One Life to Live’s Jason Tam Talks To Soaps.com!
Jason (Markko) & Brittany (Langston) (ABC)
He can dance, he can sing and he’s captured the attention of fans everywhere… He’s One Life to Live’s Jason Tam (Markko)!
Coming off of the Fourth of July, Jason admitted he spent the holiday resting… “I’m doing a show right now called The Black Sutis. It’s a rock musical so I’m screaming my face off.” However, he did take some time out to chat with me about his career, the show’s Prom Night: The Musical, his fellow castmates and the current pregnancy storyline.
Though Jason had no trouble collecting a daytime fan base, we wanted to touch base on his very impressive on and off Broadway credits and wondered how his last on-stage performance as Paul in A Chorus Line was different than performing as Markko on One Life to Live. “Paul and Markko are so different, and for a few months while ACL and OLTL overlapped I was playing them both at the same time so it was a cool challenge to keep them distinct. Paul is shy, self-conscious, has a huge inner emotional life that’s repressed and has a very rigid physicality – like a wild animal that doesn’t want to be spotted,” Jason admits. “All of this stems from his feelings of shame and inadequacy. Markko on the other hand is confident and proud to be who he is. In his head, he’s a genius in a world of idiots. He knows he has a solution for everything, including everyone else’s problems and is unafraid to share his opinions with the world. Markko’s physicality is much looser than Paul’s.”
Thinking back to the first time Jason’s character lit up the screen in May of 2007, through his awesome voice and snappy dancing, I was curious if Jason was one to sing when he was little or if it had to be learned from the script. “I’ve been singing ever since I can remember. I started in the choir of the Church that I went to when I was about 5 years old, and have been singing ever since.” Given the fact that Jason clearly has many years of acting ahead of him, I asked where he saw his future: in soaps or going back and forth from television to stage performances? “I want to continue to do both television and theatre. Even though it’s a crazy schedule, I wouldn’t mind doing double duty again and being in a Broadway show and One Life to Live at the same time.”
Though it’s clear Jason loves both sides of the business, we thought there must be something he gets out of Broadway productions verses his role on One Life to Live… “If you’d asked me this six months ago I would’ve said “process”. Because OLTL, like all Soaps, basically shoots an entire episode every single day. There isn’t a lot of time for on-my-feet rehearsal with my fellow actors,” Jason explained. “On the other hand, with ACL [A Chorus Line] we had a month of rehearsals and then a month and a half of previews in San Francisco before we opened in New York. That was a lot of time to get familiar with both the material and with my character. But now that I’ve been on OLTL for a year, I’m feeling more familiar with Markko and it’s kind of like this past year has been one long rehearsal process.”
Okay, so we all have been very impressed with the younger One Life to Live crowd for quite some time now, so I had to ask what the funniest thing about working with fellow actors Brittany Underwood (Langston), Brandon Buddy (Cole) and Kristen Alderson (Starr) is… “They’re all crazy fun to work with!” Jason excitedly says. “It’s hilarious and scary at the same time seeing Kristen with a baby bump – she has to wear this weird strap-on-hump to make it look like she’s pregnant.”
We really got to see these actors shine together during the Prom Night: The Musical storyline, so I was curious to know if Jason’s on-stage experience gave him an advantage over the other actors during the scenes. “My on-stage experience made learning all the dances and songs pretty easy because that stuff is like second nature to me. But I’d say that the majority of people that work on OLTL have some kind of stage experience. Kristen goes to a performing arts high school and was in Annie when she was younger. And Britt was in Mother Courage with Meryl Streep two summers ago. The only one in the teen storyline that hasn’t’ done a lot of theatre is Brandon but you wouldn’t be able to tell that from watching it cause he worked hard and did a great job.”
When asked what Jason’s favorite scene from the special was, he admitted, and rightly so… “Filming "You're the Freak" was a lot of fun cause the choreography for that was the most hip-hop-ish of all the numbers. And it was also the first time that Markko got to really flirt with Langston.”
Given his choice of a storyline for Markko, Langston, Cole and Starr, Jason shared what he’d create for the group. “I think it would be really interesting if Langston developed some kind of eating disorder, and the four of us all had to deal with it. Maybe that's just me being obsessed with that Intervention show but I think addiction is such an interesting topic. Why did this behavior develop in the first place? How did it start unnoticed? Or if it was noticed why did people let it go on for so long before putting their foot down? I think it's something that could push the group's friendship to the limit.”
I have to agree with Jason, that would be an excellent storyline - about something that affects many teenagers in this day and age. Speaking of friendship, we know the four-some is tight onscreen. Here’s what Jason had to say about their off-screen relationship. “The four of us go see movies together. Or sometimes we'll all just hang out at someone's apartment, usually Brandon's, and play games like charades or taboo or something and be stupid together. And we always eat together at the ABC cafeteria across the street when we're working.”
Wondering where school fit in, or if the gang attended or studied together, Jason explained that while they don’t he did visit Britt a few months ago at Manhattanville where she goes to school. “I got to meet all her friends and went to a basketball game cause her boyfriend Eddie's on the team,” Jason said.
“Do your fellow classmates and/or friends watch you on the show?” I asked, to which Jason replied, “Most of my friends don't watch the show religiously but they all tune in every now and then, especially if there's something crazy going on in Llanview. I also get a lot of "I saw you in the gym the other day!" because I guess a lot of my friends work out between 2:00 PM and 3:00 PM.”
To close out our talk, I wanted to get Jason’s take on a controversial topic that has caused many conflicting emotions throughout the show’s fan base: Starr’s Pregnancy Storyline. Some are all for the public awareness, while others have been shocked that the writers would put a sixteen year old through this. However, when I asked Jason what he would tell fans to help with public awareness where teenage pregnancy is concerned, he said, “Comprehensive Sex Education is important because knowledge is power. I'm sure they have only the best intentions but I think it's crazy that there are people out there who think that Abstinence Only Sex Ed should be taught in schools. Of course it should ALWAYS be stressed that abstinence is the one and only sure fire way to prevent pregnancy and STD's, but I sincerely believe that kids need to know all the facts about safe sex and birth control options.”
Soaps.com will be sure to stay in touch with Jason, and we look forward to seeing what the show has planned for his character next! We wish you all the best, Jason - in everything you do!