He’s the first male regular cast member in the Little Women franchise and is described by cast member Lila Call as “the only one who can tame us.” He’s Jason Perez, a young actor and student who is about to be thrust into fame’s spotlight when Little Women: NY premieres on Lifetime March 25. I had the honor of being Jason’s first-ever media interview, and when we chatted, he hadn’t yet even set up a Twitter account, (follow him @LiLJayJ87 and follow me @ChannelGuideKF). But don’t let Jason’s greenness fool you, he has worked in some of New York’s most famous kitchens, appeared onstage at Radio City Music Hall and is currently hitting the books as a college student. There’s a lot to say about him, but we’ll let him introduce himself in his own words…
Jason, tell us about yourself…
After high school, I went to culinary school; I wanted something different than the normal classroom setup. I studied restaurant management courses, because I wanted to be in the hospitality industry. I wanted to make positive dining experiences based on the positive and negative experiences that I’ve had as a guest, and how I’ve been treated. I wanted to change that.
I worked in a kitchen first — at Jean-George’s The Mercer Kitchen in Soho — and then I went onto front of the house operations where I could truly interact with the guest. I was a server at Simply Fondue which was a new concept restaurant in New York, and then I was a singing server. From there I went on to being a performer at Radio City Music Hall and after that, things just snowballed from there. I’ve always been doing talent shows and performing —entertainment has always been my thing. I’ve always loved to perform for audiences; I love to show my true personality. I know you’ll get a taste of that through the show and for all of the women as we navigate through New York.
When you watched Little Women: LA, what did you think of it?
Seeing L.A. and knowing some people there, it is definitely exciting because the show gave insight into our lives. A lot of people look at us and we’re just a sight to be stared at, but we’re also a sight to be understood. Even though we’re little, we still go through the same things as average-size people, just a little differently. It’s great insight for everyone to know that we’re not so different, and out lives are quite interesting. I think that it was exciting for me to see and I was really cheering the cast on. There was a lot of drama, which was fun, and there will be lots of drama in New York.
What is it like being the only male cast member of Little Women: NY?
Oh goodness gracious, that’s what it’s like being the only male in the cast? I had a relationship with some of these women before we stared, but coming into this and meeting some of the other women it has definitely been an experiment. I had to realize that everyone has different feelings and emotions; everyone has different things happening in their lives. It’s definitely day by day, you never know what volcano will erupt but ultimately, we’re here to support each other and we’re here to help each other get through the ups and downs of this city that we call home.
How is life as a little person different in New York?
New York is very real. New York is very real; it’s very blunt, it’s a melting pot of cultures, so you deal with a lot of attitudes, Some of those attitudes are accepting and some are not. And sometimes, being this melting pot of cultures it can be a little easier to fit in. But also we deal with the same challenges as everyone else in the Big Apple. We’re struggling for jobs just like anyone else, we’re commuting on the subway, on the bus, we’re dealing with just fitting in. New York is its own animal and there’s so much, so much that you’ll see on the show. It’s hard living in New York as an average person, but as a little person, we have to deal with more. I could be standing on the subway, holding onto a pole and then someone puts their butt on my hand! Or they could forget I’m there. Many interesting things happen. It’s pretty funny to look back on it — not at the moment— but later.
As the lone male in the mix, are you diffusing the drama or encouraging the drama?
I definitely can’t help but be one of the girls, when I’m surrounded by so many. But I definitely try to maintain my unique perspective on things. It’s hard, I always want to be the nice person, but some people try to step on my toes and push my buttons and they have to realize: hold on, I’m Jason, but I’m not a pushover. Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness. People begin to realize that I am not a baby. My personality comes out and I can’t control it, You can’t contain Jason Perez!
You live at home with your family, how do they feel about you being on a reality show?
They’ve always known that I love to entertain, whether it be dancing, singing or just showing my personality, I’ve always loved doing that. So they see this as a great opportunity and great outlet. We’re learning more and more that things get personal and I am more than happy to let the audience know about my life. It’s just another opportunity, and I’d rather take it, and experience it, than let it go by and regret it.
Are your family members average height?
All of my family members are average height as most little people family’s are, as most families with a little person are. And with me, not only am I a little person with average-sized family members, but I’m in a Filipino household and we have unique cultures and values. It definitely instills itself into me and how I act on the show. It’ll be interesting.
Tell me about your cast members.
Some like Kristin take a maternal role. There are definitely the young ones in the group. It’s interesting to see the different range of opinions and the different range of attitudes towards situations that we face during this show. Everyone has their own insight, and sometimes we don’t always click. And we don’t always get along, but we get beyond that and we get through it and we just live our lives. Lila is so funny — so many girls are funny.
Who did you know before the you joined the cast?
I knew Kristin, Jordanna and Misty, because we’ve performed together. That’s how our relationships started. Kirstin was a close friend, I couldn’t help but get close to her because we performed together 6 days a week. Jordanna I got closer to because we both have a love of dance. We both love to perform — it’s our passion. We have similarities that bring us closer together.
Jason, who are you in a nutshell?
When you see me, you’ll realize that I’m a small package with a big surprise. I have a lot in me so don’t judge this book by it’s cover. A lot of people who see little people are ignorant but if you give us a change we can surprise you positively. I have so much energy; I have so much to give. It’s too much to contain in words, because I have so much, we have so much to offer.
Jason, I wish you the best of luck on Little Women: NY; I hope that you enjoy your journey.
I’m definitely ready for the ride. I’m just riding the wave it wherever it goes.
Little Women: NY > Lifetime > Wednesdays 10pm ET/PT beginning March 25
images © Lifetime.