SOMERVILLE, NJ - It''s a long way from the hallways of Immaculata High School to a football field in Austin, Texas, but for Hillsborough actor Louis Jannuzzi, it's another step on his journey to achieve lasting success - not on the football field, but on stage and on the "Big Screen."
Jannuzzi, a 2013 graduate of Immaculata, stars in "Football, Texas," a farcical look at the obsession with high school football in Texas. His character, Jake Ramsey, is the back-up quarterback for the Football High School Pigskins, who is called upon to step in and take the place of starting quarterback Conor Layne, who broke both legs in a pre-season game.
Produced by Gatorade and the Bleacher/Report website, the third episode in the four-part web series comes out tonight (Dec. 6) on YouTube. The concluding episode comes out next Wednesday, Dec. 13.
Jannuzzi, 22, began honing his craft at Immaculata High School as a freshman.
“There are two big things at Immaculata in the music department, the marching band and spring play,” Jannuzzi said.
He opted for the stage and nailed down the lead in “Children of Eden” in his sophomore year.
“I played instruments, tennis and scccer, but when it came dwn to it, theater was what I loved most,” he added.
He was also influenced by his father, Luigi, a former English teacher at Immaculata and a professional playwright, with 27 plays to his credit including the acclaimed “Bench at the Edge.”
“My dad has helped me every step of the way,” Jannuzzi said.
His mother teaches theology at Immaculata.
Jannuzzi and his parents all live in Hillsborough.
“I grew up with it my whole life, my dad writing and producing, I was surrounded by it; I’m the actor, he’s the writer, we’re in the same business we know and love. Hopefully I’ll be as accomplished as he is in my own field.”
There was no doubt Jannuzzi would pursue his vocation once he graduated Immaculata, and chose to attend Desales University in Bethlehem, Pa.
“It seemed pretty much like Immaculata with dormitories,” Jannuzzi said; but more important, “it has a fantastic theater program,” he added.
He auditioned for the lead in the school’s fall show, a Neil Simon play, and nailed down the role before his freshman classes began. “It got great reviews, a great response; I knew I wanted to do this, and I just kept on doing it.”
As his college career progressed, there were more roles, and increasingly, $50 round-trip bus trips to New York City to audition.
His senior year was spent researching agencies, casting directors and learning the ropes, the intricacies and vagaries of auditioning; the bus trips began, once every two weeks, then once a week, “whenever I was free and could get out of class, just to get my name out there.”
“I wouldn’t trade my experience there for the world,” he said.
Jannuzzi graduated DeSales cum laude with a B.A. degree in Musical Theater.
He's been busy, acting in small troupes and regional theater, earning a paycheck, with professional equity credits for performances in "Evita," "Les Miserables," "Julius Caesar" and "Fiddler on the Roof."
That’s how he found out about “”Football, Texas.”
He auditioned, read his lines with a respectable Texan’s accent, threw a football, walked out the door and hoped for the best.
“There were at least another 10 kids who auditioned, and we all looked the same, and when I was walking out the lobby, there was another group of 10 kids. We all looked the same. You just give it your best,” he said. “There are a lot of people who can do it just like me.”
Three days later, he received a call back from the casting director; the next day, he was asked to read with another person; another 3 to 4 days later, he was offered the role of Jake Ramsey.
“They flew me out to Austin for the week, did the shoot for a week, it was great, almost like I was on vacation,” he said.
Since his success with “Football, Texas,” Jannuzzi has filmed a segment for the Discovery Channel, signed a contract for a three-month regional theater stint outside Philadelphia, and has a minor role in an upcoming NBC series called “Rise” that will air in the spring.
“Right now, it’s working out; I owe it to my training and family supporting me 100 percent of the way, to shoot for the stars and go for my dreams; I couldn’t do it without my family helping out.
“When you go into New York City and audition for a week straight and you don’t get a call back, it stings,” Jannuzzi said. It’s rough, but then there’s that that one audition that goes well and you don’t have to worry about paying the rent for an entire year, that's just how it works.”
Learn more about Jannuzzi and his career online at www.louisjannuzzi.com