This week’s feature is on actor, screenwriter, director and producer, Dwayne Boyd.
His dedication, passion and expertise in every aspect of his successful career pours over into the hearts and minds of his fans, audiences, subordinates, clients and students.
He truly loves what he does. That love for what he does landed him roles in some of the most well known movies and televised sitcoms such as “The Gospel” with Boris Kodjoe, Idris Elba and Omar Gooding, and appearances in episodes of NBC’s “Surface,” Lifetime’s hit shows “Army Wives” and “Drop Dead Diva.”
However, his proudest achievements and accolades were derived from his own creations, The Premier Actor’s Network and his movie, “4 Minutes.”
Dwayne gives us the behind the scenes juice on his accomplishments and the life of an entertainer in front of and behind the camera!
– La Tasha K. Mason
Follow Me on Twitter: @Tash1216
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Be honest, when you were a child, did you use to put on plays in your backyard or garage? Did you create characters with your toys and put on huge productions with them?
When I was a child, I use to put this red towel around my neck with a safety pin and in my mind I was Superman. That was how I got into acting. I did not realize it at the time but that was me portraying Christopher Reeves as Superman on my porch jumping off the balcony with this cape around my neck. I would also go in my basement. I was a huge Star Wars fan. I still am a huge Star Wars fan. I would have this toy light saver, and I would swing it around like I was a Jet I or Luke Skywalker. The reason I went into the basement is because it had those big heaters down there and it looked like I was in outer space. So, yes, I have been acting since I was a kid, and I didn’t realize you can actually make money from having fun and being a kid.
Were you the one in the family that did GREAT impersonations so family members always said, “He’s going to be an actor?”
I really did not do a lot of impersonations growing up, and my family did not think that was going to lead to much. I did have to dance when relatives came over but that was about it. There was not a lot of acting going on in the house except when we got in trouble then we were trying to act our way out of trouble and convince our mother we didn’t do something, but she knew whether we were telling the truth or not.
Tell us about your childhood and family life and how it shaped and molded you into who you are today.
Your childhood is the experiences you have throughout your life, and your family shapes who you are today. We have all had our ups and downs. We had some tough times and also some good times. I think they kind of make you who you are today and based off those experiences is how you interact with people and deal with things in life. I would say my childhood definitely had an impact on who I am today.
When did you first realize that you were destined for Hollywood? Upon that realization, what did you do to initiate achieving that aspiration?
I wouldn’t say I knew I was destined for Hollywood; I just knew I wanted to act, and I was willing to do it whenever, for whatever amount of money and no matter what I wanted to do this for a living. I get to wake up every day and play make believe. I use my imagination. I didn’t do this with the idea that I wanted to just go to Hollywood, but I knew I just wanted to do this every day and if it happen to go that way great, but I am not in this just for saying, “hey, I made it to Hollywood.” I want to be able to enjoy what I am doing every single day. I think of that comes success and those are the things as an actor you don’t hope for much, you just want to make sure the work is good. It’s always about the work.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started out acting?
When I started acting, I just wish I knew how important it was to bring myself to the table as oppose to trying to imitate somebody I thought was a great actor. I was a big Laurence Fishbourne fan growing up and when I started acting, I said I want to be just like him but the world already had its one Laurence Fishbourne. They did not need two or a carbon copy, so I realized later in my career it’s really about being who you are and sharing your experiences as a human being. You are qualified to be a human being because you are, and I think realizing that was the biggest lesson for me.
You served in the United States Army for several years. Tell us about that. Did you have to kind of create a character to become in order to mentally survive your service?
I was in the army for seven years. The Army really builds character in the sense that of what it takes to be a leader, self-motivating, really what it takes to execute the plan and lead the troops. As a film maker, I have to be able to lead my troops and lead my team to victory and that’s completing a film.
You have to be really organized in this business and to me the military has given me so much that I did not realize at the time. They were getting me ready for something bigger. I believe God places us in situations, and you don’t know what you are there for until you have to use that situation or that knowledge you got from that situation. So, I am really thankful for the military.
You’ve had some roles in some pretty major on screen and televised movies and shows such as your roles in ‘The Gospel’ starring Boris Kodjoe, Idris Elba and Omar Gooding, and appearances in episodes of NBC’s “Surface,” Lifetime’s hit shows “Army Wives” and “Drop Dead Diva,” Black Family Channel’s “Playhouse 22” and “Meet the Browns.” Tell us about these experiences and how they’ve helped you evolve.
Every project you work on, whether it’s the big screen or television, is always a great opportunity. I get to work with quite a few people. I just wrapped a movie with Billy Crystal, Bette Midler and Marisa Tomei called “Parental Guidance.” I got a huge project coming out early next year, but I can’t say much about it. It’s the next “Twilight” or the next “Harry Potter” so these experiences just get you ready for bigger and better things.
I just had the opportunity to work with Jennifer Garner and Common in a project called “The Odd Life of Timothy Green”.
So, every experience gets you ready for the next and I am just open and ready to receive what’s next.
What are some of the films/projects you’ve written, produced and directed? Break it down for us…How is it wearing all of these different hats in the industry? Which role are you most passionate about?
The project I was able to co-write, produce and direct was a project called “4 Minutes”. It is a romantic comedy, and I did everything. I starred in the film, co-wrote the film, directed, produced, made sandwiches, cut hair – whatever I had to do on set to get it done. It was made for $15,000. We shot it, and it got done. It got completed in 20 days. It was a pretty aggressive schedule. It was 12-14 hour days, and we had a very talented cast. We had the comedian Pierre from “Baps” and Def Jams’ “How to be a Player.”
We had Gregalan Williams from “Remember the Titans” and everything he has been in, Lil Duval, Bobby Valentino, Jason Sylvain, Ja’el Roberson, it was a very talented cast and it was an honor to work on that project and just to see it from birth and really getting out there. It made it to the American Black Film Festival. Out of 600 films we were in the top four. That’s the biggest African American Film Festival (ABFF) in the world, so it was an honor to be a part of that.
I am definitely excited about that. Then, I got to direct another movie called “Ivy League”. It’s not out yet, but I was hired to direct that film and it was a different project. It puts you in the mind of “Old School” or “40 Year Old Virgin.”
I am passionate about wearing any type of hat that will keep me moving and working. I just finished a pilot for a kid’s show called “Ant Hill” which I think is incredible, and I have directed commercials and anything I can do to stay busy.
What are some of the honors and accolades you’ve received as an actor, writer, producer or director? Describe what it felt like when you received your very first one.
The biggest honor to me has been the ABFF, getting into the ABFF with “4 Minutes” as a producer, writer and director. When people come up to me off the street and say I saw you in this, that’s the biggest accolade to me. When people recognize you for your work and appreciate your work.
I did a play at the Civic Center one time with Palmer Williams Jr., Montel Jordon, Lydia Pace, Dave Tolliver and Kinnik Sky – a very talented cast – a play called “For Better or for Worse,” and a guy came up to me afterwards and said, “hey, I used to be Drake, I used to be you.”
It was one of those plays where my character started off being a knuckle head and not doing the right thing. It was a gospel play, so he found Jesus in the end and did everything he needed to do. You know, it’s just good when people come up to you and say, “hey, I was once where you are as a character and I have changed like that.” To me, that is a great actor when people can recognize your work.
As founder of Premier Actor’s Network you train aspiring actors to hone their craft. I’ve actually sat in on one of your personal training sessions and experienced first-hand your superior teaching skills but please tell our readers about these acting classes. What can one expect? Who are good candidates for these sessions and how do they enroll? When and where do they occur, etc?
The Premier Actor’s Network is a place where we are in the gym. It’s a class I founded in 2003, and it’s been going strong ever since. We had the honor of being pushed by my mentor Robert Townsend and it’s a place where we come in and do the hard work. We figure out how to create honest moments as Robert Townsend would say, and I like that because it’s about honesty and that’s what we focus on in the class. We try not to act but be in the moment but create great work.
We do improvisation; cold read techniques, anything that can help you become a working actor.
We meet Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday from 7:30 – 10:30 p.m. and Saturday is a teens’ class from 11:00 – 1:00 p.m. Monday is my beginner’s class, Tuesday is my advance and Wednesday is my intermediate class.
Plus, we do an industry showcase twice a year where actors can perform in front of actors, directors, producers, and agents to help them get work.
I’m really excited about where Premier Actor’s Network is going and anyone who wants more information about it can visit us HERE.
Tell us about some of the success stories of some of your acting students.
You know, a lot of my students are working actors. I have a student named Njema Williams; he did a showcase and then the following week he did two episodes of “Meet the Browns” because they saw him at the showcase. He’s a talented actor, and he was already working but that’s the kind of success I like to hear with my actors that are in my class.
I see a lot of actors on audition with me so that’s a great opportunity. One of my former students, Noree Victoria, is doing a lot of great things. She is doing a lead in a film called “Quarantine 2.” I am always hearing great stories of people booking commercials and print ads.
It’s fun to see actors get out here and work especially after they have attended our class.
You know I have to ask…Are you an eligible bachelor? Are you married to your craft? Does your thriving, demanding career and lifestyle create problems in the love department? Do you see yourself married with children any time soon?
I am not married. I am single right now. You know, this path that I am on right now really has me focused on accomplishing things and sometimes it’s hard to be in a relationship that way. I am always honest. I tell women when we meet, I’m a busy guy and they say they can deal with it and then they realize I am really, really busy. So, I need to slow down and make time for that special someone. I haven’t met her yet, but I’m looking.
Having met you, having had conversations with you, being friends on Facebook and following you on Twitter, I’ve observed that you are a very insightful, motivating and inspiring person…very humble. Where does that come from?
Tell us about that side of you.
I get a lot of flak for what I put on Facebook, quotes, any type of motivation that I need to get through my day. Not only do I look at that stuff as motivation to help other people, but it’s really helping me and I have to keep that in the forefront. That’s why I try to keep that on my page and keep that good energy out there.
I believe our minds create our world so if our minds aren’t positive and productive our worlds will not be positive and productive. A lot of people don’t realize how they view a situation as oppose to that actual situation. That means if I give you $100 and you need $150 you can look at it two ways and say I only need $50 I appreciate it or you can say you know I need $150 why did you give me $100.
So, I try to be the person looking at the cup half full verses half empty, and I try to keep that in my mind. You know, I can’t stand negativity. It’s so hard to find like-minded individuals in this business sometimes, so I say if you are the hottest person in your circle you need to find a new circle, a new group of friends that help you motivate your game.
By the time I turned 30, I really understood what it meant to remain positive and keep your mind focused on the right things.
What movies could I expect to find in your DVD collection?
I am a fan of the quirky independent comedies, Ricky Gervais from “The Office”, “Extras” is an incredible show that came on HBO that shows what we go through to be in this business and really discovering how successful you want to be in this business, I love horror films and “Love Jones” is one of my favorite black films of all time. I just look at a lot of different things.
I don’t just stay in one area. As an actor, you have to find inspiration through different things. I like “Up in the Air” with George Clooney. “Juno”, I think the writing was great; I am a big Will Ferrell fan. I just like everything. I thought “The Town” was a great movie. I am always trying to look at things from a different perspective and say you know what, why can’t we do those movies as African Americans?
So, I think with me there is no real box you can put me in when it comes to film making. I am a fan of anything that’s unique that has its voice, that I can be a fan and buy in to and of course super hero films. I am such a fan of Batman Dark Knight and I am excited about the one that’s coming out.
What actor and actress of all time have inspired you the most? Why?
Laurence Fishbourne, because I like his work. Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Angela Bassett is strong. It’s just so many out there. I got a chance to work and watch Jeffery Wright work. I was a stand in on movie called “Boycott,” and I got to watch him work up close and it just gave me a whole different perspective of what it takes to be an actor. That was one of my first experiences in this business, and I just think it was incredible. I am a big fan of Don Cheadle, and I Iove George Clooney’s work. I am really also starting to like Ben Affleck as a director. He is really stepping his game up. I got an opportunity to meet Ben Affleck at the wrap party I did with his wife, and I had not seen “The Town” yet but I wish I would have told him he killed this town. I am always inspired by different people.
What can aspiring actors and actresses expect in a typical casting call and what tips would you give them that would enhance the probability of them getting a call back?
Trust your instincts. Listen to what’s going on in the moment and if you don’t understand, ask questions. Make your own. Don’t go in there and give what you think because you can’t know what they think. You are not in their head. If you go in and give your interpretation of what you think the material is asking, be in that moment, commit to it and leave. Don’t over think; just go with it and have fun. Remember why we got in this business. We got in this business to have fun not be stressed out about auditions. We tend to make auditions like a test and that’s when it becomes stressful. Go in there and have fun. Make your choice and stick to it. Always have five choices in your pocket. Don’t just have one. Go in there with five choices.
You’ve obviously had some pretty successful casting calls lately. Tell us about what we can expect from Dwayne Boyd in the coming year.
In the coming year, I have three major projects. I can’t really say what the first is but the second and third are movies called “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” and “Parental Guidance.” I am also working on my own independent film. I have an action film I am going to do and I look to shoot a full season of “Ant Hill 2”.
I am excited about 2012.