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Chatting with actor James Van Der Beek of ‘Dawson’s Creek’

Actor James Van Der Beek of “Dawson’s Creek” chatted about his latest endeavors in acting, fatherhood, and the digital age.

James Van Der Beek and two of his children
James Van Der Beek and two of his children. Photo Courtesy of Quaker Chewy
James Van Der Beek and two of his children. Photo Courtesy of Quaker Chewy

Actor James Van Der Beek of “Dawson’s Creek” chatted about his latest endeavors in acting, fatherhood, and the digital age.

He recalled his time on the hit series “Dawson’s Creek,” and furnished his advice for hopefuls who wish to enter the entertainment field, as well as his definition of the word success.

Aside from being an actor, in his personal life, he is a husband to Kimberly Van Der Beek, and a father of six children.

Balancing acting career with family life

On balancing an acting career with a family life, he responded, “You just really think about what you are doing and what choices you are making with your kids. Focusing one-on-one time with them is really important.”

“Quality is better than quantity, sometimes,” he noted. “If I am ever asked to do a charity event or press event, out of the state, I would take a kid or two with me, and I would turn that into an adventure. It is just about finding those moments of really focused connections when you can.”

Quaker Chewy partnership

Van Der Beek spoke about his recent partnership with Quaker Chewy and their “Take Your Child to Play” initiative. “It is great,” he said. “I grew up with Quaker Chewy in my lunchbox as a kid. I love that they recognize the importance of play, and they champion it. They are donating money to build playgrounds across the United States.”

“What I love about this campaign is that they ask to pledge to play an hour with your kids, and by doing that, you are scheduling playtime with your kids, and that is good for the kids physically, emotionally, and mentally,” he said.

‘Take Your Child to Play’ initiative

“You can create good connections with your kids,” he admitted. “If you don’t schedule it, as any busy parent knows, it’s not going to happen, so I love the idea of promoting ‘taking your child to play’ and committing to it and scheduling it.”

To learn more about their “Take Your Child to Play” initiative, click here.

“I hope parents check this initiative out, and commit to playing one hour with their kid. This will enter them into a contest to win 100 boxes of Quaker Chewy, and I hope they get to enjoy their time with their kid,” he said.

The digital age

On being an actor in the digital age, now with streaming and technology being so prevalent, Van Der Beek said, “It’s different, but I love the way it’s different. When I was growing up and thinking about being an actor, there were categories of things you could do: if you were a serious actor, you did serious films, but now the rules have all been thrown out.”

“I have gotten to do all kinds of crazy and fun things from comedies to dramas to hosting to theater to playing myself to having fun on social media,” he said.

“The digital age has widened the playground for actors. You don’t have to just be in a box anymore. You can look at unscripted, and you look at comedies, and you can still do a serious drama. I think it’s more fun now,” he added.

Career-defining moments

“The most defining moment for me was my first professional play in New York that I did when I was 16 years old,” he shared about his career-defining moments.

“It was a moment that convinced me that this is what I wanted to do. I got to work with Edward Albee, who was about to win his Pulitzer Prize at time, and it felt like a real triumph. That, to me, was the moment I realized that I could do acting. I was getting rave reviews from ‘The New York Times,’ and that was great,” he elaborated.

“Also, it was my way of going back to my family and my school and saying ‘hey, this is my permission slip to do this.’ That has been the most defining moment for me,” he added.

‘Dawson’s Creek’

Van Der Beek is best known for his portrayal of Dawson Leery, the protagonist in the global TV drama series “Dawson’s Creek.”

“It was a six-year experience that changed my life. It was a wild ride,” he admitted. “It was a grind. We shot nine months out of the year, we shot 22 episodes a season, nobody does that anymore. It involved 14 hours a day for nine months, and photo shoots on the weekends. It was a crazy, wild ride for me,” he recalled.

Working with Mary Beth Peil

Van Der Beek had great words about his former “Dawson’s Creek” co-star, veteran actress Mary Beth Peil, who recently scored an Emmy nomination for her acting work in the critically-acclaimed Amazon Prime digital drama series “After Forever.”

“I love Mary Beth Peil, she is one of my favorite humans on the planet,” Van Der Beek exclaimed. “Mary Beth actually played my mother in the play I starred in when I was 16 in New York, she is the best. Mary Beth pulls at your heartstrings, and she is a stellar human being. Everybody loves her.”

Advice for hopefuls in acting

For young and aspiring actors, Van Der Beek said, “Be specific in your choices. Really make specific choices. When I first started, I was so concerned about giving people what I thought they wanted and trying to do it naturally and realistically.”

“Go through the process and be as authentic as you possibly can, in terms of your relation to that character, step into that character as fully as you can and make really specific and definitive choices every single step of the way. Put in the time and give it your whole heart to make those choices. The best advice I can possibly give is just don’t make any choice halfway.”

“If you are going to go, then go big, and go all the way,” he added.

Stage of his life

On the title of the current chapter of his life, Van Der Beek said, “Homestead… and everything that entails.” “I am starting to look at saying ‘yes’ to some acting roles now, and figuring out a way to make it work with the family, and have them all come along for the ride. I am feeling the call,” he said.

“These last couple of years have been really important for me to just drill down with family, and try something new, and move to the middle of the country. It has been really restorative,” he said.

Superpower of choice

If he were to have any superpower, Van Der Beek revealed, “Time travel.” “You never have enough time, so that way, I could stretch things out and focus playtime with all six of my kids whenever they need it,” he said.


On his definition of the word success, he said, “Success, to me, means manifestation of my heart’s desires.” “Listening to your soul, and actually spending the time putting those quiet whispers into reality,” he said.


For his dedicated fans, who have been with him on his journey, Van Der Beek said, “Thanks for sticking around for the wild ride. I joke with my actor friends that I have the weirdest career of anybody I know, so I would tell them ‘thank you for being open-minded,’ and for having a sense of humor, and for following me through all the wild twists and turns.”

To learn more about actor James Van Der Beek, follow him on Instagram.

Markos Papadatos
Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 19,000 original articles over the past 16 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a seven-time consecutive "Best of Long Island" winner, and in the past three years, he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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