Disney Channel fans know Jackson Dollinger as young Max Reynolds on the hit series Sydney to the Max, but how much do you really know about the actor? I recently interviewed Jackson about his acting work and his transition into music. His debut single, “Im Yours,” is available now. Get to know more about Jackson Dollinger in our exclusive interview.
Fanboy: We're big fans of Sydney to the Max in our household. But focusing on you first, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into acting?
Jackson Dollinger: Yeah. So my name's Jackson Dollinger. I'm thirteen-years-old. I'm born and raised in Los Angeles, California. During my free time, I love to skateboard, surf, and I also make music. I got into acting because of a friend, and I would always be like, "Hey, do you want to come over after school?" And he'd say, "Oh no, sorry. I have an audition," and that became a constant thing. And I went up to my parents and I was like, "Mom, Dad, what's acting like? Can I try this?" So long story short, I got a commercial agent. My first commercial audition was for a Nissan commercial, and I ended up booking that. So after I did several more commercials, I was like, "Time to step it up to theatrical." So I started doing theatrical, and after several auditions, I ended up getting Sydney to the Max.
Fanboy: That's awesome. So we're going to talk about your music in a little bit, but the first thing we want to know is what's your favorite part about being a part of Sydney to the Max?
Jackson: Ooh, that's a great question. I really love working with the amazing cast and crew. We see each other every day, so we've bonded so much over time. They're pretty much my second family. And I also love doing all the fun things that the writers throw at us every episode. We never know what they're going to give us that week, and it's always really exciting.
Fanboy: So speaking of your cast, you have Ian Reed Kesler who plays you as a grownup. I know you guys don't work together on screen. But do you work together to make sure that there's some consistency in the character?
Jackson: Definitely. Ian is great to collaborate with, and we frequently both ask each other, "How would Max deliver this line," or "How would he do that action?" Because we always like to build a connection between the present day and the 1990s. So yeah, Ian's great to collab with.
Fanboy: And because of the different time periods, there's a lot of people in the cast that you don't normally get to work with, but one of my favorite episodes from the last season was “Nightmare on Syd Street” where Sydney has a dream sequence. You get to work with a couple of actors who you don't normally work with. What was that like?
Jackson: Yeah, it was really fun. It was out of the ordinary, because obviously we don't work together, we're in different time periods. They're a pleasure to work with. That was our first time doing scenes together. And we all had amazing chemistry and it was just super fun. And that's my favorite episode too.
Fanboy: Oh, really? Cool. So I believe your scenes take place in 1992. So have you learned anything about the '90s from working on the show?
Jackson: Oh, I've learned so much. I had no clue how to use a payphone or a rotary phone. So in one episode the director, he had to stop rehearsal, give me a whole lesson, and all the crew members were pitching in on how to use a rotary phone or a payphone, like how to put the quarter in, when to pick it up, when you put it to your ear, when to dial, all that. So I've definitely learned a lot about '90s technology that I would've had no clue if I didn't do the show.
Fanboy: So I know you're about to debut a lot of new music. Can you tell us a little bit about what's coming up with that?
Jackson: Yes. So my new single, “I'm Yours,” it's my debut single, it's coming out June 26th, and I'm really excited for people to hear my music. I wrote the lyrics, I made the beat, and I recorded it all in my home studio.
Fanboy: Cool. So how did you get interested in music?
Jackson: Well, I've always listened to a lot of music, but I never really had interest in making music or playing instruments until about a year ago. One day I was scrolling through YouTube and a video popped up on my homepage, or For You page, and it was a video from the Internet Money Records, which is a group that makes YouTube tutorials to help the producer community on how to make beats. So I ended up clicking on that video and I think it was Making a Melodic Trap Beat in 10 Minutes. And for that whole 10 minutes, my mind was literally blown watching my favorite producer, Nick Mira, make the beats for some of my favorite songs. So that sparked my mind to try music out. So I took music theory lessons and drum lessons, and then I started messing around with GarageBand. That was my first digital audio workstation for music production. And after I was messing with Garageband a lot, I eventually bought Logic Pro X, which is the professional version of that, and that's the music production software that I still use to this day. And I was just making beats on that, and I had vocal training. I was like, "Why don't I sing on them?" So I was kind of skeptical about it at first, but I got some vocal training and I got better with practice because practice makes perfect, and I've just been writing songs ever since, and each one gets better and better.
Fanboy: That's cool. It sounds like you're really committed to it and you've learned a lot about how to make it successful. So that's really cool.
Jackson: For sure. Yeah, I do music every single day.
Fanboy: Cool. So lastly, we're a bunch of Disney fans over here, so we were just wondering, what is your favorite Disney memory from your thirteen years on this planet?
Jackson: So one day we're in a table read. It's just the average Thursday and we're sitting at the table about to start reading the script, and we're chit chatting, and one of the Disney execs, Amanda, stood up. And she quieted the room, and she was like, "I have something to tell you guys." And we were like, "Oh, oh." We didn't know what it was. So my heart's racing at this point. And she finally just spit out the information that we got picked up for a third season, and everyone was freaking out, cheering, excited. And that was definitely my favorite Sydney to the Max Disney memory. I even started crying at the table read, and it was super hard to do the table read because I was so excited. I was literally shaking, I was so happy.
Fanboy: That's awesome. Do you have a favorite Disney Parks memory?
Jackson: Well, I've always gone to the parks with my parents and it's just always super fun. I love the corn dogs and I love the 100-foot Ferris wheel. So I just have a lot of great, fun times at the Disney parks.
You can catch Jackson Dollinger on Disney Channel as young Max in Sydney to the Max and you can check out his music on your favorite streaming app.
FanBoy is a Disney dweeb who has worked at Disneyland and Walt Disney World