Born in California, and living in Atlanta since 2012. Eric is committed to his craft and loves the art of acting. Eric’s credits include The Haves and the Have Nots and Powers. He is most proud of his recent work in IVIDE, an Atlanta based Bollywood film starring several major Indian stars. He is represented by Houghton Talent in Atlanta.
When did you know you wanted to be an actor and how did you go about getting started?
I was 5-years-old, I remember looking at a program on television and having the thought “One day I want to do that”. And I haven’t looked back since. That’s where it started. Why? I don’t know, but I’ll never forget it.
Was there any particular TV show that you loved as a kid?
My favorite when I was a kid about that age was Dukes of Hazzard. I had all their toys. I loved television as a kid but I don’t remember if that’s the show that I was looking at when I had that thought of being an actor.
You went to college to study theater?
Yes, I went to college at the University of Sacramento, California and got a Bachelor of Arts in Drama.
Do you believe that the degree has been helpful?
I’ve talked to actors today who have very little foundation in the craft of acting. What formal training provided me was a very solid foundation. There are many different things that an actor needs to embrace early on when building their craft. For example, voice and bodywork are tremendously valuable. Not a lot of actors that I run into nowadays at on-camera classes know about how important your voice and your body is in relation to your performance and your character. The basics are important.
Also you get theatre experience. Being on stage, being in front of an audience, having people watch you, having people see you in the rehearsal, all of those things are vital and necessary to an actor. These are the sort of things you fundamentally get in any drama class or program in a college institute. So yes, it’s been tremendously valuable.
After your degree you moved to LA?
I went to San Diego after living five years in Sacramento. I was in San Diego for three years and during that time, I drove up to Los Angeles as needed. So I never actually lived in Los Angeles.
After you moved there, were you trying to get agents, take more classes by well-known teachers and studios?
I found a guy named Jerry Scott. He had directed in New York City and I just happened to stumble into him in class. Through him, I managed to get an agent who did showcases for his actors. He was very much immersed in the market, both in San Diego and Los Angeles. We were all showcased to casting directors, agents, and directors. True enough, a talent agent from San Diego came there to one of the showcases and saw me. That’s how I got representation in San Diego for film and television.
What prompted you to choose Atlanta after that?
Well, four letters. Love. We follow our hearts, and I fell in love with a woman who is from the south. So I packed up my bags and said goodbye to acting, and I moved east. I met her on a cruise ship out of LA and she lived in Tennessee but the cruise crossed the Bahamas and Mexico. I was followed my heart to Atlanta at the precise time it was becoming the center of all this activity. I got lucky that way.
Did you ever have any concerns about leaving the LA market because you still wanted to pursue acting full-time?
My only concerns were that I was away from my support system – my family and friends. But there was already this talk of how big the Atlanta market was going to become. That excited me. Never once were my concerns whether this was going to be a good place to be as an actor. I had to rebuild everything here. The agent was new, the casting directors were new, the people I met in the auditions and classrooms were new to me. I’m cultivating all that here. Also, unlike Los Angeles or New York, Atlanta doesn’t have a very good foundation for film and TV actors. The resources are low. The industry is smaller in Atlanta.
Smaller in terms of jobs that are open to hiring actors, classes that are really good?
Yes. If you go to Los Angeles, you can walk into any place and run into somebody who will be in the industry in some capacity whether they’re a writer, an actor, a producer. It’s just in your face, more obvious. You feel like you’re part of something. But in Atlanta, you don’t feel that.
What else do you do to support yourself these days, in addition to acting?
I’ve always worked in the service industry, in restaurants and hotels, since college. And it became a lifestyle. I think it’ll probably always be there because not only has it been there so long for me but I’m also very good at it, I enjoy it. I enjoy being of service for others. And it gives me great flexibility.
How did you go about getting an agent here?
I submitted to all the agencies here. After a year and a half, I finally got a phone call from Houghton Talent who said that they’d like to meet with me and have me read.
What else do you do to market yourself and network?
Marketing myself and networking is my largest liability as an actor at this point because of just the way I look at things in terms of the craft of acting. That being said, I managed to do something recently that sort of launched me more into the Atlanta market than I ever could have imagined. I started my own acting group that meets up on a regular basis. I’ve been blessed with several people who have been speakers in the group who have reached out and marketed the group more than I ever would, making it even much larger of a success.
You meet and do exercises? You work through slides, scripts?
We do exercises and a lot of technique grounded work. We do on-camera work. We do preparations for actors who have auditions where we work the lines, do script analysis, and improvisation. We are also a support group. We all sit around and talk about who’s new in town, who’s the new casting director, what’s the new show, who’s going to audition for what? Have you met with so and so? Is there a new theatre that’s coming up and doing a new show? Or someone’s got a new project that’s casting right now? It’s very much a network of actors who are trying to support each other by really giving away information that would otherwise actually cost money to obtain.
What do you see the future of acting being in Atlanta?
Times are changing so quickly, especially with use of online casting. Now more than ever are we putting ourselves on tape and submitting to casting directors efficiently. What’s happened is that now the market is not just limited to one geographical location. That’s making it a little bit challenging for Atlanta actors who now compete with talent from LA and other areas as well.
But I do think that the talent in Atlanta is equally as good as that in Los Angeles, adjusted for the size difference. We obviously are a smaller, newer market. We have plenty of non-beginner, intermediate actors at this point here who are ready to take on that next level if only they’re given the opportunity. After all, anybody who’s anybody in Los Angeles didn’t start as a veteran actor either.
I think a lot of the work will be available to intermediate actors who are going to get that opportunity. It’s going to be too costly for production to hire and cast all of the roles needed out of LA while you have talent here that’s ready and local and can do the job just the same. Eventually we’re going to have everything just like they have in Los Angeles – a full scale setup. And you are able to do that more so in Atlanta because we have space to grow.
Do you have plans to leave Atlanta anytime soon?
Not with the way things are!
Do you have representation outside Atlanta?
Not currently. But I’m actually thinking of maybe looking into the Louisiana market because I can handle the 5-hour drive there, if I need to, if a role is sizeable enough. Lord knows they’ve got enough awesome productions going on there, it might just be worth my while.
How do you stay positive and motivated?
The support group I mentioned earlier has been tremendous for me, being around other people who also get hurt from rejection. Then I don’t feel alone. That’s just one of the most valuable things a human being needs. When you’re going through something difficult, to know that you’re not alone is always one thing that gets you through it. Another thing that helps me handle rejection is putting my face into a book and reading up more about the craft and getting more into a class and doing better work. It helps me with rejection because I get this inspiration to just go in there next time and do better and better, to be so damn good that they have no excuse to say you’re not good enough or you’re not the right person. Also, chocolate helps. Yeah, I eat chocolate and get a good cigar. Sometimes, a massage.