Who is Jake Epstein?
Jake is a Canadian actor, singer and writer, who has become a beloved figure in both film and on television, and an accomplished artist on Broadway stages. He’s perhaps known best for his role of Craig Menning in the hit TV show “Degrassi: The Next Generation”. Known for his versatility and distinctive performances, Jake has made a name for himself in the world of acting that stretches beyond borders.
Early Life and Education
Born on 16 January 1987, in Toronto, Ontario, Jake is the son of Kathy Kacer, a noted writer and winner of the Jewish Book Award for Holocaust Literature; this creative and intellectual home environment nurtured Jake’s interest in the performing arts. He began his journey at the Claude Watson School for the Performing Arts and later attended Earl Haig Secondary School in Toronto.
Jake always had an aptitude for acting and during his high school years, he made it a point to immerse himself in drama. This passion would lead him to study acting at the National Theatre School of Canada, where he would refine his craft.
Roles in Movies
Jake made his movie debut at 13 years old, in the Disney Channel comedy “Quints”, which centered on a young girl (played by Kimberly J. Brown) who desperately tried to get her parents’ attention after they welcomed quintuplets into the family.
Four years later, Jake appeared in the award-winning TV drama “Crown Heights”, which starred Mario Van Peebles and Howie Mandel.
One of Jake’s standout roles came in 2007, when he was featured in the comedy-drama “Charlie Bartlett”. Directed by Jon Poll, the film is a quirky exploration of adolescent struggle and the need for acceptance and understanding. The story revolves around its title character, Charlie Bartlett, a wealthy, intelligent, and somewhat troubled teenager, played by the late Anton Yelchin, who begins offering therapy and prescription drugs to his peers in his new public high school. In the movie, Jake played Dustin Lauderbach, one of Charlie’s schoolmates. Although not a leading role, Jake’s character is crucial to the dynamic of the school environment. Dustin is one of the school’s more popular students, and his interactions with Charlie provide an excellent backdrop for the latter’s exploits.
In the following years, Jake starred in two “Degrassi” spin-off movies, “Degrassi Spring Break Movie” (2008) and “Degrassi Goes Hollywood” (2009).
In 2015, he played the supporting character Marc the Artist in the critically-acclaimed comedy-drama “4th Man Out”, directed by Andrew Nackman. In the same year, Jake also appeared in the award-winning drama “Borealis”, as well as in the biographical film “Full Out”, further proving his ability to take on serious and challenging roles.
Jake’s role in the film “Mouthpiece” (2018) was another key point in his career. In the critically acclaimed drama, Jake played the role of Danny, a struggling artist navigating a complex emotional landscape. His portrayal was noted for its depth and sensitivity, earning him high praise from critics.
In the following years, Jake appeared in movies such as “A Storybook Christmas” (2019), and “The Danger Next Door” (2021), with his latest film appearance being in the 2021 Christmas movie “Candy Cane Candidate”.
Roles in TV Series
Jake made his TV series debut in an episode of the children’s series “Ricky’s Room” in 1999. In the following year, he was cast in the Canadian sci-fi drama “The Zack Files” as Can Dunleavey. The series aired from 2000 through 2002, and was based on the eponymous series of children’s books written by Dan Greenburg. It revolves around a young boy, Zack Greenburg, who finds himself in the middle of paranormal phenomena, and records his experiences in ‘The Zack Files’. Jake played the role of Zack’s best friend, who along with another friend, Spencer Sharpe, helps Zack navigate through the strange occurrences that they encounter.
Jake’s breakthrough TV series role came in 2002 when he was cast as Craig Manning in “Degrassi: The Next Generation”. The series is part of the “Degrassi” franchise and is the fourth series in the “Degrassi” universe that began with “The Kids of Degrassi Street” in 1979. It gained a massive following, both in Canada and internationally, due to its realistic portrayal of adolescent life and its readiness to tackle hard-hitting issues like substance abuse, mental health, sexuality, and relationships.
Jake Epstein Success, success and more success. Jake keeps raising the bar in quality and quantity of work. Just to…
Posted by Centre for the Arts on Friday, August 31, 2018
Jake joined the cast of “Degrassi: The Next Generation” in the second season, playing the role of Craig Manning, a who that would quickly become a fan favorite. Craig is a passionate musician with a complicated family background and a series of traumatic experiences that led him to grapple with mental health issues, specifically bipolar disorder. Jake’s portrayal of Craig earned him recognition from the critics and audience alike, and he was nominated for two Young Artist Awards for best Leading Young Actor in 2003 and 2004. He left the series in 2009, but reprised his role in two episodes of “Degrassi: Next Class” in 2016.
Jake continued to shine in other television series, making appearances in series such as “Being Erica”, “Remedy” and “Ransom”. Perhaps one of Jake’s most fascinating roles came when he was cast in the political drama series “Designated Survivor” – his character, Chuck Russink, is a tech-savvy analyst who aids in unraveling complex political mysteries. This role allowed Jake to display a different facet of his acting skills, dealing with suspense and high stakes scenarios.
From 2017 through 2019, Jake had a recurring role in the popular American legal drama “Suits”, written and created by Aaron Korsh. Joining the series in its seventh season, Jake took on the role of Brian Altman Jr., a junior lawyer.
More recently, in 2022, Jake appeared in ten episodes of the family adventure drama “The Hardy Boys”, created by Jason Stone and Steve Cochrane, and which starred Alexander Elliot and Rohan Campbell. In the same year, he also had a supporting role as Alphonso Hargreeves in the fourth season of the popular Netflix adventure comedy “The Umbrella Academy”.
Jake first made his mark on Broadway by portraying the character Gerry Goffin in the Tony-nominated smash hit “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical”. He also notably took on the challenging roles of Spider-Man and Peter Parker in “Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark”. His off-Broadway work includes starring in “Straight”, which was a New York Times critic’s pick.
Moreover, he’s toured extensively, delivering performances at major theatres across the US in popular Broadway productions such as “Spring Awakening” and “American Idiot” by Green Day. More recently, Jake premiered the character of Jack in Ken Ludwig’s “Dear Jack, Dear Louise” at the prestigious Arena Stage in Washington, DC.
Love Life and Relationships
In the midst of his busy career, Jake has also managed to find love. He’s been married to Vanessa Smythe, a fellow actor, and poet, since 2018; the pair met during their time at the National Theatre School of Canada and have been together ever since, supporting each other’s careers while maintaining a low-key, private relationship.
Hobbies and Interesting Facts
Off-screen, Jake is an ardent music lover, and his passion for singing and songwriting is evident in his roles in musical theater productions. He also plays the guitar and has even performed at several music festivals.
In addition to his love for music, Jake is also a sports fan. He’s particularly fond of baseball, and is a devoted supporter of his home city’s team, the Toronto Blue Jays.
Jake is also known to be an avid reader, largely influenced by his mother’s literary background. His favorite genres range from historical fiction to biographies.
With a career that spans over two decades and features significant roles in film, television, and Broadway productions, Jake Epstein as of 2023, his an estimated net worth of more than $3 million, a testament to his successful career in the entertainment industry.