Jake spoke with Television Academy and talked about his acting career, Murphy Brown, and What We Do in the Shadows. Here’s an excerpt:
“I went to a few really good classes there and in those classes I met people who had been going back and forth from Dallas to LA for pilot season or busy times out here for years and years and years, so pretty quickly I realized, okay, that’s what I want to do.”
And once he figured that out, he put it into action quickly. “I was originally going to finish high school and try to get into a college somewhere in Los Angeles or Southern California. If I couldn’t get in directly maybe go to a college in Texas for a first year and transfer, just to move myself out there. I have a half sister that grew up out here so I felt like I had some kind of semblance of a home base in LA.
“But as I got an agent in Dallas and as I met more people through these acting classes that had actually made the trip to LA earlier than even graduating high school, that started to take shape. I had really supportive parents that were just, I think, really excited that I had found something that really got me going.
“By the time I was 13 or 14 I had Adobe Premiere and was editing my own movies and eating, breathing and sleeping film and television and acting and all that. I think that was enough to give them at least the confidence to take at least the first leap of faith and have me start homeschooling and try six months out here.
“I got an agent and a manager in LA when I was 16 and then I saved up for about a six month trial run in 2003, I guess it was, and tested for a few pilots. Ended up getting a recurring on a pilot that got picked up and I think that was enough to say, ‘hey, all right, let’s do this’ and kind of been working steadily ever since.”
If 16 seems young to start a career in a strange city far from home, McDorman didn’t always see it that way. He says, “When I first moved out here I was 16, which in hindsight now, I’m like, god that’s young. That’s so young.
“I remember when I was 16 I was like, god, I missed it. I should have been out here when I was 10, when you meet these people who have been doing it forever. I’m very glad now that that wasn’t the case.
“As I’ve grown up and I’m now in my 30s so many of those people that I got off the bus with originally, so many of them don’t do this anymore and I think a large part of that was because some of them, they did it so young they didn’t know if it was even what they wanted to do or even worse, it might have been their parent’ idea.
“‘Let’s get you in acting’ and kind of stage parents type thing. That was never the case with my family. This was always my thing and they were so supportive, but then when it came to auditions and making it happen they were very hands off. They would let me forge my own way.
“I’m really grateful. I couldn’t have done it without two really, really supportive parents and a supportive family overall, my sister, both my sisters. That was it. Yeah. Still here.”