Leaving The Music Business For A Career In Hollywood - Choice Skinner [FULL INTERVIEW]
Choice, did you grow up in New York yeah, I was, born and raised Brooklyn, New York and I. Went to high school there went to elementary, school there went to junior high school mm-hmm. Yeah, and I. Always, say that I'm a project kid I don't have any problem saying that you know that's something that uh sometimes. People have liuxiang with but I don't because, I wouldn't, be Who I am if I didn't have those experiences. Grew, up. Not. Too far away from Mike Tyson you know in New York we have what's called blocks and. A block is maybe, a. Couple of yards depending, on where you stay I was, in East New York Brooklyn, I grew up across, the street from Jefferson. High School so. Mike Tyson stayed in the opposite direction and. It's. A funny story about that might. I say has some cousins and one. Day I had some sneakers, that was given to me some converse allstar. We. Used to call them leather, black. On white upper, ankle. Tops and so high, tops they called me and my. Brother. He. He, was always the guy around the neighborhood that everybody knew who was like you don't mess with this family because of him, well. Anyway I got these high tops in school and by. Being on the honor roll and they. Were like eight these. Guys are gonna take your sneakers I, don't. Like what, I just got him it's like who's gonna take my sneakers, and apparently, they were like. Kind. Of played cousins of Mike Tyson and, so. I was, terrified throughout the whole class people were telling me they're gonna take your sneakers what are you gonna do I, gotta. Figure out something so end of class the bell rings and I'm, saying oh my god I got to go out here and we get beat up in front of everybody and these guys are gonna take my shoes my sneakers, off of my feet so. Me. Being the smart person that I was at that age I said okay I don't want to do that I'm gonna go to the other direction so, there was a teacher. Who. She was leaving and I said listen can. I can I leave with you you mind if I walk out this way we went out the back way as I walk out the back way I can look down the street on the corner and I could see that these guys were waiting, so. I did the right thing and I, home as I get to the stoop my brothers standing and he said why you sweating what's going on and, I'm like these guys are gonna take my sneakers, and he goes who show, me and so I go and I point to them and he goes all right you go home, he, beats these guys up. Yeah. My. Brother my. Brother, he. Was an amazing being, back then in those days so anyway, my point is the reason why I'm saying that is growing up in Brooklyn it was tough, it, wasn't easy I got mugged. It. Was it, was tough it was tough back in the 80s it wasn't easy but it. Helped, me to get, into the martial arts which is something. That's helped me in my life tremendously and. It, helped me to know a lot about myself so, you know I'm a smart guy I mean you can't pull the wool over my eyes and you, can't sell me the Brooklyn Bridge it's, not gonna happen anytime soon so yeah, growing up no but that was fun things in New York as well I mean, it was great growing, up in the 80s I mean come on you had the best music you. Know and he had some of the best experiences ever, but. Uh I, learned, a lot about who I was, and what I was going to become, by. Growing up in New York, one. Of my favorite. Sort, of sayings, is owning, your own story and, I heard that one time I was looking at some comments on an article, and someone, talked about that and I was like wow and it's about accepting. Where you're from and who you are and being okay with that I think a lot of people do want to put on airs when, they come to LA because, their shame or whatever I. Can say I felt that so. When. Did you decide you know I'm gonna own my own story and I'm okay with, me mm-hmm I'll, tell you this you know when I when I first came out to LA, was, for music I was. A music. Producer for an army artist, double. Platinum artists on RCA Records and one. Of the things that I've learned you. Know I was, fortunate to have a mom who, even. Though she was raising five young boys she. Was strong she went back to college. She. Went got a GED then went to college, at a later age and she, always took care of us and she always made sure we have we needed when.
I Moved to LA it was a thing of okay wait a minute I've survived, New, York Brooklyn and. Why. Would I have any shame, and being from, where, I was at in the projects, to knowing that there's things that I can use that I learned as a child here. In LA so, that whole thing in New York they call it the rat race being able to pound, the pavement being. Able to be a go-getter, and being real that. Fit in well, for me when I moved to LA so I didn't have a problem you. Know letting, people know that I was from the project's I tell you this it's a funny story when I went into a. Noir, dition once I got into acting I got out of music and I got into acting and. I went in for an audition and it was for the part of a thug and so I go in it's, it's. The audition room and I'm, sitting in the lobby and all these guys are sitting up there with tattoos, and stuffing it mean mugging and everything and I, don't look anything like a thug and I couldn't begin to do. Anything to make myself look like a thug no earrings or anything like that no piercings no tattoos, so, I'm saying oh man how am I gonna go in here and get this audition like this is like you know the. One thing that I learned growing up was. Watching. Other people, I didn't. Know I was an actor until I became an actor and so, I had a lot in my data bank and so I go into the room and I. Go. Into the room in character, so, the casting directors like oh so. Um hi, choice and she goes to shake my hand and I'll shake, hands. I'm. Playing the thug persona I booked the role I knew I got it when I left out of here because they were so scared then I go hey I'm just that, was me in character, hi how you doing I'm sorry shake your hand before but that was me in character, I was just being, like the guys from the neighborhood when I grew up so, that helped me tremendously. Any. Piece of wisdom for someone that isn't. Okay with where they're from they could be from a cult OSAC in in. A. Neighborhood. That i would, have loved to have grown up in but didn't they could have been from wherever, but sometimes people aren't okay with where they're from for whatever reason any advice to them on that. Your. Circumstances. And what. You've been through. Sometimes. Have yet to revealed, why they are important, in your life so. In essence what I'm saying is this, the circumstance, doesn't make you the circumstance. Prepares, you for the situation. That you're gonna go through so in essence everything, that I went through all the muggings and stuff like that once I got into martial arts and then once, I became an actor I was able to use so many other things and so. There's. No shame in what you've been through the, only shame is not telling, anyone, about it because, your. Circumstance, in your situation is, there, so that way you can probably help someone else in the future you. Would be surprised like just me talking about being a project kid sometimes I go and I speak at high schools or, I'm on a panel, and I'll tell people this and they're like really I would have never thought I thought you might have been to college and you grew up in a suburb and I'm like no I chose, to speak well because. That's what I wanted, to be perceived. As a person who could speak well and so. For, me it's a thing of the, shame of hiding, something, comes from not. Realizing, that there's power in that there's power in being different there's power and then coming, from a place of of. Adversity. Who, wouldn't who wouldn't be able to say, hey I've been through this and I'm still here we're, strong from that and so embrace. It embrace it because there's. So many people whose lives. You're gonna touch and I've learned that by being Who I am and, by being honest about the stuff that I've been through I enjoy. It and I think that anybody that doesn't. Want to explain a you, know explain where they've come from or what they've been through is there. They're not ready to receive the true blessing, which is touching others. He. Talked about earlier being observant and this is just a side note but I read that soldiers, that had grown up in high, stress environments, actually, survived had.
More Of a higher rate of survival because they were so on alert because. It was it was natural, for them to always be surveying, their, environment, and how that ended, up helping them yeah so that's interesting from you observing, people how, do you think that's also helped you, not. Even in a high-stress situation just in life just just meeting a casting director and knowing, okay maybe, this casting director doesn't have a sense of humor let me try something different they do yeah. Listen. The. Entertainment, industry, period, whether it's an acting, or a film or in music, dance. It's, really. All based on personalities. I mean. When. You're when you're working, in an industry where, people have. Worked really really hard to. Use their talent, or their. Resources, to get to a specific place in life you're. Going to deal with personalities. You're gonna deal with the different things on why they don't like this and why they don't like that you're gonna deal with idios you're, gonna deal with what people say oh this person they just have you, know their eccentric, behavior. Personalities. Is the number one driving force of the industry it's the reason why it's specific people work together I mean, you look at leo and you look at Scorsese, and why they continue to work together it's a formula that works and what. I've learned is that your. Past experiences. Okay, depending on all right let me look at it this way and put it to you this way I was raised by a single mom I didn't. Have a dad I don't, know what it is to not have a dad because my dad died right before I was born okay, in that. Sense, a lot. Of the attributes, with me growing up was for my mom I. Didn't. Really have a father but I had. Men. Who were like, mentors. Or men who I looked. At and learned from but. I didn't know what it was to be my own man, when. I got. Into the entertainment, industry, a lot. Of the ways I responded. Was the way my mom respond. That's, not always a good thing because. As, being. A young man if, I'm going in and I'm asking for some some. Budget say for instance the budget is half a million dollars I have to prove to this person, that I'm balanced. In the sense to where that money comes to me I can handle it I'm not gonna get into.
A Space where. Personality-wise. I'm, gonna be indifferent, or, personality-wise. Because, I feel a certain way I'm gonna be indifferent, and I, learned that that that's important, because people, judge. You based on how you are with, your personality, you, know this. Whole industry is based on that, you know casting. Directors they a lot, of times I tell actors. It's. All about the adjustment, it's not about going into the audition and being brilliant that's great but. A lot of times the casting, director or the director will throw something, at you to, see how well you make adjustments and, people. Don't realize that so, a lot of times people go and their work on an audition and they'll nearly, know they'll got all my lines right and you, know I know, exactly what I'm gonna wear and I know what, movement, is gonna be and then the casting director goes that's great, can, you do it this way or they, get the callback and the director goes that's great and, you know you did great, but, can you do this and people fail, at it because they're not able to make adjustments, to. Me that's. The number one thing when, it comes to dealing with personalities, when. You meet someone you say okay this, is a IDEO that they have this is something that maybe, even, goes as far as their their. Uh their. Ego. Can. I make the adjustment, am, i flexible, am i able to be okay with that who wants to work with someone that is inflexible. Or, intolerant. You, see and I've, learned that this, thing's really all about personalities. It's all about showing up it's about integrity it's about being there for people's about being able to communicate it's. About taking you. Know direction. And, that's. The number one thing that I think people feel that. Any. Stories tell us about your first, time on set oh yeah. I. Had. Got booked to be on a TV show it. Was a well, known TV shows and national TV shows like my first national TV show and, I. Was. Learning the process of what it is to be on set and, it's. Before. My shot is up and so I got all this time and I've been waiting and in, the honey, wagon for, a minute and they told me okay it's, time to go to set so I get to set and they said we don't need them yet we're, gonna wait and for him to like. The scene and we're gonna bring them in I said okay it works so I said go get you something from craft service and, I'm like I'm.
Hungry But I'm not really hungry but at Saint I'll go so. I'll go to craft service and I'm looking, oh man, all these delectable stuff. You, know and I'm saying to myself man. This you know I'm looking for someone to pay I'm. Looking, for there's, got to be somebody I have to pay there so I got my wallet out and I'm waiting for someone in this guy, comes I think he was uh he. Was probably a gaffer. Or you know one of the guys is a crew, and, he comes over he's got his belt on and he grabs something and he just thoughts you. Know fix it up and he starts eating it and walks off I'm like oh my, god he didn't pay for it you know, this. Other guy comes up and I'm like man that God just didn't pay for that and he goes oh. You. Don't have to pay and, I'm like you don't he. Was like no this is crap started and he grabs something he walked off and it, there was that thing of me being so, appreciative, that I'm on set I'm like, this is the whole experience, getting makeup you, know people catering. To you people looking out for you and saying hey you know this is this and that's that and here, it is all the food you want you can eat it when you have the time to eat it and you. Don't ever have to worry about it why would I be indifferent in regards to being on the set why, would I be a difficult, actor that. Experience, helped, me to love helped me to love acting more because I was just like man you know back, in the day when I was a kid in the projects, I'd had the paper this stuff here it is pretty. Funny. Stuff, so. Taking, that mindset. Where, you felt so good you felt appreciated, and, then. All the time it takes to, get on that set and keeping. Your mind right in. The, meantime because I think sometimes for me, I've had experiences, to where you're, treated so well in one place and then another place you're, not and it. Really can do a number on someone, yeah because it's, hard to compartmentalize. So. How do you keep yourself, we. Talked, earlier about balance. Off-camera how. Do you keep is that through the martial arts or oh yeah, I could you, know listen I coach, a lot of actors I work. With a lot of actors my self. I'm an actor my my. Acting, coach you stoie say you're. So focused because of your martial arts I've been studying martial arts pretty much all, my life. And one. Of the things that you learn is focus focus is a very strong attribute, that's needed, for acting, like, you have to be able to focus you know you can't bring what you've been going, through in life build problems. Family issues you, know relationship, issues on a set with you if you're on if you're the lead actor or if you're in a top ten of the other, above the line you. Can't bring your problems to the set you can't bring your your mental imbalances. On set and so, for me that always has to be something, that, keeps you you, know I've been using this word a lot lately in alignment, you have to learn to be in alignment at all times and for. Me the, focus, yeah martial, arts helps it but really it's because I love it and, love. Overwhelms. Everything in, my opinion, love you know you can you, can fall out of love obviously, you can have a love-hate, relationship. But, if that love is pure and you know I've never really wanted, to do anything but, being an entertainment industry since I was a kid, my. First play was at six, and I. Played Eric the red and in, the play, here's. This little black project. Kid playing, Eric the red in. The elementary. School, play I had pictures, that reminds me of that and I'm laughing doing, this all my life why. Why would I not be mentally. In alignment, with that what, would make me not have. That love I think it's like any relationship I, always tell people you know you got to be married to the word yeah, you know you can be married to someone and. Commit it to someone, but, you have to be married to the word I always say God first then your career then, you, then your family friends and loved ones because there's a hierarchy, in regards, to how you can work with everything. Some. People would disagree but that's fine I mean I mean I believe it's whatever keeps you in alignment and martial.
Arts Helped me to understand, that there, was nothing impossible. Because. I was able to do things that, when I was a kid being lanky, and clumsy, and being what I would consider, a victim, I was, able to do things as I got deeper into the martial arts that some, people would consider impossible, or not possible, and I, was able to do that stuff so for, me to be able to, to shoot a feature or to be a director, and say man we don't have any money or we don't have these resources like, nothing's impossible we. Can get it done we'll find a way we. Just just keep going that's, the answer just just no matter what just keep going, if you wake up keep. Going, you see that's, my that's my motto and so um for. Me mentally, I'm. One set it's. Love it's what I've been wanting to do is what I always want to do even, when I'm exhausted I'm editing in an editing Bay or I'm going on auditions and nothing's happening just. Keep going, that's, my mental state keep going. And. By the way I had a girl that was I had heard she was gonna beat me up too so, I knew and it was she, never actually did it but I know what, that was like but you're not the one that meant see listen this is the thing I always tell people the, person. You think you can beat up is the person that will ruin your life and you're. Not a pushover, you're very strong and I think sometimes, when. I teach self-defense, in martial arts I always tell people the reason why you don't want to fight is because you know how hard you can fight oh that's. Really, good yeah it's true and I see it in you oh thank you well I was bullied a lot as I know so. You. Believed in righteousness and justice and fairness and yeah and that's the problem people feel like they can just do whatever they want. Have. You noticed well we'll talk about that later on but that's that's excellent I like that that's, excellent how old were you when you arrived in Los Angeles ooh that's. A good one. What. Hit song was out. I. Remember. Leah's are, you, that somebody, okay. I remember that being on listen. Moving. To LA was like a serious, culture shot okay cuz you know I came from Atlanta Augusta, Ga and, I. Had lived there for years and then you know I had this R&B artist who flew me out it was around Thanksgiving, time and we're. Working on his second, album which, never, saw the light of day unfortunately, but. I remember. Going down on the 101. Because. The 101 always freaked me out it was just like this is you, know I'm not used to these type of freeways. And I remember, are. You, that somebody, by Aaliyah being, on because I thought it was so odd to hear a baby, in it and in. A song I was like Tim man is crazy he's got this little baby going, in but this is a dope song so, yeah. Whatever. Year that that was I guess that was 98. I'm, I, had, been, what, is this that was, that. Was 20, years ago. I. Probably. Was, I was, 28 28, 28 27 28 okay. What. Were your expectations, when. You think back to driving down that one oh and by the way the 101 scares me too so I can. See why but it's also invigorating, at night it's so beautiful, yeah.
There's, A right, there's a sense of possibility like wow this is Los Angeles and I'm here but. Still it is scary but what were your expectations at, that time I. Thought. In a year's time I was gonna have probably. Five, hit records on a radio I was gonna win a not a not. An Oscar a Grammy, and. I. Would be able to buy my mom a house and. Yeah. That's. That. Was a rough time because. For. How many years that I have been working on doing music, and, having. The success that I did have living. In Georgia and having. My songs on the radio and stuff when I moved to LA that didn't happen and, it. Was just a rough time I mean I was. Living with the. Artists family. I didn't. Have my own place and, it. Was hard finding my space in that production company, and. Seeing. I was, seeing where, things were gonna be at that time so, what. You're asking on one hand I had expectations, on where I wanted, it to go but. I was also seeing where it wasn't, gonna go and that's, tough, especially. When you're working with someone so talented because, you're saying I. See. Where you're headed and it's not good and, if. That's where you're headed what's. Gonna happen to me. Everything. Happens for a reason you know I look, back at my music career and I say man you know as much I still love music, I mean if I had an opportunity I probably would. Work with somebody and come out with an amazing, record but I. Didn't. Get the love that. I get in the film I didn't. Get that love in music and so. You have to go with where the love is reciprocated, as. Much as I love music it wasn't loving me as, much as I love film it loves me and that to, me is you. Know it's like any relationship you, had I mean it can't be one-sided so. My, expectations. Were I I you know I I assumed, I'd I would have at. Least five songs on the radio I was that good of a music producer and songwriter but, it. Wasn't meant to be and, I had to accept that and I. Had to accept that and in, making, that transition help, me to, move into film easier. We. Talked about earlier. Flexibility. And it. Goes, back to sort of Darwinism to talks about you know the species that survives are, the ones that can adapt so, you're talking about you. Saw even though you loved music it was everything, you wanted, to be. What. Was that moment like when you realized I mean how did you even see that how, did you see as, much as I love this this is me it's not gonna happen. I'm. Probably speaking. The tale of many people, who got to that point and quit the industry. Rather. Than making the adjustment, I think, that's what happens I think there's a point where, everyone. Gets to in their life where they go okay listen you know I'm not receiving it because it's really all about love it really is all we're, looking for is human beings is for love we're, all looking for it some of us we find it and entertainment, some of us we, find it from our children we find it from the spouse, that we wit we find it from our family, we find it from God we find it from our religion we find it the. Way that we need to find it and when. It's not reciprocated. It's. A very powerful and, painful, thing it, was a cathartic moment for, me, it. Was tough. I remember, being on my knees and, just crying. And, saying, God why did you bring me out here if this is not gonna happen like you know, what, do i do do I go back to you know to Augusta do I you know go to New York what. Do I do it's. Not happening, I've been struggling you know I was a personal trainer working. At a gym I did. So many different jobs, but. I, think. When. You listen, to that inner voice you, know Oprah calls it the aha moment, I just. Believe it's just an epiphany when you wake up and you go you know what maybe that's just not the way it's supposed to happen and if, you let go cuz sometimes God is say be still and know that I am God and I said okay what does that mean, what, is that level of faith of, understanding.
That If you wake up in the morning that you're breathing that you're eating that you have, your capacity, of your limbs and you're. Still moving forward you have a roof over your head you have food to eat you have clothes on your back he's, giving you everything that you need. So. You just have to make that adjustment and, the adjustment, for me was okay, listen music is not the way but. Getting. Into film, years. Later, needing. To work on the music which moves, any film, I had, all of that experience, and, I. Said wait a minute that's what that was for, so, I snatched, that big pearl not took it and put it into my collection of jewels and now, I realized okay all of those years of doing that no. Different, than me being mugged or going through the violence that I went through in Brooklyn as a kid which got me into the martial arts all. Of those years of music, and stuff helps, me as a film director, it. Helps me to teach my actors, because they don't know 80s music or 70s music or 60s and 50s and 40s and 30s and 20s I know all of that stuff because I spent so many years in music so, now when I'm teaching them something about acting, I got, a little extra resource, that I can give them through, lyrics, that they've never heard because. All they listened to his current music, man. How powerful, was that when I'm telling them hey listen to Bruce Springsteen and he was saying this in this song how, close is that or, listen to Richard mark when he's talking about it don't mean nothing, and this is attributing. To your acting, career your singing, career your dance career and, they're going wow this is amazing stuff they've never heard these songs I, have. You. Talked about being a teacher and we. Are in, Sherman Oaks at the young actor space beautiful. Studio here, I've, seen a lot of actors in the hallway I. Know. You've crossed paths with, I'm sure so many young actors they're. New to LA. So. In your first class with those actors what, are some of the things that you're going over. With them is it about crafts or is it just about balance. It's. Really, never about the craft because, sometimes. I get actors that studied in college and they come to me with a degree, and I'm, like okay well I have. To watch them you know I always say the the they, always ask me do you have an audit and I say I have a working audit I want to see you onstage I want to throw you to the Wolves I want, you to have that. Focus. And that discipline, that's necessary, to see if you can fit in what I got going on. The. Craft, listen. We. Are all good liars, everybody, is and that to me is the ultimate form of acting acting is lying, and I've said it before no, one likes that term because, no one wants to be coined a liar but, that's. What acting is and, you're taking a scene. That was written by somebody that made it up it doesn't exist okay not in a galaxy, long long, far far away it doesn't exist, okay but. You're taking the elements, of that script, and you're, saying okay we're gonna make this real. Life now we're, gonna make this the truth and the actors have to read those lines and they have to believe in what they're saying and, they have to get a response and they got to get us to relate it's all a lie it's not real, none of it is real yeah they created, robotic.
R2d2, And, c3po. That people dress up like Princess. Leia stuff, but that wasn't real it came from George Lucas's, mind it's, not real and so, if I focused, with an actor on. Technique. Or or or. Craft, they're, they're never going to get to the essence of what acting, is which. Is knowing, self. Getting. To know self getting, to be okay, with self getting to be okay with exposing. Self. Revealing. The layers peeling, the onion layers away, getting. To understand, how brave, it takes a person, to be to. Be able to. Cry. Or. Laugh or, be sexual, or or to, be. Uncomfortable. In a comfortable environment or, comfortable, in an uncomfortable environment that. Has nothing to do with crap that has everything to do itself the. Duration, of doing the work yes that makes anybody comfortable. Can. Anybody act I mean. There's a debate on that I believe. That the best actors, are the most brave I believe, that those who study, to. Understand, human behavior are, the, most brave so for me right. Off the bat when I get to see someone on stage I got a feel of who they are and I know where to help them or to not, even help them sometimes I say this class is not right for you because, it's not about the money it's about bringing. Powerful. A list actors to the front I always say why. A list actors because working actors don't always work ælis. Actors work when they want to work julie. Rob has had kids, took, time off came back do. Anything she wants, it's. A big difference to me so it's never about the craft it's, always, to me about, people getting to know who they are and then once you get to know who you are the. Next level is disciplining, yourself to, where you're amazing. On set and everybody. Likes you and everybody loves you because it's all love we're all getting to do something we love why, would you want to be difficult why would you want to bring in you, know all your your idios or your your, little eccentric behavior nobody, wants that we want to make great films one of work and so, my, work. Process. Or my approach, with actors, is getting them to know that they are brilliant and that they're great and, I always, say my term is greatness, recognizes, greatness I am great because. You agree so. If you're great I'm, great I. Love. That and I just thought of something in, the moment and that is you talk about knowing. Oneself. Have. You seen people, that aren't classically, trained or have very little, formal. Education, come. In and just know the selves and then also the opposite, absolutely. I have a several. Actors like that right now in my class one in particular scenes of, just, the Phenom and so. My thing is like sometimes, when actors come I figure. Out okay what do they need do they need more internal, work do they need more, external. Work you know because everyone works differently some people work from the inside out and some, from the outside in. So, sometimes it's just the thing of the material, because, they're brave they, just don't have any, focus. So they don't have any. Discipline. And so, you give them the material, and that material will. Help to mold them and to shape, them and to put them in the direction that they're in then. You have on the other end the actor who comes in who is just, a difficult actor. And maybe. They studied, and they they went to a prestigious, school and they, don't understand, why their career is not taking off and so. Then it's like okay well listen they, always tell me they said well I need you if you can challenge me you, can challenge me beat me up if I have, no enjoyment in doing that you, know for, me I have, a no pressure policy, because, how. Else are you gonna be ready to, work on a feature film, and you, have it's a 92 page feature film and you have 90, pages, of dialogue if, you're. Getting your head about having to be able to do all of that there's a pressure that. Comes with it that's, where most people start to veer off into drugs and alcohol or become, belligerent angry and because. The pressure. For. Me it's the thing - of understanding, that the work is not about pressure the, work is love and so guiding.
Them Into, that scenario, sometimes, it's tough because they've, already had this, type of background where they've been structured. You, know they've been taught diligently. Like it's learning your lines you. Know there. Is a difference, between film, acting, and stage acting, and television, actor there's a differences. But, they're all acting, and so. Not, one is better than the other they're. All important. In my opinion. But, sometimes, you get someone who will say you know I'm a great actor because I'm a theatre actor I'm a great actor because I do TV it's. Like no you're an actor you, know you must respect all of the media it's the same so. I get a little bit of both but I tend to like those who are empaths because. Empath, actor, are easier. To mold because. They're already in touch with their emotions you, just got to get past what stops them from being, open, and being raw, but. Once you're able to mold them. Marlon. Brando you. Know Meryl. Streep Denzel, Washington, their impasse they feel everything. You blow on them they feel it it's, the best actor, to me not. Taking, anything from the discipline, actor they're, just a little more heady, and. It takes takes a little bit more work to get them away from that I got actors in my class like that too and you, know it's like okay how long is it gonna take before you let go you, know stop thinking because they think you, know I always say we talk about the roller-coaster ride acting, it's, like a roller coaster ride right you, have you have the roller coaster rides or the rise at and. Uh, you. Know the different amusement parks where you may have something like the Superman, right we're just drops but. You light up you're, going 100 miles an hour you just drop you can't control yourself right and then you have some that twist, and turn and go, and, that's. The real process of acting, we, don't want to know what's gonna happen we just want to be surprised. It's got to be random, but at the same time you got to be able to relate so. The heady, actor is like okay, I want, you to relate I'm going, to do these things to make you relate you imagined Valentine's. Day you, plan out everything you're gonna do with the other person no you. Know it's like you want to surprise people you want to say hey look at this look at that look at this you, do your best to figure out what they like but. At the same time it's got to be spontaneous, mmm, how, can you spot that impact, you know they say we all have intuition, but some have, higher levels, maybe. Waman, empath okay, so. But. I I I. Always, say that we. All block, who. We really are there, are three sides to we are who we think. We are who, others think we are who we really are those three masks that we wear. The empath. Depending. On what their background, is some people you know have been through a lot of things in life and they encase. Themselves. For. Me and acting, once a person gets onstage, they. Can't hide I've. Yet. To find one person that could hide from that moment, because. Something. Happens, in an uncomfortable, environment if. You can make someone comfortable. In an, uncomfortable, environment they. Tend to show who they are they tend to be more who they are and those, signs appear. And, you see them they're much more prevalent and they're easier to spot and so for impacts, usually, it's a thing of feeling. They, are the feel from the outside in or the inside out something. Emotional you will strike them and we.
Have An exercise where. When. I get all the actors on stage and I make them close their eyes and I say okay and I want them to see things and I say see this, or see that see this the, empath will always fall apart they I haven't. Had it happen where one wasn't in, that space they always, fall apart even if they're holding on and they're trying not to cry, or they're trying to feel something they always, fall apart, every time. When. Did you know you were empathic oh. That's. A good question I. Would. Say in. Study. In under, my acting coach I knew, then I mean. Listen, I I've always, been the type of kid where even when I would see two people fighting I'd want to jump in between and and. Stop, them from fighting or when my mom was having it hard or one, of my family, members or friend was going through it I was, always there. Was. That the sign of whether I was an impact or, not I I don't I don't I don't think so, but, when I knew like okay I'm different. I feel. Like, I feel was an acting class and I, never. Forget I had. A very close friend of mine she passed away and at, this point maybe. Five. Months into the acting class I hadn't, fallen apart and cried and I. Did everything in my power not to cry. I'm just like I don't cry I don't, do this and I don't do that and I don't cry on show my emotions, I don't show my my feelings, because I'm a martial artist and I'm strong and I'm a man and you know I don't men don't cry you know you buy that you believe, that myth, and that lie and, uh. She. Gave me an exercise and, she, it was a it was an emotional exercise it was for me to cry and I'm, not, gonna cry I'm gonna cry and she. Told me to think about somebody who I loved that wasn't there and it just so happens, that my friend passed away just. Like maybe that week and. I'm. Holding it and i'm holding it and all of a sudden it came and it. Wouldn't stop and it. Wouldn't stop and I cried for maybe two hours and, then, after that I said to myself okay this is something new here well that. Wasn't the determining, factor, what was was time went by and I realized that every time I watch an acting scene I'd feel it and it. Was never like that before and, as. Time went on I would feel everything, I'd feel the wind I'd see. A you know a sad, dog or something like the henna start around like okay and I had to look it up in my own empath okay well I guess that's what my mom always says that I'm an indigo kid I don't know I guess. But, empaths, tend to be indigo kids so maybe, that's what it is. How. Did you spend your first few years as an actor and then how do you spend them now, good. Question. My. First few years as an actor was hard worked it was some, you. Know I told my actors the story about eating, eggs. Water. And donuts but, making sure I had money for my acting class I didn't, have a car but. I would take the bus to get there didn't know how I would get home but God, blessed me with someone who would give me a ride, it. Was all about just being the best that I could possibly be I wanted, to be in the ranks, of the leading men of my. Caliber Denzel, Wesley, Snipes Cooper, Gooding those were the scenes I worked on and I, knew who I was as an actor and I, worked, towards, playing those authoritative, roles I didn't have a problem playing thugs or you. Know gangbangers, just I loved those characters, those the guys I grew up with so I understand, it but. I've. Never been jaded in a sense like not having the opportunity place, or rules look listen, in. My beginning of an act as being an actor I worked on as many roles as I possibly could if the. Roles didn't, exist I wrote, him and I. Would bring him into class and so. For, me it was just being the best that, I possibly could. Be to, understand. The process, of acting, and to, be great. At it and to, be a joy to be around because, I understood, that's. How people continued to work with you where. I'm at now as, an. Actor I really. Don't care for the audition process I don't care for it I do it. My. Managers always on me about it so I do it I go in. One. Of the things that make, made, me not care for it is knowing. The politics. Behind it because I'm a producer, and a director now, I know. What. I didn't, know back then when I was just acting and, that, is sometimes even, if you're auditioning for a role, you're. Already, not gonna get it because they they maybe you wanna foam talking to the person that they just offered, the role to so. That's kind of tough and where, I'm at now I create my own content, I direct I write, and. I have people who call me up and put me in projects, because they remember me as an actor and they remember my work so. It. Can be a little funny sometimes for me because it's like I listen do I really want to waste the time in audition for something that I may not get, or.
You. Know do I just continue to do the process, because that's what, that is is, audition. It's part of your acting process yeah I don't know where. I'm at now I, just, love. Having. Something, that I write or something right for me and say hey this come do this it's easier it's no pressures no stress. About it and I, enjoy that a little, bit more than, yeah. I've never been a competitive, person, even, in the martial arts you know the fight, in, tournaments, wasn't for me so. With. Acting, I don't look at his competition, I look at it like I said it's love they can't be competition in love so. I, if. If the role is right for me give it to me I'll show up for you and I'll do a great job. You. Think that odd, grind, is what sends a lot of people home or, somewhere, else. Somewhat. I think, what. Sends people home mostly is lack of money, people. Get into the entertainment industry thinking that they're gonna make a lot of money and I. Always tell actors if you got into the entertainment industry, to make money you. Can do anything else I mean you can do porn and make a lot of money. Relationship. For some people because you know they may have got. Out of college or, they left a corporate job or, they left pharmaceuticals, I knew an actor who was a rocket, scientist, but he wasn't happy unless he was doing acting, and, they. Get into the acting world and they want to make a lot of money in two. Three years go by four years maybe five and they're not making any money they're working a dead-end job and, they. Start to battle with that and so I think, typically, that's usually what sends people home the. Auditioning, process has a different, experience. When. You hear these stories of like, Angelina. Jolie or. Mark. Ruffalo they, said he went out fifty times and so he got his first role I. I. Believe, that everybody's, resilience, is a different, level I didn't. Have to go out fifty times I think I went out three times and I booked my third audition, I think yeah, I was. That type of actor, um, but. I could see how the. The rejection. Because. Like, I said everybody's, looking for love and, even. If you were going out for somebody that you you like or you're attracted, to and you get that rejection is it there's, a thing you go through there's a catharsis this it's. A hurtful period, you go through and I think if, you're going out for auditions, and you may be right for them and you're being told no no, and, no you, start to question yourself is this right for me is this really what I should be doing. Listen. If we're all climbing up a mountain we don't know what's at the top of the mountain till we get there the. Climb is just part of the journey auditions. Are just part of the journey and I believe that I do, believe, that there's a point where, actors. Need to know if they are auditioning. Actors or not which basically means this. If you, go in and you cannot defeat the nervousness. Maybe. Audition, is not for you unless it helps you to book the audition, maybe, being nervous books that audition, maybe, you go in you feel like you did a horrible job and then you get the callback and you book it like I was horrible that, happens but, I do believe that there's a sense that actors need to know if they are auditioning. Actors is the, auditioning, process for, you and if it isn't what. Adjustment, are you willing to make in order to be great at it so. That way you're not missing, out on opportunities or, you're not wasting your time on. One, of our videos choice, an actor or left a comment and, this, actor put I don't, know how to find work and an agent won't work with me because I don't have experience what. Would you tell this actor. Pursue. A manager, because. It, seems like nowadays they're easier to gain, but. You. Know it's, not like how it used to be it used to be you get a manager you get an agent then you go out your audition and stuff know you. Can do a lot of it yourself. You can build your body of work by, submitting, and creating. Content you know actors. Have this tendency. Of just waiting around and, you, know why or if they get an agent a manager oh okay everything's okay no it's not you. Know agents, and managers are, like. Gosh. The, last person they see is the last person they remember, so if they met you five people, ago or five persons, ago now, they're, not even thinking about you and you have to stay in their mind you can, do so much more nowadays. Especially. Being non-union, because there's a lot of projects that are non-union, actors. Tend to get, caught up in this thing up my, career is not going anywhere unless I'm doing, it but you know it goes back to that money thing again they get into it to make money and. The. Money is not the key you, know you can make money doing a lot of other things. If. You're, if you're in the entertainment industry specifically.
Acting, You're in it in order, to live, your dream you're. In it in order to create great content it's gonna change life that's just my opinion but, I would. I, would top it off a capital, off by saying. Eh own content, because, you can even become sag, that way or sag eligible, that way or. Submit. Submit, submit, submit. Yourself for anything and everything. Find out who the casting directors on projects, let, them know hey listen I'm here I'm available to do standing work I'm available, to, do extra, work because I started, out as an extractor, and it. Opened up doors for me the first extra, gig that I got I got camera time I didn't, get any voice work. But, the camera was on me over, and over again so there, were little signs that told me to keep going, and that's what I would say to anybody who's an actor it's like don't. Just depend on getting the agent or manager you, got your own resources the internet now is a, hive, of different types of resources, to, submit yourself there's so many casting. Type, of opportunities. You, know yeah listen you may not become the leader of a film but at least you get in next to the person next to the person what's. Wrong with that. And. Talking about observation. It's a great great, way to observe, how. The set, works the. Feel of it you, know that the protocol. You. Can see a lot extra, work, background. Actors, whatever, you want to call it, my. First job on the set as an, extra, was, free Jack, and. I got to meet Emilio, Estevez and Rene Russo, it, doesn't get any better in, Atlanta. We, were we. Were. There for the we were there it was the best weekend ever we were there for the Prince concert and. After. That we riding, by and we saw this area we like what's all this happening here and, so we, went over to the area where the video village was I don't even know how we got over there we just parked and walked over there and I'm. Asking this guy my what's going on a film in a movie with Anthony Hopkins and, Rene Russo and Emilio I suppose I'm like really it was like yeah and, I'm like what's. That lady doing he says she's looking for extras and I'm like what's an extra or you get to be in a movie so, I didn't, know the, the, particular. Is for it but, I just knew all this is something cool and so. I go over and he, said just and look good cuz she'll pick you so, she comes and picks me and my friends, and we're. In this movie, and this is before I come out to LA and do what I consider, my first, first extra, work which, I knew what exactly, I was doing but. Where I'm at this. Is car that keeps going back and forth and they put us right there out, pops out Rene Russo eye pops, out Emilio. Estevez, we're. Standing there we're, talking, we're having a good time we take pictures. Emilio. And I are singing, hair, song songs from here it's, crazy. And, I'm like this is cool this is great I get, to LA I do my first big extra, job as I said before and, it. Gets to a point where I need to become sag and I'm like man how am I gonna do it I need now is I go look at my box to guess what that voucher, that I had got from FreeJack, was. A SAG eligible, felcher so, I had been tap hardly not even know it oh my gosh and that's just from driving by not calling, driving. By a casting, didn't know anything about it talk about random, fortune, stroke. You, know got, out ran. Over applied. Yourself and that's what I think people should do I think you should apply yourself, don't be afraid to do extra work sometimes, if it's, meant to be for you you may even get a line you. Know managers, and ages can't do that for you. At. What point did you want. To start directing. After. The first, big, strike, during, during, my career as an actor we had a strike, in ooh. 2002. Or think of three or something like that, there. Was there wasn't a lot of work for black, American, actors there wasn't hardly anything, like we were, like not, getting any work and. At. That time I had already been writing scripts and wanting, to learn the production, process, which, helped me understand. My, acting. Career a little bit better but. It was it was a necessity. To. The point where I was like listen I'm not getting any work I'm auditioning nothing's, happening, and I. Want to have a reason on why I'm doing this thing called acting, and why I'm in this entertainment career, and. It. Just got to a point where you, know I had been on set enough and I. Had understood, how to work with actors because I had been coaching people on the side we're friends of mine and they were booking that. I understood, the directing, process, now there were things that I didn't, know I didn't, know a days.
And Days out scheduled I didn't know how to do. A shot list you know there were things I didn't know but like I've always believed if you don't know something apply yourself learn it and then make, it yours and make. It to where you, know it better than anybody and so, I got, to a point where I'm like okay listen I need to to. Know what, it is to be able to direct it even, if it doesn't work I'll, just do it and if, I like it you know we'll see what happens I fell. In love with it and I realized that it was a natural thing for me and so. I just started directing, I directed my first short at one Awards, I directed, web series and won, awards, everything. That I've directed had won awards, it's, just it just kept going so I realized okay I like this and that kept, me in, the process of directing I, think. That an actor, has to change. How. They own who, they are from. I. Don't. Even know if I'm saying this right but changing. That mindset from the director to actor. And back and forth is, there something where you have to become comfortable with who you are in instructing. People how. To do something probably the same for teaching as well. With. Actors, because. There. Are different levels of. Battles. That they face the. First battle, that actors face is finding. Their way in the. Industry, not so much in the talent, area because you can get an idea or sensibility, or whether you're talented, or not you know if you're in a class it doesn't matter what the class is doesn't matter who the coach is you can get a sensibility, of who, you are as an artist if you, need to work more on specific things or if you need to, focus. More on certain things the. First level to me mostly, for them is the the, business like they don't understand the business so. You have to help them to relate, with light listen this is a biz it's like it's not just you. Wanting, to be on a red carpet or you being, on a set there's a business behind it is a responsibility. The. Second level is once they get to a point of knowing that they're good there's a bitterness. Because. You. Can be an amazing, actor, and if you don't get the work that you feel you deserve, you. Become bitter or if you're not working at all say for instance this say for instance you booked maybe four jobs in a year and then there's five years of nothing. That. To make you bitter, it's especially, if you know you're great the. Third. And final level, to me, is liberation. Of knowing, who you are and I think that's kind of what you're asking about because. Then you say okay listen there have been people who've been successful in their acting career and still got out the business like. I mean if you go back and you look at a lot of the actors, from the 80s, they, ain't get update I'm like what happened to this person they, got out the business they got into real estate they. Got into sports or being, a coach or being a team it's like what happened or they just um you know, just. Took care of their family they just stopped robbed robbed Moranis I think his name is uh he. Just got out he, was one of the highest-paid actors, and, he. Just took care of his family that was most most important, as a, coach. Your. Job and, I listened, most, people come in my life or I come into their life and they want me to be their big uncle they want me to be their mentor they want me to be the shaman, whatever the, Guru I said, look I'm your acting coach and what. I really care more about than, anything is your career because. If you focus on your career all the things that would give you most of the problems, would be taken care of you'll. Be able to focus on things that will watch out for you if. You, want the desires of your heart that shifts, I always, give a good analogy I say listen we. Go to an ice cream shop right what's. Your favorite ice cream let me ask you that what's your favorite ice cream Oh, Reese's. Peanut butter cups okay how. Many times have you gone to an ice cream shop had. That in mind that's that's one of my favorites too as they what, you're gonna get yeah I'm gonna get that Reese's, and then you go there maybe the cold stone or something he said what's that I mean.
You Get that right, because that's who we are as human beings we. Move and we go according, to how we feel and, so. In. Your career can you really trust that you. Can't especially if you don't understand the business. So. When that pumpkin-spice, appears. You, gotta go with them and, you have to understand, why you're going with that and. It's not that you don't love the the peanut butter cup it's just that you know what I want to try this and being. Ok with yourself as a human being is saying listen when. You get to a certain level as an actor and you say ok I don't want to do this anymore because people do it that. Doesn't mean that the desire dies you. Just better make sure you got a back-up plan because, it's going to hit you again it happens all the time I bump it to people who I was acting, with back, when I was just in class as an. Actor and they've. Gotten married and had kids and it got great jobs and they're going oh how, you been are you still acting yes I am oh I got, out a while ago but I'm thinking about getting headshots I'm thinking about maybe getting out on don't, you have kids yeah but they're older now, the. Desire doesn't leave which, is why people have midlife. Crisis. They're. Not doing what they really want to do. Do. You feel it's a director's, job to, be on set before everyone else twice oh absolutely. I. Believe. That if you set the precedent everyone. Will follow the director, you, know people always think that producers, fix problems directors, prevent, problems and fixes. Them as well especially if you're director producer or director producer, writer I. Got. To be there first I have to be the one to get the energy up I got, to make sure sometimes I'll I'll drink a monster, on the way to set if. It's, been a long shoot I'm pumped. Up I find a way to make everything, feel. Good for everybody you know everyone's there to create something they're all there to to, share their gifts as Patrick, to my other friend, says they're, there to share their gifts and your. Job is to make sure that they have a fertile ground in which to plant great seeds and so. Yeah I'm there I'm usually there first and sometimes, the last to leave unless. It's a project where they got to take everything down I got an early call time. You know I got to leave and get some sleep or watch the aliens and then get up and start, the process all over again. What. Are five skills you think a director should have every director, should. If they don't have them work, on them the. Skill communicating. With actors is number one which, is why you know some. Of the best actors some, of the best directors, were actors right. So, the skill of the skill of directing, actors, the skill, of talking, to actors, is one. Making. A tremendous shot, list and being flexible, with being, able to leave. That shot, list is to the shot is never more important than the actors or the crew never. And I've been on sets where people feel like oh well I got to get my shot I hear you might know, you. Have to take care of your people because, you're a leader, that. Was, to number, three I would say is. A. Work. Environment that, is fun. Uplifting. Inspiring even, if it's a drama even. If it's a drama I mean it's easy for a comedy, or it's, easy for an action film for everybody to get pumped up and to feel you, know a certain way but.
It's Important. And imperative that you make it feel, where people want to come to the set and with. A drama that's even more of a reason why you want to have an uplifted, experience. Number. Four the skill of listening I. Learned. That that. It's important, to listen to people because, sometimes. Sometimes. You may have an idea and what you want and the DP, or your producers, or the actors, may have a different, way, and. It's. Important, to listen to them because they may be telling you something that you won't find out until post, and then, you go oh that's. The giri's and that, was a good reason and number. Five the skill of letting go. If. It's not meant to be it's not meant to be now, that's, contrary, to knowing, that it doesn't matter what it takes to get it done okay, without people. Being compromised, but, at the same time it's the thing of saying okay. There's. A reason why it's not happening, let. It go, it's. Different than saying it, you know it's. Not impossible anything's, possible I can get it done don't, say no because no has never, done anything for anybody but when it comes to saying okay, this. Is it you know let. It go instead. Of wasting you. Know 20, minutes talking about a shot with an actor just say okay listen no words why, don't you go ahead and give me that and then give me this so. Now I have two choices cuz then that goes back to the listening thing when I go onto post then I got alright okay. I'll use that one instead. Letting. Go versus, what, you always hear about is these great creative. Geniuses, entrepreneurs. They're. So driven, they're. Obsessed. Can. You still be all of that and at, some point let go. Passive-aggressive. Energy. Is part. Of that personality, thing that I mentioned about this industry. No. One has to be overtly. Authoritative. You, never have to force, somebody to do something if, if. It's, something that needs to be done we all know we all show up we're all there we say okay this needs to be done we. All understand. That you hire people according, to that. You. Would hope that everybody, shows up that. Everybody does their part. You. Can't Bank on someone's life being, upside down and they're not in it and they, do a shoddy job but guess what it. Falls on you to fix it to make it right I never. Had that issue because I'm always I'm. Always in the mindset of I'm good at so many things I, don't know everything but everything I know I know well and I, make that happen, because of the fact that you never know what will be the wink weak link and what you're doing so. All you can do is hope that everybody, shows up and and everybody, pulls through and and. Just. Understand, that you can't make anybody to it you can't you yeah I don't care how I throw the tail of a person you are the more you argue with someone the less they're likely they're gonna want to it I mean, it's just the way it is this who we are as human beings you. Talked, about. Seeds. Fertile. Soil something it's interesting because last night driving home I heard. That on the radio and the guy was talking about what he thought was going to be this great thing, turned. Out that it was bad and what he didn't realize is, the analogy, or maybe it's a parable about. Trying. To plant seeds and, soil that's not. Been sowed that's, not fertile, that's almost, like it's a bunch of rocks yep. Unmet. Expectations, breeds. Depression. Unmet. Expectations, breeds. Depression. Which basically means this I may. Have thought that planting. The seed, was. Gonna bring. Forth a lot a great. Harvest but. It may have not been for, that seed to go there and the. Expectation. That I had on it is gonna be very very, very unmet, it's gonna be sad for me because, I'm expecting, I'm putting a lot you know people always say don't cast, all your irons, in the fire or, you, know it's, the same thing you, have to be mindful and knowing that sometimes, things don't go that way and you.
Have To be adjustable, you have to be flexible and you have to know in the end it's gonna work out I mean, that's to me that's a faith thing that's the thing to understand the faith that's the thing understanding. Purpose. Understanding. Providence, understanding, that it's already worked out before, you even embarked, on it it's gonna be okay but. Can. You accept, that it didn't work out can. You accept that because, it didn't work out that there's a lesson in that for you down the road that's gonna teach you something even more like I go back to my music career it didn't work out right, I was. Great I was amazing I was talented you know there was opportunity, but it didn't work out, if I, wasn't able to say for instance it, got to the point where I was so, upset. About that I did something erratic, because. It didn't work out I would, have never gotten this far to know that. There were other glorious. Things that were gonna open up for me and I. Look back at that of course we have regrets who doesn't have regrets right that's part of life you should have regrets because regrets, help you to understand not to make the same mistakes. But. At. Least an understanding, that you know okay, I sold, the seed I plant the seed but it didn't happen well, let me just take that seed dig it up it's still you still got the seed then, put it over here and maybe it'll grow I don't know we'll see what happens just got to keep going. Anybody. Under 30 feels that pressure, to. Make it before. 30 mm and I think I feel like now even more so, can. You talk about that and how. You are now in that opinion and, what you tell some of your students yeah you,