"Young, angry, white working-class lads are often overlooked"
Jon Pascoe, 27, Actor
By Emilia Malaj
What is your biggest struggle as a millennial?
I think finding a balance between doing what you want to do, but then figuring out how to survive. In London, in particular, the rent is crazy. An then, especially when you want to work in the arts or creative industries, you have to work like 40-50 hours per week on not very much money, just so that you can pay the rent.
Do you think a degree is worth much in today’s job market?
Not really. I don’t think so anymore. I think it’s one of those things, where I came through the back end of the generation in which there was a conviction that you have to, or you should go to university. I believe it’s still there. I think that everyone still gets, kind of, told that you go to university after. But now, especially with the whole Instagram business thing, people don’t need it. You can just use your phone and turn it into money, if you have the right idea, you get the right audience.
What advice would you have given yourself 5 years ago?
Probably to listen more. Not just in an educational sense, in every sense. To be more perceptive to what people are saying, to be less opinionated.
How would you apply that same advice 5 years from now?
I think compared to 5 years ago, I already do listen way more to people. I do look at myself up to other people views and ideas, which has helped me to learn a few things, as opposed to just thinking that I already know everything. This is definitely something I have learned over the years. It is so important to actually listen to people. So, I think 5 years from now, if I can still keep doing that, then I will be alright.
What would your perfect scenario be?
Probably to make work, that I think means something, that makes me feel like I am saying something that matters. And to be able to do that without having to appease other people. Just to be fulfilled in a work I am doing basically.
What has been your biggest life lesson?
Not to make yourself too available to other people.
What made you reach such conclusion?
A lot of my relationships changed, especially over the last 2 years, but it is like a combination of many things that happened across the last 5 years. I am more aware of myself, in different aspects. It is difficult, it’s kind of a double-edged sword because then you have to be careful not to have too many barriers up, that you are too busy looking after yourself and not interested enough in other people.
"In the arts or creative industries, you have to work like 40-50 hours per week on not very much money"
What has been your best life experience so far?
They will probably all be travel-related and everything that happened on the way. I have spent time in Mexico, which I fell in love with and all the people that were there. I flew in a hot air balloon over The Maasai Mara in Kenya during sunrise and it was pretty awesome. So, these are probably the best experiences for me personally.
What keeps you awake at night?
A lot of the times I get flashes of creativity, like really late at night. So, the thing that keeps me awake is I’ll be thinking about something I have listened to in the day, or something I have read. Very often I would just get up and I would just do it, I would just start writing. I’ve got loads of unfinished notes on my laptop that have time stamps 2:30, 3:30 or 6 in the morning. It’s just one of those weird things that come to me out of nowhere. Maybe in a day I am too preoccupied with things that happen in front of me, and then, when I’m, kind of, winding down it hits me. So mainly it’s creative. There are no real worries that keep me up at night. Well, I suppose there’s a worry of having stories to be told, that I will forget if I don’t write it down.
What would your ideal job be?
To be able to keep acting and get paid off of that. Just keep doing that all the time. That would be the dream.
On that note, what pushed you to become an actor?
I started doing it when I was pretty young. It was kind of an after-school thing. The first professional show that I was in was called ‘Up the feet and down the mouth’ at Bristol Old Vic and I was 6 at the time. So it’s one of those things when I think when you get into it when you are really young it is just playing like it’s just having fun and figuring out how to tell a story. And because I was doing it from such a young age and enjoying it I just kept going and I realized that was something I was good at and I felt like I had to hold on to it.
What do you love about acting?
I think it’s freedom that you get from telling a story and, also, there is no real pressure. People often ask me if I get nervous and stuff and there have been few occasions when I did, but I don’t really struggle with nerves. It is because for me, once you’re doing it, you pretend to be someone else, so it’s not you anyway. So, I don’t think about it in a way of telling a story through the eyes of someone else. I find it really interesting, as well. Because it’s not you, you have to try to make it as far removed from yourself as possible, while still holding on to your own experience. Therefore, it is like finding humanity within others, which I find really interesting. That’s what I like about it the most.
There is a new play ‘Poll Function’ you are in, what is it about?
The play is about 2 young lads from Bristol, who joyride a car around their own hometown. It is about them, their friendship, the nostalgia of being back in the town, however long, after they’ve left school and haven’t been around, and also the regret of maybe haven’t tried hard enough. I think there’s the whole thing if you stick your two fingers up at the system and then it does it back to you. What happens to you then? What happens if you then get left behind? Which, I think, is quite an important question. Especially now, where it’s a story that doesn’t really get told. In a theatre world, in particular, there’s a lot of other stories that are being spoken about, but young, angry, white working-class lads are often overlooked and if they are touched upon, they are touched upon the standard reasons of abuses, potentially racist ideology - things like that. Whereas, the story is a lot more just about these 2 characters and mistakes they feel they have made.
Do you relate to the story?
Yes, massively. The character I play, especially, is like so many of the lads I grew up with, which makes it a lot more personal for me. The writing as well is really good. It makes it so much easier to just be able to put myself in it.