Two of Pikesville native Jake Schloss’ favorite pastimes afforded him a memorable opportunity this spring.
The 13-year-old Schloss, an actor and avid basketball player, parlayed his skills on both fronts into a prominent role alongside five-time NBA All-Star Tim Hardaway Sr. in a commercial to promote the Dream Silencer — a product that allows players to dribble a basketball on any surface in silence.
The two met up, went through some rehearsals and then before long were performing in unison on camera.
“It was really fun because [Hardaway] was really nice and he was giving me pointers and the product is insane,” Schloss said. “I wasn’t sure how it would work, but it was so cool when they showed it to us. He’s like a friend.”
For Schloss, a Beth Tfiloh student, it’s far from his first starring role.
He’s been acting since he was three years old and has appeared in mainly short films. He names “My Brother is a Zombie” as his favorite piece that he’s credited in. His acting experience also runs in the family — with his mother Jenny appearing in commercials.
They were able to come across this particular role on Backstage.com, a website for auditions, casting calls and other jobs within the entertainment field. Jenny explored roles that her son would fit — finding a listing that called for a boy with acting and basketball experience. Co-creators of the Dream Silencer Eric Braunstein and Dylan Kaufmann reached out to Schloss for the role that also included a role for Jenny.
“Casting directors — when they’re looking for people — they’ll post it on the website that they’re looking for a boy, six to twelve years old, who can play basketball really well,” Jenny Schloss said. “And then, you fill it out [and] you send in a picture. They reach out to you and they would ask for him to make a video and then they were like ‘Now, can you do this, this and that’.
“So then, they’re like ‘And now can you do between the legs, behind the back, over the head’ — all of those things. He kept doing all of those things and he’s really good at it. So, that’s how it worked out.”
In the commercial, Jenny can be seen on a phone call while Jake dribbles the ball inside their house on the hardwood floors. She then yells at him to stop dribbling the ball and soon after, Hardaway magically appears and offers Jake’s mother the Dream Silencer.
Braunstein and Kaufmann came up with the idea for the product due to the cold weather in New York and having to keep a low profile while dribbling in the house. While Braunstein just received an earful from neighbors, Kaufmann had to deal with much more from his dribbling.
“We both had same problem with dribbling in the house,” said Braunstein. “It would disturb family members, it would piss off your neighbors, even Dylan had this situation where someone called the cops on him for dribbling and his siblings would yell at him for dribbling in the house. I think that was when the idea to create something to practice your ball handling came about and I worked with him on the designs and everything after that.”
Schloss, a point guard who spends his time playing recreation basketball in Reisterstown and for his school league, had a similar experience to the creators of the product.
“I have a mini hoop in my house and my sister is always yelling at me because she’s like ‘I’m studying’ and then I have to stop,” Schloss said. “I have a basketball hoop outside, so I play on that sometimes, but sometimes it’s too hot.”
Schloss and Hardaway Sr. have kept in touch since the shoot, exchanging conversation through Instagram. Jenny has also been a part of this discourse and has enjoyed the amount of respect that the former Golden State Warrior has shown to her son.
While Schloss and Hardaway Sr. were together, the young boy was able to impress him at times too.
“He was so impressed with Jake,” Jenny Schloss said. “There were times when they were doing stuff and Hardaway [Sr.] would mess up and Jake wouldn’t mess up. And everyone was like ‘You’ve got to watch Jake, Hardaway.’ It was so funny.”
Hardaway Sr. concurs with Jake’s mother’s statement and even sees a greater plan for the young actor.
“I do a commercial here or a commercial there — a commercial with grown ups, with other guys from the NBA or from other places,” Hardaway Sr. said. “To me, he was like a natural. It just came to him like he’s been doing it for a long time.”