‘You Just Need One Break’: Emmy-Winning Producer and Actor Jake Hunter on What It Takes to Make It

Jake Hunter talks about changing up careers and what it takes to make it in Hollywood!

No two paths to success look the same, especially when it comes to the unwritten road to Hollywood. Such is the case for Jake Hunter, whose career in entertainment started later and unexpectedly.

Hunter originally planned to go for the pros as a baseball player, but after sustaining several injuries, he was giving himself one last shot at a tryout in Philadelphia. After driving eight hours from New York, that tryout was canceled due to rain, so he left for a diner nearby where a man approached him with a business card.

“I was sitting there for a few minutes contemplating my life over pancakes and he said they were having an open call for this agency called Wilhelmina today,” Hunter recalled on Ten Minute Talks with Meagan Lynn. “I went and I felt so out of place and I just wanted to run. I read a Reese’s Pieces script for them and I’m pretty sure I was just God awful; then they called me the next day and said that they want to sign me.”

Just one break

Though Hunter now had an agent, a big hurdle to jump for any aspiring entertainment professional, the early stages of his career were anything but easy. When he decided to make the move to the heart of entertainment in Los Angeles, CA, he spent time living in his car and balancing several side jobs to make ends meet while attending acting classes and auditions.

“I said, ‘I need one break’ since the beginning,” Hunter said of getting through that period. “I saw so many actors in my head that were big off one show or something like that and I was like, I just need one break. That’s it.”

Ultimately, Hunter realized it’s not just about “one big break,” but a winding series of opportunities that add up to a successful career. Rather than just waiting for opportunities to come his way, Hunter started writing and producing his own work. His short film Faith won The New York City International Film Festival Award as Best Short Film in 2017, and that year he ended up signing on as a producer for Amazon series The Bay, later earning him an Emmy Award for Outstanding Digital Daytime Series. That led to creating and starring in another Amazon series, Class Act.

Forging his own path

Today he’s working with Julie Pacino at her production company Tiny Apples and will be co-executive producing their film King Lear starring Al Pacino. Within years of giving up a career in baseball and living in his car, he’s acted alongside the likes of Robert De Niro and Morgan Freeman in The Comeback Trail, and also amassed a multi-million follower platform creating content on TikTok. Hunter says it all comes down to hard work.

“I had this work ethic since I was a little kid with baseball. When I was a little kid, I literally would get up before school and I would hit; after school, I would go and play some more,” he shared. “I’ve always said I’m going to outwork everybody and I knew that I could do it, and I take steps every single day. Even today I’m breaking down a new scene every single day. I haven’t missed it in like six years. I still do it to this day.”

Hunter’s top advice for aspiring actors and filmmakers is to start making their own work now.

“Going and doing it and taking action is the best way to learn, and you always get something out of doing a project, no matter what,” he said. “Don’t worry about what the finished product is, because then you’re just worried about expectations of the future. Just worry about the present and do what you have to do to make that project come to fruition.”

Finding the balance

While Hunter used to think making it in Hollywood was all about getting his one big break, he said he’s come to learn that external goals aren’t nearly as important as his lifelong goal of being happy.

“I don’t have my set goals for the future anymore. I still have these little goals for me. They’re little now–before they were everything,” he said. “I’m still working on my craft. I’m still reaching out to people. I’m still developing new projects and auditioning, but I’m not by any means focused on whether I need to do something by this time.”

Hunter has spent the last few years developing a spiritual practice, including daily meditation and practicing The Four Agreements. He said this has not only helped him personally but even helped reduce work-related pressure.

“I still do all the crazy stuff that I was doing before and the hustle and everything like that, but I’m just adding in this different side of spirituality, which has actually given me more perspective and made me a much better overall actor, producer, everything,” he said. “I feel like I have more perspective than I did before; before I was so boxed into being an actor/producer. That’s it. I didn’t see myself as an actual human being”

For someone who is struggling in the earlier stages of their career, Hunter says he would give the same advice he gave his younger self.

“You just need one break. You just need one thing to go your way,” he said. “There’s a million things that could go your way and you only need one of them to go your way to change your life.”

To follow Hunter on his journey and keep up to date with his latest projects, you can follow him on Instagram and TikTok.

About the Author

Meagan Lynn

Meagan Lynn is a host and writer at AfterBuzz TV, actress, and social media manager. Outside of AfterBuzz, you can find her hosting and producing Ten Minute Talks. She loves singing, listening to inspirational podcasts and consuming copious amounts of movies and television shows.