Deneen: Welcome to the VIP Ignite podcast, your source for tomorrow’s talent today. Hear real life stories of models, actors and musicians breaking down barriers, launching careers, and sharing their stories of overcoming obstacles and finding real success. They will activate the winner in you by revealing the path with their best tips and advice. My name is Deneen White and I’m the host of the VIP Ignite Live podcast. This is a special series of podcasts and interviews that we’re holding right now being taped during the quarantine for the Coronavirus. Our purpose for doing these interviews and podcasts is twofold. First of all, we want to create inspiration for our listeners and second of all, we want anyone to know that right now is the perfect time to be planning and building for what’s needed to continue pushing forward as an actor, model, or musician today. I am so excited to be here live with Charles Massey, who is from New York city. Charles, what are you doing to keep yourself occupied during this pandemic we’re going through?
FINDING OPPORTUNITIES EVEN IN A LOCKDOWNCharles: Well, I want to thank you first, Deneen, and VIP for having me on for this podcast today. I’m always a thinker. So I’m always thinking of what I can do to get to the next level of whatever profession that I’m partaking in. And luckily VIP was right there when I was looking for opportunities to enhance my acting career. So here I am. Deneen: That’s awesome! You’ve been a part of our coaching program now. You’ve been a part of the VIP Elite Talent Academy for about two weeks now. So you’ve had the opportunity to go through a lot of coaching; so far, which coach has stood out the most to you and why? Charles: So far, even though I have only been on one of his podcasts, I would say Robert Galinsky. That’s because of his coaching. As far as acting, I like his approach. That includes the fact that he worked with 50 Cent to get him started in this industry even though he was already kind of in it, the way he pushed him for his role with Robert de Niro, and just reading a couple of things about him as somebody I think I would like to actually meet when we get through this pandemic in New York. Then I can have him coach me as well. Deneen: Robert Galinsky is a good friend of our company. He is someone that was with us pretty much from the start, and he has introduced us to some amazing people. Like you mentioned, he did help launch 50 Cent’s acting career when 50 Cent was going for his first role opposite de Niro. They called him in because first of all, he kind of looks a little bit like de Niro, but also because they know that he’s an awesome acting coach. Something that we love about Galinsky is he does his one man show called The Bench, which I believe he is going to have soon online available for everyone. But he’s someone who loves to give back to the community and he loves coaching. Our students, our Talent Academy. People are fearless rebels, so it’s always good. I’m always excited when he is one of the top coaches that someone enjoys. So what is it about his coaching style that you enjoyed so much? Charles: I don’t want to say it in a bad way, but it’s just off character. He just kind of goes with the flow. He reads the person and he takes it from there. He doesn’t go in with a script, so to speak, per person. I like his character. I really do. Deneen: Yeah, he’s a fantastic guy. He really is.
VIRTUAL TALENT SESSIONS AND SUPPORTING EACH OTHERSo I know that you’ve participated in our variety hour. For people who are listening and wondering how we’re doing a variety hour when we’re social distancing, what we’ve done is bring VIP Ignite to the people who are a part of our Talent Academy. We wanted to give everyone an opportunity to showcase their talents, because everyone’s working so hard behind the scenes. We wanted to give everyone an opportunity to perform for one another, to perform for the coaches, and just to have a time where we can kind of let our hair down because sometimes these coaching sessions can get pretty intense. Very intense, especially if I’m leading one! What was your experience at our first variety hour? Charles: It was an awesome experience. Unfortunately I couldn’t let my hair down because I’m bald and that part I can’t agree with, but everything else was just awesome. There was a little magic to that evening. Like you said, we can’t go out, but in a sense we were at a club or lounge for two hours. I really enjoyed that and I actually was not going to participate initially. I came in to support, but after hearing everyone’s talents, I went to the bench so to speak. I decided to do a piece from Hotel Rwanda, where Don Cheadle played Paul. I went over a monologue, and it just kind of grabs me; I’m a big Don Cheadle fan. I think he’s a very underrated actor. So I put that together in 15 to 20 minutes and I just jumped on. Deneen: Bam, there it was. That’s pretty amazing. Charles: Yes, there it was. Deneen: Hotel Rwanda is one of my favorite movies also. When you did that, I was bracing myself. I thought, “You cannot cry.” You cannot cry no matter what you hear. I can’t believe that you pulled that together in 15 minutes. Charles: Yeah, it was pretty powerful. I had been on the fence about it and I just went with it. It’s open for everyone. We’re not all professionals, so to speak. So I just went in and did the best that I could. Deneen: And what did it feel like for you to be able to have that environment virtually or in person? It was online, but we were all together. What was it like for you to have that platform where you could perform a monologue and know that you weren’t going to be judged? Charles: Actually, even though I participated in a lot of different things on stage, that stood out to me because I was alone. I had never done that before, so I looked at everyone online as being in a lounge or something like that. I was performing in front of them just like a poet; go up there, and you’re on your own. And it felt great! It felt like you all were really there with me.
CHANGING COMMUNICATION FOR THE NEW NORMAL
Deneen: Well, we are in spirit for sure. I think that’s phenomenal because the thing that people don’t realize is that right now–and a lot of us are starting to really come to terms with this–is that the world has changed. That’s a part of the reason why we’ve really ramped up the VIP Talent Academy. We understand that no matter what happens, when this is over and we’re allowed to go about our normal lives, whatever the new normal looks like, we do realize that the world has changed already. We’re having conversations with casting directors and agents and industry professionals, top people, executives in different areas of the entertainment industry. Something that we’ve realized is that the way that you’re going to audition is like this. It’s going to be virtually, it’s going to be on a Zoom call. It’s going to be on Facebook Live. It’s going to be where you have to tape yourself and then send it. That’s a huge part of the reason that we’ve really ramped up our coaching. The other part is that a lot of people in the entertainment industry who would normally be working aren’t right now. What we’ve done is we’ve taken the opportunity to give them a little work and to get them talking shop. We had Michael Urie, who was the co-star on Ugly Betty. He’s done multiple Broadway shows, and he is the cohost of the Drama Desk Awards, which is one step below the Tony’s. He sent me an email afterwards and he said “Deneen, thank you so much.” It was nice just to talk shop for a little while. So, we’re taking advantage of that. Something I love that you said was that you’re someone who’s always looking for opportunities, and you’re looking to advance yourself. So how have we given you that opportunity? Did you think that you would be performing Shakespeare with a group of strangers and learning from 50 Cent’s acting coach a month ago? Was that even on your radar? Charles: It definitely was not on the radar.
“But you know, sometimes you just have to expect the unexpected and come in with an open mind, and just be willing to put in the work.”Not to say that you may use Shakespeare in your future, but at least you do have it in your pocket. I love the fact that I did it as a team. I want to give everyone a shout out on the team with Zulie really directing everyone. But I loved it, and that was the final thing.
GETTING THROUGH THE DAY BY IMPROVING YOURSELF
Deneen: How has being a part of this Academy been helping you right now? Charles: It definitely helped to get through today. There are a bunch of challenges on a daily basis. I even look back on some of the challenges that some other people were doing as far as their favorite actors, their top 15 they’d like to work with. I’ve kind of dabbled with that. I haven’t put my list out yet. Ryan Colby recently put us in a challenge of picking out the three photographers that we would like to work with. Those kinds of things get the mind going, and it helps you to forget what’s really going on. Out here in the world right now, you don’t want to forget it in total, but it takes your mind away and it’s a great experience for you. Deneen: The awesome thing is we can sit and listen to the news all day, but that’s not going to change our future. The reality is they’re telling us what’s going on right now. I’m really proud of you, Charles, and everyone who’s a part of the Academy because instead of focusing on this moment, what you’re doing is you’re preparing for the future. This morning I had a call and we were talking about how we’re in this for the long haul. Right now we’re all planting our gardens, and what we want to do is plant the seeds and water them and keep them watered so that when this is over, all of a sudden everything is blossoming. I’m really proud of you for taking that leap because you know what you want. The reason you and I ever got on a phone call is because you knew what you wanted and now, when everyone else is sitting back watching Netflix, you’re preparing for your opportunity to be on Netflix one day. Charles: That’s my intention. There’ll be watching us. Deneen: Exactly. Charles: You still need viewers so they can help in that way as well. Deneen: I like that! I’ll have to remember that. That’s phenomenal though, because it’s the truth that right now you’re a part of a community of action takers.
FINDING AND EMBRACING A NEW COMMUNITY
What is it like for you to have that community also? Charles: I like that we can reach out to one another and that at all times you can wake up at two in the morning and there’s still people in the VIP room posting or commenting on stuff. This is like a 24 hour baby Hollywood, and people will respond. You put up a comment and you might lay down, and next thing you know you have three people liking it or making comments. Now you have another conversation. I like that everyone is very confident. Deneen: I like baby Hollywood. I’m going to have to use that in one of my calls. That’s awesome. I never thought of it like that. You have just blown my mind. We’ll get t-shirts; I’m also getting one made that says “Trust the process.” So now we’re going to get baby Hollywood put somewhere in that. I have to write that down now. I love what you’re saying, because the thing is that everyone in the community has the same ultimate goal. Maybe some of us want to be actors, some of us want to be models, some of us want to be musicians, but we all want to be entertainers and that’s the thing that bonds us all together. I’m very much an introvert, so for me when I was told that I have to stay at home, I thought, “Oh darn, that’s going to be terrible.” It’s also great to know that I can log on and there are 20 conversations going. I can jump in also and just have the opportunity to be encouraged, and encourage in return. I think that’s something that’s going to be one of the most valuable things that we get out of this time. Charles: I have a saying that I haven’t phrased yet, but I’ve been saying it for years and that’s “Don’t say no, N-O, to what you don’t know, K-N-O-W.” Deneen: Go a little deeper on that. Charles: So many people are just not open minded and when opportunity presents itself, you do have the option to say yes or no. I don’t think you should say no off the bat. I think you should always listen because you never know what can come out of that, or maybe it’s something that you’re going to help someone else with by referring somebody else. I almost never say no. I’m not going to say I don’t, but 99.9% of the time I don’t say no. Deneen: Just like Shakespeare. Did you jump in and say, heck yes? Or did you think, “Heck no, shut up”? Charles: No, I went in head first. Deneen: That’s awesome. That’s the way you’ve taken the training too. I think we talked on Sunday, and by Monday you were already on a call. Unfortunately I had to say no because I know you wanted to do your monologue. I’m going to still feel bad about that. So you’re number one the next time Havilland has a monologue workshop. I promise you. You’ve definitely jumped in the deep end with no swimmers and you’re going for it. That’s something I really admire because I know when I was on the call with you, I asked you, “Are you willing to work hard?” You said “Yes, of course.” That’s why I’m signing up for this. I always ask if you’re willing to be coached. I’ve seen you do those things. That’s an amazing thing because again, there are so many people that are resting on their laurels. When everything’s done, there will be missed opportunities. Right now you’re meeting casting directors, agents, managers, and people. You’re developing relationships so that when the doors open, you’re going to be able to hit the ground running. That’s a really exciting thing. Charles: Thank you. It’s important to build those relationships and keep them, not just build them, but to keep them after being in corporate America for 30 years. That’s something I’ve learned. Deneen: It’s amazing how you can apply corporate America to what we’re doing now. So since you opened up that door, what are some of the things that you’re taking from your former nine to five life and applying to your acting life?
PUTTING IN THE HARD WORK, FROM DAY JOBS TO ACTING
Charles: Definitely the hard work. Taking steps out to try and be a leader on some things, picking the brains of the hierarchy, and putting everything together and making sense of it. I’ve only been acting for 14 months and I think I’ve made some strides, but I’m always looking to get better and that’s why I’m here. Incorporating all those things into this, and you guys lighting a fire under me, helps me prove I’m willing to work and really get this thing going. Deneen: That’s awesome. It’s awesome to have amazing people like yourself that jump in with no questions asked. Shakespeare? You’re on it. Monologue, sign me up! It’s amazing because the one thing about anything that you do in life, especially a career in the entertainment industry and with the VIP Talent Academy, is the more that you put into it, the more you’re going to get out of it. You’re giving a hundred percent so I’m certain you’re going to get more than a hundred percent out of it because whatever you put in, you’ve received back with dividends. Thank you so much for being such a hard worker and thank you for embracing the community. I feel like you just stepped in and it was seamless. What I’ve witnessed has been amazing because again, sometimes people dip to see if anyone’s going to be nice. But you wanted to do this, and that’s an indicator of success. Thank you for being that person, because that inspires me to want to do more and I appreciate that. Charles: Thank you for putting the opportunity out there and lighting a fire under us with those challenges. Deneen: Some of you want to keep them coming over. You ask if we can take a five minute break. And you can do that. Seriously, Charles, thank you so much. I just have one more question I would like to ask. Are you happy that you’re a part of the VIP Elite Talent Academy? Charles: I think that’s an understatement. On a scale of 1 to 10, I’m at a 15. I may have been doing other things to keep myself occupied and to hone my craft, but this is taking things to another level. I’m glad I came upon this. I’m glad I jumped in and signed up when I did, and the rest is history right now. We’re looking to make history and I believe there are going to be a ton of success stories coming out of this. Deneen: I agree with you. I know that I’m seeing one right in front of me right now. Thank you so much for sharing your story and thank you so much for being on the podcast. I really appreciate you taking the time out of your day to share your story and to inspire people. Charles: Thank you again for having me. Deneen, it’s been a pleasure. Deneen: You’re welcome, Charles. Have a fantastic day! Thank you for listening to the VIP Ignite podcast. For free resources and to learn more about how to become a model actor or musician, please head over to AMM society.com. If you love this episode, please head over to iTunes to subscribe and leave us a review. It is very much appreciated, thank you!