Meet Actor and Producer: BLAKE BOYD!
I have had the pleasure of working with and directing actor Blake Boyd since 2014. I was introduced to Blake when I was in the middle of casting my new play, “You Love That I’m NOT Your Wife.” A colleague of mine, Brad Gottfred, recommended that I cast Blake in the lead role of Tony Cicarelli. I did not take this recommendation lightly, as I trusted Brad’s judgement. I also recently saw Blake perform the role of Reynold in Brad Gottfred’s hit play, “Women are Crazy Because Men are Assholes.” I loved his work in Brad’s play, and therefore, Blake never had to audition for the role in mine. I handed him the script, after a meeting at Urth Cafe, and the very next day he accepted. The rest is history!
One of my favorite qualities about Blake, besides his talented acting skills, is his ability to make things happen! He is incredible. It was because of Blake’s persistent energy that we moved on with our show to NYC and completed a successful run in the fall of 2017. Blake came on board as not only an actor, but a co-producer. We are now looking to move to a bigger theatre this year, in both Los Angeles and New York. His exact words to me when we were negotiating contracts for the project were, “Make sure you write down that I will clean the bathrooms. I like a clean bathroom.” Can you believe that? A handsome, successful actor insisting that he will be in charge of the bathrooms! This is rare to find in a person, especially an actor, but Blake is different. His ego does not rule him. Blake is not afraid to get his hands dirty and do whatever it takes to support a project he is involved with. This is what separates him from the rest, and this is also why he is still maintaining a successful career in Hollywood! He has not forgotten what many actors fail to remember, this is a business first! I was interested in learning more about Blake and why he was able to maintain a successful acting career, when so many others could not. Here is what I learned!
I introduce to you, the one and only, BLAKE BOYD!
1. I have heard you say many times, “They call this Show BUSINESS for a reason.” Why do you emphasize the business part and what should any actor starting out in the business know about it?
This is probably my favorite question as they call it “Show Business” and not “Show Art”. I think too many people coming to Hollywood (be it NY or LA) are simply seeking to work out something in their internal psychology. Generally, that pattern is familial and parental. I was very fortunate as success was simple: jobs booked, resume credits, new footage, and money. Obviously, I was compelled to enter the world of competition in Hollywood and had something to prove. But success was clearly defined for me and I tended to stay focused on my goals. I didn’t impede my growth personally or professionally by making points, being “right” or self-righteous. So many artists kill their relationships, and thus their careers, by not being able to work with others and trying to “do things their way!”. It’s heartbreaking.
2. You have had a long successful career. When did you start acting and why? Times have changed since you first moved to LA and started an acting career. What do you think is the biggest difference? What advice would you give to a new actor looking to start their career? Where should they begin if you were to give them a Road Map?
Yes, times are different now but it’s still just a business. It’s so much easier to get footage (tape) as everyone has a video camera on their phone. Digital cameras are easy to find and lots of filmmakers are making movies. Footage is the currency of the actor. One can easily upload a scene or even an audition (with no cuts or edits!) and unlimited people can see them. The challenge is that now there are so many avenues to be seen and thus a sea of actors, stories, and opportunities to view talent. The competition is much more visible. Generally, after a few years of trying to be seen and get work, actors will decide that this life isn’t for them. I say, “Sorry it didn’t work out, I hope you learned some things about yourself and had fun. Now, can you please let me have your parking space? I need it!”
3. When did you join Screen Actors Guild and how did you do it?
I got the very first commercial I ever auditioned for when I was 20 and in college (earning a BUSINESS DEGREE!). I thought, “Wow. This is easy!” Little did I know or understand what would come during the mind-numbing periods of no work. After graduation and about 2 years later when I would move to Los Angeles, I applied to SAG and got my card. It came in the mail on the same day I got my college diploma.
I was fortunate that I had auditioned for commercials (booked 4!) and interviewed for lots of modeling jobs in Dallas. I had taken 2 college acting classes and 2 workshops with LA casting directors in Dallas. I could almost cold-read audition material pretty well. I was 22 and very eager when I came to Los Angeles 5 days after graduation.
During Winter break and again during Spring Break of my senior year of college, I came to LA and got a modeling agent and a commercial agent. I saw very quickly that most of the actors didn’t view this as a business. Many had theatre degrees and had a much better understanding of building sets, stage combat, and applying make-up. I could walk into a room and tell a story. Kinda.
I also noticed that while there were literally thousands of actors, many couldn’t even find the door to go knock on. Yes, the competition was beyond fierce but I knew that preparation for each audition with a coach ($), ongoing acting classes, voice class and a great attitude would put me in the top third of all the actors. I wrote ‘thank you’ notes after every audition and I did my absolute best at all times. I wasn’t particularly good but people appreciated my effort and discipline. One year after arriving in LA, I was a guest star on a sitcom…directed by and starring one of my childhood idols. Two years after arriving in LA, I was starring opposite another of my childhood idols in a film in the Philippines.
4. Theatre or Film? You do both. Why? Would you advise an aspiring film actor to do theater, even if he/she has no desire to be on stage?
Please do theatre whenever you can. It’s so much better than acting class. There’s something special about building a production, inviting people to come see it and the collaborative process between actors, writers, producers, directors, stage managers and audiences. The actor doesn’t have to do 8 shows a week on Broadway to receive this wonderful artistic blessing…but that certainly would grow the actor!
“Movies will make you famous; Television will make you rich; But theatre will make you good.” ― Terrence Mann
5. Studying Your Craft. How important is studying to you? Who do you study?
I love studying acting. I love the relationship between my teacher, my fellow classmates and our group dynamic. I study with Larry Moss who is arguably the best in the world right now. Several Academy Award winners have thanked Larry for his teaching and guidance while holding their Oscar statue.
6. Any advice to actors on finding an agent and or manager? Do you think you even need one? Why or Why not? Many actors will decline theater roles because their agents or managers have told them to. How do you feel about this?
Actors simply must have representation and audition as much as possible. Auditioning is a skill and, like any skill, requires frequency to master. My agent and managers work for me. While it’s definitely a collaborative relationship, I’m gonna go do a play if I damn well want to. I likely won’t leave town during busier times of pilot season (Feb – April) but my representation understands that doing theatre grows me as an actor and as a man. Plus, in the age of social media and self-taped auditions, I can get work even when I am out of town.
7. You have built quite the successful career. It is an absolute joy to know you, work with you and see you continue to grow as an artist. How did you build your credits and gain exposure in an industry where most fail? What are your secrets?
Thank you, Joanne. Working with you as a director, producer and writer has definitely been a highlight…both in Los Angeles and New York. I think I was able to settle in, enjoy working hard and realized early on that I was trying to build a sustainable and fun career entertaining people. It hasn’t always been easy or fun for that matter but net/net I have been exceedingly blessed.
8. Social Media as a Business Tool. You have a facebook, instagram and twitter page. Do you think Social Media is a good Branding Tool for an actor? Why or why not? Has it helped you in your career? What advice do you give to actors regarding Social Media and it’s benefits and pitfalls? How do you publicize your success effectively?
I truly believe social media is both the best thing that ever happened for actors as well as the worst. Its great in that actors can brand themselves, their accomplishments and publicize whatever project they’re working on. Frequently, I have meetings or run into people and executives will say, “so…your play in New York looked fun….how was it?” or, “Congratulations on your cancer fundraising…I really appreciate you’re doing that. Thank you!”
The problem with social media can occur when actors post beautiful pictures of themselves, get tons of comments/compliments from friends and thereby tend to believe that they have a career. Essentially, they are simply enjoying the temporary fix of an inflated ego…which isn’t a career or true accomplishment and advancement. I try to brand myself, projects and endeavors on a consistent basis.
9. Auditions! They are part of the job. You have been on both sides of the desk during the casting process, as both an actor and a producer. What is your advice to actors looking to improve their audition skills? Do you still get nervous at auditions? How do you deal with those nerves?
Every person has to audition at some point or another. The objective is to allow the ‘room’ to see who you really are. Not your idea of who you are or what you think they think they want. And…tell the story. Don’t try to make friends and don’t act. Just tell the truth. Yes, I get nervous before some auditions. Particularly when I am auditioning in front of friends. I sometimes cry in my car I am so scared. But you want to know a little secret? My friends are just as nervous, if not more, than I am. Trust me!
10. Getting the Part! You have gotten parts throughout the course of your career in both film and theater. Do you have a preference? In some cases, because you have built quite the reputation in this industry for both your talents and professionalism, you have taken on roles without having to audition. What is your advice to actors regarding negotiating a contract once they have gotten the part?
I generally try to enjoy the competition of auditioning. We all have to do it so I might as well find a way to make it fun. Sometimes, I decide that I am simply being given an opportunity to go in, do very well, and get more money!
If you’re lucky enough to book the part, get the best deal you can and then let it go. Go have fun. Live to fight another day. There will be many other projects and sitting at home and being ‘right’ isn’t going to help your career.
11. How much work do you put into going over the script, and researching things before you get to set or the theater?
It depends…if the character is way different than I am, I must do much more research and character work. So many projects are personality based and as a wise director once said, “My job is 90% casting!”
12. So, this brings me to another question: how have you kept your career going so long when others who started out at the same time, or even later than you, have faded away?
There were a couple of times that I seriously questioned whether I wanted to keep going. The first was when I was about 25 and, after a great start in Hollywood, I wasn’t used to not working. My dad said, “Quit if you want to do something else more…but don’t quit because you’re not working.” Later, other doors leaving the industry just didn’t seem to open and I knew that I really enjoyed storytelling and the competition of Hollywood. I’m very happy I stayed.
I’ve realized that those mind-numbing periods of no work are great opportunities to grow as a man, evolve as an actor and allow the competition to dwindle.
12. Would you say that you have a different approach to acting today than before?
Yes….definitely. I’m more relaxed and have more fun. Now, I do a scene to see how it goes and find out what happens.
13. Who do you look up to (as an actor/director/etc.)?
I really admire Daniel Day Lewis. He is utterly unrecognizable in many of his roles over the last 30 years. I think Clint Eastwood has had, without question, the most remarkable career of anyone in Hollywood history. Starting as a marginal actor, fired from the Universal Studios system, he went to Europe and worked. He came back to the US and made several iconic films and continues to direct well into his eighties.
14. What was the most challenging role you ever played in a film or on the stage?
I was 28 years old, an understudy and asked to go on in a play at the Tiffany Theatre on Sunset. I was playing a gay, amoral alcoholic who will do anything for money. The scene ends up in a 3 way with another guy and a girl. I went on and got exit applause. The director asked me to come back and film my scenes which would be cut into the production for archival purposes. This experience taught me that I could do almost anything. 5 months later, I got my first studio film.
15. What’s the last thing you do before you step out on stage, right before the curtain goes up?
I open my face up and my mouth as big as I can. Then I scrunch my face up as tight as I can. That gets the muscles very relaxed. Maybe take a couple of deep breaths (from the tummy, not chest!) and drink some cold water.
16. If someone was going to make your life into a movie, who would play you?
Me. Cause I would probably be producing the movie and I’ll work for scale.
17. Can you give advice on how to survive as an actor in LA? Any last thoughts, comments or ideas you want to share to anyone looking to make a career in The City of Dreams?
Joanne…you just beat me to the punch. Actors need to SURVIVE in Los Angeles first. Then they must THRIVE.
Entertainment is a competition. Every audition and even some rehearsals are flat out competitions. I’ve come into a production as an understudy and taken over the role. TWICE. But that’s a story for another time!
An early morning several years ago and during closing weekend of a show, my phone started ringing. My father was dead. I ended up doing the three remaining shows and closing out our successful run. A very well known singer was in the audience during one of those shows. Several weeks later, I met him and he recognized me. We spoke at length and he asked me, “How did you go on stage having just lost your father?” I said, “I never really thought otherwise. It’s what we do. It’s our business.”
To view Blake Boyd in action, visit video footage at: https://www.imdb.com/videoplayer/vi2223618073?ref_=nmvi_vi_imdb_9