Jake T. Austin

Jake Austin Szymanski (born December 3, 1994), known professionally as Jake T. Austin, is an American actor. Beginning his career as a child actor at the age of seven, Austin is a five-time Young Artist Award nominee, two-time Teen Choice Award nominee and Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards nominee. Best known for his role as Max Russo on the Disney Channel series Wizards of Waverly Place, and as the voice of Diego on the Nickelodeon animated series Go, Diego, Go!. Austin was also the original actor who portrayed Jesus Foster on the ABC Family family/teen drama series The Fosters. His feature film credits include co-starring roles in Hotel for Dogs, New Year's Eve, Rio and The Emoji Movie.

Jake T. Austin
Austin arrives at the CIROC tasting event in Los Angeles, November 2018.
Jake Austin Szymanski

(1994-12-03) December 3, 1994
Years active2003–present

Early life

Austin was born in New York City, the son of Giny Rodriquez Toranzo and Joe Szymanski.[1][2][3] His middle initial, "T", is taken from his mother's maiden name.[1] His mother is of Puerto Rican, Argentine, and Spanish descent, and his father is of Polish, Irish, and English ancestry.[4][5] Austin embraces his Puerto Rican heritage, though he has said that he is not fluent in Spanish.[6] He has a younger sister, Ava.[3][4]


2002–06: Beginnings

Jake T. Austin in 2008

Austin's career began in 2002 when he appeared in commercials. A year later, he appeared in his first credited acting role as Kid 1698 in a comedy sketch on The Late Show With David Letterman.[3] In 2004, he landed his first major role – voicing Diego, the cousin of Dora, on the hit Nickelodeon animated series Dora the Explorer.[7][8] He continued to voice Diego on the spin-off series, Go, Diego, Go!, for three seasons.[4][7][8] Along with voicing Diego, Austin was cast in multiple voice roles for the feature films The Ant Bully and Everyone's Hero – he was also cast in the Comedy Central special Merry F#%$in's Christmas.[9] In 2006, Austin landed the lead role of Angel Macias in his first live-action feature film, The Perfect Game, which was based on a true story about the first non-U.S. team to win the 1957 Little League World Series. The film wouldn't be released in the United States until more than three years later due to post-production financing difficulties.[10][11]

2007–11: Wizards of Waverly Place

Austin at the premiere of The Perfect Game in 2010

Austin appeared in his first Walt Disney Company production in 2007 when he portrayed the role of Chris in the Disney Channel original film Johnny Kapahala: Back on Board.[4] Later that same year, he was cast as Max Russo in the Disney Channel series Wizards of Waverly Place. He played the youngest sibling of a wizarding family, co-starring with Selena Gomez and David Henrie.[4][12][13] Until the end of Wizards of Waverly Place in 2011, Austin appeared in multiple Disney productions. In the summer of 2009, he played the role of Max Russo in the Wizards on Deck crossover episode which included two other popular Disney shows, The Suite Life on Deck and Hannah Montana.

During the same summer, he starred in the made-for-television film Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie.[14][15] The film was a ratings hit, becoming the second most-viewed Disney Channel film at that time, behind High School Musical 2. It was also the #1 scripted telecast of 2009.[16] Austin made his live action feature film debut in 2009 with the role of Bruce, an orphan who hides numerous dogs in an abandoned hotel, in the DreamWorks film Hotel for Dogs.[17] In the fall of 2010, Austin was named as one of the "25 Brightest Latino Stars Under 25" by Latina magazine.[18] He wrote and sold his first screenplay, Kings of Suburbia, which he described as being written in the same vein as his favorite film Stand By Me.[7][19]

2011–2015: The Fosters

Austin in September 2011

In 2011, Austin voiced the role of Fernando, an orphaned Brazilian boy who is forced to capture exotic birds, in the 20th Century Fox animated musical film Rio. He reprised the role in the sequel, Rio 2.[20] He was also in the romantic-comedy film New Year's Eve, released in December 2011.[21] The following year, he had guest roles on the Lifetime comedy-drama Drop Dead Diva as Samuel Forman, a 16-year-old multimillionaire,[22] and on the NBC legal drama series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit as Rob Fisher, the boyfriend of a girl whose family is murdered.[23]

Austin landed his next major role in 2013, when he was cast as Jesus Foster in the ABC Family family/teen drama series The Fosters.[24] The series tells the story of two moms raising both biological and foster children in a "multi-ethnic" household in San Diego, California. He played Jesus for two seasons until he left the show in the second-season finale in 2015. In a statement on his departure, Austin said: "I'm honored to have been a part of such a groundbreaking series ... Thank you for letting me be a part of your family, it's been a pleasure."[25] His role was recast for the third season, with Noah Centineo.[26]


In 2016, he provided the voice for Jaime Reyes / Blue Beetle in the DC Comics animated direct-to-video film Justice League vs. Teen Titans.[27] On August 30, 2016, Austin was revealed as one of the contestants who would compete on season 23 of Dancing with the Stars. He was partnered with professional dancer, Jenna Johnson.[28] On September 20, 2016 Austin and Johnson were announced as the first couple to be eliminated from the competition.[29] In October 2018, it was announced that Austin joined the cast of Adverse, a neo-noir thriller starring Mickey Rourke. Adverse had its premiere at the opening of the Fantasporto Festival on February 28, 2020 in Portugal.[30]

Personal life

Austin divides his time between living in Los Angeles and New York. He has two dogs, Bogey and Beju.[4][8][31] His family owns a historic restaurant called The Clarksville Inn.[3][31][32] The restaurant, located in West Nyack, New York, originally opened in 1840 as a hotel.[3][32]

Austin devotes time to various charitable causes including the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants wishes to children who have life-threatening medical conditions; the Starlight Children's Foundation, which is dedicated to improving the quality of life for children with chronic and life-threatening medical conditions; and Variety's Power of Youth initiative, which partners with young stars to help raise money for their chosen causes.[2][33][34] He's also supported the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, stating "I know how important it is to have a supportive environment and feel good about yourself, especially as an adolescent."[35]

In October 2020, Austin discussed his bi-racial familial heritage and the importance of voting in the upcoming US elections, "... whether it’s via mail-in voting or at the polling place, becoming active in the electoral process is so important. Whether the person on the ticket is running for local, state or national positions, our role as their constituents starts with voting." [36]



Year Title Role Notes
2006The Ant BullyNickyVoice role
2006Everyone's HeroYankee IrvingVoice role
2009Hotel for DogsBruce
2010The Perfect GameAngel Macias
2011RioFernandoVoice role
2011New Year's EveSeth Anderson
2013KhumbaKhumbaVoice role
2014Rio 2FernandoVoice role
2014Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry FinnHuckleberry Finn
2014Grantham & RoseGrantham Portnoy
2016Justice League vs. Teen TitansJaime Reyes / Blue BeetleVoice role
2017Teen Titans: The Judas ContractJaime Reyes / Blue BeetleVoice role
2017The Emoji MovieAlexVoice role
2017The ValleyChris


Year Title Role Notes
2003Late Show with David LettermanKid 1698Episode: December 23, 2003
2004Dora the ExplorerDiegoVoice role, 3 episodes
2005–2008Go, Diego, Go!DiegoMain voice role (seasons 1–2)
2005Merry F#%$in' ChristmasVariousTV special; voice roles
2007Johnny Kapahala: Back on BoardChrisTV movie
2007–2012Wizards of Waverly PlaceMax RussoMain role
2008Happy Monster BandBluzRecurring voice role, 10 episodes
2009Wizards of Waverly Place: The MovieMax RussoTV movie
2009The Suite Life on DeckMax RussoEpisode: "Double-Crossed"
2012Drop Dead DivaSamuel FormanEpisode: "Home"
2012Law & Order: Special Victims UnitRob FisherEpisode: "Home Invasions"
2013The Wizards Return: Alex vs. AlexMax RussoTV movie
2013–2015The FostersJesus FosterMain role (seasons 1–2)
2016Dancing with the StarsHimselfContestant on season 23
2017Justice League ActionBlue BeetleVoice role; episodes: "Time Share", "Field Trip"

Awards and nominations

2006 Young Artist Award Best Performance in a Voice-Over Role – Young Actor Go, Diego, Go! Nominated [37]
2007 Imagen Award Best Actor – Television Go, Diego, Go! Nominated [38]
Young Artist Award Best Performance in a Voice-Over Role – Young Actor Everyone's Hero Nominated [39]
2008 ALMA Award Outstanding Male Performance in a Comedy TV Series Wizards of Waverly Place Nominated [40]
Young Artist Award Best Young Ensemble Performance in a TV Series (with Selena Gomez, David Henrie, and Jennifer Stone) Wizards of Waverly Place Nominated [41]
2009 ALMA Award Year in TV Comedy – Actor Wizards of Waverly Place Nominated [41]
Imagen Award Best Actor – Television Wizards of Waverly Place Nominated [38]
Teen Choice Award Choice TV: Sidekick Wizards of Waverly Place Nominated [42]
Young Artist Award Best Performance in a TV Series – Leading Young Actor Wizards of Waverly Place Nominated [43]
2010 Young Artist Award Best Performance in a Feature Film – Leading Young Actor Hotel for Dogs Nominated [44]
Best Performance in a TV Series – Leading Young Actor Wizards of Waverly Place Nominated [44]
2012 Hollywood Teen TV Awards Favorite Television Actor Wizards of Waverly Place Won
2013 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards Favorite TV Actor Wizards of Waverly Place Nominated [45]
Teen Choice Awards Summer TV Star: Male The Fosters Nominated [46]
2014 Teen Choice Awards Choice TV Actor: Drama The Fosters Nominated
2015 Teen Choice Awards Choice TV Actor: Drama The Fosters Nominated [47]


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  13. "Cable's most-watched shows, Oct. 15–21". USA Today. October 23, 2007. Retrieved January 12, 2011.
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