The Calvin Klein model was a mechanical engineering student at UNC about to join Homeland Security when he was discovered walking around in Wilmington, North Carolina. He's currently starring as Paul Middlebrook in the surreal thriller Wish Upon, a film about everything that can go wrong if you wish for a different life.
Jacket and pants by Sacai
When (and where) are you most creative?
The most creative? I can say there is a tie between two scenarios. First is when I am outside of the city in my own little world of peace and quiet. The tranquility pushes my mind to wander leading to action because I want to manifest whatever formulated in my thoughts. Second is when I am acting. Where I am in my zone and without thought at all. My emotions take root and take over. Then you take a step back and look at it like "hmm I never knew that side of me." That's what's so great about acting there's a lot of self discovery involved.
How did you get your start?
I got scouted in Wilmington North Carolina, walking to my car after class one day by Daniel Peddle. A very kind and talented individual. From that fateful day I was very blessed to work on some incredible jobs. I say all the time that I won the lottery four times because this life I live and love was never a plan of mine. It just came to fruition; I was training to enlist in the Marine Corps.
What is success to you?
Success is becoming the best you can be at whatever craft or trade has your interest. Along with being the best version of yourself along the way.
Do critics matter?
In a sense, yes. Two minds are always better than one. I always take what others have to say into consideration. An outside vantage point is always helpful, could offer some great pointers as to what you need to improve on. But yet again, not everything is for everybody. So I never take it personally.
Obviously you've seen success in your career but can you tell us about a time you failed?
I have failed at a lot of things; it's a part of success. Cannot have one without the other or else there would be no learning involved. Now I always went back and did it right the next go at it. Easiest example, auditions. When I was a really green actor I was so nervous for an audition one time my knee was involuntarily shaking! Needless to say I didn't get the part. But the very next audition I went to I hyped myself up, turned that adrenaline into excitement and performed!
Do you think about legacy?
Legacy is certainly a blessing to have. Not only that it instills motivation to live up to what your parents or grandparents have achieved. It also helps you with the resources to get there.
What advice do you have for someone looking to break into your industry?
Don't take things personally!!! I have seen people eat themselves alive because they weren't cast for certain jobs. The whole industry can basically be summed up in one quote. "If the shoe doesn't fit, don't wear it." Whether you don't look the part the director/writer is looking to portray or to where the clothes physically don't fit. Both scenarios have happened to me.
Did you ever give up (or want to give up)? What were the circumstances?
Oh yeah! When I was training for the Marine Corps I was getting up every morning at 4am, training with my mentor an old Recon Marine, Billy Suggs. He would push me to keep running, training to go further and further. Wanting to quit and feeling like my body was shutting down. Billy instilled in me that it was all mental aptitude when you are beyond fatigued. Just have to keep on keeping on.
What trends in your field do you find most exciting/are you most optimistic about? What about your field is frustrating? What would you like to see change?
I am very optimistic about all the new outlets for films and TV, which is increasing production at a rapid pace. With Netflix, Amazon and Hulu upping their production and output, with all the great writers, directors and actors on HBO and Showtime productions. And then there are all the emerging markets, like China and India. It's a great time to be in this industry.
Due to the fact that my schedule is consistently changing it's hard to make plans. I have to create my schedule just about everyday when I'm not on set. For modeling jobs I wish they could plan things out more in advance, where it became a norm to have a month or weeks notice. Other than some uncommon occasions, it's all spur of the moment.
How do you plan to build on your success so far? Is there anything you fear will set you back?
Training, training, training! I plan on continuing my studies and drawing on them on every project I work on to further progress my abilities as an actor. As long as I keep at it I don't believe anything will set me back.
1.What was the first moment you knew you were going to be able to do this as a job – not necessarily your first big break or success, but the first time you thought, "This is it, this is my career"?
This is an interesting one! So, with a month and a half of acting experience I was casted as the lead role in an independent movie called Moss. That just had its world premiere at the LA Film Festival! I was thrown in the ocean and just started swimming. I was immediately engulfed and transfixed by the whole process! I never knew so much went into making a movie. All the minute details and ways you can trick the camera was a whole new realm of learning to me. Again, all thanks to Daniel Peddle. Right before I started working on Moss, Sharon Jackson, a badass at WME, reached out to me after seeing me in a New York Times article about my role in the Calvin Klein campaigns. Almost like fate we had a meeting, started receiving auditions, landing parts, bitten by the acting bug.
What's been the biggest choice you've had to make in your career so far?
The full commitment to becoming an actor. I never knew much about it but I entered it with an open mind. Thankful for all the great pointers.
What is your morning routine like?
I usually get up around 8:30ish, whip up breakfast and head to the gym! From there I get on my studies whether it's class work, auditions, or reading scripts
What are you most excited about for the future?
I am very excited to see where my career goes! This is just the beginning! Then to be able to share the blessings with friends and family is just icing on the cake!
Are you good at receiving advice? What is the best advice you've ever received?
I am always open to advice! Everyone has got a story to tell! We all have something to learn from someone. I'd say the best advice I have ever received was when I was training for the Marine Corps. It was "you can do anything you set your mind to, just don't let your mind hold you back." Billy Suggs.
What makes a person beautiful? What makes you beautiful?
What makes someone beautiful is to have a good head and heart. If your hearts in the right place with your head screwed on straight, that makes you beautiful in my eyes! I pride myself on being a kind-hearted individual.
What are you most proud of?
I must say my determination, I love to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Analyze what needs to be done to achieve my goals and take care of it!
Photography by Maya Fuhr
Styling by Ella Cepeda
Stylist Assistant: Katie Rintala
Makeup and hair by Albert Luongo at Wilhelmina Artists using Afterglow Cosmetics and N4 haircare