The Comeback: Jason Olive
Many times I have been on the brink of trading in careers. If I did not have the stories of amazing actors like Sidney Poitier or Harrison Ford or the numerous others who have had to face struggles before ultimately finding some measure of success, it might have been easier to give up acting.
Born in Los Angeles on February 10, 1972, Jason Olive has always had an interest in acting, an inclination encouraged by Jane Fonda who he first met at the age of nine. But prior to pursuing that life-long dream professionally, the gifted student athlete (a member of the Golden Key National Honor Society) attended the University of Hawaii on a volleyball scholarship.
Later, a whim quickly turned into one of the most successful modeling careers in history, when Jason began modeling during his junior year of college. As the worldâ€™s first male supermodel, his became one of the most photographed faces around in marquee global campaigns for Armani, Versace, Calvin Klein, Yves Saint Laurent, Banana Republic, Levis, Gap, London Fog, Chloe and Ralph Lauren.
Despite appearing on countless covers of national and international magazines and a phenomenally successful modeling career, acting and volleyball have always remained his two lifelong passions. His TV credits include including his lead role as Richard Lermontant in the TV mini series, â€œAnne Riceâ€™s Feast of All Saints,â€? and All My Children.â€? Jasonâ€™s feature film credits include supporting roles in Raising Helen opposite Kate Hudson and Punks opposite Vanessa Williams and Rockmond Dunbar. Jason can next be see co-starring opposite Lisa Kudrow (Friends) in the much anticipated comedy The Comeback, which will premiere on HBO next month. The show is about an actress (Kudrow) on the verge of a comeback who lands a gig on a new sitcom. However, her actual life is being played out when she isnâ€™t shooting the show, so it is a show within a show. On the sitcom, Jason will play Jesse, a free spirited, charismatic, hot, young actor.
Away from show business, Jason donates his time and resources to numerous charitable causes throughout the year, including Young Americans for Truth and Integrity (YATI) and Dig for Kids (www.digforkids.org), a nonprofit foundation that gives children from under-served communities an opportunity to excel in school and volleyball. An avid defender of the environment, Jason also helped to create the Awareness Group, which produced the worldâ€™s largest fashion show of eco-friendly garments.
He has also spearheaded the Jayo Invitational(www.jayoinvitational.com), the nationâ€™s largest and most prestigious philanthropic volleyball competition. Itâ€™s the first event in which professional and Olympic players work, one-on-one, with children from various charitable and educational organizations. A published and award-winning poet, Olive is the author of a volume of poetry entitled Balancing the Limbo. Jason currently resides in Los Angeles, where, in the summertime, you can find him on the beach playing on the AVP pro-beach volleyball tour.
BSN: When did you develop an interest in acting?
JO: "At a very young age. As early as I can remember."
BSN: How did you come to meet Jane Fonda?
JO: "Jane had a summer camp for kids. It was on her ranch in Santa Barbara. I began to go there around the age of eight or nine. I was too young but my older sister went so it was okay. You could choose to do various activities from horseback riding, which I was too small for, to arts and crafts to theater. I chose theater. Each year we would write, produce, direct and star in our own play that would be the centerpiece of the day parents came to get their children after the two weeks or so were up. From there, I produced my elementary school play and just really kept acting as part of my life through college, where I met Terrance Knapp and spent wonderful years studying and learning from him. Now I am working with Lewis Smith, who is a good friend and great teacher, and doing this wonderful show, The Comeback."
BSN: Fonda has a new book out.
JO: "I am glad Jane is back out there. Few have the power to openly express beliefs with conviction as she always has done. When I first went to her camp my grandfather threw a fit. He thought of her as anti-American. A commie. Hanoi Jane. And all the rest. However, it was exactly the education my mother wanted for me. Abstract and balanced. I think Jane must feel she is needed in these times of hand-wringers and thieves. It seems our nation is rapidly falling victim to the glow of the tube. The TV news reporting has been reduced to PR campaigns. The 'in-depth' interviews are wasted on the infamous. Why is all the good reporting, the life and death reporting, hidden away on cable? Or concealed in DVD packaging? You have to have expendable income and the time to invest to know what is really going on in the world these days. I hope Jane slaps some people around. It is hard to knock down a person that readily accepts their own shortcomings and refuses them to be entered as mitigating circumstances. Besides, when the president has snorted coke or is sexually engaging women under desks... It may be that things have gotten so bad and that everyone is so completely culpable that the truth will actually have a chance to begin to prevail again."
BSN: I understand that you're an author, too. What have you written?
JO: "The only thing I have published is poetry. I had won a couple awards in Hawaii. One of which was called the Myrle Clark Award that was considered the top one to win. After that, people, my professors in particular, wanted to publish me. Reviews mostly. But Ii finally grouped some published and unpublished work together with photographs I had taken, and six years ago, I published my own book called 'Balancing the Limbo.' Publishing a nice book is expensive stuff. I sold out of about 250 copies and never made more. I have also collaborated on a couple screenplays that are getting knocked around right now. They are both super funny scripts, one of which introduces the character 'John Blaze' who, if you can imagine it, is like a Chris Tucker as James Bond. The other screenplay, called 'Quick,' was optioned by David Arquette for a while. It introduces the first funny martial artist who is a white guy, a good martial artist, that is. David has been training a long time and almost has his black belt. If David doesn't pick it up again, I would really like to get it to Owen Wilson."
BSN: What part of L.A. did you grow-up in?
JO: "An area called Miracle Mile. It is Wilshire and Rimpau, basically. So, Pretty much in the heart of L.A."
BSN: And where do you live in now?
JO: "I live in Los Angeles, near the beach."
BSN: How did you get your start in modeling?
JO: "Completely by chance. I was watching a friend's band play music and a very beautiful model asked if I was a model. I said, 'No' and she said, 'You should be.' Trying to get her phone number led me to the door of what was then Prima Models. It was one of the hottest offices in the world. My first three jobs were the biggest campaigns going: Banana Republic and Versace with Bruce Webber and Levi's with Albert Watson. I started at the top."
BSN: As a supermodel, are you noticed everywhere you go, or are you still able to have some privacy?
JO: "I have always been able to maintain my privacy."
BSN: What type of modeling was your favorite, runway, magazine or television?
JO: "I always love working with great photographers. That is the best experience to me, especially if you have a nice location. Shows are a lot of fun to be involved in, but it is a lot of stress for such a short runway.' [laughs]
BSN: What are a few of your favorite international magazines your face has graced on the cover?
JO: "South African Elle, Mondo Uomo, Das Spiegel, YM, etcetera.'
BSN: What TV commercials have you done?
JO: "I can't remember them all for sure. One of the one's I enjoyed shooting the most was a Levi's commercial with Albert Watson. I was on a volleyball scholarship at Hawaii at the time. And Albert says to me, 'Look, the whole commercial is just you jumping and hitting this ball against the wall. Like playing handball.' I must have said something like, 'How high do you want me to jump?' It was fun, and you knew, working with Albert, that the end result was going to be amazing. And it was."
BSN: Did you get a little bit jealous of that goofy Joe Boxer guy's popularity, dancing in those in those K-Mart commercials, when you were doing upscale underwear ads for Calvin Klein?
JO: "Never heard of him. Was that popular? Joe who?"
BSN: It's not important. You went to college in Hawaii and have traveled all over the world as a model. What are some of your favorite places to visit?
JO: "Well one of my favorite places I traveled was Sri Lanka. I went there on a shoot with Esquire in about 1994 or 1995. Obviously, the island will never be the same. I asked Arthur Chien, who is a reporter for CBS News in New York and my very dear friend, to take some money over there for me and also check on a few places. Everything is gone. There is nothing left but to rebuild. A beautiful land with beautiful people. The photo on the front page of my website, www.jasonolive.com, was taken there. Costa Rica and Greece are also favorites."
BSN: What was it like acting in soap operas?
JO: "I was always very eager to work and to learn. I had a hard time not making things funny. Or perhaps, I should say I had a hard time taking things seriously. I don't know. A lot of humor comes from taking preposterous situations seriously. and so I always felt caught in no-mans land not being able to make light of the oddity of soap goings-on."
BSN: How did you enjoy working on Raising Helen?
JO: "It was a very fun process getting to work with Gary Marshall and Kate Hudson. I had just gotten done with All My Children, so it was wonderful to be given free reign. The last day of shooting, though, I ran home and went to work on the computer. My fiancÃ©e walked in and asked, 'What are you doing?' I said, 'I am writing a scene for my character. If it doesn't make it in, the whole storyline will probably be scrapped.' It was hard for her to believe that two weeks' of work, and flying back and forth from L.A. to N.Y. could end in nothing. But as an actor, you know. The scene did not make it in, and the majority of the storyline involving myself and the rest of Helen's 'fabulous friends' were booted to the 'deleted scenes' section of the DVD. Gary came to me before the premiere and he said, 'Listen, Jason. You did a great job, but in the end we ran out of room and we had to make some cuts.' After seeing the film, I found Gary and said, 'Gary, you could have just told me you cut it all.' 'But that wouldn't be true,' he said. 'You're there in the restaurant scene.' That is the kind of humor I can appreciate. And to get a golden story like that from a Gary Marshall made everything worth it."
BSN: Tell me a little about The Comeback, your new TV show with Lisa Kudrow.
JO: "Well, it is a sit-com within a reality show within a sit-com. And it is sad and funny and all too real at times."
BSN: What's your character, Jesse, like?
JO: "He is a guy who is very serious about his work. He lives it. He knows that he will be a star and so he kinda always has one eye on the next project. The other eye wanders a bit."
BSN: What's Lisa like?
JO: "She's a genius."
BSN: To what do you attribute your success?
JO: "A lot of my success comes from seeing the failures as learning lessons and not as end results. There is a voice inside me that says, 'Act.' I follow that voice, come what may. Success is not the only thing it has brought."
BSN: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
JO: "When I decided to pursue acting full time, it was a pretty scary decision. For me, it meant paying a lot less attention to the modeling that was paying my bills, and basically dropping volleyball. Volleyball paid for college and was, well, 'What I did.' The thought of making a living as an artist, a theatrical artist, was daunting. The challenge seemed so great and the lessons I would learn along the way so important that I had to do It. Many times I have been on the brink of trading in careers. Maybe that is why I have so many jobs now. But, I never quit. I always stuck with it. I think it is always good to have some knowledge of what those before you have gone through, Even what your own peers are going through. If I did not have the stories of amazing actors like Sidney Poitier or Harrison Ford or the numerous others who have had to face struggles before ultimately finding some measure of success, it might have been easier to give up acting."
BSN: I know you're busy, but how can your fans reach you?
Jo: "I have a site I have neglected pretty badly, but it is www.jasonolive.com. I do, however, get all the emails and return as many as possible. I have another site which is www.jayoinvitational.com. This project is the most dear to my heart. We started the Jayo Foundation three years ago in an attempt to help children in the areas of general health and education. Each year, we put on the country's largest and most prestigious celebrity-pro-am volleyball event. Since the friends I grew up playing with are now gold medalists and tour champions, it's a wonderful time to all get together and do a good thing for the community. Add to that, actors and entertainers, and you end up with a very fun day for a good cause. Everyone is welcome."
BSN: Anything else on your very full plate?
JO: "I am also the volleyball coach at St. Bernard High. Two of my former students recently received college scholarships. One will play at my alma mater, the University of Hawaii. I am also the photo director for Volleyball Magazine."
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