It was an eventful Summer. I taped a full length feature film called I am Normandy where I played a supporting role as "Bentley" the goth rocker, I was in Sound of Music at Starlight Theatre and taped a commercial at UMKC.
I also joined my church praise and worship team that performs for the youth services on Wednesday night. That has really helped me grow a lot in my both my singing and spiritual life and I have never played bass in my life, so it's been a learning experience.
This winter I will be Charlie-in-the-Box at the Coterie Theatre. We are doing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer based on the stop-action classic children's film. I am really looking forward to it.
Tomorrow I tape another commercial for a computer tablet where I play a college student. I also have an audition Thursday to play a son for a tire commercial.
One Crazy Summer
Well, it's official-I am outta there! I graduated May 13th and I am glad to be done. I have the whole world at my feet waiting to be explored. High school has been a great experience and very rewarding, but I can't really say I'll miss it. I am looking forward to the adventure that awaits me out here-on the outside of the high school walls.
I also had prom and since I never feature my girlfriend on here, I will do that now. She and I have been friends for a couple of years, but just started dating in November after she played my leading lady in "High School Musical". She is an amazing girlfriend and very supportive of my crazy schedule....although sometimes it's tough balancing a love life with the demands of being an actor. I am hoping that graduating will free up some of my time, but so far it's not looking promising.
Right now I am in Knoxville TN
My Destination Imagination Drama team made global finals which are held in Knoxville every year on a college campus. It's fun meeting people from all over the world and we always team up with a buddy-team that is also there to compete from another country. This year we are getting to know a team from China.------>
We just met them this morning.
The D.I. competition is all student initiated. Students write the script, make the props, design their own costumes, and direct each other on the team. It's good to know that whether we make it or break it is dependent upon us.
I have really great team mates. I have shared the stage with all of them through high school. Some of them will be leaving in the fall to go on to colleges far away so this is really our last hoo-rah before we all go our separate ways. This isn't a school activity, but we are all from the same school.
When I get back, I have couple of weeks till I perform in a competition called "KC Superstar" which is a singing competition in Kansas City kind of like American Idol for local high school students. I made semi-finals out of hundreds of competitors. They narrowed it down to 24. If I make it past that, it will be down to 10 and we have a rigorous schedule of dance rehearsal and getting ready for the big show in August. I hope to make it to finals because the grand prize is $10,000 but all 10 finalists will receive some kind of money.
I also start taping my movie when I get back so I am really looking forward to that.
I also take a summer intensive class at the college for theatre every year and I miss my classmates. They come from all over Kansas City and are some of the best actors around here.
And of course, I have Sound of Music at a local regional professional (Starlight) theatre in July.
So my summer is pretty busy but it's filled with exciting opportunities. Looking forward to every minute of it!
My First Print Ad for my Agency!
So....I don't know if I am just not print worthy or what. I have been with my agency for 10 years now and have never booked a print ad. I never even go out for them or get called about them. But for whatever reason, I booked a Dairy Queen print gig this week.
As you probably notice, I don't usually divulge the actual name of any film or commercial I do. I just like to be on the safe side and not tick any director off by announcing anything, but in this case, a lady who played my mom in the print ad asked if we could share the name of the company that we did the ad for and the production manager said we could, so there you go-I was in a Dairy Queen ad! Pretty exciting stuff.
Now, I have done one other print ad before, but it wasn't for my agency. I was in a video series and they took my photos for promotional material and a life-size cut out of me for a display. That was pretty awesome. I have heard I am in the front entrance of the Nazarene publishing house (my cardboard double) but I haven't been there, so I don't know.
My instructions for the DQ ad were to bring several clothing options in a variety of colors that were pressed and crisp and looked like they just came from the store.
Let me first say that the iron is not my friend. So, to avoid spending hours flattening every shirt I own to perfection, I did the only logical thing....I bout $250 worth of clothes and a new pair of shoes and brought them home, sprayed some water on them to get out the minor wrinkles, shook them briskly and hung them on hangers all over the living room to dry. Problem solved!
But I get there the next day and they already have a shirt for me! I spent 2 hours shopping with my mom and my girlfriend, not to mention all that spraying and shaking! That's 3 hours I can never get back!
My original intention was to buy the clothes, leave the tags on and whatever they didn't pick, I would return.
Well, that was not to be.....
My mom and gf were so excited to see me in new clothes, that they talked me into keeping most of it. Anyone who knows me, knows I am incredibly cheap. Of course, due to my frugality, this is why I had $250 to spare on clothing for a shoot....I save my money and avoid spending it at almost all costs.
SO now I have a new wardrobe. Probably for the best...I need new pics for my agency and to finish up my senior pictures, so I needed new clothes anyway.
So back to the shoot....
Oh my gosh-I have never been so full of ice cream in my life! I am a guy who really enjoys a Blizzard now and then, but eating three in a 5 hour period was pretty difficult. Not to mention we also had cheeseburgers, fries and sodas. Pictured above is me outside being photographed with my 3rd blizzard of the day. I had to come home and worked out for an hour on our Bowflex just to feel normal again!
But it was nice getting paid to eat ice cream-that is for sure! And I got to miss a whole day of school-SCORE! And I met some really great people. SO it was a great day! My agency is pretty good to me. I am lucky to have all of my success.
Below is that cardboard cutout of me at a Nazarene Publishing House display in Florida. That's also me on the tv screens-they were promoting the videos I was in. :)
Commercial and a Feature Film!
I booked a commercial a couple of weeks ago, but the interesting thing is that they picked me based on a photo my agency had on their website. They were looking for a cool nerd. Ha! Apparently my argyle sweater vest and bow tie ensemble won them over. They had me wear it for the commercial. Slap on a pair of buddy Holly glasses with tape and BAM! Nerd City! It was fun.
One of the great things I love about doing commercials and film is the ginormous houses we always tape in. I have been in some pretty fancy houses. My commercial taped in a show home in a new neighborhood-ironically, it was just down the street from a house where I taped another commercial a few months ago. Must be a popular neighborhood. :)
Lat summer, in August, I auditioned for a feature film. I didn't hear anything for a couple of months, then I got a call back in October. Still nothing for several months. I assumed I probably didn't get the role. :( But just last week I found out I not only got the part, but I got the part I really wanted! Filming will start in the spring and go through the summer. It's being filmed here locally, but I am really excited about the project and I think it will do really well.
So these are some great things that have happened in the last two weeks and I wanted to share my exciting news.
March 01st, 2014
I did it! I made Nationals! 4 years I have worked for this day! I will be attending the National Speech and Debate tournament in June 2014 for competition in Duet acting. I am thankful for my duet partner, Kai Chapin, for helping me achieve one of my goals before I left high school. We have been friends since grade school and the honor is mine-to have achieved this with him.
February 23rd, 2014
I've been a lucky guy. Or maybe I've been a talented guy. Either way, I'm leaving high school this year with several lead roles on my resume, the anchor position for my school news, the VP position for my debate & forensics team, several awards for forensic performances, a rotary award, over 20 commercials & radio voice-overs, a few professional theatre productions, a few independent films & a job at HyVee that I love!
I'm grateful for all the opportunities I have had both big & small. God has been good to me. :) I've had the support of my family, friends, teachers, bosses & my agency as well as the acting, voice & dance coaches I've had that have pushed me to my limit & helped me attain the achievements that I have had.
This summer I will be a dancer in Sound of Music at Starlight Theatre and also the lead male dancer in a mini-ballet of "Lady and the Tiger" for Pure Dance. As I figure out my next path on the road after high school, I will be making some major decisions about going to a musical theatre program immediately or using my A+ status to attend a junior college for free for 2 years before I transfer to a 4 year university for theatre or musical theatre.
I have a lot to consider.
But the one thing I won't consider or care about are the few people who tried to pull me down or put me down in order to derail me from my goals.
I only bring this up, because in life, there will always be people who can't stand to see you succeed. it doesn't matter what field of life you are in or how old you are. I have experienced it in the acting world as well as my job, and even in school achievements. Some people will think you didn't deserve what you got; and some people just won't like you for no reason at all, but you can't let that affect who you are and who you are going to become. You have to rise above it with a good attitude and never forget the people that rejoiced in your successes and comforted you in your failures-these people will always be there-the others will fade away, replaced by new vitriolic people. Brush off their harsh criticism. Your record in life speaks for itself.
I haven't made any final decisions about my future. But one thing I know is that if the next 18 years are as successful as the last 18, I should be ok.
Being in Shrek
Me and Marshall-he'smy double cast
I am currently in a production of Shrek the Musical at the Coterie Theatre in Kansas City MO. I love being in the show. I love working amongst professional actors. I love dancing and singing and playing three different characters. It's nice getting paid to do what I love and it doesn't even feel like work at all; it feels like fun. I perform on Tuesdays and Thursdays and split weekends with my double (seen left). Marshall performs Wednesdays and Fridays. They double cast the young performers so we don't miss more than two days of school a week since the show runs 2 months. I get to wear this same sparkly costume and yellow wig that Marshall is wearing for one of my performances too. :)
But as glamorous as it is, (ha-ha) this didn't come without hard work, heartache, fatigue, and the director being completely blunt with me.
All of the professional theatre I have done up until now-I was a kid. Now that I'm 16 people treat me like an adult in the professional theatre world. With this new treatment comes responsibility and sometimes a blow to my self-esteem.
two weeks into a three week rehearsal period I was told by the music director that I still wasn't singing loud enough. I thought I was singing as loud as I can (we don't use personal microphones. It's a smaller intimate studio performance with about 250 people or so per performance) but apparently I as wrong. I even thought I was singing TOO loud in one song so I told him. That was the wrong thing to say. The director overheard me and came over to join in the conversation. He said 7 words that knocked me from cloud 9 down to the ground in 5 seconds flat. He said: "I heard you talking to Jeremy and saying you thought you were too loud at one point and I thought to myself;
'WHAT PLANET IS THIS KID LIVING ON?'"
He proceeded to tell me I never give him what he needs unless he drags it out of me. Wow. This was a shocker. All of my life theatrically I have had nothing but compliments on my performances. I have had the lead in several plays and musicals, I do commercials, film and voice-overs. I even signed with one of the top agencies in Los Angeles based on an audition. I had call backs in LA. How could I suck this badly? I was even in the Master's Classes at the same theatre; chosen for the classes by this same director! How could he love me then and hate my performance now? What is it I had lost?
The answer is that I hadn't been challenged as I had grown older. I got by being cute and talented as a kid, but now I am up against people who are attractive AND are just as talented as me and more. No one is going to talk harshly to a kid, but at 16, it's fair game. At my school, my drama teacher is happy with my performances because it's a small school and only a few of us are can sing, act, AND dance. I think I'm the only guy in our school that takes dance. In community theatre I have the same luck. But other than a role I took at a community theatre at the beginning of 7th grade (and I struggled, but pulled it together by opening night) no one has ever been disappointed in me as an actor and if they were , they certainly didn't say so.
But the thing is-it's good for me! I need that critique. I need to be reminded that I'm not amazing. I need to be challenged. I need the honest critique and I can respect honesty more than placation.
The thing is, I could have made excuses, but I didn't. I was in two plays the entire time I was in rehearsal. I was in rehearsal for the lead male part in my school musical and was literally leaving my house at 6:50 every morning and not getting home till 10:45 every night because I had school all day, then school musical rehearsal right after, then I left there to head straight to Shrek rehearsal from 5-10 p.m. I was eating on the run and not getting enough sleep. It was a rough three weeks. Even on weekends I had rehearsal for at least 8 hours both days.
But it was worth every moment!
One Saturday I had two Shrek performances and my school musical that night. three performances in one day and I woke up pumped at the thought of it!
20 performances in I'm fine. The director even came up to me opening night and was reminiscing with me about the day they first discovered me at an open call when he invited me to Master's class. He said;
"Isn't it amazing how far you've come?"
^^THESE 7 words were all I needed to forget the 7 before. The director is invested in me and needs me to give him what he needs to pull off a great performance.It's easy to beat yourself up over a director's harsh critique, but it made me work harder. It made me step up my game and in the big picture that's what I need to do if I want to be successful. I once heard someone say "You're only as good as your last performance." If that's the case, then this is probably the best I've ever been.
So I guess my advice to people who want to act is that you need to continually challenge yourself and can't let these things get you down. Learn from the experiences. prove them wrong. Give them what they want. A director is probably only as good as his last production, so he/she wants to be brilliant. Their credibility as a professional director depends on you. Directors don't need excuses. They need professional performances.
My school musical is over but I have 28 more Shrek performances between now and December 30th. I'm still excited and I still love coming in for every performance. I am missing 2 days of school a week which leaves me with a lot of homework and on top of that I went back to work at my regular job bagging groceries with a smile :)
What can I say-I love being busy!
Getting Past Your Insecurities
People always ask me how I can get on stage and perform live in front of an audience without getting nervous. Probably the easiest way, although most do not start then, is to start when you are young. When you are young you are fearless-in fact, sometimes you do things you shouldn't, just to get more attention from the audience. (My first church play when I was just in the choir, we were sitting during the drama portion and I put my hands through my pants all the way to my ankles and waved at the audience. I also moved closer and closer to the microphone until the "chorus" became my solo as I belted out the words proudly just 6 inches from the microphone)
So starting young helps. If you grow up on stage, you never really notice the audience as you get older. I often say stage feels like home.
This is not to say I NEVER get nervous. I do. I'm human! Right before I make my first entrance I always have a little nervous energy. I think to myself-what if I forget a line? What if the audience doesn't laugh at the funny lines? What if someone else forgets a line and we have to ad-lib? So I have those thoughts just like everyone else.
The difference maybe is that I always remember that the audience WANTS ME TO BE SUCCESSFUL! No one pays &10-$100 dollars for a ticket and thinks "Gosh, I hope the cast sucks tonight, so I can make fun of them." No, people who come to see a show have high expectations and they want you to exceed them.
So instead of worrying about sucking-think "I will give the audience what they want!"
I take this philosophy with me in auditions for everything too. the Directors want you to do well. When I go in, I feel comfortable knowing they are excited when I walk through the door. It's what I give them once I start, that makes a difference on how they feel when I leave. Directors don't like their times wasted, so I always prepare well before I come too. You will feel much better about walking through that door (or onto that stage) if you are prepared. Rehearse your lines over and over and over till you think "I can't stand it!" work on your song till it's better than perfect.
If you do these things and you still don't book the job, at least you know you were good, you just weren't what they were looking for. I can't tell you how many times I have auditioned for something and they told me they loved me and then I didn't get the part. When I see the commercial or film or show, I realize I looked nothing like the mom in the piece or I was much older than the kid they ended up going with or something. Don't beat yourself up over it. Directors have reasons for casting the way they do. And your not the BEST so you were probably as good as someone else and maybe it was down to you two, but there's only one part. Other parts will come along and YOU will be the lucky one.
So that's my advice-got over your insecurities. Realize that:
1. The audience wants you to do well
2. You need to prepare well ahead of time
3. You're not going to get every job so don't beat yourself up over it.
4. Directors make decisions based on things outside of your control (hair color, age, eye color, ethnicity etc)
Just keep on doing what you do and you'll get better.
And of course the old "picture them all in their underwear" doesn't hurt either!
me and Allie ^^ in class
So today was my last day of dance till September. I am a little bummed. I have been taking dance since I was about 8 and I really like it. I like the feeling of getting all stretched out and limber. It's quite relaxing. I also like the way dance touches my soul as we tell a story with our bodies.
I take a semi-private class with a friend of mine, Allie, and we have been dancing together since a talent show in 5th grade where we rocked the house! We also sing together, but I don't want to get side tracked.
We take ballet, modern and contemporary with a bit of Jazz. It's an hour and a half class so we mix it up each week. I use to keep my dance classes a secret. It's not that I was ashamed of them; I just found myself surrounded by peers that didn't understand a guy in dance. My school is a small country type school. If you take dance, you MUST be gay! Since I like the ladies, I found it easier to just do my thing and not tell anyone. Once I hit high school and people were less concerned with what others were doing, it was easier to just be honest. Plus I wanted the dance roles in the musicals and it was pretty obvious that I enjoyed it, so I quit worrying about what people think about it. I am good at it so why hide it?
Our teacher is great. She's young and easy on the eyes, very skilled and helpful. It's a small private school that's really spread by word of mouth. I use to attend a large school with a competition team. I really have no desire to compete in dance. I take it so I can get accepted into a good musical theatre program at a good university. That is my goal.
So I'll miss dance for the summer, but I'll be attending a Summer Intensive in theatre and we usually do a dance number at the end of the program, so at least I'll get to dance a little....
I have to get a job this summer so I probably need the break. Our teacher told us to stretch over the summer....pchea-like that's ganna happen....lol
I have a great family that supports my love of the arts. My little brother is following in my footsteps and looks up to me so I try to set a good example for him. I am a Christian. These are my thoughts on all of these things. :)