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Hollywood is For Those Who Persevere: James Burleson

Many people move to Los Angeles every week in hopes of striking it big as the next great Hollywood actor or filmmaker. Armed with talent and compliments from others, they jump into the pool, not knowing how deep it is, how many other swimmers are in there, and how hard they’ll have to work to get from one place to the next in their career.

Many don’t make it, even those with significant talent.

This is why succeeding in Hollywood takes a very rare combination of talent, perseverance, intelligence, people skills, and a whole lot more.

One actor understands this journey perfectly.

James Burleson has left a powerful imprint on each project he’s involved with. You can follow James on Instagram @jburlesonactor.

James’s military experience taught him the discipline, grit, and drive required to succeed in an industry as incomprehensibly competitive as Hollywood.

James concluded his USAF service in 2011 to pursue a full-time acting career. “It was an enormous risk leaving a secure, military role into an insecure position, but I’m so glad I took the risk.”

Since then, James has acted in over 80 different productions, handling a wide range of roles in different, complex genres. In 2022 alone, James has acted in 6 projects including the Lifetime series #TextMeWhenYouGetHome as well as two feature films, Mister Gates (Dondaga Films) and Homeboys (NSM Production & JF Bailey Films), both expected for release in 2023.

But James’ drive and discipline blends well with his ability to understand human experiences and emotion. “My passion behind acting is escaping into another dimension of empathy to where the audience can escape to connect and relate, thereby making an impact.”

Acting has always been a first priority for James. “I knew from the time I was a little boy I wanted to be an Actor. I grew up in a military family, as my father served for 26 years in the United States Air Force (USAF). I had no ties or connections in the entertainment industry. I had to put forth all the efforts and actions into getting to know the business on my own. I went through many years of acting as an extra on productions, acting in many student films and short films. All of that eventually led to bigger opportunities like getting cast in feature films as well as episodes on various TV productions. Where there is a will, there is a way. My motivation and perseverance in doing what I love to do will never die.”

James learned early on that in the brutally competitive world of Hollywood, you can’t always build your entire sense of self-worth on one or two people’s comments. You need to take what you can, learn what you can, and keep going until an opportunity opens up. “You never know what a Casting Director is thinking, so do not worry about something you cannot control, like rejection. It will show in your face, and you most likely will not book the audition. Also, treat each audition as if you are having fun. Even if you do not book it, use each audition as a learning experience to succeed and grow stronger in your craft.”

James aims to expand to over 100 credits within the next few years, and given his current track record, he’s well on his way. “I’m a professional, and I’m devoted to mastering characters using methods of instinct as well as strong, in-depth improvisational skills. My goal is to make a cinematic impact on global audiences.”

James featured in an episode of Mystery Diners on the Food Network, where he played a manager who steals a barbecue sauce recipe from his uncle, the owner, as well as a key role on Investigation Discovery’s Most Evil, the series finale of the show, in which he played a serial killer named Levi King. He also played Sean Penn and Jim Toth on two separate episodes of “The Price of Fame” on the REELZ channel. One of James’s most proud accomplishments is the film “The Johnny Starr Story,” a true story about a musician who dies with his band.

Learn more about James:

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