AMA: What’s with the shaggy hair and beard?

Ok so here’s a question for you, whats with the shaggy hair and beard??

I edited this question down to retain the person’s anonymity.

For some context, here’s my headshot from several years ago:

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And here’s a more recent picture:

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Oh geez, I really have let myself go. Oh wait, that’s the wrong picture.

Here we go:

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My hair isn’t quite this long now, although it’s getting there. My beard is much shorter too. But in general, that basic Jesus look is what I’ve had for the last year or two.

Why the change from clean-cut to hippie? The short answer is: I feel like it. I mean, why does anyone look the way they look when it comes to hair?

But there is a bigger answer that I’ve struggled to give in the past. Let’s see how I do today.

Really, I just feel more comfortable. I feel more like myself. And somehow, I feel like I’m not trying to look a certain way for someone or some market or demographic. I’m just being me.

I moved out to Los Angeles at the end of 1999, and for the majority of that time since, I’ve been trying to be an actor. I know, real original. Someone moved out to LA to be a big famous actor. Never heard that one before. What makes it even less original though is that person didn’t become a big famous actor.

Somewhere along the line, I discovered it wasn’t really what I wanted. Pretty much everything that I love about acting is what improv gives me: connecting with an audience, collaborating with other performers and a director, creatively exploring emotions, just making a room full of people laugh is enough for me.

Being in LA, I’ve known a number of people I consider real actors. These are people who take their craft seriously. They dissect scripts, memorize lines, practice emotional beats and blocking. They audition for anything, whether it’s commercials, industrials, short films, TV series. They’ve done cattle calls. They’ll meet with managers and agents, they’ll take classes and workshops with casting directors, they’ll network. They’ll do early call times, they’ll be an extra, they’ll wait all day for their one or two lines. They’ll get the headshots, fine tune their resume, monitor casting sites, update their acting reel. They go after it.

That stuff just wore me down. I suppose between the day job, my wife’s health, and my other creative interests and side projects, it got the short end of the stick. I never devoted the time or energy it needed because life.

I still act in web-series, films and plays when asked. If Joss Whedon or whoever knocked on my door tomorrow and asked if I wanted to be a series regular in a new show or a supporting character in a feature film for the next 6 months, yeah of course. I probably wouldn’t spit in his face.

But I don’t want to fight for it. Not when I have a way to perform every week that doesn’t involve all that other stuff that doesn’t interest me.

So with that gradual realization also came the realization that I was constantly shaving and getting my hair cut and dressing to try to fit the “type” that I was told that I am for casting directors. That’s what you’re taught here: you look like this kind of person, so fulfill that stereotype and you’ll get cast. I tried to do that but I did a really bad job at this (I was bad at a lot of the business side of acting), and I essentially got to the point where I was sick of it. It wasn’t really a conscious decision. I just kept not going to get my hair cut. And kept not shaving.

In the process I ended up feeling a little more comfortable. A little more like me. I was getting to look like whatever I wanted for me. Not for some hypothetical casting director. And that was actually kind of freeing.

So that’s why the shaggy hair and beard.

At least for now. Maybe in 6 months I’ll get over it and look like a halfway respectable member of society again.

***

Want to ask me something? Well then, ask me anything!

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