If the name Jakoby Appleby sounds familiar, perhaps it’s because the Year 12 student is a veteran of numerous local theatre productions.
It all began when Jakoby, then in upper primary school, was enthralled by his older brother’s performance in the 2013 Nexus Bendigo Youth Theatre production of Annie.
“I remember thinking ‘I want to be up there too’,” he recalls.
In Year 8, the aspiring actor joined Nexus himself.
“I’d never been truly ‘fed’ by anything I’d tried before—including four musical instruments,” Jakoby says. “Although I had friends, I always felt like the weird kid.
“Nexus changed everything. I found my people and the sense of community I’d wanted for a long time.”
But it wasn’t until Jakoby was cast in a supporting lead role in the 2017 Nexus production of The Phantom of the Opera that he felt like he could act.
He’s also involved with ‘Tribe’—Bendigo Theatre Company’s (BTC) youth arm—which has given him other fantastic opportunities to tread the boards.
Two shows cancelled due to Covid last year—‘Oliver’ (with Nexus) and ‘Cats’ (with BTC Tribe)—will hopefully be staged this year and Jakoby can’t wait. Especially since this is the last year he can perform with youth theatre.
These shows are musicals, so it’s very fortuitous that his bass-baritone voice is more than capable of the occasional solo he is given.
As his experience and skills as an actor have grown, Jakoby has developed a deep pride to be helping create experiences that connect people and bring communities together.
“Everyone is always pushing sport,” he says, “and the lack of support for Australian artists during Covid revealed a real lack of appreciation by governments of the important role the arts play in people’s wellbeing.”
Reflecting on his numerous roles, the standout production for Jakoby was BTC’s Wicked, which he describes as his first ‘proper’ show, and was performed in the fabulous Ulumbarra Theatre.
Despite Wicked winning numerous awards, Jakoby insists there is never perfection—it’s part of the deal that actors need to be able to improvise.
Fortunately Wicked did not suffer the serious mechanical failure which happened in Les Miserables, or a set collapse, which occurred in Dracula. Both events caused intense moments demanding off-the-cuff dialogue from those on stage.
Still, there can be too much of a good thing.
“In 2019 I was like a runaway train,” Jakoby remembers. “I’d signed up for five shows and by the end of the year I was completely exhausted.”
So, while Jakoby says he is “110% invested in Nexus”, and has no trouble learning his lines or rehearsing his parts, he’s restrained himself from auditioning for too many roles during VCE.
The breadth of subjects at BSSC has meant this actor-in-the-making can continue to hone his skills and be recognised for them as part of his VCE studies.
Yes, he enjoys Maths and English, but, unsurprisingly, Drama and Media are his favourites.
Jakoby may be super-motivated when it comes to a play’s script, but he had a lightbulb moment last year when his Advisor challenged him on his lack of motivation for some of his other subjects.
“I realised how disorganised I was and began—and continue—to set goals that keep me on track,” he says. “I think I’m also better balanced and learning to think differently and more realistically about the world.”
With one eye on the future, if Jakoby could meet and chat with ANYONE in the world, he love to ask Robert Manion—an Aussie actor presently working in Hollywood—“how did you do it? Where did you begin? How did you overcome big challenges? How do you keep a balance?”
While the future may include stage lights, sets and scripts, Jakoby is also keeping his options open to the many opportunities in Media.
“I may even head towards filmmaking,” he says. “I love watching YouTube clips that analyze movies and there are some great courses for filmmakers out there.”
He also recognises how fortunate he’s been to have the kind of family he has—a family who appreciates the value of the arts and encourages his ventures.
“When I talk to others, I realise how easygoing and supportive my parents are,” Jakoby says. “I’m so grateful to them.”
If he could travel back through time to offer his 12-year-old self some advice, Jakoby would say, “Get over the FOMO and ground yourself. The opportunities will come.”