Executive producer Jake Wood explains how he beat the odds at Television’s Biggest Party.
On a recent evening in midtown Manhattan, the cast of daytime drama The Bold and the Beautiful — including Daytime Emmy Award winner Darlene Forte, Freema Agyeman, Lindsay Hartley, Beth Maitland, Kim Matula, Darin Brooks, Tracey Bregman, Bradford Anderson, Rena Sofer, Ray Testa, and— in her first acting role since 2014’s Days of Our Lives— cut loose at a seaside-themed soiree at the Waldorf Astoria hotel, while Glamour’s Editor-in-Chief Cindi Leive buzzed about and raved about the evening’s festivities.
But what really drew both editors and guests was actor Jake Wood’s closing speech. Wood was born with the Fjellgren Syndrome, a metabolic disease that affects the body’s metabolism and forces sufferers to shrink their lifespans considerably. With that in mind, his line about facing a moment’s impending doom was a sobering reminder that one does not have to lose it all to end up happy. Even at the age of 50. “If you’re not in now — getting involved, taking care of your mental health, getting active — you’re never going to make it,” he told the crowd. Then he reflected, speaking to the future. “And who says it’s going to be easy?”
Appearing on the red carpet that night, the handsome, dark-haired star and actor was bubbly and chatty, although it was clear he was visibly nervous, and seemed a bit choked up.
“We’re over lunch here at about 2:30,” he explained on why he and his co-stars were still at their table a few hours into the three-hour party. (The event was sponsored by L’Oréal Paris and Under Armour.) “The reason we are staying late is so we can get to the awards ceremony, because we don’t have to go to the awards ceremony. There’s a good chance we’ll get an award, and then we’ll drive home — although I don’t see why we have to leave this time because we get to eat!”
So his first two words from this very event were “wanna eat?”
This was not Wood’s first time, however, reflecting on overcoming adversity, using it to inspire others, and seeing the positive effect it can have. In high school, he discovered that his dyslexia wasn’t something that kept him from excelling, rather, he found ways to overcome it. He won a school award for acting, and then was “discovered” during a media casting he had put in for a school production of Petrouchka. It was then that he realized his true calling.
That was some 25 years ago, and Wood went on to study at the Westport Country School and The Rhode Island School of Design, enrolling in director Eli Roth’s directing program. He now lives with his wife, Lindi Lee, and their son, Dillon. Wood is co-founder and chairman of the non-profit Willow Foundation, a grassroots organization dedicated to supporting children with autism.
“The message is for everyone — be passionate about whatever you’re doing in life,” he said. “No matter what, just love what you’re doing — and don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do it.”