Former

Shortland Street

heart-throb Cameron Jones has spoken of the heartbreak of his father's death - and how it is driving his bid to break into Hollywood.

Jones played the role of much-loved ambulance driver Dallas Adams in the long-running Kiwi soap from 2013-15 before heading to America to chase his dream.

In an exclusive interview with the Herald on Sunday, the 25-year-old LA-based actor said the death of his father, Graeme, last November had led to a period of emotional turmoil.

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But eight months on, memories of his loving dad were inspiring him to crack Tinseltown.

"After Dad's passing last year I really didn't have anything left in the tank," Jones said.

"A year of not securing anything, toxic relationships, and then his death. He was the number one in my life. A mentor and best friend to me." Jones recently made his first breakthrough in the US, with a lead role in an upcoming movie. Details of the project are due to be released soon.

Jones said his father's death had put everything else in his life into context.

"If I can go through that, saying a few lines in a casting room is nothing. I've got a clear sense of the big picture," he said.

"I stopped worrying about small stuff. Gossip and petty arguments just didn't matter to me anymore and I feel like I became a man that day. I had to, for my family, for Dad.

"His last words to me were about how proud he was, and that he wanted me to keep going in LA, which was a big turn-around from him being against my chosen profession my whole life.

So, not only did I kind of have a whole new lease on life, but I never left auditions without giving it everything in my body."

Jones said he had more than 150 rejections before landing the movie role. "It's been incredibly tough. Getting told 'no' 150 times does something to the psyche for sure."

Jones' New Zealand-based agent Karen Kay said she was thrilled by her client's success. Breaking into LA was a massive challenge and one which could only be achieved by the "most focused and determined", Kay said.

Cameron and his dad, Graeme.
Cameron and his dad, Graeme.

"Cam is one of the most brilliant actors to work with," Kay said. "He listens and gives his all to everything.

"Cam has persevered through thick and thin, and on the recall for this role he blew his performance out of the park."