Jeff was an All-American college baseball player recruited by three Major League teams. His baseball career was cut short when he injured his knee. He became a bartender in a country club to pay the bills. A member of the club, a Wall Street executive, recognized the young man’s potential and gave him a job. Out of this new life chapter, Jeff came to cofound an investment banking firm and serve as the president of their sports and entertainment division, managing the financial portfolios of numerous professional athletes. He also founded PowerICE, a hydrating sports drink. In 2008 Consumers Digest referred to Jeff as a real-life Jerry Maguire. But Jeff himself has had a fascination with fictional characters himself like Jerry Maguire and a passion for film an entertainment … and, because of a great on-camera and stage presence, he now has a new life chapter as an actor. Jeff recently phoned in to TEN to talk about his amazing product, his career, and the direction he’s headed.
The Entertainment Nexus– Looking at your bio, you said that you were recruited by three major league baseball teams.
Jeff Wallner– Yes, I was a high school All-American baseball player and I received a scholarship to North Carolina. Before I went to college, I played in three “Connie Mack World Series” out in New Mexico. I played centerfield and I had a lot of teams that were looking at me. I was asked to go through tryout camps with three teams and unfortunately I had knee problems and that kinda derailed my career. I got to work out with those teams and it was a lot of fun but because of my knee I wasn’t able to continue.
TEN– Which teams were they?
JW– They are the Dodgers, the Red Sox and the Cincinnati Reds. I later went on to represent Ken Griffey Jr. so that’s kind of cool.
TEN– From there you went on to work in an investment banking firm didn’t you?
JW– Actually, after that I became a bartender. I was working in a country club and I met a lot of investment bankers and Wall Street types. I got to a point where I ask myself “What should I do, keep bartending?” I was watching these guys make a shit load of money and drive BMWs and Porsches and Ferraris and Lamborghinis. I was like “You know what? I gotta figure this out.” I was lucky enough to be recruited by an investment banker on Wall Street and that’s where I got my start.
TEN– How crazy is the whole Wall Street scene?
JW– I would love to make a movie someday… my version of Wall Street.
TEN– How would it differ from public opinion?
JW– I don’t know how I would even get into it, but I’m just happy that it was an experience and I learned a lot about Corporate America. I learned about the value of money and how to do a deal, what not to do in a deal. This is very interesting on how companies get financed. How some companies make it now some companies don’t. Some have great products but they don’t have the right management so they never make it. Some have lousy products the great management and they go ahead and make it. It’s pretty interesting how there’s different factors that come into account for a company to be successful or not.
TEN– Speaking of a great product, you are a cofounder of “PowerICE.”
JW– Yeah, I invented a product called ”PowerICE” which is a frozen hydration ice pop with electrolytes for kids. It’s a great product I gonna send you some. I meet people get addicted to it. I mean the kids love it, professional athletes love it. It’s an alternative to Gatorade and any other stuff that’s out there.
TEN– Gatorade is kinda getting a bad rap right now.
JW– Yea, well there’s a lot of sugar and there’s a lot of different types of ingredients that people are starting to rip apart. Gatorade hydrates you and has all the sodium and potassium but then there are other factors in it as well. My product is completely different because there is scientific data that proves that icing the body or ice therapy basically cools the core temperature and enhances your athletic ability. You’re able to step it up a notch with your abilities because cooling your body temperature but you’re also adding electrolytes. Gatorade is literarily just a drink or as mines a frozen application as well as electrolytes.
TEN– It may also speed up your metabolism rate.
JW– Yes it does and there is scientific data all over the place especially in Australia, about icing the body. If you go to my website wwwpowerice.com you can see all the data regarding ice therapy and thermal cooling the body temperatures. It’s pretty interesting.
TEN– Is that when you worked with Ken Griffey Jr?
JW– I built the company and then I started to bring it to professional athletes to endorse my product. This product has been all over the world. I mean the Miami Heat uses the product and they won the championship last year. The New York Giants use the product and they won the Super Bowl. Dario Franchitti, the Indy racecar driver sat in his trailer before his Long Beach race and then he went out and won the whole race. Right there’s three championship stories with my product being a part of it. 50 Cent lost all of his weight for one of his movies with my product. When everybody wanted to know how 50 lost that weight…PowerICE. 50 Cent is a client of mine. Just so you know, the one thing about Wall Street, if you want to manage money or if you want to work with investors there’s all different niches and his guys at work with all different types of people. Doctors, lawyers, high network credited investors and because of my sports background, I wanted to work with professional athletes and entertainers. My entire book of business was all celebrity sports and entertainment people.
TEN– Can you name some of them or is that confidential?
JW– Well, ya know, Ken Griffey Jr, the New York Giants, 50 Cent, the Atlanta Braves organization, hockey players, and basketball players… just a wide variety. People use it like a treat too so at night when you get that craving for cupcake for ice cream I just have a couple PowerICEs. It taste like ice cream pop but it’s only 30 calories and you not getting all of the fat.
TEN-Can you get it at GNC?
JW– Right now we’re just doing the grassroots distribution so we’re going through like the teams are using it in the locker rooms. Colleges are using the product like Rutgers University. We are selling it at recreation centers where the kids go and play all the sports. Things like that.
TEN– Tell me about you being compared to “Jerry Maguire”.
JW– All of my friends in New York City call me “A real Jerry Maguire” because after the movie with Tom Cruise and because everybody thought I looked like Tom Cruise, comparison of the movie and me always on the field with the athletes whether I’m on a football field or basketball court, baseball field or hockey rink. They wrote an article about me in a New York publication as me being a real “Jerry Maguire”.
TEN– You’ve also done television commercials and you appeared in television shows as well.
JW– What happened was that I was asked to do a reality show for PowerICE. I don’t know what network is going to go on yet. It was called: “Model Genius.” It was a reality show that took international models and teamed them up with a company entrepreneur and they had to come up with a brand message or advertising campaign for product. They picked me and my product to be on the show. From that show I met directors and agents and casting people and they really liked me on the show. I literally landed a play with Denzel Washington‘s wife Pauletta here in New York. It’s called ”Power Play.” I worked with Pauletta and Roscoe Orman of Sesame Street, Phyllis Stickney from “How Stella Got Her Groove Back.” I played a political journalist. It was huge. We were at the Schaumburg Theater in Harlem and there were 600 people in the audience. I really rocked from there and then I got a movie offer to be in a film called: “Nobody’s Perfect.” Derek Simmons who has been in the industry for like 30 years, cast me and in that movie I played a news anchor. I did a thing for ABC called “Zero Hour” which is a CSI type of TV show that’s coming out soon. Right now I am executive producer of one of the greatest films that’s gonna be out. It’s called; “America’s Unsung Heroes.”
TEN– That’s about 9/11, isn’t it?
JW– Yea, it’s about all the heroes of 9/11. It’s an historical film that basically has no political agenda, no negativity, no propaganda. It’s all about the first responders’ stories. The firemen, the ironworkers, the policeman, the port authorities… the 9/11 baseball game between the Mets and the Braves then made 40,000+ people stand up and finally cheer 10 days after 9/11. I had interviews with Bobby Cox, the manager of the Atlanta Braves and Bobby Valentine, the manager of the New York Mets and the rest of the guys on the teams…Diana Ross, Liza Minnelli as well because they sing the national anthem and “God Bless America.” The movie is to get the perspective of what it was like to be in New York 10 days after 9/11 and actually play a baseball game. This film is all over the place with just unbelievable footage and stories of all these great Americans across the country like the Michigan fire department that came all those miles just to help out. All the shit that you watch on TV on the news and all the tragedy and craziness that’s in our life, it’s about time that we show a film with all the positive stories about how people literally rallied up and did whatever they could to help. It’s about the fire department, the police, the ironworkers and the port authority talking about how the buildings are going up now. We are not talking about buildings going down; it’s about what they have to do to build them back up. It’s all about America and heroes. You wouldn’t believe… every company in the United States is sending us their clothes to be sponsors so we can wear them when we are filming. American Eagle, Timberland boots and all these other companies are sending us stuff. It’s pretty cool. It’ll be a series and a feature film documentary that will be out 2014.
TEN– I’ll send you a TEN shirt for somebody to wear in the film.
JW– Cool, I’ll wear it in the film!
TEN– And, you’re donating some of the profits to charities?
JW– Yes, part of the proceeds of the film will go to different charities.
TEN– How did you meet Victoria Talbot?
JW– Good question. I met Victoria at a Christmas party that I had in New York City. She met my sister and my father at the party too. We just automatically hit it off and she’s knew my family for a long time. She’s is a good friend and she’s always wanted to do something with me especially with all of these things just started happening and especially with the film business. I’m going to do a major film in Belgium in June with major Academy award-winning actors. I play a big part in the movie. I really can’t say yet but it’s a big, big deal and it’s a great situation that I’m involved in.
TEN– Can you put me in one of your movies?
JW– What do you like to do?
TEN– Whatever, man! I’d be an extra but I’d love a speaking role.
JW– It’s a lot of fun being on set I tell you this much. You think you’re cool until seven cameras are rolling on you at one time and someone yells “ACTION!”
TEN– What are some of your expectations with working with Victoria on helping your career?
JW– I think when you’re in the entertainment business, the relationship between you and your team is really important. If it’s more relationship driven versus dollar driven I think you’re in a really good place. The people around me are really big relationship people and have known me for years and are behind me. That really helps what the outcome will be as far as publicity and things like that.
TEN– She’s definitely connected.
JW– Yea, she’s doing a great job with all these things that I have. I built a great platform for myself but now it’s about going out there and market. I’m the product. I’m in ice pop now. I got a market myself, ya know. It’s all diversified. My story is not just a normal “down the path, I went to acting school and I finally hit it 20 years later.” I started acting six months ago and I’ve been six don’t already.
TEN- Do you think that luck has anything to do with it or is it right place right time type of thing?
JW– I think in life you take all of your experiences and all the different people that you met and all the different situations that you been in in life and kind of hone in all that. It brings you to different opportunities that present those opportunities and if you can pull from your experiences you can definitely excel on whatever you want to do. An example being I played in a movie called: “Unspoken” just recently where played a bodyguard and was a pretty crazy scene. There were assassins breaking into the room and if you can pull back on your experiences in life when you been crazy situations and you can remember what it was like, how you felt, what you look like, what was your body language and bring it back into almost real life and put that into your scene, it makes you that much of the better actor. You gonna pull from your experiences and portray that in your scenes. It will make it real because your reliving what you’re experiencing right there in that minute.
TEN– Well, it’s time to shift gears on you now. Tell me something disturbing about yourself that you never revealed before an interview.
JW– Something disturbing about myself? I actually get really shy at times. (Laughs)
TEN– How is that?
JW– I don’t know, I know it’s not disturbing but it’s kind of strange. When you think of all the different celebrities that I’ve been around and all the things I’ve done at higher levels. Sometimes I find myself in a situation where I more reserved and kinda laid-back and shy. Sometimes I question myself like “Why am I being this way?” I think it’s just because with my upbringing of being taught to be humble and not to be some jackass and not to be high on yourself.
TEN– A lot of people these days get a little bit of fame and they just turn and think they’re better than everyone else.
JW– Right, and I find it funny sometimes when I get like that…shy because I think about the people that are calling me in the meetings I’m having, being on film and with the people I’m talking to.
I want to thank Jeff for taking the time to share, and Victoria Talbot Pressly for setting up the interview.