"Pick up an industry-related skill like editing, photography, etc., or a skill that caters to entertainers' demands."
Los Angeles based actor Shaun Bedgood connected with Hyperblinks for an exclusive interview where he discusses his start in the acting industry, what he's learned in the process, and his latest appearance on the Showtime hit show Shameless.
1. You got started acting at Suffolk University in Boston, your hometown, where you took Acting 101. What's one lesson from that first class that sticks with you to this day?
I can remember my first teacher giving a class focusing on character building, and he said to become a character, you really have to get up and walk in their shoes, figure out their center of gravity. Figure out where their weight is distributed when they walk.
2. Shouting Theatre in a Crowded Fire was the first play you got cast for with Wes Savick, your acting teacher, as the director. What was your favorite part of that experience?
It was dope to have my first theatre production be with such a giant cast. There were over 50 actors cast in that play. You can only imagine how crazy the rehearsals were with that many people, but we had a lot of fun though. By the time we got the opening, we were all like fam.
3. Your start in TV & film came while you were working with Christine Wyse Casting. At that time, you were doing background work in commercials. Could you share a memorable story from one of those early shoots?
Man check this out, my first background role was for a Connecticut lottery commercial. My instructions as the background actor were to walk past the person ordering pizza in the front of a pizza shop so that the camera catches me over their shoulder. With the way the shop was set up, I had to do a lap around the cameras, and the director and the producer chairs in order to get back to my starting point. This director would call "cut, reset back to 1, background action", so damn fast that I had to run a full lap every time to get back to my starting point. He had shot so many damn takes that I swear I lost weight at the end of that shoot!
Shaun Bedgood Commercial Demo:
4. From Boston, you moved to Los Angeles, at least partially, because your girlfriend wanted to move here. You've said that "LA is the hub for acting," but there was a time when you had your "heart set on Atlanta." What about Atlanta called your attention back then?
Well, I'm originally from Alabama and lived there before moving to Boston. My family still resides in the South. I just basically wanted to move back closer to them and finish it up where it all started, ya know? Not only is Atlanta only three and a half hours away from my hometown, but it's also the second-best market to be in for acting. Not to mention a much lower cost of living than California, so it's a win across the board for me.
Shaun Bedgood Super Bowl Commercial:
5. You said that LA "might've been the best move." Aside from being the acting hub, what other things do you enjoy about LA?
I love the scenery man. The hills, valleys, mountains are all very different from what I'm used to. You also can't beat the sunsets. I'm a true east coast cat through and through, and I love my seasons, but I gotta give Cali props on the scenic views.
Shaun Bedgood on LA Year One by Skylar V Smith:
6. Congrats on "Shameless!" It was your first speaking role on a network show. Being far up the call sheet must feel great. How do you think an actor can stay down to earth after getting their fair share of the VIP treatment?
Gratitude. I have so much love and appreciation for the journey. It has not been easy at all for me, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I think having that mindset will not only make the accomplishments feel that much better, but it will keep you grounded.
I'm also very grateful for the support system that I have in Boston and Alabama. These are the people that knew me and rocked with me before I began acting. Whether it's through IG, Facebook, text, etc., I really value having these conversations with my people. They really help me to remain humble. And let's face it, it's kind of hard to be arrogant to someone who has dirt on you!
Shaun Bedgood on Shameless:
7. We love your Instagram stories and how you share insightful feedback on actors' performances in various movie scenes. It indeed shows your love for the craft and your appreciation for the skill. What's a quintessential movie scene that you believe every actor should see? Can you describe it for us?
You gotta watch Robert DeNiro as Travis Bickle in Taxi-Driver. The movie is a character study focused on a 70s New York taxi driver who ultimately snaps. And the famous scene with him in the mirror saying, "Hey, are you talking to me??" In that scene, you really get to see him unravel, and he's by himself. No one is talking to him! DeNiro is arguably the greatest actor of our era, and you see him here in prime form just completely morph into this taxi driver turned vigilante. It's definitely a must-watch.
Referenced scene of Robert DeNiro as Travis Bickle in Taxi-Driver:
8. Many artists try to avoid the business side of growing their brand. Why do you think that is? What steps can an artist take to become more involved in the administrative side of their career?
Because it has nothing to do with the art. I used to be one of those people that walked around saying, "I'm the artist, not a businessman. I'll land reps that'll handle the business part", which is ridiculous. If you want to have a career in entertainment, you will need to become business savvy. The reality is, reps aren't taking the time to build up talent as they did back in the day; the returns aren't the same. They only get 10% of your pay; you get the rest. So it only makes sense to take your career into your own hands. You can do that by really defining your brand. Know what it is that you're selling. Figure out what the market calls for and see where you fit in. After figuring out your brand, maybe focus on your target demographic and build your social media. For an actor, you can also track the shows you want to be on and keep tabs on whose casting, producing, directing, etc. and build relationships. Or you can just wait for luck to happen. There's definitely more than one way to skin a cat!
9. We hear that you're moving into filmmaking now and hope to have a feature film under your belt in the next few years. Are there any details you could share with us about the type of movie you're thinking about making?
The idea that I have in mind right now is a story about a musician who moves to LA looking for stardom and falls on hard times like most of us who move to LA. The idea hit me about a year ago like a ton of bricks, and it's something I would really like to shoot. There's definitely more to it, but that's all I can say right now.
10. How do you think the current COVID-19 social distancing guidelines will affect the film and TV production industries?
It will definitely reduce the amount of crew on set. Scenes will feature fewer people, so there probably won't be any extras, and you'll definitely see a reduction in the amount of co-star and guest star roles on projects. I can see production picking up in places with looser restrictions, here in the states and out of the country. I also think the commercial game will be booming with advertisements. Of course, this is all speculation, so it all remains to be seen. But I'm feeling optimistic about the future.
11. What's one piece of advice you wish someone would have told you about acting professionally when you first got started?
A great piece of advice that would've helped me would have been to pick up an industry-related skill like editing, photography, etc., or a skill that caters to entertainers' demands. Unless you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth, you're going to have a lot of side gigs cause acting is very expensive in the beginning, and it's easy to get caught up in just working to survive. I think those are really good side hustles to have.