Jayson Warner Smith
SKSM: Could you start with telling me a little bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Jayson Warner Smith: I am an actor and acting teacher living in Georgia, USA. I divide my time between my home in Athens, GA (Go Dawgs!) and Atlanta, GA where I teach. I teach the Strasberg Method and the Demidov School of acting.
SKSM: When did you know you wanted to become an actor?
Jayson Warner Smith: As an extracurricular activity my mother involved me in at nine years old, I took some children’s acting and performing classes that ended with a production of the children’s theatre play Chester the Cricket. I played the man who sells the cricket to the young boy. I had a blast and I was much better at acting than baseball or basketball and there were a lot of cute girls so… I stuck with acting.
SKSM: How did you become involved in Rest stop Dollar Baby film?
Jayson Warner Smith: In 2013 or so I was cast in a SundanceTV show called Rectify. Cameron Schwartz, who adapted and directed Rest Stop saw my work and a few years later approached me about playing a lead role in his short film Northfield. He made me an offer I couldn’t refuse and I signed on. We have been working together on most of his projects ever since. On a side-note, I asked Cameron who would play the role opposite me in Northfield and he asked if I knew anyone who could fit the bill. I had a short list and Steve Coulter was at the top. Steve and I have had the pleasure of working together on all of Cameron’s films so far. Cameron swears I will be in all of his films. So… I’ve got that going for me.
SKSM: What do you think it is about the story that attracts people so much?
Jayson Warner Smith: I don’t really have an answer here.
SKSM: Did you have to audition for the part or was it written directly for you?
Jayson Warner Smith: Cameron added the scene with Steve and Randy and me at the beginning and the role was written specifically for me by him.
SKSM: You worked with Cameron Schwartz on this film, how was that?
Jayson Warner Smith: I have kind of already answered this but, if I must go on… I absolutely love working with him. Every film has been a joy and the only regret is that the shoot usually only last 3-4 days so we don’t get to spend enough time together. He keeps teasing me with new projects that, for one reason or another, unfortunately haven’t gotten made. I miss working with him terribly.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when they made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Jayson Warner Smith: It’s been so long. Nothing in particular comes up. It is also the only time I’ve had the pleasure of working with Randy. Randy, Steve and I are usually auditioning for the same roles for films that are made in the Southeast. Randy’s turn on Stranger Things was brilliant and you should see Steve in She-Hulk. He is fantastic!
SKSM: Do you still have any contact with the crew/cast from that time? If so with who?
Jayson Warner Smith: We haven’t taken a house by the sea together or anything but I do stay in touch with Cameron, Steve and Randy. Mostly via text and social media. We have all three also been at some comic-cons together over the years due to Stranger Things and The Walking Dead. Cameron and producer Alan Hu and cinematographer Kyler Dennis helped me create a promo for a play I produced and acted in called Blackbird by David Harrower. The editor Jonathan Pawlowski was a student of mine for a bit and we are neighbors in Atlanta so I do see him from time to time.
SKSM: What are you working on nowadays?
Jayson Warner Smith: I am in the final throes of executive producing and starring in my own short film written by Ruckus Skye and Lane Skye called Chipper. We are about a week from completion and will begin a year of festival submissions. You can follow along here: https://www.instagram.com/chipper_film/
SKSM: Are you a fan of Stephen King’s work?
Jayson Warner Smith: Not huge. I have only ever read one of his books. Salem’s Lot. I was in high school and it scared the bejeezuz out of me. There’s a story here: When I was in high school living at home with my family, my bedroom was on the front of the house and the front porch was at my window right next to the front door. One night while in the midst of the book, my sister who is four years older had been out on a date and came home quite late and had forgotten her door key. I had finally gotten to sleep, I repeat I was terrified from the book, and I am awoken by the sound of someone tapping at my window saying, “Jayson, let me in.” I woke up, heard this and immediately froze. In my head screaming to myself, “Don’t look! Don’t look! If you make eye contact, they have you!!!” It took about 5 seconds to realize what was going on but for those five seconds I was convinced there was a vampire at my window.
I have seen most of the films that have been adapted from his works. I have enjoyed… most of them.
SKSM: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Jayson Warner Smith: I am an Eagle Scout.
I love riding my Triumph Bonneville. Here’s a little film I made about a five week trip I took called Learning to Fly. https://vimeo.com/manage/videos/123383323
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to the fans that read this interview?
Jayson Warner Smith: Uva Uvam Vivendo Varia Fit.
SKSM: Do you like to add anything else?
Jayson Warner Smith: Follow your bliss. – Joseph Campbell
Living in fear is just another way of dying before your time. – Drive By Truckers