Obviously, it’s not extremely common to have actors as young as you develop such an impressive resume so quickly. How did you come into acting at such a young age?
I am from Philadelphia, and up there it isn’t really an option with kids like me. I moved to LA with my mom but not even for acting. Acting caught my eye, and I wanted to try it out. I wasn’t sure if it would go on, and I didn’t expect to be doing it for this long. I started doing commercials and then did my first movie. I am lucky it did work out, and I realized how much I loved it.
What kind of tips do you have for young people in terms of networking and building relationships to reach a career goal?
I think, depending on how well you do, it doesn’t necessarily depend on who you know. If you enjoy it and really want to do it, I think it is important to go for it. Later you will meet a manager and an agent, but you have to put yourself out there. Go to casting calls.
IT was a highly anticipated film. What insight can you give us on your character Bill without revealing too much to those who have yet to watch the film?
I play Bill Denbrough and in the beginning of the film, he loses his brother. He is in denial his brother is dead. Everybody knows he is dead, but they search for him throughout the film. He wants to fight Pennywise to find his brother. But throughout the film, he is also having a tough time with his parents and being bullied at school.
Is there a certain type of role you hope to take on in the future that maybe you haven’t played yet? Or any sort of genre of movie you want to dive into more?
I would like to play a villain or someone kind of insane. I think those are the fun characters to play, the ones you are completely different from. You get to experiment and have fun. I think that’s interesting.
What are some tips you’ve taken maybe from the “veterans” of the acting world and could share with our young audience?
There are a lot of great actors who see their character and try to relate to them. They look at other people who may relate to their character and see how they act and talk. It is very important to understand your character and almost become your character. When you are in the scene, put yourself in the character. I have gotten lucky because I have worked with many great actors who do that.
What are some skills you really hope to develop as you grow in the world of acting?
One of the hardest things for me, and a lot of people, is to be a normal person. It sounds funny, but those are the hardest scenes, the scenes where you have to be happy or close to someone. I think there is a lot of acting put into playing sad or mad, portraying a real-life scene. You have to be natural.
As a young person, what are some tips on blazing your own path and building respect within the entertainment world?
I think before anyone is a great actor, they looked up to a lot of other people and respected other people. It’s important to always watch, listen, and learn with other great actors. I always want to do that.
What’s the most interesting thing about a movie set that viewers don’t get to see?
Of course, people don’t see the cameras, lights, or whole crew. When I was younger I thought only the actors were real. But it looks the way it looks because of the people operating the cameras, lights, and how the director wants it to look. Whether they use a fog machine, or anything that changes the atmosphere, or props, the set decorators always have so much to do. They all add so much, and without them, the movie wouldn’t be the same. It wouldn’t be possible, actually. It’s important to see their importance.
Correct me if I am wrong, but you want to write yourself in the future. Do you have any idea what kind of story or genre you would like to write?
I definitely do want to write and direct. I have no idea what genre, but I always think of ideas when by myself or with friends, usually with my friends. I would love to write anything but particularly something that makes people think. I like the movies where you have to think and observe.
How do you effectively balance an acting career and the life of just being a normal kid?
I do online school so I can travel. It’s very flexible and easy to deal with. It is tough at times because you aren’t going to public school and you don’t get to talk with kids your age. I have met some of my best friends from acting. It balances out, and you can always be a normal kid on set.
What are some of your hobbies?
I love to skateboard and play basketball. I love video games and movies too.
What strengths do you bring to the table?
I think I am able to take direction well and listen. I always love to listen to what the director says and understand what a person wants. I’m always trying to grow through direction.
Who are people you want to work with?
Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep. Anyone with a history of amazing movies.
You always learn about yourself when you try new things.
Where do you hope to be in the next 5 years?
I hope to still be acting. I would like to write or direct, anything and everything in the movie business whether it’s technical or creative.
Any advice for young people trying to reach a career goal?
It is important to try hard. Of course, it is what everyone says, but it is important. If you think you can’t do it or you’re uncomfortable doing it, you should go for it. You can learn a lot about yourself or even think of a new career goal. You always learn about yourself when you try new things.
IT is in theatres now.
PHOTOS CARLOS E. LOPEZ
WORDS ELIZABETH STAFFORD
Originally published in Volume II, Issue No. 004 – Fall 2017.53 Loves