Thursday, December 10, 2015

SPOTLIGHT: Interview with Sam Meader

British actor Sam Meader is currently performing on the El Portal stage in NoHo in Michael Cooney's Cash on Delivery to critical acclaim. This is his LA stage debut and he is knocking the role of Norman McDonald out of the park. In our brief chat he talks about his roots, his background and his lofty pursuits in the wonderful world of show biz LA.

Where do you hail from?

I was born in the Isle of Man, which is an island in between England and Ireland. I've kind of lived in a couple of places in the UK, but I basically grew up in a place called Guernsey which is a Channel Island. It has a lot of history - being occupied by the Nazis during WWII.  It was a great place to grow up. It was great for me as a creative because it's a small island but has a large population. They really support creativity there. If you want to do it, there's some great venues you can explore.

Were your parents supportive of you?

Yeah. Very supportive. I was very academic as well. I was sort of expected to go the academic way; then, when I turned around and said that I wanted to be an actor at 18, they were kind of like, "Well, OK, if that's what you want to do."

Was either one in the performing arts?

No. I'm the first in my family. I have three brothers. I'm the youngest by about 8 years. My grandparents are painters, artists. When I graduated high school at 18, I got a scholarship to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts...which took me out here basically. I want to mention that I was a product of great teaching. I had such enthusiastic teachers that it made me fall in love with literature, and from there sparking me to want to perform and spread it. I remember being taken on a school trip to London when I was 17 and seeing Sartre's Kean at the Apollo Theatre and Othello at Shakespeare's Globe in the same day; the performances mesmerized me, and I returned home knowing that there couldn't be anything else I wanted to do.

So you were hooked! Wasn't AADA a radical change from your schooling?

I was looking at acting schools in the UK as well, but after 18 years in England, who wouldn't pick LA with its sunshine, palm trees... and acting? (He chuckles.)  I did the course for two years, graduated in 2011, and then after that, I stayed here about six months.

Then what? Did you audition?

I was on an OPTV (Optional Practical Training Visa); it's like a work visa or internship visa. Time was running out, so I went back home. I lived in London for a couple of years, but I missed the opportunities here. I just saved up and worked like crazy, and eventually came back here about a year and a half ago.

Did you do any acting work while you were back in London?

I did some independent film projects. London is hard. I love it so much. I love the work ethic there, but it's easier to make a living here as an actor for sure, and that was one of the biggest draws for me to come back. One of the negative things there is they tend to recycle a lot, bringing back older stuff, older actors. They focus on the past. Unless you have significant credits in London, it's harder to break in, just because there's less work. It's who you know, and that goes on here as well, but they're more open to what's coming next. They focus on the future a lot more.

Cash on Delivery is your debut in theatre here, correct?

Yes, and part of that is I recently had my green card approved. For Equity theatre, a work visa isn't sufficient; you need a green card.

Did you audition for Cash?

Yes, my agent and my manager got me the audition. I read the script, got excited and I thought "Oh my God, I want to do this. I have to get this role." I have to say that Chad Murnane and Lisa Fields were fantastic CD's throughout the casting process. Chad literally laughed all the way through my initial audition, despite me fluffing the first line. To have such a supportive atmosphere from casting makes you feel like a winner already.

Have you enjoyed working with Ray Cooney, the Master of farce?

Oh yes. The amount I've learned...the one thing it's shown me is that you can never stop learning. As an actor, you learn from everybody you work with and everyone you meet. The amount I've learned from Ray is crazy. When we were rehearsing, he would give me a direction and I'd think "I don't know about that," and then I'd try it out, and Oh my God! Suddenly I'm a comic genius, you know what I mean?

You're very good with physical comedy. Are you athletic?

I used to be sporty. I used to be in a rock band, so I moved about and had fun onstage, but this is the first comedy I've done.

Really? You seem perfectly suited to it, a natural.

I never thought I could pull off comedy. But now, (He gushes.) I want to do comedy, I want to do comedy... it's learning to let go.

What are your two main career goals for 2016?

I would love to do a larger theatrical production, maybe tackle a leading role in a drama, or otherwise a comedy, and I'd also love to do a great independent film.

Big plans, but Sam Meader certainly has what it takes. Watch out for this bright up and comer! He's bound for glory! Right now, catch him in the hysterical farce Cash on Delivery at the El Portal through December 20, playing Thursdays at 8, Fridays at 8, Saturdays at 3 and 8 and Sundays at 3. You'll laugh yourselves silly!

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