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EXCLUSIVE: Interview With ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Star, Austin Basis

CW’s J.T Forbes discusses the Actor’s Studio, the next season of ‘Beauty and the Beast' and a comic book character he created- ‘Super Schlep’!

By: Ashley Baylen
Published: August 21st, 2013 in Culture » TV » Interviews
Austin Basis

While many of you know him as J.T Forbes on CW’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’, Brooklyn-born Austin Basis has been performing for decades.

As a young child, Basis dreamed of becoming a professional baseball player, all the while honing his natural ability to entertain others and make them laugh through roles in school plays and musicals. As he got a little older, and realized that playing for the New York Mets wasn’t very probable, he switched his focus to… med school. But, after winning the Morty Guinty Award for Performing Arts, and participating in college performances and competitions, he decided to pursue a Major in Theater at Binghamton University.

After graduating with a BA, Basis decided to continue his acting education and training by studying for his Master’s in Acting at the Actor’s Studio Drama School. He is now a lifetime member of the famed Actor’s Studio, along with greats like Al Pacino, Harvey Keitel, Faye Dunaway, and others.

Over the last 10 years, Basis has appeared in several plays and TV shows including ‘Law & Order: Criminal Intent’, ‘Spellbound’, and ‘Life Unexpected’.

His huge break came last year when he was cast in a lead role in CW’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’. Basis is also a published poet & artist, and spends his spare time as an advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Basis was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of nine, and hopes to use his accomplishments to inspire other kids with the disease to follow their dreams and understand that anything is possible.

We got a chance to chat with Austin Basis about his childhood dreams, working alongside acting legends at the Actor’s Studio, and the upcoming season of ‘Beauty and the Beast’.

ASHLEY BAYLEN: Is it true that although you participated in school plays since kindergarten that you never considered acting as a career until University?

AUSTIN BASIS: That's not totally true. I always loved performing, but I just wanted to play professional baseball for a living. I always saw myself being the prankster in the clubhouse and the personality with the media. My idol was Gary Carter, who was nicknamed "The Kid" & was a Hall-of-Fame catcher, but always had a smile on his face and an energy that expressed how much he love playing baseball. What I try to do now as an actor is not much different. But you're right, it wasn't until college that my dream of playing for the N.Y. Mets came to a crashing halt and my aspiration to be a professional actor was the only thing left standing.

ASHLEY: After graduating from Binghamton with a Major in Theatre, you went on to get a Masters from the Actors Studio. Why did you decide to continue a formal education in acting as opposed to just pursuing a career?

AUSTIN: I felt like I needed more training. I got a great education at Binghamton University from my acting teachers Gene Lesser and Tom Kremer, who encouraged me to seek a more well-rounded experience complete with vocal and movement classes. They emphasized that my talents and instincts can only take me so far; that entering into the field prematurely may put me at a disadvantage. Only a small percentage of actors make a living, so having been trained in a Masters program at The Actors Studio Drama School in addition to my undergraduate training gave me a greater chance of succeeding once I took that leap.

ASHLEY: Like many actors prior to landing their first big part, you worked in New York kitchens and bars. Do you think that time described often as “struggling” is essential to the process? Do you think you would have viewed the success your enjoying now in the same way if you had landed a leading role immediately out of school?

AUSTIN: Yes. And absolutely NOT. Working your way up the "food" chain is directly related to learning the value of a dollar and ultimately appreciating your success. Being a bartender, bar-back, waiter, waitress or bus-boy seem to be among the only jobs that work conveniently with an actor's audition and work schedule- and pay well enough that you don't have to work 5 days a week. The challenge is both physically and emotionally grueling- in that you need to do a good job and earn money, while maintaining the drive, tenacity and sanity it takes to make it as an actor. That struggle is necessary and informs everything you do as an actor and a person- and when you move past that period, as I have, there is an extra motivation to avoid EVER being in that position again! However, with every new success comes new obstacles and challenges to overcome. I always try to remind myself to focus on the "means whereby" instead of "end-gaining", as I learned in school as part of the Alexander Technique: Cherish the journey- both ups and downs- so that the end of the road isn't empty and fleeting, but rather only the celebratory beginning of the next part of that same road.

Austin Basis talk the Actor's Studio, the next season of 'Beauty and the Beast', and a comic he invented 'Super Schlep' on page 2!

Related articles: Exclusive, Interview, Beauty and the Beast, CW, Austin Basis, J.T Forbes, Actor's Studio, Al Pacino, Harvey Keitel, Faye Dunaway, Juvenile Diabetes
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EXCLUSIVE: Interview With ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Star, Austin Basis

CW’s J.T Forbes discusses the Actor’s Studio, the next season of ‘Beauty and the Beast' and a comic book character he created- ‘Super Schlep’!

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EXCLUSIVE: Interview With ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Star, Austin Basis

CW’s J.T Forbes discusses the Actor’s Studio, the next season of ‘Beauty and the Beast' and a comic book character he created- ‘Super Schlep’!

EXCLUSIVE: Interview With ‘The Young and The Restless’ Star, Kate

Linder, who plays Esther Valentine on ‘Y & R’, chats about her decades-long role on one of America’s favorite soaps, her other career as a flight attendant, and her annual charity tea in Vancouver.

EXCLUSIVE: Get to Know The X Factor’s 13-Year Old, Carly

Carly Rose talks to SL about Broadway, auditioning for ‘The X Factor’ and instant fame.

Exclusive Interview: Michael Aloni’s Juggling Act

Shalom Life chats with the host of "The Voice Israel" about his many projects.

Bar Refaeli Knows A LOT About Underwear

Israeli's most famous export talks underwear, MAXIM and men on Conan

Introducing 'Muzika'

Shalom Life chats with Igal Hecht about his new TV show that spotlights Israeli musicians

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