How to Be A “WORK”-ing Actor with ABC Family’s JASON ROGEL
Photo Credit: Diana Toshiko
Kevin From Work premiered on August 12th, 2015. The ABC Family comedy follows Kevin (duh), who decides to courageously profess his love for his co-worker, Audrey, after accepting an overseas job. When his job offer is suddenly withdrawn, Kevin must continue working with Audrey. Can you say awkward?
Of course, every uncomfortable love situation beckons comedic interjection. Jason Rogel fills that necessary workplace occupation with his role of Ricky, the pair’s coworker. The show creators were so impressed with Rogel’s bit work on the pilot that they made his character reoccurring in the series – so lookout viewers.
Rogel is no stranger to the family of ABC, having starred in the sitcom State of Georgia with Raven-Symoné and on ABC’s Man Up!. Along with a slew of impressive film, commercial and theatre credits, the actor has racked up several notable TV stints including: Community, Dexter, Bones, The Office, How I Met Your Mother, Hart of Dixie and Monk. Not bad, huh?
A Long Beach native, Rogel earned his Bachelor's Degree in Theatre Arts from the California State University of Long Beach, and also studied at Australia's National Institute of Dramatic Art in Sydney. “Hone Your Craft” caught up with Rogel to discuss his new sitcom, working with industry giants like McG (Producer of hits like Supernatural & The O.C.) and Amy Sedaris, and to get his best nuggets of advice for aspiring actors.
His first “gig” ran for two years.
“My first Union job was a commercial for the Royal Bank of Scotland. I played an employee on a company retreat in the woods. No lines, but it was an awesome experience. We shot in the Sequoia National Forest, so I got to travel for the job-- which was all so new and exciting to me. All of the other actors knew it was my first Union job, so they took me out to celebrate with drinks after the shoot. The best part was that commercial ran for like 2 years!”
Jason pleads you to bring “you” to every role.
You must remember that as a performer (and person for that matter) there is, and will only ever be, one you.
“Nobody is ever going to play a role the way that you can. In this industry we are constantly auditioning against other actors that are similar in look and type, and it is hard not to compare yourself to them. But only you can bring what you do to a performance/role. Sometimes it may not be the right fit, and sometimes it is exactly what they are looking for. Either way, you are unique (Yes, even in a roomful of look-alikes) and so is your performance. You do not need to compare yourself to other actors' looks, or resumes and add that extra pressure on yourself - just focus on giving the best audition/performance in only the way that you can do it.”
On his horrific dream (or nightmare?) role.
We asked Jason what type of roles he's been dying to play.
“This might sound silly, but I am a huge horror movie fan, so I have always wanted to do a big budget slasher where I play that character that almost makes it through to the end of the movie, and then all of a sudden has this awesome, gruesome death. And preferably with my eyes open.”
On getting a “spark of confidence” during his Kevin From Work audition.
“It started out like any other audition--got the script, and prepared. When I got in the room, Barbie Adler (our show creator) introduced herself, and was like "You worked on Man Up! on ABC--I was a writer on that show!" And we both got excited for a hot second and then I read for her and the casting directors. A few days later I found out I got the part. Having that connection in the room definitely gave me that little extra spark of confidence, but more than that, it was a nice reminder that no matter how small some of the roles and gigs we do throughout our career - you just never know what they will lead to.”
Jason Rogel on ABC Family's "Kevin From Work"
How he developed and breathed life into his character Ricky.
“Ricky is a total wild card - you never know what you are gonna get with him. Initially, he was written as a smaller recurring role that popped up occasionally in the office where Kevin and Audrey work. While shooting the pilot, McG (one of our Executive producers/directors) and Barbie just let me have fun and play around with the unpredictability of Ricky. One minute he is spreading office gossip, and stealing food from the break room, the next he is dancing on bar tables. It was in those random moments (some improvised) that we were able to really find the kookiness that is Ricky. I think it is that kooky wild card element that made him such an interesting character in the pilot, and fortunately for me, they decided to make him a bigger part of the show.
How he balances doing what he’s supposed to on set with a little bit of improv.
“A little bit of both. The scripts are already hilarious, and for the most part we stick to what is written, but Barbie and the writers do allow for us to throw in some improvs. We have got some comedic geniuses in the cast - and sometimes those improvs are pure comedy gold and make it into the final edit. I am sure there is a whole vault of unused comedy silver and bronze footage too.”
On working with the show’s acclaimed Producer/ Director McG.
McG has served as a Producer for television hits like Chuck, Supernatural, The O.C. and recently on the film, The DUFF.
“I love McG! He is definitely one of my favorite directors I have gotten to work with so far. He is such a kind, generous and reassuring director. As I mentioned earlier, while we were shooting the pilot, McG was so game to let me try out different things with Ricky. He knew I was still figuring out the character, so he allowed me to play around with choices, but was also very animate about making bold choices and really going for it. We really worked together to get Ricky's tone right and it is that kind of collaboration that makes him such a great director to work with.”
On being “bossed around” by Amy Sedaris.
Jason was thrilled to find out Amy would play his boss on the show.
“Amy is THE BEST! Talk about comedy gold! I have been a fan of her's since Stranger With Candy, so I was super excited to find out she was playing Julia. She is such a warm and welcoming person--the set lights up even more when she's around. And the stuff Julia and Ricky get to do together--it can definitely be hard keeping a straight face. She brings the funny--every take, every episode.”
He shares his exciting upcoming projects with us.
“I just finished shooting a dark, twisted comedy called Keloid, about a woman who decides to take revenge on her fiancé, who breaks things off after she donates her kidney to him. That should be making the festival rounds starting this Fall. I will also be guest starring on an episode of the new show, The Real O'Neals, starring Martha Plimpton, premiering on ABC. And hopefully more episode of Kevin From Work!”
On his best piece of wisdom for aspiring actors.
“Hang in there. Be persistent. If this is what you really want, you'll find a way to make it happen. That said, also be patient. It does not happen overnight and if it does - good for you. Until then, keep preparing and working on your skills. I love that saying ‘Luck is what happens when Preparation meets Opportunity.’
Getting to make a living as an actor is definitely a lucky thing. Thanks for having me!”
A new episode of Kevin From Work airs tonight (Wednesday) on ABC Family.