I’m currently working on a feature film called Streets of Fire : Actor Michael J Rodriguez

1) What do you do for a living?

Answer: I am an Actor.

2) How would you describe what you do?

Answer: I bring characters and stories to life.

3) What does your work entail?

Answer: It entails, attending auditions, keeping headshots up to date, staying in shape, working on memorizing scripts, attending table reads, working long days, arriving on set at the call time and waiting for long periods before your time. Sometimes you don’t sleep, sometimes you’re standing for hours on end. Yet, always need to be prepared to bring you’re A-game once the time comes—there is no option or room to do otherwise.

4) What’s a typical work week like?

Answer: Collaborating with my manager on potential auditions. Preparing for my next project by reviewing my script and working to both get off book and to bring my character and the storyline to life. Attending auditions. Working out. Attending acting class.

5) How did you get started?

Answer: I worked on creating skits and dramas through my church for youth retreats for over 20 years. After which, I connected with a local acting agent via social media. This agent provided guidance on how to become a professional actor. One gig led to another and I suddenly realized that my lifelong dream of being an actor could possibly become a reality. I realized that I truly loved acting (a gut feeling that I’ve always had). And I realized that I was at home in brining authenticity to my characters and the roles I portray. Because of this, I’ve stuck it out and I am in awe with how far I’ve come. And I know in my heart that it’s still only the beginning.

6) What do you like about what you do?

Answer: For me, acting isn’t just a job. I absolutely love what I do and I get to do what I love! Saying that this is adream come true would be a major understatement. I know in my heart that I was meant to do this.

7) What do you dislike?

Answer: The most difficult thing for me in this business, is when a project has ended. I end up missing everything about what it took to make that project happen. Fromdiving into the script, to the table reads, to the rehearsals, to the fittings, to the actual filming, and all of the things that go on in between. I think to myself, that I can’t believe it’s over. And I can hardly wait for my next project to begin. I simply can’t get enough.

8) What skills are needed to do this?

Answer: Just like any career, Acting isn’t for everyone. You have to want it with every fiber of your being. So, you need to be passionate about it. You also can’t just dream of being an Actor. You have to plan and then execute on that plan. You’ll also need to be prepared to be brutally honest with yourself. You may find that you have a lot of trouble breaking away from trying to act and breaking into simply being the character you are portraying. If you aren’t able to cross that bridge and make that connection, then acting may not be for you.

9) What is most challenging about what you do?

Answer: I like control in my life. In this business, you have little control. Others who are running the projects pretty much hold all the cards. You also have to know the right people and get connected with a strong and well-connected talent agency/Manager. Without this in your corner, your uphill battle is a lot steeper. It’s already difficult to make a living in this business as it is, and it’s that much more difficult without the right people helping you along the way.

10) What advice would you offer someone considering this career?

Answer: Follow your dream, create a plan, be honest with yourself, build strong relationships with the right people, create a couple of streams of income to help you make ends meet while you’re pursuing your dream and building your craft. And trust your gut—be careful with scams and people who will try to take advantage of you.

11) Do you have a talent Agent or Manager?

Answer: Yes. I am managed by Stephanie Corn-Kellum with Ascendent Talent Management and Christopher Montgomery with Prodigy. 

12) What projects do you have coming up or what are you currently working on?

Answer: I’m currently working on a feature film called Streets of Fire, where I play a father of a young man who’s chasing his dream of becoming a professional race car. This is an action film with heavy drama and is encompassed around the conflict between upholding unexpected responsibilities and chasing a lifelong childhood dream. I’ll also be one of the leads in a new hit TV Crime Drama series called, The Vice Squad. I’ll be playing one of the main detectives on the Strike Team division out of NYC. The series will be launching in 2019 and you’ll be able to view it on a major TV Network near you.

13) How much time off do you get?

Answer: It varies from project to project. In between projects, I stay busy with other work, attending acting classes, auditioning, working out, networking, updating headshots, and updating social media feeds, etc. The work never really stops—even when you’re not working on a set.

14) What else would you like people to know about your career?

Answer: There are three priorities that come before it. First is my faith, second is my family, and third is my health/wellbeing. I need balance to keep me whole. If any of these three pillars are unstable, then I cannot be me at my best. So, in order to be at my best, I must keep these three priorities at the top of my list.

15) What is a common misconception people have about what you do?

Answer: They think that calling myself an Actor means that it’s merely a hobby or that maybe I’m not an Actor-Actor; rather, they see me as just someone who likes to kind of dabble in acting. I don’t hold it against anyone. I can understand that when one calls himself an Actor, this is a rarity. But I do love seeing their reactions and hearing their feedback, once they’ve seen some of my work. It is then that I am humbled, excited, and reaffirmed that I am indeed in the right business.

16) What charitable cause do you support and why?

Answer: I support the Catholic Church. The Church is one of the largest charitable organizations in the world and many of the people they serve aren’t Catholic. This means a great deal to me. So, I send a % of my income to my city’s Catholic Archdiocese to help in their mission to serve the community. 

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photo: archives Michael J Rodriguez
photo: archives Michael J Rodriguez
photo: archives Michael J Rodriguez
photo: archives Michael J Rodriguez
photo: archives Michael J Rodriguez
photo: archives Michael J Rodriguez

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Text: Saif Rahman Sozib

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