A few weeks ago, we were fortunate to have a conversation with our latest featured artist, Actor Bjorn Jiskoot, Jr. Growing up, Bjorn's father was in the army, growing up and down the East Coast until his family settled in Florida. His love for acting started at a young age, but his career began in the theater, where he performed in over 48 stage plays. Currently, Bjorn works in film and television in the Atlanta area.
Atlanta Film and TV: Could you tell us about who you are, and what you do in the Atlanta Film and TV community?
Bjorn Jiskoot, Jr.. : I’ve been here in Atlanta for about a year. Before that, I spent twenty years in the film industry in Florida. While I’ve been here in Atlanta, I’ve done a little background work. I’ve also done a lot of grip work, worked a few on feature films, and a lot of work within the acting community. Lastly, one of the films I’ll be working on soon is ‘Oh Father. Where Art Thou?' Where David Winning is the director, and Ameerah A Rahman is the producer and writer.
Atlanta Film and TV: Can you take us on your journey about how you found your love of the arts to where you are now?
Bjorn Jiskoot, Jr.: I have a theatrical background as a singer and acting on stage. I’ve done about 48 plays all over the community theater in Florida, and I’ve also worked in opera. My theatrical background brought me to where I am today as an actor, along with my love and passion for acting.
Bjorn shares about what gets him excited about acting.
"I get excited about being the characters! I love being able to jump into someone else's moment and live it. The truth, the moment, and being able to bring out a piece of me that I didn’t know I had inside of me, and connecting with another person. I also love the relationships you get to have with other actors while being in the moment."
- Actor Bjorn Jiskoot, Jr.
Atlanta Film and TV: What were some of the first projects you worked on and can you share with us about any projects you currently are working on?
Bjorn Jiskoot, Jr.: Some of the first projects I worked on back in Florida was a film directed by Erik Matthews and worked with the screen queen, Linnea Quigley, in a film called, ‘Dead End.’ In this film, I played one of the lead characters. Ten years later, I got to bring back my character from 'Dead End' to finish the story. I also did a Hooters commercial in Florida, which was a lot of fun! It was where you take all these moments planning out your character and what will happen in a scene. But, once you actually see it shot and edited together, it’s like - I looked over one way, and I wasn’t looking at one person, and the juxtaposition of it, moment to moment is what makes it fun for me! Because you have no idea what they’re going to do with it! Also, the food we had to eat, and obviously you’re only pretending as though you are until the director yells ‘cut!’ Or,’ spit take! Spit it out.' Doing that was a different world to me, but it was a lot of fun. But, shooting in the commercial world is faster than in the film world, where they do multiple takes and can take several days or weeks.
'Oh, Father Where Art Thou? 'is a film I’m currently working on where David Winning is the director, Ameerah A Rahman is the writer and producer. In this film, I play Zack, the Bar Owner, and the lead character talks with him about things going on in his life. The film is about getting a father back into a relationship with his family. It’s an amazing dramatic piece. I am looking forward to filming, and this film will be shot here in Atlanta.
Atlanta Film and TV: What would you say to a newer actor about the importance of honing your craft?
Bjorn Jiskoot, Jr.: A lot of times there are things inside of you that you don’t realize that you do. But, if you get together with a good teacher, or other actors that have been acting for a while. Doing those things, sometimes you’ll figure out, ‘that’s why I’m doing this!’ That’s why this works. You’ll still want to take classes, even as a seasoned actor. Recently, I took a class with Tony DeMil, and it was about Crushing the Co-star role, and making it possible to get those relational moments. Sometimes when you’re in a co-starring role you’ll only get one line, and you have to make it count! Tony DeMil’s work is from a Meisner approach, and being able to ingrain inside of you the things you need to feel for a moment so you can leave it at the door, you come in, and you’re ready to go.
What would you say to a newer actor regarding networking?
Bjorn Jiskoot, Jr.: I currently have my talent agent Carol Shaginaw. However, for at least a year, I was networking and contacting her. Something came up, and I couldn’t sign with her at the moment. But, meeting Carol in-person at a movie premiere where I had a few friends who were in it, along with a few of Carol’s actors brought that world together. I will say without networking with various people it would not have happened. Honestly, networking has opened a lot of doors for me. I also have had an amazing friend, Samantha Falk, who has been able to cast me when a role was right for me through her casting company here in Atlanta, Signal Casting. Having amazing people such as them in my life, has made it that much more fulfilling.
Atlanta Film and TV: Do you have anything else you would like to share about yourself as an artist?
Bjorn Jiskoot, Jr.: Besides being an artist, I am also a family man and have two small kids and a very supportive wife. Most of my shooting and editing time is late at night, when my little ones are asleep. If acting and working in the entertainment industry is what you want, and you believe this is what you should be doing, then you make it work! Making it work sometimes means if it fits in your schedule! Don’t try to fit into its schedule - you can’t because life happens!
Atlanta Film and TV: Can you talk to us about the importance of making money outside of acting, to make sure that money is there?
Bjorn Jiskoot, Jr.: You almost always have to have some other job available. For instance, I’ve done substitute teaching, and I was a teacher. I worked with some awesome special needs kids when I was in Florida as an ESE Teacher. Working with kids is something I can do and fits into my schedule, so I don’t have to say no to gigs. However, if I had a different business-type job that made more money, then I might be stuck. But, since acting is my passion, I have to be sure it’s one I can do every day.
For our full conversation, click here
What G.E.M.S. would you like to share with our viewers?
Bjorn Jiskoot Jr. Try to surround yourself with people who believe in you. I have a network where I don’t burn bridges or allow people to run over me. I try hard to understand where people are coming from. I've learned that not everyone is your cheerleader and not everyone is out to hurt you. Lastly, be open to those relationships, use them for your characters, and take every moment and learn from them.
Atlanta Film and TV: How can people connect with you?
Bjorn Jiskoot, Jr.: On instagram @actorbjornj