You know Jason Dolley as the goofy, music-loving Newt on Disney Channel's Cory In The House and time traveler Virgil from Minutemen, both of which have recently been released on DVD. Jason is definitely a talented young star on the rise...and a great role model, balancing a busy schedule with schoolwork and some very cool hobbies. He took a few minutes to talk to IML about what's up in his life right now!
IML: Minutemen was a really cool story with a great message. Was there a part of it that really hit home with you?
Jason: You know, I really liked the relationship between Virgil and Charlie. How they met, and how they were together. In the beginning he didn't want to be friends with Charlie but he was the only person he could hang out with. By the end of the movie, Virgil realizes that people are people and you should find people you want to be friends with. I like the way their friendship builds and changes.
IML: A big part of the story is about bullying. Have you ever had any experiences with bullying yourself?
Jason: Fortunately, no! I went to a pretty small school from the beginning all the way up, so I knew everyone, everyone knew me. There really wasn't very much of that at all. It was a private Christian school and I think that had a lot to do with it, in the way everyone treated everyone else.
IML: If you could travel back to any time period, which would you choose?
Jason: You know, honestly I would think I would go way back to Biblical times and be one of the guys who saw Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. It would be so cool to see what he was really like in person.
IML: In the past, you've been involved in a youth group at your church. Do you still participate in that?
Jason: Totally! I can't wait for this Wednesday because it's been seven weeks since I've been able to go. Most of the people there I've known all my life and I can go there and just be one of the guys. These people know me as me. It means so much to have that in my life.
IML: You do really well in school and academic competitions, and you're able to do all that on top of a busy schedule with work. Do you have any tips for time management?
Jason: I think what helps a lot for me is that when I'm on set, I have to be schooled for three hours a day. So that gives me plenty of time to get things done, working on my own. Being home schooled is awesome because you can make your own schedule, so as far as time management, it's up to you how much you get done and when you get it done. It's all got to get done; how you do it is up to you. You need a lot of self-discipline, but luckily I have it.
IML: Now that Cory In The House has been going strong for a while now, how have things changed with your character and with the cast in general?
Jason: Well, now we're learning about Newt's hidden talents, which is cool. Like his ability to Riverdance, and the fact that he braids really well. He's a really incredible braider on top of being an incredible guitarist! We see the softer side of him, especially in the episode where he meets up with his camp crush. On the set, a lot of the crew had been together from working on That's So Raven and some of us were new members, but by the second season everyone was all a big family. For sure, everyone was friends with everyone. It's very intense during the week, we all spend so much time together, then on the weekends we go home and see our other friends. It's a good balance.
IML: You're into some "unconventional" hobbies like paintball, hacky sack, and yo-yo tricks. How did you get into them?
Jason: It's hard because the traditional sports are the ones that schools offer, so if you want to try something else you really have to go looking for it. With hacky sack, somebody brought one to recess in sixth grade and it kind of all went downhill from there! The same with the yoyo's! One kid brought a yoyo one day and people started getting them. I just kept at it and found that I really loved it.
IML: Do you have any personal and professional role models?
Jason: Personally, honestly, I think my dad. Because he's done exactly what I want to do someday: He's created a great home environment, where if there's any tension, it's gone by the next day and everyone's really cool with everybody else. Professionally, I have to say Robert Redford. Because one time somebody asked me who would I want playing me, and I would want him because he could convince me that he was me!
IML: Are there any charities or special causes you're involved with?
Jason: I think the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles, where kids who have cancer or other serious illnesses have to spend months. We do a thing called Teen Impact where we go there and have a party with family members. Groups of us will go room to room and every time I go, it hits me as a real wake up call. This is what these kids go through every day. They live in this hospital. Anything I can do for that is really cool. It really gives you perspective.
IML: What's your next project?
Jason: I just finished a Disney Channel movie called Hatching Pete. Me and Mitchel Musso are best friends. Mitchel's character is the school mascot -- a big chicken -- and my character is really shy. The school orders a new chicken head and Mitchel is allergic to it so he asks me to fill in for one night. I do a great job and kind of come out of my shell, while Mitchel gets all the credit. So we kind of switch places and obviously it affects our friendship. It's a really cool story!
IML: Thanks, Jason, for talking to us! And good luck!
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