Interview Conducted by Vikki Jones |
Careers aren’t linear. There is some truth to that to some degree in every field, but especially so in the unforgiving world of acting.
One of the harshest truths in the acting industry is that the most talented people don’t always experience the greatest success in their careers. Acting is more a matter of skill than talent, therefore success as an actor is more determined by how hard a person works and their competence in the craft of acting and storytelling, not by which agent they have or their looks.
Getting rejected and having to overcome it to attain success is part and parcel of the acting game. Actor Larry Rhem, who is known for his work on Being Mary Jane, The Quad, Comeback Dad, Devious Maids, The Rickey Smiley Show, Let’s Stay Together, The Game and Hear No Evil knows this all too well.
How he got the ‘Being with Mary Jane’ is a great example.
Initially, Rhem got turned down for a role in the BET special but his luck changed with a change of casting directors, who ironically gave Rhem a second crack at the same role.
As the saying goes – ‘A second chance doesn’t mean anything if you didn’t learn from your first.’
And Rhem, who has had his fair share of background/extra roles such as in Drumline (2002), used the experience he gained from his failed attempt to nail the second go around, which is a testimony to his resilience and determination as a person and the persistence needed to succeed as an actor.
“Persistence and determination are two major reasons I am where I am in my career. I know what I want to do and you have to have faith and belief in yourself. Acting is a marathon not a sprint you can’t expect to start acting this year and next year you doing Power,”’ Rhem said in an exclusive interview with VMH Magazine.
Learn the Craft
The hardest lesson an actor will learn throughout his/her career is that success will never be handed to them, or magically fall into their laps. Rhem, who has worked with star actress Gabrielle Union, believes nobody, not even the best agent in the world will make it happen for you.
His first piece of advice for an aspiring actor – sign up for an acting class first.
“For any person who wants to become an actor the first thing I would tell them to do is to take classes. I don’t care how good you think you look or how naturally talented you think you are, you have to take classes and build on your craft. If Denzel (Washington) can still have an acting coach then who are you to say you don’t need one,” Rhem said.
Another hard lesson young actors will learn is that once they have developed their skills, the work has actually just begun. Perfecting your acting chops is a great start but your success as an actor is ultimately down to your ability to network. As they say goes ‘It’s not who YOU know, it’s who knows YOU.’
“Acting is a craft that you are constantly learning constantly meeting peaks and valleys and learning more about yourself and the craft. When you take classes you get a chance to network with likeminded people so you encourage each other and find out about other opportunities such as getting auditions and getting more knowledge about the industry,” added Rhem, who coaches acting classes in Atlanta under Dwayne Boyd’s Premier Actors Network in hopes to help cultivate the potential in budding actors.
Building His Own Legacy
The movie industry is crowded, everybody wants to be an actor, so in this era, going to acting school, being incredibly focused, motivated, hardworking, talented, possessing a positive attitude and a willingness to make serious sacrifices, might not be enough to stand out.
In order to do big things as an actor, one must actively, aggressively, and strategically create their own opportunities by being diverse and creating e a platform for themselves. Rhem, who is currently preparing for season 2 of the Quad, is doing just that – investing in his craft to build his own legacy.
The Quad Sneak Peak:
“Currently I’m working on some shorts and skits and also starting my own Youtube page where people will see some of my comedy sketches and dramatic pieces. Eventually, maybe 5-8 years from now, I will have my own production company where I can put out my own content – the type of movies and projects that I loved growing up is what I would love to bring back.”
Passion at the Heart of his Ambitions
Legendary French philosopher, art critic, and writer Denis Diderot once said: “Only passions, great passions, can elevate the soul to great things.”
It was what pushed Diderot to co-found the Encyclopédie and what is driving Rhem. His dedication and commitment to the craft is driven by an innate passion and love for the art form he has had from his childhood days growing up in the small, humble town of Kinston, North Carolina.
“I don’t look down on anyone who works for corporate America but its just not something that’s in my heart. I know I would be miserable doing anything else outside of acting, coaching, writing.”
“I believe that no matter what you decide to do there will be ups and downs, trials and tribulations, obstacles. But I would much rather deal with those doing what I enjoy,”
No wonder while in college he decided to change his major from business to Mass Media Arts, with a concentration on radio, television, and film.
After getting the opportunity to be an extra in the Nick Canon starred Drumline, which was filmed on the campus of his alma mater Clark University, he knew that was the path he was meant to take.
In hindsight Rhem is certainly happy with his choice to switch paths, and his undeniable passion for acting is fueling him to do great things and show others how they can make the most of their passions.
Full interview here: