Austin Basis plays JT on the hit CW show, BEAUTY & THE BEAST, and I was thrilled to be able to ask him about the show, acting, and more!
A complete bio for Austin can be found at his website.
Kristin Centorcelli: You play JT Forbes, a scientist and childhood friend of Vincent Keller (the “Beast”) on BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. Will you tell us more about the show and your character? What kind of prep have you had to do for the role?
Austin Basis: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is a modern adaption of the classic fairytale set in post-9/11 New York City. It’s a dark, gritty version with elements of romance, action, comedy, and supernatural/sci-fi mythology. There’s a heart to the show that is often missing from this genre, which is something I think has really sucked the fans in. I play J.T. Forbes, who’s your average biochemist-gun-toting-hacker-genius with a sarcastic sense of humor and courageously devoted loyalty! He’s an “everyman” that often exceeds expectations and is an unconventional underdog hero that usually finds himself in harm’s way. He’s even a romantic who is not so hopeless anymore. J.T. is a really fun character to play!
The writers have really layered him with humor, intelligence and a past full of secrets and experience that has driven a lot of his actions. He’s the most three-dimensional character I’ve ever played. The only prep I do is study the biochemistry and hacking terms I don’t know, so that I don’t look like a fool when the camera rolls! Being a Type 1 Diabetic for almost 30 years, I was more than prepared to deal with vials and syringes!
KC: You interact quite a bit with fans of the show (the “Beasties”). What do you enjoy most about that?
AB: Yes, I am quite connected with the Beastie FANmily! What I love most about our relationship is the mutual respect and positivity. They respect the work the cast and crew put into making the show they love (and watch over and over!), and in return, we respect their passion, enthusiasm and efforts with regards to earning us renewals with multiple campaigns, raising money for great causes, creating BATB-inspired fanfic and art, etc. It’s a symbiotic and synergistic relationship; and one that I greatly miss from my days doing live theatre. The shared energy between an actor and an audience is a special thing and should be cherished.
KC: You use your celebrity status to raise awareness for diabetes, which you have had since you were a child. What’s been one of the most rewarding parts of your work with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation?
AB: The most rewarding aspect of being an ambassador for the JDRF is definitely the interaction I’ve had with kids that have Type 1 Diabetes. There’s a distinguishable and tangible hope in their eyes that tells me I have affected their life positively by my example. I can also see a sense of relief in their parents’ faces when they meet me. They can see a positive, healthy, normal future for their kid and know that they can be anything they want to in life despite having to live with Type 1 Diabetes. Some of these parents have even reached out for advice through my Facebook fan page. It’s extremely fulfilling to be able to help someone that directly.
KC: Landing a hit TV show or film is tough for any actor. What advice would you give to an aspiring actor? Is there anything you know now that you wish you’d known when you started out in the business?
AB: Well, I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t learned from my mistakes. I think advice is important, but everyone’s path has to be paved by their own experience- mistakes and successes. There are no steadfast rules to succeed, only examples to follow. I’ve learned a lot of lessons both in school and in the business. I try to do the best work possible every time out, and I continuously work to grow as an actor, so that with each new episode, show, film, etc., I can be better than I was last time. It’s an imperfect science and I don’t always succeed. I rely on hard work, preparation, relaxation, an ever-expanding knowledge of self, and remaining in class. As an actor, I can work for the rest of my life at any age in a wide range of roles, so my hope is that a constant exploration during these years will yield richer work as I get older. I also think it’s important to have fun! People forget this, I forget this, especially when the pressure is on. The goal is to look at each opportunity to act, whether on stage, on a TV show, in a commercial, in a film or even in an audition, as a chance to do what you love, share your experience and raise your voice.
KC: It’s so exciting that Beauty and the Beast has been renewed for a 3rd season! Obviously you can’t give away too much, but can you give us a bit of a teaser as to what’s in store for JT and the gang in the new season?
AB: I’m not a writer, only an actor, but I know the Beasties will be in for a wild ride filled with twists and turns, new foes and revelations, and as requested, romance! I believe Season 3 will center on Vincent and Catherine finding their footing as a stable, steady couple in the face of new forces and conflicts. Similarly, JT and Tess will be at the early stages of their newly committed relationship and have to balance their growth as a couple without getting too wrapped up in the drama that is #VinCat! I think more mythology will also be explored and challenge everyone to answer the question: Who are we?