Interview with AJ Buckley | A Journey of Self-Belief
What a relief to recognize that we, all humans, have within ourselves the tools to positively change our lives by shifting our own beliefs towards who we want to become. That which we call a challenge it is an opportunity when we are open to see it that way. In that state, each life event is perceived as a possibility to expand and improve our life experience and those around us.
Actor AJ Buckley who can be seen as Bronko Novak in the CBC drama series Pure and starring as Sonny Quinn on CBS’ military drama SEAM Team says:
“Self-belief is probably the number one reason why I’ve even been successful in my career. (…)”
In this interview, you will discover the actor’s insightful answers through his professional and personal journey.
- Please introduce yourself briefly. Who, in your own words, who is AJ Buckley?
AJ Buckley is a journeyman actor, entrepreneur, father and a husband.
- Do you feel your expansion as an actor and your personal growth are interconnected? If so, please describe.
100% — Being an artist you can’t be truthful in any moment unless, in some way, shape or form, you’ve gone through something. When I first began as an actor, I’ve had the same goals however I didn’t really understand the journey that I was actually going to go on. Although I feel that my journey is just beginning, I feel like my life is also just beginning as well, being blessed with three beautiful children. They definitely inspire me as an artist and actor.
- There are many talents within the entertainment industry that are wanting to feel accomplished. How does self-believe influence your vision, hence the possibilities of succeeding as an actor?
Self-belief is probably the number one reason why I’ve even been successful in my career. At the end of the day, people can tell you that you’re talented, you’ve done a good job, that you suck or basically anything, but the only person that matters is the one that you see when you look in the mirror. You have to be able to dream and be fearless in chasing after whatever you want to do! I am extremely grateful to have had that self-belief and fire inside of me.
- Being part of the entertainment industry gives you a huge platform for exposure. How do you like to use it in what you consider a meaningful way?
Being on the show Seal Team, my life has forever changed at the fact that I’ve got to work with men and women who have served our country. I would really like to use my platform to shine a light on the fact that when our soldiers come back from war they are pretty much thrown away to the side. The VA is a broken system and just put our soldiers on pills and get them hooked on drugs. They don’t do anything to actually help for PTSD. From my view, I believe that if you serve our country and risk your life to give us the freedoms that we have every day, you should be able to find the best help in anything that you need. They ask for the best of these people to protect serve our country, so why can’t we give them the best of everything when they return home? 22 soldiers a day commit suicide because there isn’t that helps, and they feel that there isn’t a transferable trade when they come home.
- Over the course of your acting career, you have played many different and dynamic characters. What does it take to keep transforming yourself in such a diverse manner?
An incredible amount of will power. I really believe that my character comes from the physical side of things because I’ve been told that I am not the right fit for these type of roles or that I don’t have the certain look that they are looking for. This really forced myself to physically transform in order to attract the roles that I wanted. I haven’t played the same role twice and the biggest compliment that I could get is when people see that I played a completely different role and the reaction is, “wait, hold on a second……that was you?” If I can create a character that is unrecognizable but a memorable performance, that is my job done as an actor.
- Bronko Novak is the name of the cop you portray in the CBC drama series Pure, which debuted in the U.S. on WGN America on January 2019. What plans does Bronko have for himself and his career?
Bronco is your typical high school jock whose only accomplishment in life thus far, was being a star quarterback. He’s a detective who’s on probation, an alcoholic, marriage is falling apart, a son that doesn’t appreciate him and much more. Then there is this case, based on true events, that kind of falls on his lap and sort of realizes that he has a bigger calling in his life and slowly starts to pull his life back together in order to take down the Mennonite mob.
- How would you describe the relationship between Noah Funk, the Mennonite pastor, who is determined to rid his community of drug traffickers and Bronko Novak?
Noah and Bronco have a great relationship in the sense that earlier on in their lives Bronco was probably the bully high school quarterback that probably picked on Mennonites and guys like Noah. The tables are turned now because Bronco is a dirtbag and washed up but see’s what it is through Noah to have a wife, be faithful and be a good husband. He definitely learns a lot through Noah over the course of the series.
- You also can be seen starring as Sonny Quinn on CBS’ military drama SEAM Team which is streaming its second season now. Did you discover something new about yourself during the process of becoming Sonny?
Yeah, I think my work ethic is something that I realized had to be cranked up a hundred times just because of the workload of the show and the physical aspect of getting in shape. I usually train at 4 in the morning and then usually at work for about 12 hours a day doing incredibly physical things on set. We usually wear about 100 lbs. worth of gear and run up and down hills all day but in order to do that, I have to put the work in at the gym to be able to have the strength and endurance last 12 hours on set carrying that amount of weight around.
- The show seems to bring awareness to the audience of the reality behind the life of veterans. What kind of impact do you feel from being part of it?
I’m incredibly proud to be a part of the show and proud that CBS has made Seal Team one of the first TV shows in history to have more Veterans hired on our crew. Over half of our crew are real Vets and it is an honor to get to show up to work every day with the men and women who’ve sacrificed so much- it is a very humbling experience. I take great pride in the job that I have in representing this community and it is incredibly special to me.
- Sonny is tough in his physicality and approach, but also vulnerable from the inside. As an actor, how do you find the mental and physical balance to bringing him to life?
I try to draw my own life experiences and relate what I’m going through to the character. I’ve always wanted to play a character like this as my favorite character was John McClane, so I feel that I bring a little bit of that into Sonny as far as his one-liners and cowboy-esque swagger. It’s such a fun character to play I love that and the writers do a great job in allowing me to have this sense of humor with a hard exterior. I also appreciate the fact that they touch on his PTSD and how he deals with his anger.
- How do Sonny and his relationship with the rest of the team are evolving?
Sonny is a cowboy and this has pretty much been the only family that he’s ever had. There’s a cool part in this season that touches on his relationship with Davis and you get to see a different side of him. He’s probably never been in a relationship before and has always kind of dated strippers or had one night stands. Because of the damage of his PTSD, he’s never really let anyone get this close to him and having this layer peeled back with Davis, shows this softer side of him displaying the diversity in this character.
- Does being an actor nourish your other creative endeavors in life and vise-versa? If so, how?
I’ve been very fortunate to make a career out of acting which is incredibly hard to do and takes continued work. You can never take the foot off of the gas. With that being said, creatively it’s allowed me to have entrepreneur ventures that I’ve had with starting the diaper bag company Paperclip (https://papercliplife.com/) as well as one of my other companies, Juiced Up (https://juicedup.life/) with Lil Jon’. This a really fun side of the business which allows you to connect with certain people along the way who have mutual respect for each other and create an awesome product.
- Are you involved in any charity organization or humanitarian cause you would like to mention?
I’ve teamed up with the Boot Campaign and the Gary Sinese Foundation which are two foundations that I believe whole-heartedly make a huge difference in offering services to soldiers that return home.
- The spirit of The Hedonist Magazine is The Essence of a Joyful Living. How does Joy during the creative process affect your own experience and in consequence the final manifestation of your actions?
The biggest joy of my life is my family. Every inspiration, piece of desire, late night and idea either comes from them or the idea of wanting to provide and create the best life possible for my family. Ultimately, I would want my kids to look back one day and say, “my dad worked his ass off and did it out of the joy and love he had for us.”
- When you hear: You can be, do and have anything you want, words by Abraham Hicks. What is your take on such a statement?
The most valuable thing to me in life is health. If I could ask for anything, it would be continued health and through health and happiness, the world is your oyster.