Plainview youngster adds to his Hollywood résumé
Every young kid dreams of what it would be like to be a big celebrity, but for Jesse Ray Sheps, he’s been working to turn that dream into a reality. At just 12 years old, the Plainview child-star has already had roles on shows such as Blue Bloods, Orange is the New Black and Bull. His latest project, All Square, is a 2018 South by Southwest (SXSW) feature film that stars Sheps alongside Emmy-nominated stars Michael Kelly and Pamela Adlon.
Before securing roles on TV and in movies, Sheps started out doing modeling work for brands like AT&T, H&M and Toys R Us. He soon worked his way up to doing voice acting, landing a spot on Nickelodeon’s Zack and Quack as Fluffy the hedgehog.
“I liked acting a lot and wanted to get into it,” Sheps explained. “I tried [acting] for a little and my mom asked if I liked doing it and I loved it and wanted to continue. I got more roles and kept progressing.”
A look at the All Square trailer or clips from his Blue Bloods episode makes it evident why Sheps has been able to find success in the field—he’s passionate. Even when he’s just doing voice acting work, Sheps gives his roles everything he has.
“I can still show emotion through my character just as if I’m in a movie or TV show,” Sheps said about his voice acting. “I take my time to develop the character and give it the emotion that it needs.”
Characters with emotion are what Sheps enjoys portraying the most. The budding star said that his favorite jobs have been those that have given him the opportunity to play roles that have “huge emotional connection” and are “very deep.”
“I try to choose roles that give me the opportunity to play complex characters,” he added.
In All Square, Sheps plays Brian, the son of John’s, the main character played by Kelly, ex-girlfriend. John befriends Brian and begins taking bets on youth league baseball games. As John isn’t the ideal father figure, Sheps explained he had to pretend his life was different, envisioning that he had “a tougher dad,” in order to play the role of Brian with the proper amount of emotion.
“My character, Brian, in All Square, was just incredible. You could just feel the emotion through the entire script,” Sheps said.
Sheps said the movie is one of his favorite things he’s worked on, not only because of the depth to his character, but because of the cast he was able to work with.
“Working with Emmy nominated people is incredible,” Sheps said of Kelly and Adlon. “I felt like they motivated me. Michael inspired me. When I saw [Kelly and Adlon] doing things, I interpreted it in my own way.”
With a cast he’s so fond of, Sheps expects the movie to be “really big.”
“It’s literally the greatest script I’ve ever read. All the characters have so much emotion,” he said. “Pam and Michael all showed such emotion making it the best experience possible and they made it really fun.”
Sheps has also worked with stars like Donnie Wahlberg and Robert De Niro.
“You could feel [De Niro’s] vibe. It’s great, I got to work with him for two hours. With Donnie, he was just really funny, he kept making me laugh between takes,” Sheps said.
When he’s not working on a role, Sheps enjoys playing the guitar. He both composes his own music and writes his own songs.
“Acting is only one of the ways I get my artistic juices flowing,” he said. “There’s nothing I like more than composing my own songs.”
While he’s grateful to his parents who take him to important meetings, help him with scripts and set up appointments, Sheps said he owes his success to the opportunities he’s been given.
“It’s my fortune of getting amazing scripts and roles with incredible writers and people and my team giving me advice. I can learn from all of them.”
As he demonstrates through the complex roles he’s played, Sheps is a believer in hard work. He emphasized that kids like himself who want to get into acting should continue to pursue what they want.
“Never give up. Work your hardest,” he said. “Even if something seems very tough, try and find another way around it.”