Jaydon Clark, a fourth grader at Immaculate Conception School in North Little Rock, has already made a name for himself on stages across central Arkansas, and now he’s jumped to a larger audience via small screen.
The 10-year old will make his television debut Feb. 28 on ABC’s “The Rookie.”
“It was a lot of fun,” Jaydon said. “I didn’t want to leave. It was just awesome. That's my path. That's what I'm going to do."
“The Rookie,” which premiered in 2018, airs Tuesdays at 7 p.m. The police drama follows John Nolan (Nathan Fillion), a 45-year-old divorced man who moves to Los Angeles and becomes the oldest rookie at the Los Angeles Police Department. It is based on real-life LAPD officer William Norcross.
Jaydon has had a meteoric rise in his two-year career as an actor. At 8, he landed his first stage role as Tiny Tim in the Argenta Community Theater's production of "A Christmas Carol." Then he took the lead role in Little Rock’s Wildwood Park for the Arts’ “Oliver!,” a musical adaptation of Dickens’ “Oliver Twist,” and the Historic Royal Theatre in Benton’s “Madagascar: A Musical Adventure Jr.,” based on the animated movie.
In her October review of “Oliver!,” Theresa Bertram of Broadway World Arkansas wrote, “I had the privilege to attend when Clark performed the title role, and he was amazing! He led the cast skillfully through the whole show like a seasoned professional.”
After seeing his son’s success in “Oliver!,” Jaydon’s dad, Jeff, who is raising Jaydon as a single father, paid for him to be part of an open audition in Atlanta. Jaydon was one of only 400 out of 2,500 young actors who made the next round in Los Angeles. For a week, Jaydon shot screen tests at showcases in front of Hollywood agents and managers. When one director asked if any of the children could sing, Jaydon took the microphone, dazzled and was immediately signed by Artistic Endeavors management and Coast to Coast Talent agency.
“He got the most callbacks of everybody there,” Jeff Clark said.
In mid-December, Jaydon’s manager called to say he’d been picked for a small role on “The Rookie,” and shooting would take place the first week of January.
“We were excited for him to land his first TV role, but then she called back and said they wanted him in a guest starring role,” Jeff Clark said. “So, it's a lot bigger than what we initially expected.”
Jaydon was on set for two days of filming, including time with a tutor to keep up with his schoolwork.
“People have all these horror stories of Hollywood, and it was none of that,” Jeff Clark said. “It was such a family atmosphere. The whole set was really open arms for a child to be in there. It was really cool to see they were very supportive of him. They loved him. They were really shocked that this was his first work on film. They said he handled himself really well.”
With his appearance on “The Rookie,” Jaydon earned membership in the Screen Actors Guild.. SAG membership opens doors to roles in more films in a highly unionized industry. Now, he is hoping to parlay his experience into movie parts or a recurring role in a TV series.
“My goal is to get on the ‘Stranger Things’ spin-off or to get the main character in a pilot of a new series,” he said. “We just submitted for a movie, too. I'm crossing my fingers.”
Jeff Clark said he converted one of the bedrooms in his home into a small studio so Jaydon can record auditions from North Little Rock. That could all change, however, if Jaydon lands a major role.
“Pilot season, where they do a lot of auditions for shows, started this week,” Jeff Clark said. “His next thing is to just wait on auditions and get better and better. We could get really busy, real soon. I feel like it's the start of a big, good career for him.”
Before he becomes a Hollywood star, Jaydon can still be seen in central Arkansas. He is currently performing in the “Titanic the Musical” at the Royal Theatre in Benton through Feb. 19, and is auditioning for the role of Charlie in a local production of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” this summer.
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