Listen on SoundCloud:
Bryce Pinkham is an American stage and screen actor perhaps best known for his Tony nomination for ‘Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical’ in A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.
Bryce is a Yale Drama School grad, Annenberg Fellow and the Co-Founder of Zara Aina, which teaches at-risk children in Madagascar theatrical performance and storytelling.
Did Bryce always want to be in theater? Does he have dreams beyond the stage? What’s his advice for actors? Find out all of this and more in our conversation.
Here are some of Bryce’s Interview #TakeAways:
-I feel empowered behind a character. On a stage you’re seen, but you’re also really protected.
-Being on stage and performing really requires focus and requires a certain discipline but also allows for and actually encourages the creative mind that is allowed to wander and be inventive and imaginary. My brain was drawn to that combination of discipline and focus but also creativity and imagination.
-I give credit to my parents – they let me do a lot of different things, not just theater. I play a ton of sports, I was in scouts, I’ve been tasting a buffet of activities from a young age. In retrospect, that was ultimately I think a benefit to me that I didn’t lock it in so early; that I was encouraged and thankfully in a position to experience many different things.
-When young people ask me about should they go to theater school if they think they want to be actors, I usually tell them no. I usually say: go to college and go to a college where you can do a lot of theater and not have to be a major or not have to sign your life away. Because I think that learning about a lot of things is as important to being an actor as learning how to, you know, speak Shakespeare in a natural way. So I always tell kids who are thinking about it: Go to a place where you can do a lot of things and include a business class even if you don’t want to. Take one single business course, which is the thing that I wish that I had done.
-I could have said to you however many years ago it was that I was graduating Yale (Drama School) that I’m only going to do serious acting and then never gotten cast in anything and never had a living as an actor. At a certain point I had to say to myself: do I want to work as an actor or not? So I had to learn a business mind and a way of looking at things in a more strategic business way.
-If you look at Broadway and say, I want to be where those people are because they are theater actors, which I have proposed to myself and others that I want to do, they are able to live in NY on an actor’s salary and not have a part-time job or a survival job as we call them while they are doing that job. So, that’s where I want to be. The only place actually that I can do that in NY is on Broadway. 70% of the shows on Broadway are musicals so when my agents come to me and say, ‘do you want to audition for musicals?’ I’m saying: ‘yes, I do,’ because I want to work.
-If I had my choice when I left school I probably wouldn’t have done musicals. I was prepared to do great American plays and Shakespeare like I had trained. But I was also able to take that training and apply it to musical theater in a way that I think is really helpful and rigorous and musicals don’t get enough credit often times for how deep their characters can be explored.
-The music and the song is all in service of a greater story and it’s my responsibility to learn that story and try and figure out how I as the chief defender of my character in that story can represent both his journey throughout the story and also serve the greater vision of the piece.
-One of the things Yale (Drama School) taught me was to bring something that I’m proud of into the room.
-It’s not called show fair. It’s not called show fun. It’s not called show everybody gets a chance. It’s called show business. And so, in as much as you should invest in the creative side of putting on a show, I would encourage young people to invest in the practical side of learning how to run a business. I run my own business and I’m the product and I didn’t understand that right out of the gates but I do now.
-I became an actor partly because I didn’t think I wanted to to go into business but I accept on some level that this is a business and I have to think of it like that. So I would encourage young people to just dabble in it and it’s not going to hurt if you decide ultimately that you don’t want to be an actor. Most people who are actors go on to do other things and if you’re going to survive as an actor you probably have to do a lot of things really well, so I would encourage a broad focus of study.
-A fuller life can only better inform an artistic life. I believe that in some unfortunate cases you really have to go through life if you want to be an actor.
-If we’re training as actors, we’re learning to be private in public. We are learning to act in a way that maybe we don’t show in public all the time in public and that’s part of the training. But I also think that there are certain things that we should actually keep private and my personal life is one of those things. I always encourage young people if they are on a path to being in show business to keep a little part to yourself. Grab onto a part that’s only for you.
Find & Follow:
(Published December 2016)