Jon Prasida

Jon Prasida is an Australian actor currently working on CW's upcoming series 'Kung Fu'
January 13, 2021

Hello, my name is Jon Prasida. I am from Sydney, Australia and I'm currently in Vancouver, Canada shooting a show called Kung Fu. It'll be on The CW network. And yes, I'm an actor.

What's your background, what were you doing before acting full-time?

Oh, boy. Okay. So before this gig, oh man, there's so many jobs and all the jobs were I guess, were to support acting. That was always the main goal is to be an actor and to... I don't know, a lot of people are like, "Oh, what's your plan B?" It's like, bro, there is no plan B. And I think that's a really important thing that I was, in order for me to do this, I mean you kind of have to have that mentality. At least I did.

And so every other job before that was just to support doing this. So just before this, I was very, very, very fortunate to have been working at a bouldering gym, 9 Degrees Bouldering Gym. And I love that place because it was like my hobby that I made somewhere I can make some money on the side. So that was amazing. And before that, oh, I've had, I don't know, furniture moving jobs. I was massaging people at their desks. I was working at a computer store, a very big computer store with you. What else? Dude, there's been so many.

I was a delivery driver. I can't even, yeah, there's been so many different things to keep myself afloat. I think, oh, another, promoting. Where you promote, you're on the street handing stuff out. Oh, selling car wax to people on the street that didn't want them. I had to get into sales real quickly. EB Games. Dude, love video games so I was doing that and there was one other one that was a pretty... Oh yeah, and then bartending I guess is the classic sort of acting side hustle. But yeah, so many things just to support, I mean to support the lifestyle because that's what needs to happen.

How did you prepare for your eventual transition to acting full-time while at these jobs?

I have to do classes whenever I had the free time and the money to do them. So doing all those jobs sort of led up to be like, all right, cool. I now can pay for classes, now I'll do that. And then also acting is like... Oh man, sorry, there's so many thoughts. But in the sense of there has to be a down to earth humanity that you're portraying while you're acting. And if you're not sort of, I guess all the jobs did help because there were so many different experiences to have human experiences and say, oh, that's what it's like to be treated that way. Or that's what it's like to be behind the bar for something. Or that's what it's like to...

So all those things did help sort of shape me for who I am and I think that's for every actor, I dare say. The people that want to see you in front of the screen are essentially like, yes, you are a character but you're you. And you're the only you that there is and that is shaped by everyday experiences.

So I guess saying yes to life, if you want to be really, I don't know, positive. But having human experiences and then being vulnerable enough to be like, cool, I can show this on camera. Does that make sense?

What did the jump point look like for you when you went from working these jobs to full-time acting?

It's a weirdly worded question only because after this is finished, I don't know what I'm doing. Now, with that said, don't get me wrong, what this gig will provide me with is a huge credit. And with that credit, we can use that like, all right, cool. He's got a bit of a credit behind him, let's use that to get him in the room for another audition for something else, or perhaps even people have known to get offers and such.

But at the end of the day, no actor knows what they're going to do next no matter how successful you are. And so at the moment, it has been a jump just because it requires being full-time for six months and then there'll be a gap. And so the positives to that is that I have the opportunity to maybe do more gigs if that arises and to do auditions for that time. The negative is that nothing's guaranteed in the industry, you just don't know. On top of that, you don't know with life when COVID hit and everyone's like, oh. So you're like, well, dude, that's entertainment gone. And so we've been very fortunate to be working under as safe as we can conditions but yeah, you just... Yes.

But prior to that, while I was doing those different jobs, I was getting acting gigs. I would go to, I don't know, on set for a guest role or something. But the particular role that I have is called a series regular, which is, I guess something that I've been working my entire life to get to. And is ideal because you get to sink your teeth into a character and you are recurring, you keep showing up and you're one of the main dudes. Until you get killed off I guess or something happens to you or I don't know. But yeah, you're one of the main dudes so that's all very exciting. But I guess if you're talking about the jump into that was, yeah, was huge. And it happened really quickly, super quickly.

It was the start of the year and I had an audition for this thing called Kung Fu and I was like, all right, sure. And you get so many auditions that you just sort of do them and then a healthy relationship with an audition is that you do it and then you forget it and it's gone, right? And so I did it and then it happened so quickly.

I did it and then the next day they're like, "Hey, can you come back in the room?" I was like, "Oh, shit. Okay. Yeah, let's do it." So I went back in the room and then did it again for them and they sent that tape across to, because it's from The CW network, so it's an American thing. So they sent that tape over and the next minute they were like, "Yeah, come to LA. We want to audition you some more." And I was like, "Oh. Okay, sure." So that was within a few days, I'm just flying to LA. I'm like, dude, what am I doing?


So you were in Sydney at that time?

Yeah, I was in Sydney and then they flew me to LA and I did more auditions. And the struggle wasn't doing the auditions, it was trying to survive for the week because I'm like, ah, I'm struggling. And so it was, I'd be going to The CW offices. Basically, The CW, they do shows like Arrow, The Flash, Batwoman. Supernatural is probably one of the biggest ones. In the past, they've done Gilmore Girls, Pretty Little Liars. I'm hoping I'm getting all those shows right.

But yeah, so I'm in the offices of where the shows that I have been watching like, oh my Lord, this is amazing. But at the same time, I'm like, I don't know where I'm going to eat. But I was like, dude, I have to go through this. So yeah, I did three or four additions. Then the next thing comes to, there's a camera test and then there's a chemistry test and chemistry reads. There's so many different lingoes, I'm still not privy to all of them.


What's a chemistry test?

Well, what you can do is you see how you react with the other potential series regulars. We didn't do that but there's a network test to see if, I don't know, the big head honchos, they sit in a theater and they see you. And you do your audition in front of them, which can be daunting. But I don't know, you do it so often, it's like, okay, cool. Let's just, yeah, don't get me wrong, I had butterflies. I was like, oh, this is a big deal because it was literally down to me and another dude who was lovely. Lovely, lovely human being. But it was between me or him essentially. And so I was like, all right, so there was a lot to take in. But yeah, so once we did that and then I don't know, lots of anxiety of waiting, which is why it's healthy to be like, cool, I'm doing an audition and let's forget about it. But something as big as this where I was so close to, I was like, ah, how can I not stop thinking about it?

And then about an hour or two later, we got a call and my agents fucked with me!  They called me up and they're like, "Hey man, we just wanted to say we knew you were nervous." I'm like, "I know I was nervous going in the room." They're like, "Yeah, we know you were nervous. That's totally cool, bro. We'll get the next one, it'll be fine." And I was like, "Cool. Thanks, guys." And they're like, "Nah, we're just fucking with you. Congratulations, you got it." I'm like, "Oh my... What?" That's weird for my psyche to spring that on me!

But yeah, it was yeah, a very joyous occasion. It was a very weird experience of knowing that, oh, I swear I've been more excited for my very first commercial that I got than for getting this gig. But the difference I feel like is that, I don't know, the energy was like, cool, I'm ready. Whereas the commercial back then was the excitement of, oh, it's the first time. I'm like, oh, I can't believe that I'm going to be in a commercial.

But for this one, I was like, oh, this is an inner happiness and joy that wasn't sort of beaming out. It was like, wow. Okay, we did it. We worked here, we got here. It's mad. And so, yeah, it was more of a contentment but a high contentment but not so... It's a strange body experience to explain but I hope I did that as best as I could.

How did you learn everything you needed to know for this? How did you learn about the role of agents and auditions and everything else?

Bro, just stumbling upon... Oh, I don't even know where to start. Because sometimes I get questions of, oh, how do you get into acting? Dude, there's so many avenues and I think the difference is with anything else, dare I say, for something I guess academic there's a path.

If I take, for example, something that's prestigious as being a doctor, you would know you'd have to go to university for a certain amount of years. And then you would go and be, not an intern but you'd work at the hospital, and then eventually, there are steps. And then if you don't pass your exams, cool, you just got to repeat that again. But you know what the steps are.

For something like this, there's so many different angles and because entertainment is subjective and updating all the time, and so are the processes that come with it. And so my process has been, my journey has been quite, I guess unique as is everyone's journey. There's no set process to find out this information, you just sort of have to stumble upon it and ask questions and then roll with the punches as you go along.

So the way that I found out about it is that, I don't know, I started with class and I just did acting class. And then through acting class, I was like, okay, well, how do you get an agent? How did you get an agent? What's going on over here? And so the path that I went down is that at the time I had a friend who was getting all these mad auditions. She was getting auditions for The Hunger Games and Percy Jackson. And I'm like, okay, I'm not getting them and how do I get them? Because I had an agent that I found just after high school and again, there's no gauge of, are they legit? Do they do good stuff?

And so I wasn't receiving the yields that I wanted but then again, I didn't know what that standard looked like. So after being two, three years with them and only having five conversations with them within the three years. I realised like, oh, you know what? I could probably shop around and I stumbled by my current agent, my Australian agent.

And I looked in his books and I don't know, just very simply put, no one looked like me. I'm like, "Hey man, do you want to have a meet..." I just sent him an email. I was like, "Hello, I know this person that's on your books. You've been doing some terrific work for them. I was wondering if you want to have a meeting because I noticed that no one is on your books that looks like myself. So could we have a meeting?" And he was like, "Yeah."

And it was just I guess, I'm not sure if serendipitous is right but it was the right timing. Because years from then, I don't know, he might have someone else and it was very lucky that he... Because right now he gets literally every day at least 20 emails saying like, hey, can I be a part of your agency? And it's like, he can't answer all of them. He hasn't got time.

And at the time, he was a smallish boutique-ish, still boutique but smallish and I was very fortunate to find him. And now we're like, I don't know, now we're really good buds even, which is strange for actors to be really good buds with your agent. But I fully trust him in this process because he trusted me.

Because at the time, I was like, I'm going to be honest, I wasn't a very good actor. I was pretty shit. And so years later I was just like, "Why did you pick me?" And he was like, "Hey man, you just seemed like a genuine guy and I felt like I could work with you and you can teach acting. You can't teach a personality." And I was like, "Oh, fuck. All right. Sure." That's a very nice compliment that he said. So and then from then, I don't know, just, and then trusting him and his process, knowing what he had for me. Because then you go through so long doing auditions or not doing auditions and you're like, is this normal?

So there comes a level of trust, do I trust my agents? I do. I know I do. But it's hard sometimes when you don't hear from them because obviously, they have to take care of the people within their agency. And so yeah, it was difficult to understand what was normal but I have been very fortunate that I trusted his process. And yeah, and I'm super glad for it. Yeah, I don't know if that answers your question.

It does, yeah. That's a really good point; "You can teach acting, you can't teach a personality". Because at the end of the day, you're essentially working with this person, you're kind of business partners in a sense, aren't you? You want to make sure you enjoy working together. That'd be a really important consideration.

Definitely. And on top of that, agents don't get paid unless you do. And so there is a level of trust to be like, hey, I trust you to get me what I need to get because if I don't eat, you don't eat either. But then on the other hand it's like, do they have so many people on their books that you're just being washed and they don't really think of you? They just sort of see you as a commodity as opposed to a person, which can happen as well.

And it's like, so everyone has to have their own path but there's no right or wrong answer. Literally, TikTok is coming up now with millions of followers and it's like, yo, like a song drops, they're popular and then that's it, a 17-year-old kid would just be in a movie because they got a following. And so that's changed, social media has changed the game as well. Not to say that that's all substance but there's varying, so many different ways to get in the industry.

What do you enjoy the most about working as an actor?

Acting! I mean, I guess that helps. There was one, oh bro, there was one day the other week we did something and I think it really tapped into my competitive nature. But as well as the art of creating with acting.

It was a scene with the family, it's inside the family house and there's a lot going on. So the idea is to make it look like sort of, I guess busy or there's just stuff going on, right? And then I think on the day, which I didn't realise what we're going to do, the director was like, all right, we're going to make this a one-er. And I was like... what the fuck is that? What's a one-er? Because I'm so new to a lot of this stuff. And essentially, a one-er is a one-take. We're going to do this one take. So it's you're going to follow, we're going to see each conversation as we go through and it's just going to be the one take of that.

And it's going to be, I don't know, 20 seconds, 30 seconds long, not even. And yeah, and we have to get it right. And that was like, this is amazing. This is what I live, I love this. If I don't get my lines and the way that I'm saying it correct, then we've got to start again. As well as everyone else involved as well and there was a bit where Tzi Ma, who's playing my father, he hits the wall as in to turn off a light because there's no actual light, there's just lighting.

And so if the guy doesn't hit the light at the same time, and he's not even on the screen, we have to start again. And it's high stakes but also integrating with acting. I was like, dude, for me, that's the funnest thing I've done. So I cherished that and those moments.

And there was another one where knowing that I was the anchor for at the end of the day, they were like, okay, so you've got a big day. So this was last week. We've got a big day today (Wednesday), and you have one tiny scene on Thursday. He's like, "Can we push it to the end of today?" And I was like, "Yeah. Yeah, we can."

But knowing, they didn't tell me this but I knew we have to end at a certain time. Otherwise, we just go home or it's going to cost them more money to keep everyone there. And I was like, "Okay, sure." So and then I just have to learn these lines, not a lot but you have to get them right. And it's just me, it's a phone scene. So I don't know, the other person on the phone is fine. I'm just being filmed, so everything is on me.

It's like, okay, we've got it all set up, we got it ready to go and there's 15 minutes left. And for a scene, usually, it takes an hour, two hours, hours, depending on what it is. And so for this, I'm like, all right, let's punch it out. And we did I don't know, six really quick takes and I got it done before the time was up. And I was like, "Yeah!" Because I don't know, it was something about the competitiveness of like, yeah, let's do it! I think it's just combining the competitive aspect that I've always been a competitive person with acting. I'm like, dude, that's... Yeah. Anyway, that's one of the funnest times.

What's the most challenging part of working as an actor?

It's definitely a collaborative effort. And perhaps maybe one of the hardest things is, maybe for me personally, is being mentally prepared. Because if you're not, that could be bad in the sense of, you might get there, do a scene and we're reading the scene. And you rehearse it at home and you learn your lines and cool, it's going to be done this way.

And the director comes in and is like, oh, that's not the angle we're looking for, it's this one. And if you're not prepared for that switch, it's just, your brain is kind of like, um. And then a lot of self-doubt kicks in, it's like, am I the worst person in the world right now? I'm holding everyone up because I can't get this right. When it's, I guess the opposite of what the fun is, is if you get it wrong. But you can't get it and you have to trust that the team won't move on until they've gotten what they need. So it's like, okay, they'll look out for you as much as they can. I guess that's one thing.

But I guess something else but is out of your control that you just sort of have to deal with is relationships with other cast members. Which thank everything, everyone in cast and crew have been phenomenal and we get along like a house on fire. It's amazing.

But I do know that if there's one diva or there's one person that's not, I don't know, I don't know what it is. If they're just not with it, then it can make it super awkward because you're meant to be having really human and vulnerable experiences with people on camera. And so that can affect the mojo of things.

That isn't to say that you might not get a great product because it might actually enhance. Might, I don't know, might enhance the final product at the end. And then you've got all these stories to say at the end like, ah, that was a weird day. But yeah, it's definitely a fun time when everyone's getting along. So I think that's, yeah, the biggest thing. I'm like, dude, if we all get along, it'll be super fun.

What's been a high point of your career so far?

I mean I guess when you book a gig is the highest feeling that you'll get is like, whoa, we did it. We finally got there. I guess that is a high point.

I do have moments where sort of moments of like, what am I doing here? The other night when I was messaging you to do this, when you messaged me that night, so we were on the rooftop and there was a pretty significant scene with massive stunts. And there was a crane and then there was this, obviously, we need lighting. But where are you going to get lighting on a roof?

Dude, there was this massive balloon moon thing just floating in the sky that they put for us. And then I'm looking and there's a drone, a ridiculously expensive drone with a whole drone team. And you're not allowed to move and the drone's in effect, except when they call action for safety. Bro, all those things. And then I'm like, are they sure they chose the right person? They're relying on some really expensive equipment and they're filming us. Are you guys sure? Hey guys, is everything okay? Just want to make sure that I'm the person that you... You know what I mean? It's so wow, the amount of production value that goes in this.

So it's every day, every day I have that thought of... I don't know, everything will be going normal. And then I just notice like, dude, there's someone out there that's meant to reset the table every time I leave from it because we've been doing stuff on there. And they're phenomenal at it. And that's for continuity, that's props, there's someone out there to make sure that I'm wearing a certain gear or a certain something a certain way. And to know that there's a whole team of people, I just have this... it's a really humbling effect of like, whoo, wow. I'm super grateful right now, I can't believe I'm here.

What does your typical workday look like?

So well, depending on how many scenes I have for the day but let's just say there's, yeah, let's just say there's one scene for the day. You would get to set and usually, now it depends, they're ridiculous hours. So either you're going to get there at 5:00 AM and then you'll finish at 5:00 PM. That's if you've got scenes the whole day. So it's a 12 hour day just for the actor and on top of that, I get really, messes with my head. Because I'm like, oh, there were people here before me setting up everything, the hair and makeup people need to be there before me.

I'm like, dude, you got up before me? So sometimes you wake up really... Look, on a really good day, you get there at, I don't know, 10:00 AM, you rock up and you get changed in your gear in the trailer. And then you go to the hair and makeup and they do your hair and makeup. And then I don't know, you get your scene in and out within a few hours, and then you're done. And then you take your makeup off and you take your gear off and then you go home. That's essentially it.

But other times it's, dude, you'll get there 4:30 AM in the morning and then you won't leave until maybe 7:00 PM or something like that. Or that night that I was chatting to you, it was, I think I got there at 4:30 PM. I was like, oh, this is pretty late. I just didn't realise how late we would go on, it's like, oh, that's a night shoot. And I didn't leave till 4:30 AM. So that was a lot to do.

So I don't know if I answered that question but essentially, yeah, you rock up to your call time. If you're lucky, you get breakfast. If not, cool. You should get lunch or you can sneakily stay for lunch and then yeah. But so you go into the trailer, costume should already be there for you, put your costume on. You then get called to... you're herded like sheep I guess. But because they can't lose the actor, so many times, I don't know, creatives are, who knows what's going on in their head.

They might be like, I'm just going to go over here. It's like, dude, where are you going? We need you. Everyone, the 50 people that have set up for this particular location are ready to shoot right now in this angle and they're waiting on you to get there. So they have to know where we are at all times.

So even when we say to someone, hey, we need a, it's called ten-oneing, got to ten-one, got to go to the bathroom. You got to tell someone that because if you don't, it's really irresponsible. Otherwise, they're not going to know where you are and they're like, uh. But at least if they know, oh, they're ten-oneing, cool. And someone might be, if they don't trust you, they'll be waiting outside the bathroom and be like, all right, let's go. So you get herded into I guess the scene and you do your work, and then if you've got a scene later on, cool. You might go back to the trailer, hang out, change. If not, you then go home. But yeah, that's essentially a day.

So it can be really cool, they're really long. So sometimes if there's a scene that I have and then a gap and then a scene, that's just me hanging out in the trailer, which is, I mean kind of nice. I recently got a Switch. I've been playing Animal Crossing, it's very therapeutic. I've got to sell my turnips!

What advice would you give your past self to help them get to where you are today?

Be patient and trust yourself. Because I have a tendency to... I can adapt myself really easily. And if you're not seeing the yield because I mean for an actor at all times, there's going to be a lot of silent moments, whether it be working, not working for a long time. But let's say you haven't even done any work yet and not getting auditions for a long time, there's going to be moments of that.

And it's like, all right, cool. Am I doing everything that I can without pushing it? Because you can be annoying, where you want to do as much as you can but then you sort of, I don't know, piss off the wrong person because you've sort of been too annoying. So it's a balance of, okay, I've got to trust that I'm doing enough, I got to trust that my output is good. And I guess this is with any sort of content creating or anything creative, is the love of the process. If you enjoy the process, that's it, you deal with it, keep doing it. Patience is what it is.

You just got to be patient because it's going to hit. And I think so often we compare ourselves to those who might be the same age in a position that we want to be in. And it's an unhealthy thing to have because their journey is completely different to ours.

So first and foremost is, yeah, patience, because you know what you're doing is correct. And so long as you love what you're doing, that's it, that's the success. And then eventually things will hit, things will hit if you really love it and you're self-aware and you know... As in self-aware as in because you could be doing shitty shit and it's being able to balance the critiquing of yourself without overly doing it where you don't put anything out there. You know?

So yeah, so patience because keep doing what you're doing and eventually it'll come by. And trust yourself in the sense of trust what you're doing, have some belief in yourself.

It took... when did I start this? 2008. 12 years. You know what I mean? But there's been other bits where it did pop in that time. But my first commercial was a year after I decided to start. And then my first TV show as a guest role was six years after I started, right? And then my first regular sort of TV gig was eight years after. And then now, it's been 12 years to my ultimate of knowing, I don't know, I never thought I'd do something Hollywood. But I don't know, I was small-minded in the sense of, oh, I'm happy to do little Australian gigs, which is cool if that's what you want to do. But then my agent helped me realise like, dude, you can do way more, we have access to this. It's possible. It's possible. So he believed in me before I did and it's so important to have someone in your corner to be there for you. Because I didn't see it but he did. I was like, all right, cool, man. And so now it's been 12 years and I'm here.

You kind of think, ah, I'd love to be in a Hollywood thing and whatever else and it's not a reality. But it totally is, it's just patience. You just, whatever you're doing back home in Australia acting-wise, if that's good work, that's good [enough]for Hollywood. If you're doing and you believe in what you're doing is good work, then it's good enough for Hollywood. It's just a matter of time, where do you fit in? Yeah, it's total patience.

Do you have any specific resources that helped you that you could recommend?

The turning point for my acting was a school called Anthony Meindl's Acting Workshop, AMAW. And Anthony Meindl is, I guess a mentor of mine, and love working with him and with the surrounding teachers with the school. We've got classes originated from LA but now there's in Vancouver, Sydney, London, New York, they're around.

So it's not necessarily, when you think Australian acting, you think NIDA, you think WAAPA as an institute. So not necessarily like that but it's from LA with working actors. And it's not, yeah, not institutionalized as, hey, let's break down a scene, let's get this done. What are you working on? Let's work on that.

So that was a turning point in my work to be like, ah, okay. I feel like I have a bit of, I know what at least to work on within myself. So yeah, that was AMAW that was for acting. For any actor, anyone that's wanting to get into acting and they don't know where to start, I always recommend classes.

You do classes, you might meet someone who's doing a student film and then you work with them and you meet someone else. And to be open to socializing and collaborating is another thing.

Where's the best place people can keep follow along with your work online?

Well, Instagram, I think is the one I use the most. So you can follow me on Instagram on @jonprasida, follow me on that. And I have a Twitter that I don't really use often. I try to just put wholesome quotes on there but I don't know if that's, maybe I should keep doing that because it makes me feel good.

Yeah, but Instagram is the main thing and... Oh, duh. The show is called Kung Fu, I don't know when it's going to be released but we're in the midst of production. So you can follow it at @cw_kungfu, you can find that on Instagram.

Jon Prasida

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