Eric Jepson, contributed photo.
One local man is pursuing his passion and that pursuit has taken him across the country and landed him a role in the latest Hunger Games movie.
Eric Jepson is a working actor who is originally from Sullivan County. And ever since he was a little kid, he enjoyed performing for people.
He didn’t know he would pursue acting when he got older.
“It was never anything like a physical, ‘I want to be an actor’ when I grow up,” he said. “It was never that mindset, but I always loved performing growing up.”
Jepson graduated from Sullivan Central High School in 2009. He went to college at Middle Tennessee State University.
Part of the reason he went to MTSU was to be near Nashville and pursue some of the acting opportunities Nashville presented.
“I wanted to be in that area as well as get a degree,” he said. “Nashville has the biggest entertainment industry in Tennessee and I needed to go to an in-state school, so it kind of just made sense for me to go there.”
While in college he did some student films and some plays. He also took acting classes at a separate acting studio called Actors School USA.
He graduated from MTSU in 2012 with a degree in journalism and a minor in theatre.
Jepson wanted to graduate early from school so he could pursue acting. So in the fall of 2012, he was taking 19 credit hours.
While taking all those credit hours, he also landed a spot on the latest Hunger Games movie, called, “Hunger Games: Catching Fire.”
When the casting department for the movie called him, he got some surprising news.
“I got a call from casting saying that from my audition the director, Francis Lawrence, hand picked me to be in this scene,” he said. “That was huge. I was just very blown away by that.”
When he arrived on set, Lawrence approached him and shook his hand. Some of the stars from the movie were there, including Jennifer Lawrence and Woody Harrelson.
Jepson said filming the scene was a little surreal. He said he is such a fan of the industry that he had to hold back his excitement.
He also thought while he was on set that he was face to face with Jennifer Lawrence, who was making millions of dollars and would be traveling to Hawaii to film the rest of the movie.
And when he was done filming, he would have to go back to school, start studying and sit in class.
“That drive back to school the next day was very humbling,” he said. “You walk into McDonalds and you’re like I was just on set for Catching Fire, this is crazy. It was just a mind blowing experience.”
Jepson’s role in the Hunger Games opened a few doors for him. The same week he shot his scenes in that movie, he signed with a managing agency, Ny-La-Nash Entertainment. Ny-La-Nash has represented such stars as Patrick Dempsey, Sarah Jessica Parker and Raven-Symone.
Jepson was also able to become a member of the Screen Actor’s Guild from his time on the Hunger Games set. He said the process to join SAG took about two years.
In May of 2013, Jepson decided he needed to be closer to the entertainment world. He had a choice between New York or Los Angeles. Since he was a huge fan of the film industry, he decided to move to LA.
He said going from Tennessee to LA was a little bit of a culture shock. Everything from the cost of living to the traffic was much different on the West Coast.
He adjusted well to life in LA and loves living by the beach. He is happy to be so close to the entertainment industry as well. He said Paramount Studios is just down the street from where he lives.
One of his first auditions after signing with Ny-La-Nash was for an ESPN Monday Night Football commercial. He went into the audition thinking he would just have fun and ended up getting the spot on the commercial.
He said he has some other projects in the works for 2014, but couldn’t really talk about them yet.
Jepson feels like his career is just beginning.
“Right now in my career, I feel like I haven’t even started yet,” he said. “I feel like I’m just getting my feet wet and kind of feeling what it’s like to be in the industry. But I’ve been very fortunate to have the projects that I’ve had so far.”