Growing up in a small town within the ‘Lone Star State' of Texas, where football is king, actor JT Neal found his passion in life far beyond the end zone. Reflecting on his early childhood and his latest successes on television, JT sat down with Candid for an exclusive conversation.
When asked about his early days as a proud Texan, JT replied, “Everyone played football. That’s just what you did. I played football when I was little but just never really loved it.”
His defining moment did not come from an agent discovering him nor from the often-paved route of child modelling to acting, but in reality, by simply from being a ‘class clown' on the cusp of his teenage years.
“One day, I was in my English class in seventh grade and my teacher just had enough because I was constantly distracting the class and entertaining the other students.”
From his disruptive, yet clearly stand-out performance, JT’s teacher gave him two options: go to the principal’s office or go audition for the school’s one-act play that was currently holding auditions.
So, that day, JT had to miss his football practice in order to audition for the play. “I was so nervous and fumbling – ironically, since coming from football practice – all over the place, but I was the only guy who auditioned, so I got cast,” JT recalls with a laugh.
Fast forward a few years and after a handful of fun performances on ‘tween' Nickelodeon and Disney shows, JT recently landed arguably the biggest break of his career thus far, playing Jacob Bowman on the new ABC single-camera comedy Bless This Mess.
“Jacob is the son of Beau and Kay – played by the effortlessly witty Dave Koechner and Lennon Parham. We’re the next door neighbours and we just come in and stir things up. More my parents than me but my family makes their [lead characters Mike and Rio, played by Dax Shepard and Lake Bell] transition to Nebraska that much more difficult because we start putting the pressure on them to leave and go back to New York.”
JT’s performance as the naïvely sweet farm boy is a welcomed, light-hearted treat within this impressive ensemble cast.
“I get to be the nice guy in this and not the bully, which I usually play. That was so much fun for me. And just getting to show what small town America is like. Growing up in it myself, this is a section of the country that often gets overlooked. There is so much heart and so much life in those states,” JT added.
Now at the age of twenty-four, well-within the prime of his young career, JT shows great promise in television, while maintaining a refreshingly mature mindset, wise beyond his actual years.
“Right now, I am just kind of enjoying the ride. I have been working for this since I was in middle school. Now I have the opportunity to do that and make a living from it and I’m loving it.”
Since our interview with JT, Bless This Mess has been picked up for a second season.
Read Jeff Conway's interview with Colby Strong in Film & Entertainment.
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