This is Me: Tim Jo

February 7, 2013

Tim Jo, Zooey Magazine

Tim Jo | Age: 28 | Occupation: Actor on “The Neighbors”

Tim, tell us about your entrance to the acting realm. How did you make the transition from Texas to Southern Los Angeles?

I was living in Warsaw, Poland at the time. My friends and I were skateboarding when we decided to crash the school’s play auditions. Somehow I ended up getting cast as one of the leads and I distinctly remember seeing the pride in my fathers eye’s after my first performance. That’s when I told myself, “Hey, if my math grades don’t go up, maybe I should get into acting.”

Years later, I was getting ready to get an MFA in a graduate acting program when the school flipped the script on me and retracted my acceptance. I was crushed, but my mother pulled me aside, gave me her blessing, and told me to move my ass to Hollywood.

What were your expectations of the industry? What did you mostly want out of it, other than just booking jobs of course. How supportive were your family and friends?

It’s simple, all I wanted was to make my parents proud. I was young, naive, and driven in this industry, I believe these are some of your most powerful weapons. Of course, my biggest source of strength came from my family. They never let the hard days keep me down and not once did they ever express any doubt in my aspirations.

Talk to us about your new show, “The Neighbors.” What makes this different from things you’ve done before? What makes it different from other shows?

I am so damn lucky to be working on “The Neighbors. “The real magic about the job is that I know every cast and crew member feels the same way about our show. We were once the most hated new comedy of the fall television season and that united our cast and crew in a way that we knew we were going to prove them wrong. We are currently the highest rated new comedy and I think it’s because we have always stayed true to ourselves, loved one another, and treated each other with the utmost respect. Dan Fogelman is also a genius, that may have something to do with it as well.

Tim Jo, Zooey Magazine

Tell us about your character Reggie. What made you feel attracted to the role?

I like to think Reggie Jackson is the embodiment of everything that is pure. He has an honest soul, he is profoundly curious, and he simply wants to understand his place in the world. Not to be too dramatic, but playing Reggie is quite cathartic – ever hear about those studies that say a fake smile induces real happiness? Playing Reggie is the same.

So far, what has been your favorite project to work on and why?

Hands down, “The Neighbors.” I’ve never felt safer, more loved, understood, and encouraged in any other job I’ve had thus far. Plus I get to work with the most beautiful women in this industry: Jami, Toks, Clara, and Isabella.

You’re also in a band. Tell us about that! What is your position in the band? Where can we hear your music?

I’d been casually writing music with my bandmate Ryan Donowho for about two years. At the constant insistence of friends and family, we decided to form a band and take the music on the road. We’ve been performing as Animals of Kin for less than a year, so things are in the embryonic stage right now. Our webpage should be up soon and will have links to our music video and a few songs.

You also love to sculpture. That’s an interesting hobby! Could you let us in on that? What kind of things do you create?

I love working with every type of medium. I started with clays and epoxy but also recently discovered felting. I just made a felt version of a Zabvronian alien as a wrap gift for my executive producer on The Neighbors. For Dan, I custom made a diorama of my entire alien family and our home in LEGO form. I even made a custom UFO and golf cart.

Are there other things you’ve mastered? Other hobbies? Sports?

Reggie Jackson solves a Rubik’s cube in episode three. The writers didn’t know it at the time, but I happen to be obsessed with puzzles. So fortunately I was able to scramble and solve the cube for the scene several times without holding up production. My times average between 35-50 seconds.

Tim Jo, Zooey Magazine

So you say that you didn’t truly connect with your Korean heritage until high school. What changed your mind about your own culture in general? You say you got into acting, because you wanted to connect with your Asian heritage. We’d love to learn more. How do you want to see the acting industry change to promote diversity? What can WE do as an audience to help that as well?

My mother sent me to Korea for a summer against my wishes. Previously, I had never been around many other Koreans and didn’t feel any desire to connect with that side of my culture. However everything changed when I was in my home country, surrounded by people who looked like me, sounded like me. It’s hard to put into words, but there was a sense of belonging and discovering a part of myself that I didn’t realize was missing. The lack of representation of Asian Americans in the media had a large part to do with why I never felt completely American. Growing up, I’d always be asked if I could speak English or participated in martial arts. This happened because the only image of Asians in popular culture were foreign Kung Fu stars. I feel my greatest contribution as a minority actor is to show kids that we don’t need to be wearing glasses, throwing punches, or speak with an accent. We belong here and we’re all just normal people.

At the moment, what are some things you’re truly obsessing over? The news? Hobbies? Etc.

I LOVE kabocha squash. It’s a green pumpkin that is sweet and nutty when cooked correctly. I like to bake it in the oven, without any type of oils or seasoning. I love to cook it pure. I’m also really enjoying these Afghani flatbreads I found in my local farmers market, called Bolani. My favorite flavor is the pumpkin. I recommend you check both of these out.

It’s already the ending of the the second month of the New Year. What were your resolutions? Are you meeting them so far?

My resolutions were to fight for happiness, stay driven, and always be kind. They seem to be panning out as of now, so that’s a good thing. I think I should also probably spend a little less money on toys this year. I may have already failed at that.

And Valentine’s Day is coming up! What are your plans so far?

I have a lovely girlfriend and she deserves to be treated nicely. She’s been my source of strength and happiness during the past year of work and stress. I should do something very nice- just haven’t figured out exactly what yet. Maybe it’ll involve horses.

So in the next 5 years, where do you see yourself? What are your plans? And goals?

I’ve always looked forward to being a father and a husband. So if I’m working and able to support other human beings, that would be the goal. I’d be happy with all daughters. I’m not really a man’s man, don’t think I’d be able to teach my son how to throw a baseball.

Photographer: Vince Trupsin
Groomer: Angie Miller
Wardrobe Stylist: Adeel Khan

First Look
Blazer: Zara
V-Neck Tee: John Varvatos
Jeans: Hudson
Boots: John Fluevog

Second Look
Tweed Jacket: Yoko Devereaux
Button Up: Zara
Jeans: Joe’s Jeans

Third Look
Blazer, Button Up, & Jeans: Zara
Shoes: John Fluevog


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    […] Their children are Dick Butkus (‘white’ red-haired Ian Patrick) and Reggie Jackson (Tim Jo, who is Korean American). The ‘interracial’ pairings in the show include: Larry Bird […]

  • JustJane

    That was awesome. I got to know Tim Jo better and the earnestness in his voice, when he spoke about the show, made me love it more. Just goes show that staying true to your heart/ passion and not giving up is the only way to live.

    I think I can relate to the “Asian isolation” in a way since I haven’t been fully immersed in a community with just Asians, but I do have friends who are Asian American, specifically Korean American. Perhaps my mother should also send me to Korea against my will.

    Thanks Zooey. I never even knew about this online magazine (or just magazine) until I wanted to know more about Tim Jo and this came up. Thank you for being appreciative of diversity and of great acting, to interview such a great character and person. It was well worth it. I hope to become more familiar with your magazine and maybe even come to love it.

  • JustJane

    That was awesome. I got to know Tim Jo better and the earnestness in the way he spoke of the show just makes me love it more. It just goes to show that staying true to your heart and never giving up is the only way to live.

    I think I can relate to the “Asian isolation,” but not entirely because I have friends who are Asian American, specifically Korean American, so I haven’t experienced being with only Koreans. Perhaps my mother should also send me against my will.

    Thanks Zooey. I never even knew this online magazine existed until I looked up Tim Jo. Thanks for having the appreciation for diversity, and for overall great acting, to interview a worthy character and person. I look forward to reading more and maybe even falling in love with your magazine.

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