One might call Jason Thomas a modern-day Renaissance Man.
He’s been a successful salesman, graphic artist, an author and an actor in movies and television.
“If something seems too hard or too crazy to do, I try to do it and push myself,” says Jason, a Roofing Systems account specialist who joined Johns Manville earlier this year.
Jason started his career as an actor in Los Angeles, rubbing shoulders with Chris Pine and Zoey Saldana in JJ Abrams’ 2009 remake of the Star Trek movie and appearing on television shows including Law & Order and Cold Case. Watch a clip here.
“It was probably one of the toughest challenges of my life,” Jason recalled. “I showed up with $200 in that town, with everything I owned in my car. I slept on a buddy’s couch for $150 a month. I was starving for a long time.”
But persistence and sticking to his own values paid off, Jason says, bringing him opportunities and preventing him from falling prey to many Hollywood pitfalls.
“You are accepted or rejected all the time, auditioning constantly,” Jason said. “When you are the product, you are taking that personally – some people do whatever they can to get the part and to be liked. You can become a caricature of yourself and do things you wouldn’t normally do. There are way more actors than there are parts, and predators take advantage of that.”
Jason, who calls himself “stubborn,” stuck with it, eventually working his way up through talent agencies and graduating to larger projects.
“At the toughest time in the industry, I got into the Screen Actors Guild,” Jason said, referring to an actors’ and writers’ strike and economic downturn that were simultaneously occurring when he made his foray into acting in 2007. “When you stay true to your values, things start to align when you’re coming from the right place.”
Jason got roles in hourlong television dramas, performed Shakespeare with a national traveling theater company and even appeared on a Spanish-language dating game show: 12 Corazons (Hearts).
He also spent four months on the Star Trek film, having a small part and serving as a stand-in for Chris Pine, who played Captain James Kirk.
“I would wear Chris Pine’s costume and go to all the sets we were creating and do lighting tests… I’d be alone on the bridge of the Enterprise, sitting in the captain’s chair. I was geeking out,” said Jason, a fan of the series.
Eventually, though, Jason had enough of the “cesspool” he calls Los Angeles, and he returned home to Colorado to be closer to family.
“I thought, ‘I had that season of my life and can move on now,’” Jason said. He soon found work helping an entrepreneur friend promote his business online.
“I didn’t have the experience to do it, so I was severely underpaid to learn coding graphic design, Google ads and social media,” Jason said. “Once I moved on and put my resume out, I immediately got paid two to three times as much to do less work.”
Meanwhile, Jason kept his creative juices flowing by self-publishing science fiction and fantasy novels under a pseudonym on Amazon.
“I’m big in Australia,” Jason said, chuckling. “They love one of my books there.” In all, he’s written five books, four novels and one handbook on marketing.
And, Jason spends his free time practicing Jiu Jitsu.
“It gets you right out of your head,” he said of the martial art. “There is no bluffing and no fakeness, which in the acting industry is super prominent. You build your skills, and you can either hang or you can’t hang. There is something pure about it that I appreciate.”
Each of his hobbies and careers has served to prepare Jason for his latest role as an account specialist at Johns Manville, Jason says.
“I love living multiple lives in this life,” Jason said. “You grow and learn so much, and you get different context for things.”
He continued, “Acting gives you empathy in person-to-person communication and that can be leveraged in sales and client management. That’s what appealed to me about this position.”
Most of all, Jason says, he’s learned to “lean in to discomfort” while leveraging his own strengths in order to grow.
“I’m in this new position where there are lots of confusing things, so I am leaning into that discomfort early and often,” he said. “I’m staying true to my values and how I do things. I feel like I don’t have to be something else to fit the role.”