The Working Actor EDITOR'S INTRO
This is the seventeenth in a continuing feature at IndustryCentral profiling "The Working Actor". (See Archives below)
William Shakespeare said "There are no small parts.....". William Shatner may have said it too, but the longhair with the tights was first, or so the reports go. In this feature we will explore what it really means to be an actor working in Motion Pictures and Television.
Broad public acknowledgment may have eluded some who find their way to these pages, or perhaps they may have brushed against what is referred to as stardom by virtue of one or more remarkable performances. However for many, the rewards of plying their craft in a field which has allowed them to earn a living may exceed the burdens of public acclaim. Given the chance, some in this clan might prefer the longevity offered by anonymity over the potential for short lived fame.
These individuals, either by design or fate, have managed to sustain a career by crafting performances which rendered them a good casting choice. They are usually thought of as a face you recognize, but you just can't get the name past the tip of your tongue.
Most of these folks have spent countless hours on stage in theaters ranging from 20 seats to 2000, building characters from the works of Ibsen, to Eliot, to Williams, to yes even Shakespeare, and so many of the modern Playwrights. They have rounded their skills doing drama, comedy, & musicals. Their work is a serious venture.
These people have given us screen performances which quite often were the catalyst that brought an Oscar or Emmy to another and yet they continue to work as "Characters" or "Co-Stars" without the trophies and plaques adorning their mantle.
Vince Grant
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Vince Grant's 1st professional job in the entertainment business was not as an actor but as a production assistant for a jazz festival in Dallas called STARFEST. Great fun for lousy pay. A perfect introduction to life in show business but one that afforded such interesting tasks as driving Benny Goodman to and from the airport and listening to John Green talk about the right and wrong way to play the piano. Being on stage however, was what was really fun and that started happening long about 11th grade as a way to impress a girl back in his home town of Denver. "I thrived on the excitement of working on plays back in high school" College theatre was even more fun for him.And when a visiting NY actor directing a Berthold Brecht play offered to host Vince for a Big Apple jaunt, The bait was swallowed and the 3 week trip turned into a 4 month stay that included studying with the great acting teacher Uta Hagen hile working backstage on an off-Broadway play with Kevin Bacon and Bronson Pinchot. After 3 months in Dallas to regroup, it was back to NYC to "get it out of my system and get on with real life, whatever that was."

But a funny thing happened on the way to a real job. He submitted himself on a film with the help of a friend who delivered the Breakdowns, got a callback, and then shocked himself and others by winning a role in a film called THE NEW KIDS starring James Spader , Eric Stoltz and, well .... some new kids. Ten weeks in Florida began an education in film acting that continues to this day. "I had great fun, and made great friends. I remember one night at 2am slamming an old truck against a fence with the gang firing shotguns out of the back and thinking, Wow, I'm getting paid for this." This is great! But those 10 week gigs are hard to get . Most film & TV jobs are a few days here or a couple of weeks there and off you go." Working actors work. And the bulk of the work is finding more of it. But that can be fun if it comes in the form auditioning. "It can be nerve wracking, but just like those plays back in high school, it gets the blood flowing and makes life interesting."

And NYC was definitely interesting. I canšt think of a better place to spend your 20's His most cherished time was on Broadway in Neil Simonšs BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS . "It was 8 months with a great group of people." Grant feels that if you can perform on a Broadway stage you can do any kind acting. It was near the end of the Brighton Beach run that he met his wife, actress Judith Hoag. Two years later they made it legal and their lives have taken a parallel direction that some would find untenable but has worked rather well for them, namely, the same commercial and theatrical agents since the time they met, including the same phone line, bank accounts and the various trappings of domesticity. The thing is, we're an example of the whole being greater than the parts, and we make it work to our advantage. Having a partner in the same business is no small asset and we make it work for us.

Lately, Vince has done little theatre and more TV and film, Especially independent films. This Spring he was on location shooting NOBODY KNOWS, a sci-fi what-if about the Kennedy assassinations and a time traveler,starring Ralph Waite, Victor Slezak & Caprice Benedetti. Playing RFK was a dream realized, both humbling and exhilarating. Other recent indies include TRUE VINYL a music video style pic focusing on a DJ competition, LOVE HAPPENS, a romantic comedy in which he played yet another Englishman in a series that started back in his college days, SWALLOWS about the people who frequent a restaurant of the same name in Capistrano, CA, and FRENCH EXIT which starred Jonathan Silverman and Maachen Ameck. A truly funny film that garnered wonderful reviews at the Toronto Film Festival only to get video distribution with Columbia Tri Star, a level which many small films never see due to the intense competition today. A film that did see theatrical release was THE RAPTURE, starring Mimi Rogers and David Duchovny in which Grant played a door to door evangelist."I loved that part. I've never been more grounded in a role." Love or hate it, no one left the theatre without a strong opinion toward it.

Television is what keeps a lot of actors afloat and Yince is no exception. One of his more memorable guest spots was on SEINFELD as he played one of Elaine's doomed boy-friends who was into ergonomic furniture and swimming in the East River with Kramer. Others include CHICAGO HOPE, PAYNE, a short lived series with John Larroquette, MAD ABOUT YOU, where his wife was played by his real wife Judith, LOVE AND MONEY, TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL, LAW AND ORDER and a recurring role on the ABC series THE MONROES starring William Devane and Kathleen Sullivan to name a few . "Sometimes people see my resume and say 'Wow, you've done a lot.' But it never feels like enough when you're not working. The opportunity to pretend is what makes us actors the happiest. I know that I feel best when I 'm working."So when a paying job is not in the picture, acting class or a once a week workout with the improv group is. His take on it is that without daily strengthening of the creative muscles, they atrophy. Improv is the prescription of choice. The rare times it's allowed in TV or film is always welcome for Vince. It's also essential for commercial auditions, even though it's supposedly not altowed. And speaking of commercials, he's done dozens since 1985. Sometimes the supplement becomes the mainstay. Whatever the case, he#39;s glad to have been in spots hocking hair products for VIDAL SASSOON a British hairstylist) POLANER ALL FRUIT, (would ya please pass the jelly?) DlSCOVER BROKERAGE, M8 M's and many more. "They're fun to shoot and the auditioning is good practice." Needless to say, the end to the recent 6 month strike was greatly applauded . Some of the more enjoyable actors he's worked with are Mark Harmon (what a great guy) Jonnie Silverman (what a nice guy) Mandy Patinkin, an electric and unpredictable artist, Witham Devane (Mr. Confident) Michael Richards (What a talent) Martin Sheen, David Ogden Stiers and of course Mel Brooks. "I've had pretty good luck with directors; most are helpful, like Andy Ackerman, but a few have derailed me, probably because I didn't walk in with a strong enough POV on the story. Never leave home without it. Which brings us to what Vince refers to as the Swiss Army knife of the actor:

  • A strong POV on the story
  • A great sense of humor
  • A thick skin
  • A thin skin (you'll need both)
  • A good memory,
  • A short memory (you'll need both)
  • A positive attitude
  • Confidence
  • Humility
  • Luck (preferably the good kind)

Representation:
Agency:
Peter Strain & Associates
8271 Melrose Ave. Ste. 208
Los Angeles, CA 90038
(323) 782-8910

Vince Grant's advice to the aspiring actor:

"Please don't be one of those actors hanging out in the waiting room complaining of this, or boasting of that all the while name dropping as they impart cynicism in a garish attempt to look down on the business. Some see it as a subtle way of showing success, It is neither subtle nor does it indicate success. It merely reveals need or even desperation."

and finally....

"Because we joke about it Bob, we joke about it, but it is a people business, what else is there?' from 'Speed - The - Plow' by David Mamet."


Vince Grant's Credits (partial)

BROADWAY
BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS Stanley Dir. Gene Saks

FILM
NOBODY KNOWS
TRUE VINYL
LOVE HAPPENS
SWALLOWS
FRENCH EXIT
DRACULA: DEAD AND LOVING IT
THE RAPTURE
THE NEW KIDS
Lead/Indp.
Lead/Indp.
Lead/Indp.
Lead/Indp.
Lead/Columbia Tristar
Featured/Castle Rock
Supporting/New Line
Lead/Columbia
Shot April 2000
Dir. Scott Hatley/Scot
Dir. Tony Cookson
Dir. Harvey Marks
Dir. Daphna Kastner
Dir. Mel Brooks
Dir. Michael Tolkin
Dir. Sean S. Cunningh

TELEVISION (selected)
SEINFELD
LOVE & MONEY
PAYNE
CHICAGO HOPE
MAD ABOUT YOU
THE WAYANS BROS.
TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL
LAW & ORDER
MELROSE PLACE
BREASTMEN
THREE
SISTERS
THE MONROES
REASONABLE DOUBTS
MADMAN OF THE PEOPLE
EMPTY NEST
MURDER IN HIGH PLACES
FRESHMAN DORM
SLEEPING WITH THE DEVIL
A FRIEND TO DIE FOR
MARGARET BOURKE - WHITE
OUT OF THE DARKNESS
DOCTOR, DOCTOR
CHINA BEACH
Guest Star
Recurring/ CBS Pilot, Series
Guest Star
Guest Star
Guest Star
Guest Star
Guest Star
Guest Star
Guest Star
HBO Films
Guest Star
Guest Star - 2 eps.
Recurring /ABC Pilot, Series
Guest Star
Guest Star / NBC Pilot
Guest Star
Lead / NBC 2 hr. Pilot
Recurring / CBS Pilot, Series
CBS MOW
Fox MOW
TBS MOW
CBS MOW
Guest Star
Co-Star
Dir. Andy Ackerman
Dir. P. Fryman, M. Lessac
Dir. Dorothy Lyman
Dir. Adam Arkin
Dir. David Steinberg
Dir. John Bowab
Dir. Victor Lobl
Dir. Ed Sherin
Dir. Nancy Malone
Dir. Larry O'Neil
Dir. Michael Katleme
Dir. Graeme Clifford
Dir. - Various
Dir. Fred Gerber
Dir. James Burrows
Dir. Dinah Manoff
Dir. John Byrum
Dir. - Various
Dir. Billy Graham
Dir. Billy Graham
Dir. Lawrence Schillei
Dir. Jud Taylor
Dir. John Whitesell
Dir. Michael Rhodes

OFF BROADWAY
JOHNSTOWN VINDICATOR
A STEP OUT OF L1NE
REMEDIAL ENGLISH
BEETHOVENUNFINISHED - with Orson Bean
Harold Clurman Theatre
Apple Corps Theatre
Playwrights Horizons
HB Studio - Dir. Herbert Bergof

REGIONAL
THE REAL THING
A CHRISTMAS CAROL
BIG SHOT - with Mandy Patinkin
Actors Theatre of Louisville
Actors Theatre of Louisville
East Coast Arts Theatre - at New Rochelle, N.Y.

TRAINING
Uta Hagen, HB Studio, N.Y.C.
Diana Castle 2100 Sq. Ft., L.A.

For more info and credits see IMDb

-- ---End

WORKING ACTOR ARCHIVE
Judith Hoag [October 2000]
Judith Hoag
October 2000
Madison Mason [September 2000]
Madison Mason
September 2000
Jay Acovone [August 2000]
Jay Acovone
August 2000
Richard Riehle [July 2000]
Richard Riehle
July 2000
Charlie Brill [June 2000]
Charlie Brill
June 2000
Edie McClurg [May 2000]
Edie McClurg
May 2000
Miguel Sandoval [April 2000]
Miguel Sandoval
April 2000
Tom Bower [March 2000]
Tom Bower
March 2000
Amy Aquino [February 2000]
Amy Aquino
February 2000
Danny Chambers [January 2000]
Danny Chambers
January 2000
Eve Gordon [December 1999]
Eve Gordon
December 1999
Barbara Niven [November 1999]
Barbara Niven
November 1999
Bill Lucking [October 1999]
Bill Lucking
October 1999
Richard Roundtree [September 1999]
Richard Roundtree
September 1999
Pat Harrington [August 1999]
Pat Harrington
August 1999
Robert Donner [July 1999]
Robert Donner
July 1999

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