ACTION: Grad goes Hollywood

James Jordan acted in nearly 40 plays as a student at Southern.

Special to the Chart

James Jordan acted in nearly 40 plays as a student at Southern.

Auriel Brown

Years of acting and directing plays is starting to pay off for one Missouri Southern alum.

While many dream of a career in Hollywood, James Jordan, 2002 graduate is making it a reality.

The Webb City native is embarking on an acting career in Hollywood.

With recurring role on Warner Brother’s “Veronica Mars,” and television appearances including “CSI”, “Cold Case” and “Just Legal,” Jordan is making a name for himself.

“I am thankful everyday,” he said.

He had the opportunity to work with big names while pursuing his master’s of fine arts at University of California, Los Angeles giving him more confidence in his endeavors.

“When Jason Alexander, Annette Benning and Anthony Hopkins came to UCLA, they wanted to give back to the younger generation,” Jordan said. “They want to see the next generation be just as successful as they are.”

James recently had the opportunity to work alongside actors such as Liam Neeson, and Pierce Brosnan on an upcoming film, Seraphim Falls. He said the two stars immediately took him under their wing.

“They made me feel incredibly comfortable,” Jordan said. “They knew I had a job to do and knew I needed to deliver.”

As a child, Jordan said he knew he had a passion for movies when he would always beg his parents to rent movies on Friday nights.

During his time at Webb City High School, Jordan found his niche in acting.

“I was doing these plays and I just loved it,” he said. “I really knew this was what I wanted to do.”

Jordan credits the theatre department at Southern for much of his preparation for his career, adding his experience in the department gave him “a sense of discipline and a mature sense of professionalism.”

“I think the hardest working people on campus are the theatre majors and the theater faculty,” Jordan said.

The man Jordan calls both a friend and mentor to him at Southern is Dr. Jay Fields, head of the theatre department. While Jordan was at Southern, he described Fields as “tough as nails.”

“He’s really almost like a second father to me, incredibly supportive. Half the time I do a job out here, he’s the first person I call because I want him to be proud of me,” Jordan said. “I want him to know a part of it goes back to him. That’s what makes him a great teacher and a valuable asset to Southern.”

Dr. Sam Claussen, theatre professor, said he is proud of Jordan’s accomplishments and is a good reflection on what the theatre department does.

He said for other students, Jordan is an example of what can result from determination

“He was totally dedicated,” Claussen said.

“All of our students have that potential, it’s just how they apply themselves.”

Jordan said a major challenge for him in pursing an acting career thus far has been setting himself apart from others.

“You have to try to find an interesting way to be original and honest in your work because that’s what equals longevity in this business,” Jordan said.

He said he has learned to never take for granted each role in a business careers end at a moment’s notice.

“This job is so fleeting, you’re rejected more than you are accepted,” Jordan said. ” The competition is so fierce, you’re lucky just to get that next job.”

One actor who Jordan said he hopes to have a career like is Sean Penn, who he calls his idol.

“He’s so hard on himself and he’s such a perfectionist,” Jordan said. “He values the audience so much and the reception of the audience and I admire that.”

While striving for a successful career, Jordan said he has received an outpouring of support from his friends, family and other members of the community and said it especially comes in handy during tough times.

“My mother has always been the rock, even when her instincts told me to get a real job,” Jordan said. “It’s good to have that family stone, that family foundation back home whispering words of encouragement to you and letting you know you’re doing the right thing.”

Jordan said while he loves life in Los Angeles, there are things it can’t replace.

“I miss the closeness and reality of Joplin,” he said. “I’m still in touch with all of my friends.”

While he is enjoying life in Hollywood, Jordan said he has not forgotten where he has come from. He said on many occasions people have noticed he is not the typical Hollywood native.

“People have said to me, ‘You’re not from around here are you? You’re so nice and down to earth’ and I try to hold on to that,” Jordan said. “Being from the Midwest, I’m just a down home kind of local boy.”