Interview with JT Neal | My Balance Comes from Living in the Present Moment 

It is natural for all humans to always think some kind of thoughts. Besides spending time in the stillness of meditation, our inner chatter never stops. What we are constantly thinking about is in our own hands whether it is about past, future or the moment we are now experiencing.

To get more in sync of conscious choosing what we think about, a great practice is to focus on our breathing. When we do it for a few minutes, we sense clearness that allows us to re-direct our thoughts towards a more deliberate imagining. The power to do so is always NOW, using the present moment to consciously creating a joyful state of being, and even to change your past, as you decide to look at things you didn’t like about it with appreciation. We all act accordingly, to how we feel in every present moment.

Actor JT Neal who can be seen as Jacob on ABC’s series Bless This Mess, says: “For me personally, the best way to maintain balance is by being present in the moment, wherever I am.”

In this inspiring interview with JT, you will discover his inner thoughts about his acting career, his aspirations as well as the power of living in the now.


INTRODUCTION 

  • Please introduce yourself briefly. Who, in your own words, is JT Neal?

I am an actor, writer, perpetual homebody, and obsessive collector of vintage and antiques. Right now, I’m on Bless This Mess, playing the optimistic and carefree Jacob who is much better at dealing with stressful situations than I could ever be! 

THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY

  • The entertainment industry is rapidly evolving with the introduction of streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu. How do you think these developments have transformed the industry?

I think it’s wonderful to have all these new platforms! I mean, I can really only speak from my own perspective as an actor, but for me, it’s exciting to see all this new content and all these new jobs being created. I think this is the best time to be an actor because there are endless opportunities.

  • The entertainment industry is becoming more diverse and embracing different types of stories. What do you think of the current entertainment industry and what do you envision for the future?

I think there are so many stories in this world that all capture vastly different human experiences, and I feel like for a long time many of us had never heard most of them. I love that I’m able to sit and listen to someone tell me their point of view. I feel like it connects me to humanity in a way that I didn’t have access to before. So yeah, I love the push for diversity! I hope it continues because there are many things that I’m sure I’m not educated about and I want to hear those stories. 

Photography by F. Scott Schafer

 ACTING

  • On ABC’s Bless This Mess, season two you play Jacob – a farm boy who has faced some hilarious misfortunes. What aspects of Jacob’s character do you resonate with most? 

I was raised in a very small town. And there is so much that you can do in a small town that you can’t do in a city, but I remember the feeling I got when I started going to Dallas for school. I can completely relate to Jacob’s excitement about change because I had that same excitement. I also love his eternal optimism. It’s a good reminder to not take things so seriously. If Jacob can cut a thumb off and be okay, I’ll be okay too. 

  • What does Jacob think of Mike and Rio, the two city dwellers who moved to Nebraska and are learning how to work on a farm? 

I think it’s really easy to see how much Jacob loves them. Even when he sees them doing something “wrong” or different he remains very encouraging. Jacob is really one of the few people in the town that I think truly wants them to succeed at all times. 

  • Jacob’s parents are facing some marital difficulties. How is Jacob affected by their faltering relationship?

Well, we start to see Jacob acting out a little bit. Just a little bit. It’s fun to play that balance between wanting to rebel and also not wanting to get yelled at by his mom. He’s such a sweet kid, and even when he wants to act out his conscience stops him from going too far. Yeah, of course, things are weird for him now but as always, he makes the best of it!

  • In season two, Jacob is introduced to a love interest, Janine. What can you tell us about this budding relationship? 

Janine is the dark, mysterious, homeschooled Rapunzel that Jacob needs. She breaks Jacob (or Jake now) out of his shell in a way that he could never do on his own. Which is amazing because she has led such a sheltered life as well. The two of them bring out the best in each other and it’s really fun to play that young love. 

  • What is the experience of working with creators such as Elizabeth Meriwether and Lake Bell, and actors such as Pam Grier and Ed Begley Jr.?

I feel like I’m in some crazy dream that I don’t want to wake up from. I said for years that I wanted to be on a Liz Meriwether show. I was obsessed with New Girl and all I wanted was to have a show like that. Now, not only am I working on my dream show, I’m working on my dream show with true legends. There truly is nothing like it. I really am living my wildest dream. 

  • Are there any other projects you are currently working on and excited about?

Right now I’m really just enjoying my time on Bless This Mess! I can’t imagine working on something more exciting than this. I mean, this is literally exactly what I said I wanted. I don’t want to miss a moment of it because I’m thinking of “the next thing,” you know? 

Photography by F. Scott Schafer

 LIFE 

  • The entertainment industry can be very demanding for actors. Do you have a practice for maintaining balance and inner peace?

For me personally, the best way to maintain balance is by being present in the moment, wherever I am. When I’m working my focus is on work. When I’m not working, my focus is on the people around me and my relationships with them. If I’m always thinking about something else then I’m not enjoying the moment that I’m in. 

  • How do your beliefs affect your physical realm?

I think my beliefs definitely help me manage anxiety and stress. There is so much happening all the time and it’s easy to kind of lose control a little bit. If I don’t worry about the future or the past then I have nothing to stress out about! 

 GOOD SOUL 

  • Can you tell us about your work with Share A Meal, an organization that delivers food via food trucks to those in need in LA? How can our readers get involved?

 Share a Meal is one of the most special organizations I’ve ever been a part of. I think everyone should go serve the homeless and hungry in their communities at least once and really listen to what these people have to say. Everyone that I have met has had a unique story to tell and I think everyone would benefit from stopping every once in a while to listen. Through Share A Meal, I have been able to give back to my community by feeding the hungry on their own terms, in their own homes. I don’t know of another organization that does that without an agenda and without judgment. They saw a need and they filled it. People can go to shareameal.net, or their Facebook page at Facebook.com/ShareAMeal to stay up to date on new things happening, as well as which locations are on which nights. Then they just show up ready to love people.

  • Are you involved in any other charity organization or humanitarian cause you would like to mention?

I donate to the Steven Johnson Syndrome every year for my girlfriend Angelina, who is a survivor. It’s a great organization that spreads awareness of SJS through the medical community so that a diagnosis can be made more quickly, and the medication that caused it can be stopped. They also help to provide counseling and emotional support for people suffering, both during and after SJS. 

 CLOSE UP 

  • 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?

There is so much rejection and negativity in this business that it can be really easy to forget why you started. Maintaining my joy through the creative process keeps me from doing it for someone else, and helps me remember what made me want to pursue it in the first place. I create for the love and joy of creating as opposed to creating to get a job. It helps me to love it, even when it doesn’t love me back and that helps me continue to push my momentum forward which ultimately leads to the fulfillment of my goals. 

  • When you hear: “You can be, do and have anything you want,” words from the Abraham-Hicks teachings, what is your take on such a statement?

I think it’s an oversimplification, but I think it’s true. You absolutely can be, do and have anything you want, provided that you’re willing to work for it. You can’t sit around and wait for your dreams to be handed to you, you have to go out and relentlessly pursue your objective. For every story of someone who says they can’t do something, there is a story of someone just like them who has. My teacher always says “luck is the product of preparation meeting opportunity” and I think that’s so true. You can be, do and have anything you want as long as you’re ready when it’s presented to you.


Instagram.com/JT_Neal/
Header Photography by F. Scott Schafer