Austin James: “I’ll Always Be A Country Boy At Heart”

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Austin James is a new face on the acting scene, but he’s definitely someone to watch! He already has a leading role in the movie The Ultimate Life, which hits theaters this Friday, September 6th.

Celebrity Teen Scoop recently had the chance to chat with Austin about his first big movie premiere, what it was like growing up on a small-town ranch in Texas, and his love for “active and dangerous” activities like steer wrestling. Austin also revealed which renowned actor he would like to work with the most!

CTS: Your first big movie role in The Ultimate Life hits theaters on September 6th.  So, are you ready for your first big movie premiere and being a “celebrity”?

Austin: “I am beyond excited! It was a blast working on the film alongside so many talented people, and I can’t wait for it to hit the big screen. In regard to being a ‘celebrity,’ I think it will be a new and interesting facet to my life. Being in the public eye comes with the responsibility of being a good role model to those who look up to you, and I think that I am up for the challenge.”

CTS: Abby Mavity, another up-and-coming actor, is your love interest in The Ultimate Life.  What was it like working together? Have you two stayed in touch?

Austin: “Abby is so great; she fit the time period so well and made it easy to connect. Plus, she is a blast to be around! She always had a smile on-set and we always joked around and kept each other entertained in between takes. Of course we stay in touch! She has become a very good friend of mine., and we’ve made a pseudo tradition out of lunches at Porto’s!”

CTS: What did you learn from the big movie experience?  Are you planning to continue in movies or are you open to TV as well?

Austin: “Having my first movie role be a leading role in a movie like The Ultimate Life was a little daunting at first. However, I found that as soon as I was on set it felt like home. I had the time of my life being on set every day, and it was hard to go back home when we wrapped. It definitely cemented my determination to make acting my lifelong career. I would love to experience both fields! I enjoy the energy of film sets and working to finish a project, but I think it would be great to be on a set with a group of people that can you can come to regard as family over time.”

CTS: Who in Hollywood would you like the opportunity to work with and why?

Austin: “There are so many amazing and talented people out here (some of them good friends) who I would be honored to work with, so it’s hard to pick just one! Right when I first got into acting, I had the opportunity to hang out on the set of a movie called Seven Days in Utopia, starring Robert Duvall. I had grown up watching his movies, and it was really cool to see him work in person. At the wrap party, his wife pulled me aside and took me to have a conversation with him, because she had heard that I wanted to get into acting. He gave me some very inspiring insight, so working with him would be a defining moment for me.”

CTS: The acting bug struck you at 16 and you entered an acting competition and won.  Then the Hollywood agents started calling.  What made you decide to enter the competition? When you agents started calling, were you prepared for what was immediately ahead?

Austin: “Funny story. Growing up in the country, I was pretty naïve about the industry. I had the idea in my head that you had to be born into it or know someone, so I never gave it any serious thought. However, I was an avid reader growing up, and I always envisioned myself as the characters and I saw the world through their eyes. When I was 15, I was heading home from school, which was a 20-mile drive through the country, and I heard one of those ‘If you want to be on the Disney channel, call this number!’ commercials on the radio. It piqued my interest, so I took down the number. When I got home, I asked my mom ‘Hey, I heard about this thing on the radio. Can I call?’ Imagine my surprise when she told me that she already had, and I had an audition on Tuesday. Mother’s intuition!

After the competition, it was pretty surreal. Heading out to LA to meet with agents? Crazy! Luckily, a casting director named Heather Nunn had attended the event, and she was my guardian angel. She met with me when I came out to LA and guided me through the whole process, giving me a crash course on the industry and what to expect. Without her, I definitely would not be where I am today. Thanks, Heather!”

CTS: By 17 you were living in LA with your first commercial one year later.  And not long after you landed your first movie role.  That’s a lot to happen in such a short time.  How do you feel about how quickly your acting career has taken off?

Austin: “I couldn’t be happier with how things have been progressing. I know I am extremely blessed to have had some of the opportunities that I’ve had, and I don’t intend to waste them. It’s still a long road ahead, but I appreciate every step forward and I make it a point to enjoy the ride.”

CTS: Your family moved from Florida to a ranch in Texas when you were only 1.  What was it like growing up on a ranch and attending a school with only 19 kids in your class? Was it a big adjustment moving from Texas to Hollywood?

Austin: “I attribute a lot of my success to my upbringing and childhood. Growing up on a ranch and caring for livestock and land taught me some invaluable lessons about life and instilled a strong work ethic in me, which I think is essential if you want to make it in any industry. My entire childhood, I woke up at 6 every morning and either went to school or worked on the ranch. On a school day, we went to school and then came home and worked on the ranch until sundown. On off-days and in the summer, we woke up, fed the livestock, came in for breakfast, went back out and worked until noon, went in for lunch, then worked the rest of the day until dinner. I didn’t hang out with kids too much outside of school, as it was a long drive, so most of my days were spent working on the ranch.

Luckily, I am one of five children, so I was never lacking for company! Going to a school so small had its perks as well as drawbacks. I knew everyone in the school by name! Having a smaller class size afforded the teachers the ability to be more personal with their teaching, so I felt like I was given a much more hands-on learning experience. We were too small a school for football or baseball, but in hindsight I might never have had the opportunity to break into acting if my school did have these sports. Moving from a ranch in the middle of nowhere to the big city ( I moved straight into downtown) couldn’t have been more of a change. I went from one end of the spectrum to the other! It took some getting used to, but I’ve come to love living here in LA. However, I’ll always be a country boy at heart.”

CTS: From your experience working on a ranch with horses and cattle you got involved in steer wrestling and became nationally ranked.  Not a lot of people can say that—especially Hollywood actors!  Tell us more about it.

Austin: “I was born into a rodeo family. The first few years of my dad’s life were spent in the back of a truck while my grandparents were on the road from rodeo to rodeo. When he graduated college, he got involved with thoroughbreds, working on the track and training them to race. All of us kids were brought up to be able to ride from the time we could walk. I was more of a bookworm than my siblings, so I didn’t start rodeo quite as young as they did.

By my eighth grade year, I decided I wanted to be a part of the rodeo crowd, as I was tired of staying home alone on the weekends and taking care of the ranch, so I started with chute dogging. Then my freshman year, I thought to myself, ‘No way am I jumping off a perfectly good horse at 30 miles an hour and onto a 600 pound steer.’ Well, I tried it once and was hooked. Everybody made sure to watch my runs because I would jump every time, no matter if I was close to the steer or not. It often ended in a wreck and I’m sure that’s why everyone enjoyed watching! After enough wrecks, I was able to make it to the state competition and compete against the rest of Texas. It was one of the best times of my life and a hard thing to give up, but acting is my true passion. My brothers and sisters still compete, and my brother is trying to go pro in the team roping!”

CTS: It seems you were also an avid track and field guy.  Pole vaulting, cross country and steer wrestling?  Do you still find yourself really active? How have your interests changed now that you live in California?

Austin: “I love doing anything active- and dangerous. So pole vaulting and steer wrestling fit right in! Out here, I can’t get quite the same adrenaline rush, but I think it’s super important to stay active. My favorite activities out here are running through the city, hiking up in the hills, and hitting the gym with my friends. Getting into a pick-up game of basketball or football is always fun too! There’s nothing I can do out here that matches the physicality of working on a ranch, but I try to keep up with my fitness as much as I can.”

CTS: What’s up next for you?  Any projects in the works?

Austin: “This year has been a great one for me! After finishing with The Ultimate Life, I was able to work on an indie feature in Utah about getting lost in the desert. After finishing that, I did a guest-starring spot for the Nick at Nite show See Dad Run. I had a blast and loved everyone who worked on that show!  Currently, I am working on a student thesis project for CSUN where, what do you know? I get lost in the desert again. I must be really directionally challenged. [laughs] After finishing up with that, it will be time to hit the ground running with more auditions.”

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