Our staff writer, Fiona Connor, speaks to Jono about acting, his lifestyle and the way to win his heart…
If you haven’t seen Jono Kenyon on TV2’s hit show Step Dave, you may recognize him from your social media newsfeed as one third of the musical trio ‘The Bros NZ’… if you’re still unfamiliar here’s what you need to know. Jono is the multi-talented heart throb who has just wrapped filming the second season of Step Dave in which Jono plays the love interest of a woman 16 years his senior. As if a lead role on a NZ drama series wasn’t enough, Jono and his two drama school friends now flatmates, James Tito from Modern Maori Quartet and Shorty St’s Richard Osborne have formed a music group, giving a fresh take on classics with some undeniable chemistry and soulful energy.
Fiona Connor speaks to Jono about acting, his lifestyle and the way to win his heart…
When did you discover your passion for acting and how did you make your dream a reality?
During high school I never really got cast in the school shows as I wasn’t the best singer. So during 6th form I figured I’m not going to wait around for someone to give me an opportunity to do something I enjoy, I wrote a full length musical and cast myself as the lead, we sold out 4 nights at the local 450 seater theatre, it was an absolute blast. After that I had the confidence to feel that perhaps I could take ownership of this hobby and make it my career. The following year I audition for the National drama school and the rest is history.
Do you think living in New Zealand prevents breakout talents to shine through considering our size and already large talent pool?
In this business it’s tricky anywhere in the world. But yes I’d say New Zealand has far fewer jobs on offer compared to actors available. So many stars have to align, there are so many variables and factors as to whether you land a role: Your look, your age, your energy, how you look next to other members of the cast, your experience, your accent, your comedic skill, you physicality, your availability and so on. I like to think at the end of the day once you’re in front of the camera it comes down to what you have to offer as an actor. It’s different to intellectual careers where people with the best qualifications get the best jobs. With acting sometimes it’s the person that fits the role the most for a whole range of factors, not just ability,
How about internationally, does coming from New Zealand give an advantage or disadvantage in terms of getting noticed, in your opinion?
Point of differences can be both a hinder and an advantage. For me, time will tell, stay tuned…
What do you think it takes as an actor and a person to land a notable role?
First and foremost you have to believe you are capable of landing that role before the opportunity even presents itself. There can be a lot of rejection in this game, so keeping that self believe and drive is critical. You also have to be a person people can work with. Having the lead in a show is a responsibility, you set the mood of the set which ripples through all areas of production. We’ve all heard stories of Divas and so forth, having a lead role is a privilege few get to experience, but many want for – so it should be treated with respect and should command all of your energy and effort. If you are the lead, you must lead.
How do you stay motivated and optimistic when waiting for call backs or looking for roles?
Because in my mind it’s never a maybe. Its an inevitable, the only question is when – but that’s a question I don’t need to answer, it’ll come when it comes I just have to stay the course and keep focused.
What would be your advice for anyone looking to get into acting?
Want it more than you want a stable income from a 9-5 job. Be honest with yourself. Where do you fit in the current industry? What do you need to adjust or change to get what you want. For example if you’re dream is to be the next Thor and you weigh 60kg, hit the gym! Don’t sit around waiting for it to come to you. Take ownership of your career and back yourself 100%.
You’ve recently wrapped shooting Step Dave Season 2 – what’s next for you?
I’ve taken a trip over to Australia to look for representation over there. I may do the same in LA soon. My flatmates and I have also pitched for Creative NZ’s $100,000 webisodes grant so we have been filming a pilot for that which is a mocumentary around our ‘boy band” The Bros NZ. And of course hopefully Step Dave season 3!
What does your day to day lifestyle consist of when you are not shooting?
Lot’s of sleeping in late and chilling with the bros. No different to anyone else really, I try to keep in shape and stay creative. Love jamming music with my flatties and playing the odd computer game here and there when I fancy revisiting my teen years and getting into geek mode. Also enjoy a few beers on the weekends, although someone came up to me recently and said “you’re wearing the same outfit when I last saw you out”, so perhaps I’ll tone that back a little…
What values do you look for in the people you surround yourself with?
This is one of the most important areas of my life. You are influenced both consciously and sub consciously by those you surround yourself with. I probably only have about 2-3 super close friends and 5-6 friends, but I know they are all legit. I trust them implicitly and their loyalty is reciprocated. I often get a little weary when someone says they have 20 best friends; I don’t know how sustainable this is, they’re either a fantastic chameleon or their idea of friendship differs to mine. I’m lucky to live with my best mates who keep me balanced, have my back and there’s never a moment where I feel they have any hidden agenda or selfishness. I hope I offer them this too. If you have friends who negative people or people who make you feel uneasy at times, it’s never too late to change. You may have to feel a little lonely for a while in order to feel more loved than ever.
What does your own personal grooming routine consist of?
I’ll be the first to admit that I use hairspray. I never let myself get in a situation where I have no hairspray. I seriously look about 6 years younger with my hair shampoo’d and un-groomed. One of my mates reckons I look like a Catholic school boy yet to hit puberty who has made an oath of abstinence. Very specific.
What do you look for in a girl?
Genuine. If she is genuine you can compromise on her flaws. A girl who is flawless but fake is the opposite of what I think innately attracts a man. It’s interesting meeting girls as an actor as I get to see the two extremes often, in sometimes very amusing and bemusing ways. Be real, and what you get back will be real. It’s what we all want at the end of the day, real connection. Sometimes we feel we have to be someone else and load ourselves with irrelevant, status boosting bullshit that offers nothing in the long run other than a momentary ego boost of feeling cool. I’d prefer to talk to a girl that’s visibly nervous than a girl who tries to hide her nerves by telling me about all the “celebrities” she knows. And as an actor, I think I’m pretty good at identifying the truth and whats all an act.
When it comes to a girl’s make-up is there anything that makes your cringe at first sight?
To be honest I don’t really think about this too much, unless of course you have tear drop painted under your eye or something like that. But I’d definitely say that more natural make up is more attractive than ‘glam’ get ups.
Easiest way to your heart?
Be yourself, be real. And cook a mean curry.
WORDS: Fiona Connor
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