Editor’s Note: The writer is a longtime Grays Harbor Realtor and a Port of Grays Harbor commissioner. He has chronicled the lives of famous people with connections to Grays Harbor and his work, “The Harbor — A Culture of Success” can be found online.
Our current world is streaming plenty of reruns of TV shows. But not for Jerry Lambert, who was raised in Montesano and works regularly on ABC’s “American Housewife,” which is soon concluding its fourth season. Jerry plays recurring character Principal Ablin, who is a key player in the storyline. Jerry was filming his 22nd episode in March when production was shut down due to the Corona virus. Past episodes can be streamed by searching online for Jerry Lambert-American Housewife. Locally, American Housewife runs at 9 p.m., each Wednesday on ABC.
Jerry splits his time between television, voiceovers, commercials and occasionally movies. His list of credits is incredibly impressive. He’s appeared in the movies “Bad Teacher,” “Horrible Bosses 2” plus television shows such as “Modern Family,” “Life in Pieces,” “Family Guy,” “The West Wing,” “Brothers and Sisters,” “Third Rock from the Sun,” “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “That ‘70s Show” and many more.
In 2015 he played a character named “Tom Quigg” in a television pilot called “Not So Union.”
“They told me when I showed up to film they didn’t have a character name for me yet, and would I like to come up with something. Yours is the first name that popped into my head, I had just spoken to you the week before!” said Lambert with a laugh. He said this has happened more than once, usually on a prank show years ago called “Scare Tactics,” where he went by “Bill Stewart,” “Mark Backstrom” or “Lindsey Johnson,” all friends from high school.
His list of television commercials is significant, appearing for such notable companies as GEICO, Mercedes-Benz, La-z-Boy, Comcast, Holiday Inn, as “Kevin Butler” in the long-running Sony Playstation ads and many others. He’s appeared in ads for Burger King and FedEx, and won high ratings for the T-Mobile Super Bowl 50 ad in 2016, where he appeared with the musician/actor Drake.
Jerry says he enjoys doing commercials. “They are like acting in a little movie, which usually take eight to 14 hours of filming to complete, and then you’re done.”
To sustain a career in Hollywood, an actor must be constantly auditioning. Jerry will tell you, “In show business, there is no resting. It’s extremely competitive, and I love what I do. It takes a thick skin and there is constant rejection. The key is to not take it personally.”
Jerry is up for the challenge and goes for it. According to Jerry, there are more than 100,000 actors in Los Angeles alone, and only 2% of them are working at any one time. For every acting job there are usually about 500 others auditioning for the same part. That doesn’t slow Jerry down a bit. He has a “never-give-up” attitude that he attributes to growing up on the Harbor.
So how does he do it?
“I take my craft very seriously, and with every acting job you hopefully learn and grow from it. As an actor, I must draw on all of my experiences in life, and all of the people I have known and worked with, and use them in my acting, to make it richer and more believable. I enjoy making people laugh, so I’ve ended up doing mostly comedy, which is OK by me. There’s a lot of pain in the world, and I get a real kick out of giving people a smile or a laugh to brighten their day.”
Jerry will tell everyone that his work ethic was developed on the Harbor, and continues to be nourished from his connections to our community.
“My first two jobs growing up were planting trees as a teenager for the state and working as a dishwasher at Bridges restaurant in Aberdeen.”
Jerry is a Harbor guy through and through. He’s a Hollywood actor who comes home when he can to visit friends and family. He is so proud to come from Grays Harbor. To him, the Harbor is abundantly full of a lot of great people, and he really loves the weather. That’s coming from a person whose permanent residence is Southern California.
“I grew up with the rain, and even though I have nothing against the sunshine of L.A., when it rains there, which is rare, I feel like I’m right back home. And I spent a lot of my childhood at Lake Sylvia, and when I come home that’s one of the first places I go.”
His father, Don Lambert, worked at the Weyerhaeuser Pulp Mill in Cosmopolis for more than 30 years and his mother, Barbara Lester, worked for Grays Harbor County for many years. Jerry was raised in Elma and Montesano and graduated from Montesano High School in 1975. He put himself through college by working summers at the pulp mill.
He attended Mt. Hood Community College near Portland, studying journalism and acting, and from then on has pursued a career in one of the most competitive of all fields — show business. While Jerry’s a full-time Hollywood actor, his wife Nadine is a graphic designer, and Jerry also writes and performs in plays in Hollywood.
His first mentor in the world of acting was Montesano High School drama teacher Ardine Lewis when he was a junior in high school. It was Lewis who taught him early valuable lessons in acting. Others were Carol Stubb and Ernie Ingram “who were very encouraging to me at Driftwood Players, along with Dick Lane and Bob Neisinger at Bishop Center performances. And my mom was incredibly supportive once I decided to become an actor, and even though we lost her two years ago, her love and guidance will stay with me forever. She always believed in me, and that really helps a young person succeed.”
Jerry’s sister, Dee Harrington, is a financial adviser in Hoquiam.