Jason R. Sol is a Korean-American actor, born and raised in the United States. A stuntman and model besides, Jason has been involved in many productions, most recently the Liam Neeson action-thriller ‘Non-Stop’ and the upcoming remake of ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ (due for UK release Friday the 17th, October 2014).
Sol frequently mentions how fortunate he feels to be working on such big films despite being a relative newbie with only 2 years in the entertainment industry, and fiercely believes that he should repay everyone who shows him support. Inspired by hardworking parents, Jason pursued a steady office job after college and for 8 years flourished in that environment. But eventually he realised he needed to take a leap of faith and do what he had always wanted to do – act. So Sol picked up all his worldly belongings and moved to New York to try his luck in the toughest business there is. He has kindly agreed to an interview, so we decided to get to know more about him, what he’s up to now and, of course, his opinion on Asian stereotypes, K-Pop, and the potential of the Hallyu Wave!
1) You left a stable corporate job to pursue acting. Do you ever think about what life would be like had you not made that decision?
“I do miss my steady paycheck. I’m human. But I’m so much happier now. In pursuit of my dreams I live a much more frugal life but also a more gratifying one. Don’t get me wrong. Acting costs a ton of money – the headshots, website, business cards, and classes, for example, all cost money. I’m just lucky to have great people in my life who have helped me in so many ways to push my career.”
2) We heard you have a K-drama on the horizon! What are you looking forward to most?
“I (and my mother) have always been a fan of Korean dramas, so it’s exciting to be cast in one! I’m just itching to get started as soon as possible. We’ve had some production issues that put a delay on shooting, but hopefully things will come together shortly. In the meantime I am staying busy with auditions and other projects until we get the ball rolling again!”
3) You were born and raised in America. Would you say Korean culture plays a big part in your life? For example, do you practice any Korean traditions, enjoy Korean music/TV/film, or eat Korean food?
“Growing up in a small town in Central Pennsylvania, I wasn’t immersed in Korean traditions the way my Korean American friends from LA or New York were. I was your pretty average all-American boy next door. I went to school, played organized sports, and went to a small Korean church on Sundays. I guess that’s where much of the Korean influence came in. Yeah, there’s no denying your roots. My sister and mom were always very much into the K-dramas so I would watch with them from time to time (and probably like them more than I’d like to admit). We had shelves and shelves full of Korean dramas on VHS. I listen to some K-pop and the ones that come to mind were Fin.K.L, H.O.T, Baby Vox, DJ DOC, Solid, and Turbo. I was more into the girl groups because they were pretty! I grew up eating Korean food my Grandma and Mom cooked. I wish Korean BBQ wasn’t so expensive because I would eat it every day if I could! Nothing satisfies me more than good Korean food!”
4) How do you plan to deal with throughout your career the often stereotypical roles many Asian American actors are given in Hollywood films?
“Hollywood too often portrays Asian American males as weak and timid with a heavy accent. Or they make them exotic, inhuman, unapproachable action stars. These stereotypes persist, but we have come a long way since the era of Mr. Chow or Long Duk Dongs. I would really love to help change any negative, inaccurate perceptions and help inspire other Asian American males to pursue acting. We Asian men need to step up and show the world we are strong with leading male capabilities but approachable and real at the same time. I’m currently cast in a new pilot called ‘Three to Tango’ and I am one of the lead males. I hope one day I can look back and say I’ve helped to break stereotypes about Asian American men in the media.”
5) Any tips for our readers interested in traveling to South Korea and wider East Asia?
“I’ve only been to Korea once and really enjoyed it. A local friend kindly helped me adjust to the country, but most Koreans speak passable English, especially in Seoul. Even if they seem shy in conversation, most can understand English quite well due to years of study in school. You should definitely do your research and find organizations that will help make your experience in Korea more memorable.”
6) Any particular Korean actors/actresses you would you like to work with?
“I’d love to work with Kim Soo Hyun (aka Claudia Kim). Her English is impeccable and she’s gorgeous besides! But I would be honored to have the opportunity to work with any Korean actors/actresses. I am a huge supporter of all Asians making a living in the performing arts. It’s a tough industry. Anyone who does consistent work, regardless of the color of skin, has my respect. We all have to do our part to be a force in this demanding industry.”
7) Since the early 2000s, the media has used the term ‘Hallyu’ to describe the global appeal of Korean TV/Drama/Film/Music, etc. Do you think the Western world will ever really accept Korean media into its mainstream?
“The waves of Hallyu are slowly but surely making their way into the Western world. We used to have to wait weeks or months to see subtitled Korean shows in the States. Now DramaFever has reduced the turnaround time for subtitles so much I can barely catch up with all the best shows. Older Korean media has long been readily available on Hulu and Netflix. I’m not sure why most K-Pop is unavailable on Spotify and Pandora, but once that happens, the force will be unstoppable. One step at a time, you know? Wonder Girls opened for the Jonas Brothers a while back, and just recently, Crayon Pop signed to open Lady Gaga’s US tour, which I am excited to attend.”
8) Who were your inspirations while growing up?
“I have my parents to thank for my monsterish work ethic today. My sister and I genuinely appreciate all their hard work and sacrifices to give us the best life they could. I could go into details about the struggles my parents endured when they first moved to America, but then I’ll be sitting here in tears and I barely know you! They had a hard time attending any of my sports games. That was hard for me to understand as a teenager, but I know now they were working hard to provide for our family. I hope to book roles where I play sports so they can finally see the kind of athlete their son was and continues to be.”
9) You also work as a stuntman and model. How is that going?
“I am blessed to be very athletic. Unlike many others, I have the ability to do stunt work to support myself while I pursue acting. Modelling is something that I fell into. I’m happy about the exposure it gives me. Being a hand model is a more serious job than I’d ever expected! Ha!”
10) Please tell us about your current and future projects.
“I have some plans in the fire. In the upcoming pilot ‘Three to Tango’, I play a city official named Mark. I’m one of the show’s six lead characters on the show. Keep a watch out on Facebook, Twitter(@JasonRSoL), and Instagram for more exciting news! ”
11) Have you ever been to any part of the UK? Is there anything in particular you would like to do here?
“I’ve never been but I’d like to visit! I love that they’re so into soccer (or Football), which I grew up playing. My plan is to attend a Manchester United game. I wish the sport was as big in the States as it is in the UK!”
12) Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
“I hope to still be actor, paying it forward. I have received so much help in my life from generous people, and the only thing they ever really suggest, when pressed, is to pay it forward. I am so inspired by everyone’s generosity. I seek out opportunities to help others or positively impact their lives when I can. I want to enable people to achieve their dreams. Some fans inspired by my story have reached out to me for guidance and direction to start chasing their acting dreams. That means so much to me! My personal goal is to set aside time for the dreamers and help them to the best of my knowledge and network. Seriously. You have to pay it forward!”
Want to see some clips of Jason in action?
Check out the video below!
We hope to see a lot more of Jason in the near future and wish him the best of luck. Be sure to follow him on social media to keep up-to-date on his work!