Justin was born in Los Gatos, California to Robert and Karol Powell. His first introduction to acting was when he and his friends would shoot “SNL” skits in his backyard. At age sixteen he began acting in theatre and became passionately obsessed. He continued to pursue acting and moved to Los Angeles to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Afterwards he began working with Elysium Conservatory Theatre and found a home where he would get to explore his artistic soul and learn to master his craft. Justin loves acting and how art allows him to connect with aspects and impulses in all of humanity that can hopefully wake something in those that watch.
Tell us about a transformative educational experience.
The most transformative educational experience came when I was working with Christopher Cannon. I had always enjoyed acting but never really realized that it was something I may be able to do for a living. That changed when I met Christopher Cannon who challenged me throughout classes and productions to push myself deeper and deeper into roles. He was the first acting teacher that made me believe I can do this and I am eternally grateful for that faith.
What about transformative professional experiences?
When I was able to play John Human during last season’s production of Dark of the Moon, I was driven to go deeper with this character than I ever had before. The methods that our director, Aaron Ganz, used to help us with that proved incredibly beneficial and I spent a majority of my days working on the role and finding unique ways to become the character even more. I also took it upon myself to undergo a physical change for the part. I spent two months before rehearsals building muscle and getting myself to 192 pounds, only to cut for the next two months and get down to 177. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more confident that I was the character than I was with that role and the bar has been set now for future work to always maintain that discipline so that I can find freedom on the other side of form.
Why I do what I do...
I do what I do because of how much I enjoy the connection. I never feel more connected to others than when I am performing. There’s this beautiful connection between audience, and between my fellow actors, and when I do a show I feel this connection with all other actors that have performed that show. I mean, we are doing Romeo and Juliet now, a story that has been around for centuries. When I think about how many other artists have lent their hearts and souls to these characters and brought them to life and how now I am given an opportunity to do the same I feel incredibly humbled. I love getting to connect to aspects of our humanity that we don’t get to everyday. I love that when you truthfully connect to these impulses you have the opportunity to awaken an aspect of humanity in someone else. There is nothing else in this world that brings me the same joy as this.
What about ECT inspires you?
So much. I’m inspired by our community of artists. We have gathered and are constantly searching for artists dedicated to pursuing truth in the moment. These are artists that choose to say “why not” instead of “why”. These are artists that don't go toe first into the pool of truth, but cannonball off the top diving board. It’s impossible not to be inspired when working with these types of people. I’m inspired by the way we choose to go about our work. Aaron sets the tone and it’s one of pride. Pride that we get to do the kind of work we do. We have pride in the story we are aiming to tell and pride in those around us as we see them risk in the moment. We have pride in our artistic home. I’m inspired by our conservatory students. Watching the growth that occurs from week one of our lessons all the way to the final week is astounding and awe inspiring in and of itself. Then you get to watch them go up and kill it in an understudy run through of the MainStage production and I wasn’t crying tears of joy, that was you. There’s a pulse to this place, a heartbeat that is undeniable to those that walk in. We are pursuing art in a pure way and being a part of that pursuit is inspiring to me. Also, Bauer.
Where have you traveled? Where would you like to visit?
London, New York, Paris, Rome, Boston, Vancouver. I would like to travel to Mt. Zion, Venice, Alaska, Russia, Germany, Japan and China amongst others.
My favorite "day-off" event would be...
My favorite day off would start by going to Happy Deli on Gaffey and getting a breakfast sandwich with avocado and some coffee. Then I would pick up my girlfriend (literally). After setting her down I would run to the gym and squeeze in some boxing. Then I would come back and get her and we would go on a nice drive along the coast to our private Tardis (travels through space and time) and we would go on an epic journey through all of time and space. The beauty of traveling by time machine is the day off could go as long as we wanted.
If I had one million dollars I would...
I would immediately put 50 thousand into my savings. Ten thousand would be spread out to family. Twenty thousand would be used for a giant world trip. The last twenty thousand would be used for acting things.
Did you know...
Can play drums, guitar, and is currently learning violin!
Worked at Disneyland as a Jungle Cruise Skipper.
Got a black belt at age fourteen in an effort to be recruited by the Power Rangers. It didn’t happen… yet.