Shining On Stage and Off

By November 8, 2017Profiles

Within seconds of meeting CJ Pawlikowski, you can tell he seeks to radiate happiness and enthusiasm everywhere life takes him. And while CJ’s happiness seems effortless, it’s a conscious choice he makes daily.


This intention began a few years back, after sitting around the kitchen of his childhood home in Crown Point, Indiana with his mother Susan, a two-time cancer survivor and wellspring of inspiration for CJ. Susan told him of her love for her own wrinkles. She finds joy in their representation of the experiences she’s enjoyed to this day. It was Susan’s choice to see the evolution of her body as a record of a life well-lived that set off fireworks inside of CJ: and choosing happiness has been a mantra he’s advocated ever since.

At 28, CJ has an appetite for roles in film, television, and on the stage. He’s determined to live the bicoastal life and, while setting up roots in Chelsea, he’s already finding himself jetting from New York to LA for auditions and new roles. But he is vocal about staying close to what he loves the most. “Theater and Broadway will always be my number one passion,” Pawlikowski says. “There’s something you can’t find anywhere else – the sensation of being fresh and new every night.” The constant newness, the high stakes of live performance, and the immediate reactions from the audience, always keep CJ on his toes and challenged to deliver his best. And being challenged to grow and expand in his abilities and range is one of his favorite joys in his artistry.

Photographed by Chris Carroll


In discussing what’s to come, CJ exclaimed that he wants to tell stories in all mediums. “Right now, a feature film sounds the most appealing, having just come off of doing theater consistently.” And given his power of manifesting – exactly what he did prior to landing his role in The Book of Mormon – don’t be surprised when you soon see CJ on the silver screen.


Most recently, CJ brought his optimism to the stage of Hollywood’s Pantages Theatre, where he performed the last six weeks of his two-year run in The Book of Mormon national tour. As a part of the company, CJ played Elder Young, Elder Neeley, Elder Cunningham’s Dad, Jesus and Hitler—the latter two roles being his favorite to portray. After all, not many actors can lay claim to playing both Jesus and Hitler, especially in the same production.


The Book of Mormon’s irreverent humor and comedic nature fueled CJ night after night, keeping him constantly on the move – literally. As a fitness guru, he was right at home in such a physically demanding production, burning nearly 1,000 calories each performance. CJ’s pre-show ritual, which includes taking a shot of espresso while draped in his Gryffindor cape and then meditating in his dressing room chair, kept him energized for the two hour and thirty minute run-time. These physical demands added to CJ’s love of delivering his performances. “There’s nothing like feeling artistic sweat at the end of the day.”


With The Book of Mormon being a dream job, his decision to leave the company wasn’t an easy one. But he knew it was time. After all, alongside choosing happiness, “stay hungry” is a second mantra he often shares to his nearly 8,000 followers on Instagram and repeats to himself regularly.


Be sure to follow CJ on Instagram for his latest happenings, fitness tips and ever-encouraging mantras:

Photographed by Chris Carroll