Interviewed by Jessica Sherman, CSA
1. Has there been a casting director that has encouraged and/or supported you in your career?
Yes! Sharon Bialy and Sherry Thomas, Shayna Sherwood, Jessica Sherman, Grace Wu, Monica Kelly and Jenny Treadwell, Kara Sullivan, Julie Schubert, Brittani Ward, Amanda Mackey, Marci Phillips, Jennifer McNamara Shroff, Leeba Zakharov, Lindsey Weissmueller. I could go on. For the most part, I’ve found casting directors to be incredibly supportive and responsive, and I’m sure I’ve forgotten someone, but I can easily point to everyone on this list as casting directors that I feel have been extra supportive.
2. What work are you most proud of?
I think I’d be most proud of the work I did creating the Middle Eastern Comedy Festival. Having been a producer for a similar festival in NY, I partnered up with a friend of mine to create one here. LA didn’t have anything of its kind at the time, and the opportunity to bring Middle Eastern actors in front of the entertainment community out here was huge. It felt great to not only get to write and perform in general, but specifically to be able to help push the needle a bit for our community and change the narrative which has been overwhelmingly negative since 9/11 was a really important experience, both personally and artistically.
3. What or who inspired you to pursue acting as a career?
I walked out of E.T. as a 4 year old, and after pestering my parents for an E.T. stuffed animal, decided that making movies was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Despite all the ups and downs of this career, that desire never left. It’s expanded to include writing and producing, but my heart still lights up the most when I think about stepping on stage or in front of the camera.
4. What was your first IMDbPro credit and how did you feel when you saw it?
My first credit was for All My Children back in 2001, High School Brat #1. I was thrilled. I was sure it was only a matter of a year or so before my acting career began its meteoric rise. 19 years later I’m still sure that meteoric rise is right around the corner, but I’ve learned a little bit more about patience since then. Just a little bit.
5. How has IMDbPro helped you market yourself to filmmakers?
It’s essential. I would imagine for everyone in this industry, IMDb is the first resource producers turn to in order to gauge someone’s fit for their project. It’s helped me connect to producers, casting directors, talent representatives, basically everyone I need to reach, my first stop is always IMDbPro. Particularly when I was looking for representation, it was very helpful to start by researching the actors I respected and whose careers I wished to emulate, and seeing who their representatives were. Now, as a producer and writer, it’s equally useful. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t access it at least once.
6. Any funny casting stories?
I certainly have a few. One that comes to mind was about 15 years ago for a commercial that shot in Japan for a week. I was thrilled at the prospect. I used to be a dancer, but it was never my primary focus, and I can say that I was a fair dancer; I certainly couldn’t compete with actual dancers. I had reiterated this to my agent after a previous audition mishap, but they sent me in anyway.
They were looking for Tarzan types, which, if you know me, isn’t the first thing you think of, but hey, maybe they were being creative. When I get into the room, though, it’s me and six Chris Hemsworths. Oh, and I didn’t mention that we were all basically only supposed to be wearing underwear. After a few years in New York, I don’t know where all these guys had time to tan so perfectly, but they were all six feet, handsome, chiseled dancer guys. The casting director seemed to be pleased with everyone until she got to me, all 5’7”, terribly not-sun-kissed, and hadn’t lifted a weight since 1996. But it wasn’t her face that told me I wasn’t getting the role, it was more the “why?” that she couldn’t stop from uttering that really sealed the deal.
7. Tell us a fun fact about you outside of acting.
Oh man. Well, it’s not really a secret that I’m a woodworker and making sawdust is one of the great joys in my life. It’s a little thing, but being stuck in my house for the last couple weeks it’s been a nice thing to be surrounded by furniture that I’ve made. Oh, and I used to me a hand model. Woodworking put a quick stop to that.View on IMDbPro More Actors of the Month