Rather than follow the usual fairytale story of driving cross-country to Los Angeles the day after graduation, Jordan Wall opted for the more patient, though no less uncertain, path to acting. With The Glades now entering its fourth season on A&E, it seems his strategy is paying off.
Jordan studied broadcast journalism at University of Florida while working a gig as the sports director at the UF television station. Some of his Epsilon Zeta chapter brothers would often watch the evening broadcast every day, occasionally giving him a gentle ribbing about his TV appearance, all in the spirit of brotherly support.
While working at the TV station Jordan would also write sketches for Sigma Nu’s philanthropy events with other groups on campus. “I knew I couldn’t do finance or chemistry,” Jordan says. “I did broadcasting as the second less safe thing after theater.” One of his favorite memories of working for the campus TV station was covering the UF football team’s championship run in 2007.
“I knew I wanted to act but it wasn’t something I shared with others.”
One of Jordan’s first acting jobs after school was a commercial for Hungry Howie’s Restaurant in the Clearwater, Fl., area. “I visited Gainesville right after the commercial started airing in Florida and ran into a bunch of Brothers at a tailgate. A few of them had noticed me on the commercial and asked if I was working for the restaurant.”
Jordan was happy for the work, though. Thanks to his time with small but highly regarded acting workshop near Tampa, Jordan started reading for television and film auditions. “I wouldn’t have even gotten in those rooms had I arrived in L.A. without a resume.”
Jordan is quick to credit his dad for providing the support and motivation to pursue his dream of acting. “My dad became an amazing support system,” he recalls. Jordan was all set to move to New York or Los Angles before a patient of his dad’s encouraged him to check out a local acting workshop. It was here where Jordan spent three years learning and perfecting his skills, including the business side of acting that is often brushed over by younger, less experienced actors.
“I knew so little about the business. I was a stage actor but didn’t know the interworkings of the industry. As a non-union member it would have been nearly impossible for me to find work if it were not for this workshop.” Looking back, Jordan is thankful for the decision to pursue local acting jobs when he was starting out. “I got so many more opportunities working locally in Florida than I would have in New York or L.A.”
Jordan continued with the acting classes, slowly and steadily building up his resume with whatever acting job he could find. Once he drove from his home in South Florida to Louisiana to say three lines in a movie, all the while waiting tables and living at home to save up. “The class humbled me and made me work hard to get where I am. It made me realize how far I needed to go.”
In 2009 Jordan learned of a pilot that would be set in South Florida and was offered a chance to read for one of the parts. “I went through a roller coaster of emotions before that audition. When my name was called my heart started pumping.” Jordan felt a calming influence after entering the audition room and seeing the casting director he knew from previous readings. “He put his hand on my shoulder and said ‘Jordan, it’s good to see you.’ All of a sudden I didn’t feel intimidated at all. I felt comfortable, like I was playing pickup basketball.”
“I had the best audition of my life to that point, when it mattered the most. I left the audition room knowing that I put the best I had out there.”
And then Jordan got the call a few weeks later. “I was working as a food-runner and concierge at a local restaurant. I was on a shift and missed the initial call from my agent.”
Two months after the audition the pilot got picked up and Jordan had a contract.
The Glades, now in its fourth season on A&E, films in a repurposed carpet warehouse turned studio near Hollywood, Fla. “We shoot all over South Florida,” Jordan says. The beach and swamp scenes are all real places in Ft. Lauderdale, Miami Beach and Hollywood. “That was really important to the head producer/writer. He wanted to showcase Florida by making the show as authentic as possible.”
When filming is in session Jordan’s schedule is different every day. “I could be on set at 5:00 a.m. one day and 8:00 p.m. the next. The hours can range from 3 to 16 per day. I’ve had days when I wasn’t scheduled and had to be there an hour later.” But Jordan embraces the erratic schedule – it’s just part of the job he dreamed of and worked so hard to achieve.
Jordan has rented the same place near Hollywood Beach for the last three seasons of shooting. “I wish I could spend more time on the beach but I can’t get too bronze for my character.” (Jordan plays ‘Daniel,’ a book smart, linear-thinking intern for the Miami Police Department.) In between shoots Jordan reads on the water and dabbles with guitar. Lately he’s been learning Spanish. “My goal is to be able to order from an authentic Cuban restaurant without guessing,” he says.
Between filming seasons of The Glades Jordan returns to Los Angeles where he rents an apartment in West Hollywood. He’s had a guest spot on Harry’s Law and other roles in TV movies. Last summer Jordan returned to his stage acting roots in a play that ran for three months.
Many of the traits that have fueled Jordan’s acting career – self-determination, commitment to preparation, and lofty goal-setting – may have also played a part in driving his decision to join Sigma Nu.
“I went through recruitment and didn’t find any group that I was excited about. I found some nice guys but nothing felt right for me, nothing was inspiring me.” But shortly after deciding not to go Greek Jordan learned from his roommate’s best friend’s cousin (Brian Wehle) about an opportunity to join a brand new fraternity that was starting up. “’I may be doing this,’ he told me. ‘You should meet some of the other guys.’”
“Starting a fraternity with this group seemed like a great idea. They all had these big goals, which was exactly what I was looking for. I remember thinking, If I’m going to start this group then I want to do something with those people,” Jordan recalls.
“From there I didn’t really hesitate – I was a refounding father of Epsilon Zeta Chapter.”