ledger to Jordan: "Everyone you meet always asks if you have a career, are married, or own a house as if life was some grocery list. But no one ever asks you if you are happy."
Then, I ask, "are you happy, or do you feel you are chasing happiness?"
Jordan conveys, "Heath Ledger is one of my all-time favorite actors! I feel happy, but I experience sadness, anxiety, and boredom like everyone. I know that happiness doesn't' lie in anything material. I want to be sure my acting career doesn't' keep me from having strong relationships, which are vital for me."
MOTIVATION & INSPIRATION
Jordan's' inspirations from childhood include Heath Ledger, Jordan's' mother, and father. Elsass says, "My Mom has been so supportive of me. She has done more for me than anyone else, including me. I'm' grateful."
Then, I challenge Jordan with a question relating to mental health, asking, "As a society, do you feel we can manage the growing problem with anxiety and depression today?"
Elsass shares, "I feel as a society, we need to be kind to one another and try to help those who struggle. People shouldn't be embarrassed or afraid to ask for help."
Then, I shift to another question to discover whom Jordan wants to share food and conversation with, asking, "If you could have dinner with anyone dead or alive, who would it be and why?" Elsass proclaims, "I would love to meet Heath Ledger, as he is one of my favorite actors. But he was gone too soon."
I find a moment to ask Jordan, "What life motto do you follow?"
He imparts his favorite quote, "If one day speed kills me, don't' cry because I was smiling," which often is attributed to the late Paul Walker.
BACK TO ACTING
Before the pandemic, Elsass was working on a captivating brand new Amazon series, Panic. Jordan explains, "The plot revolves around a game played by high school seniors in a quaint town. It requires dangerous stunts to win a large cash prize. I play a drug dealer named Tyler Young and the best friend of Jack Nicholson's son, Ray."
Celeste Ng's 2017 N.Y. Times best-selling novel, Little Fires Everywhere, the Hulu Series television adaptation, captures the Richardson family and a mysterious mother and daughter. They move to the picture-book-perfect suburb of Shaker Heights, Ohio. The frame story of the television series unravels burdening secrets microaggressions and casts a light on motherhood.
I ask Jordan what viewers can learn from his role as Trip, the eldest sibling in the Richardson family in Little Fires Everywhere. Elsass shares, "The character of Trip is easy-going and filled with humor. He loves his family. He wants acceptance and to be loved, just as everyone does. I feel that one thing to learn from him is that he wants to do what's right."
Considering recent events in the world, I inquire, "How do you feel privilege influences your character Trip in Little Fires Everywhere and you as a white person in society?"
Elsass opens up, "I don't' think Trip has considered this. Even if he has subconscious biases, I feel he appreciated Pearl for who she was. I also feel he is blind to any privilege he holds. I recognize I need to do more work towards understanding these topics. I do my best to acknowledge my privilege in society today. I hope always to be a person who can listen, learn, and grow."
Paired with complicated subjects and themes, being of any age and showing vulnerability and emotions on set filming has its challenges. Elsass points out, "The days where it's' required to express complex feelings can be sadder without question. Even when you know it's' not real, a real heaviness and stress become present."
Jordan also says, "The hardest part of filming is long hours, especially if there is significant downtime or extreme cold or heat elements. For example, the Little Fires Everywhere fight scene was warm, but we were wearing multiple layers, and dust was blowing everywhere and at our faces for hours."
Elsass, then highlights the rewarding parts of acting, "The most energizing aspect for me is meeting and talking to people. I love getting to know the cast and crew. I have made wonderful friends along the way."
How does Jordan set himself apart from the often congruent competition in the entertainment industry? Jordan pensively ponders, then shares, "I do me. I am relaxed, knowing some roles are right for me and some aren't'. When the right parts come along, they will find me."
The C.W.'s' Superman and Lois is Jordan's next television project. Jordan explains, "I play Superman and Lois," son Jonathan. The series reveals a side of the couple we've never seen before — as parents to two teenage boys."
Foward-looking, Jordan has three authentic roles he wants to land: playing Max Payne from the video game, James Bond, and The Joker in the film.
Elsass then adds, "God willing, I intend to continue acting for many years! Next, I'd' like to tackle a big feature film."
What advice does Jordan want to give his future self a decade from now? Jordan pens a letter to his twenty-eight-year-old self, conveying, "Always be sure to be grateful and kind. Work hard and don't' become complacent."
Jordan Elsass at a recent photoshoot in June of 2020 (Photographer, Arthur Marroquin)