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James Burleson is Work Ethic Personified

What does it take to make it as a Hollywood actor?

Some would say it takes 1% luck, 9% looks, and the other 90%… a lot of hard work.

Most people aren’t willing to put in the work, even if they were blessed with luxe and a tiny bit of luck. This is why in a competitive landscape of hundreds of thousands of aspiring actors, only a very few make it to your living room.

Accomplished and rising actor James Burleson is one of them.

James Burleson is the hardest-working man in Hollywood, with an incredible track record in just a little over a decade in the industry. You can follow James on Instagram @jburlesonactor. A United States Air Force veteran with 8 years of service, James concluded his service in 2011 to pursue a full-time acting career. His work ethic and perseverance helped him make the leap from secure military future to the unpredictable waves of the entertainment world. 

“It was an enormous risk leaving a secure, military role into an insecure position, but I’m so glad I took the risk.”

Incredibly, James has acted in over 80 different productions, handling a wide range of roles in different, complex genres. In 2022 alone, James has acted in 6 projects including the Lifetime series #TextMeWhenYouGetHome as well as two feature films, Mister Gates (Dondaga Films) and Homeboys (NSM Production & JF Bailey Films), both expected for release in 2023. And the phone calls keep coming in.

But for James, acting isn’t just a business move. It’s heart and soul. “My passion behind acting is escaping into another dimension of empathy to where the audience can escape to connect and relate, thereby making an impact… I knew from the time I was a little boy I wanted to be an Actor. I grew up in a military family, as my father served for 26 years in the United States Air Force (USAF). I had no ties or connections in the entertainment industry. I had to put forth all the efforts and actions into getting to know the business on my own. I went through many years of acting as an extra on productions, acting in many student films and short films. All of that eventually led to bigger opportunities like getting cast in feature films as well as episodes on various TV productions. Where there is a will, there is a way. My motivation and perseverance in doing what I love to do will never die.”

James has had plenty of practice in perseverance, including things like last-minute or unexplained rejections. “You never know what a Casting Director is thinking, so do not worry about something you cannot control, like rejection. It will show in your face, and you most likely will not book the audition. Also, treat each audition as if you are having fun. Even if you do not book it, use each audition as a learning experience to succeed and grow stronger in your craft.”

James isn’t slowing down. He aims to expand to over 100 credits within the next few years. “I’m a professional, and I’m devoted to mastering characters using methods of instinct as well as strong, in-depth improvisational skills. My goal is to make a cinematic impact on global audiences.”

How does James define success?

“Success is achieved by taking fearful risks. Whether you succeed or fail at a risk, you still win by learning from each and every experience. It makes you stronger and less afraid in your future.”

You’ve probably seen James. Some of James’s most familiar work includes an episode of Mystery Diners on the Food Network, where he played a manager who steals a barbecue sauce recipe from his uncle, the owner, and a role on Investigation Discovery’s Most Evil, the series finale of the show, in which he played a serial killer named Levi King. He also played Sean Penn and Jim Toth on two separate episodes of “The Price of Fame” on the REELZ channel. One of James’s most proud accomplishments is the film “The Johnny Starr Story,” based on a true story about a musician who dies mysteriously with his band in a plane crash. 

Learn more about James:

Official website:


Demo Reel:


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