The So-and-So Profiles shines a spotlight on the actor Aaron Scotti, who has recently launched his own production company called What the Heck Productions and will be my first guest on "The Terrence Moss Radio Show" sometime in the future.
1. When, where and how did you decide to become an actor?
In my early twenties I was very confused with what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to be on TV and movies.
So I started looking into what you do. Take classes and get pictures done, whatever. I went to New York, looked around a little bit and went to these competitions that they had. I got a scholarship to the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts for a two-year program.
The program was very thorough. Everyday. All day. Movement and voice and speech and dance and acting and auditions and scene study.
It scared the shit out of me but that’s when I actually realized that I loved it. I loved waking up. I don’t think I missed one day. I couldn’t wait to wake up and go to class everyday – get on the train, read my sides for that day or read a book about acting or a book about somebody fascinating. I would get there and go to every single class. I was the first one there, last one to leave.
That’s when I decided to become an actor. That’s when I decided that I love it, I want to follow through. I want to put myself in a lot of debt. I want to try to climb out of it in the hardest job possible.
2006 is when I really decided this is something I want to do.
2. What were your initial thoughts on acting?
I was very immature. I thought I was just going to jump on TV and be surrounded by girls and money, all that kind of stuff.
3. How has that changed?
Now I don’t even know if I want that because you really see what it’s like. You don’t have a day off. Not to say that I wouldn’t want to go that route but you have your options as you get through.
If you book the next Spiderman, you’re going to be in the public eye hugely but you have the option to follow-up on that and play the next Batman or whatever the lead in Spielberg’s next movie. Or you can decline it and go mid-level. I want to stay right under the radar but I want to work as an actor everyday.
There are plenty of people out there that you just recognize their face but you don’t bother them when they walk down the street. They still walk into the coffee shop, get their coffee and they’re out. They can live a normal life and they can make a good living doing what they love.
4. What for you is the appeal of acting?
I’ve had so many different jobs – one this year, one this year, one that year. I want to be able to do everything but I don’t want to do one thing forever.
But if you can do acting forever, it allows you to do everything. I want to play an athlete one year and I want to play a doctor one year and I want to play a lawyer one year. I want to play this and that, a father, whatever.
5. What was your first role -- professional or otherwise?
Pretty Tony in the film Budz House. Independent feature film. It’s an urban comedy in the vain of Friday meets Half-Baked meets Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (because Bud addresses the audience to the camera).
Bud is a young man living in Baldwin Hills. He has his group of three friends. We all hang out together at Budz house. We find a way to make some money by selling some weed. People in the neighborhood aren’t happy about it and one thing leads to another and this, that and the other thing.
I play Bud’s friend. I play the white guy.
6. How did that come about?
I had a friend in town that day and I wasn’t feeling well. I was starting to get sick and it was two in the afternoon and we were just resting before I had to take her to the airport. I got the call from somebody I went to school with in New York. Their family was producing something out here. I had met them once at Thanksgiving.
They bring me in to audition for this role. They couldn’t find the right guy or whatever. I went in and read for it. Everybody was there --- producers, directors, everybody. I went in there; they gave me a little bit of notes. They wanted to get this part cast. They gave me some notes. I went in and gave it my all because all I could think about was getting back to bed, drinking some NyQuil and getting some sleep.
I gave it my complete all, jumped up and down or whatever I did. They gave me a hot script on the mark right there.
7. You worked with Wesley Jonathan. I remember him from City Guys – and an episode of The Practice. Of course, he’s done a lot more than that.
Wesley Jonathan played Bud. He really took me under his wing. We met at the table read. I almost called him Jamal because I used to watch his show City Guys on Saturday mornings.
First day on set, he really took me under his wing and made me feel comfortable. He was excited that it was my first job so he could watch me and see me experience my first job.
I didn’t have too many lines throughout the movie. The directors and producers let me improvise a lot.
[Wesley] would tell the director, “Why don’t we give this line to Aaron because I have a whole scene and there’s four people in the room. Why don’t you have Aaron say this instead of me to get him involved in the scene instead of just being in the background.”
And they did. That happened a lot.
We’re friends to this day. We work out together, hang out. Stuff like that.
It’s just funny. Some kid I used to watch on Saturday mornings is a good friend and supportive of my career and my ventures really helped me out on my first role, to feel comfortable there. I felt like I was just working with my friends. What a great first project.
8. Where does your focus lie -- stage, film, TV, either?
Right now, television for sure. I would love to be able to get onto the stage. I think it would be amazing to get on stage and do something. I would do it in a heartbeat just to act. It would be fun.
For right now, just focusing on film and television – trying to build that career, commercials, just work that angle. On camera stuff. Go from there.
9. You and I met on the set of the upcoming web series Bitter Bartender (premiering in February) where you had a guest-starring role. Would you do more of that?
Let’s all do web series. I’ll just produce all of them and act in all of them. Web series is a lot easier to get started if I just expand myself that way.
If I can just do that with a bunch of different web series, then I build my resume, build some credits, get a reel, get some footage together and go from there.
I have to be so productive. I’ve waited too long sitting around and you start to rust a little bit. You’re not working all the time. You could wait forever.
10. What is expansion about for you?
I hit a wall in my career. What am I doing? Am I doing something wrong? Am I not doing something right? Am I missing something? What do I need to do now? I feel like I’ve done everything, but I haven’t even come close, haven’t even scratched the surface yet.
When you hit that wall you get to a point of are you going to pick up the hammer and knock it down or walk away? And that’s when the best things happen. I truly believe that. Once you knock that wall down and you do what you’re going to do and you build that energy, all of a sudden everything you ever dreamed of starts to manifest itself.
I’m very street smart, savvy, common sense but a lot of times I forget to take my own advice. I can dish it out left and right and I’ll go home and sit on the couch and be like why the fuck is this not happening? But it’s a stage. You go through these stages and it makes us stronger. The struggle is what makes you stronger.
11. It sounds like you welcome the struggle.
Day to day it’s like a bitch. You gotta spend money to build up skills and a career. It’s not like the actors you see on TV who are making a living off of it. I’m on the opposite end right now.
Why am I struggling still? Why am I going through this? You’re going to look back one day go, “Now I know why I went through this. This is peanuts.” This is easy to handle because you’re built for it.
Being a successful actor -- whether you are where you want to be or not, it’s not going to be easy. If your life has been cake up until that day you book that big role, you aren’t going to know what the fuck to do. You need that struggle, you need to deal with shame, you need to be broke, you need to find a way to put food on the table, you need to go to work when you don’t want to go to work, you need to be forced to do things that you don’t want to do.
There is no sick day. There’s no day off. It all happens for a reason. Deal with the struggle now so that we know how to handle the big leagues.
It’s all about paying the dues.
12. What is your dream role or type of role?
Something like a Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire.
Also a young dad – a Kramer vs. Kramer. I want to play a father who’s left with his son to work it out. That would be a dream role. Play a young dad trying to make it work and hanging out with his son trying to figure it out.
That’d be a great role to play.
13. Would you like to win an Emmy, Oscar, Tony, Grammy, all or neither matters?
All because Tony’s included in there and I’d like to be on stage. I gotta be realistic and say probably not a Grammy unless they’re handing them out in the shower these days.
14. “And the award goes to…Aaron Scotti.” What would you say in your acceptance speech?
I don’t even know what I’d say. It’d be surreal. I wouldn’t be able to wrap my brain around it. I might pass out before I got to the stage.
I grew up in a world where actors were just people inside the television or inside the screen. They were built for that. They’re almost like robots or something. I didn’t realize they were real people growing up. I wasn’t surrounded by that world until I became a young adult and I realized you can do whatever you want to do and be whatever you want to be.
If acting is what you want to do and you just want to go and play and have fun, then go do it. I took that chance and I took that risk and I did it. I did it for fun. I didn’t want to grow up and come home from work miserable everyday and hate my job. I just want to love what I do everyday. And now to be rewarded for it is beyond amazing. I never even dreamed that it would lead to this. Just to be recognized as a working actor is great for me.
15. Who would you thank in your acceptance speech?
I’m basically thankful to my friends and my family and the love and support that I’ve been shown since day one. Even when I think I have no business doing what I’m doing, they remind me that I do. And that’s great because if there was nobody there to tell me otherwise, I wouldn’t know.
16. What keeps you from giving up?
I’m surrounded by support. That’s the one thing that keeps me going.
My brother and sister and my mom, they work hard to earn any kind of money that they’re making. They come out of their own pocket. They feel bad that it’s not more that they can do but they do whatever they can. It’s not about the money, it’s about the gesture that $300 is a week of work for one of them.
I came to LA by myself and I didn’t know anyone. I’ve been so blessed to find a family everywhere I go. Curtis, who owns this place [the Blue Boar in Hollywood], always tells me, “It’s temporary until you make it big.”
The staff is small. I’m surrounded by a team who’s willing to help out. If I say I have an audition at 4 can you open the bar for me? Teddy will come in at 4. At 6, I get back from my audition and I take over. I’m like thank you so much and I’ll leave him some money.
But he doesn’t want that. He’s like, “I’m just helping out.”
My girlfriend is [also] so supportive of what I do.
17. How do you approach a role?
Behaving under the circumstances that you’re given, that’s my approach – at least for now. I’m not set on one thing. My training was Meisner-based in New York, which is very fundamental.
I like to read the whole script. You have to know the script inside and out. Read what the other characters are saying about my character. You can learn so much from that. Find out how you will behave in those circumstances.
You have to know the character inside and out. And just believe the circumstances and find out – don’t make a decision beforehand going in because then you know exactly what you’re going to do and that’s no fun to watch.
18. Who are your professional inspirations?
I love Marlon Brando and Paul Newman in their prime.
Today, Ryan Gosling has a career that I would love. The Notebook - what a great role. Half-Nelson.
Channing Tatum. I would love to have a career like that. A role like Dear John -- I would love to have a role like that.
I like Justin Timberlake. I wish I could sing like that dude. If there’s somebody I could be for a night, it’d Justin Timberlake in the middle of Madison Square Garden putting on a concert playing five instruments, singing and dancing to the tops. That’d be great.
18. If a production was casting for an "Aaron Scotti" type, what would they be looking for?
I can be funny at times. Charming leading man. Romantic. Young Patrick Dempsey. Young Tom Cruise. Young dad.
19. What is your ultimate goal -- if you haven't already achieved it?
Probably to have five projects in production per year. And just be working – whether as an actor or a producer. Constantly working on my craft. Constantly working on my business. Constantly meeting new people. Constantly providing for my family.
I’d love to work in Los Angeles and New York.
ultimate goal is to be a widely known, respected actor. To be able to work all
over the world. To travel with my work. To be able to provide for my family.
And to love my job.
I want to wake up [happy] everyday and love to go to work.
20. What’s next for Aaron Scotti?
I’m getting back into classes.
Producing. We’re working on a horror-thriller “found footage” type movie [and] some web series.
Creating my own work to star in.
Bitter Bartender in February.
Budz House April 20.
The sky is the limit.
I want to grow with my people who are on my level right now.
Background: I recently met a guy who was in the process of transitioning from NY to LA. When asked what he was doing out here, he said that he was an actor.
A guy nearby responded, "So what restaurant do you work at?"
The actor took exception to that response. So I asked Aaron how he would have reacted in this situation.
Well, you’re sitting in my restaurant. Literally. It’s called the Blue Boar. 1615 North Cahuenga.
This place gives me an opportunity to pay my bills as I pursue a career. I couldn’t ask for a better money job in the world. I love the clientele, the guests, the customers. It’s great. It’s small. It’s intimate. You find that a lot of people are doing the same thing you’re doing or in a different way.
They’re all in the grind, on the hustle -- just coming in to have a nice drink after work or whatever and I provide that for them.
It’s a means to an end. Hopefully this is the last place that I work in the service industry.
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