Having fun is just an act

| April 13, 2013 | 0 Comments

Although Wilmington is known for many things (pristine beaches, UNCW, the battleship), one defining factor soars above the rest: the film industry. In the past few years, this industry has exploded in Wilmington, so much that the town has even been fondly nicknamed “Wilmywood.” The place is filled with struggling actors, people with a dream who are trying to make it to the top. It’s a tough business. But, there are also many success stories- and Myke Holmes is one of them.

As a child, Holmes was never really interested in acting. In fact, his first time ever on-screen (for his middle school’s “news” program) was a bit rocky- he got sick beforehand and then fainted. But finally, during his senior year of high school, Holmes got involved in drama and discovered his passion for it.

“It was always in my blood,” Holmes explains. “I just denied it for a long time.”

A product of two military parents, Holmes had always assumed that would be his path as well. But as his time in high school came to an end, he realized what he truly wanted to do: pursue a career in acting.

“Training is the most important step,” Holmes declares. “No matter when or how, you need to get that under your belt.”

So that’s exactly what he did. He majored in theater at UNCW and started preparing for the pursuit of his passion. He hired a private acting coach to help him with the business side: getting headshots, putting together a resume, making an audition reel.

Holmes smiles as he recalls his search for an agent. His acting coach suggested that they start out by contacting the top two agents in the area.

“I thought it was crazy!” Holmes remembers. “But she asked me, ‘What’s the worst that can happen? They say no.’”

As it turns out, his acting coach’s strategy was a successful one- Holmes got picked up by one of the top two agents. He worked for a while in Wilmington before going up north to get his Master’s in acting. The film industry suffered for a few years in Wilmington, when much of it moved to Canada and New Orleans. But Holmes moved back to the area in 2007 and, thanks to new tax initiatives, so did the film industry.

Holmes, now 31, has been involved in several Wilmington projects, including: One Tree Hill, Revolution, and, most recently, The Ultimate Life - directed by Michael Landon Jr., a sequel to The Ultimate Gift. He’s been acting professionally for 10 years now, and he also works as a performance instructor at UNCW.

So, what would Holmes’ advice be to burgeoning actors, those who are just getting started or those who are still waiting for their break?

“It’s different for everybody,” Holmes admits. “You have to find your own path.”

Of course, there are the basic steps: acquire training, get headshots, make a resume (no matter how short), find an agent, be honest, be professional.

But the most important step?

“Do what makes you happy.” Holmes insists. “If it makes you happy, do it! But don’t come in thinking it will be easy. Acting requires a lot of discipline and involves a lot of rejection.”

Even now, Holmes says that auditions come slowly. And it usually takes many auditions before you book anything.

“It’s a weird career path,” Holmes explains. “It’s like you’re on job interviews all the time and 90% of the audition you can’t control (what you look like, what you sound like, what exactly they’re looking for), that’s why it requires hard work and endurance.”

As he relaxes in an overstuffed, coffee house chair, Holmes recalls one of the most impactful conversations he ever had with his agent. Holmes was stressed out about an audition, worrying about what would come of this job. “And I remember, he stopped me and said something I’ll never forget,” Holmes shares. “He said, ‘We’re not curing cancer here, Myke.’ I love what I do, but he’s right. We’re not curing cancer. In the end, this should be fun.”

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Shelby Purvis is a Wilmington, NC based writer who has worked for several publications in the state.

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