Acting, Music, // May 28, 2014
Wayne W. Johnson – ACTOR/MUSICIAN
Arts Illustrated interview with
Wayne W. Johnson
1. Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Wayne W. Johnson. I’m an actor based in Syracuse, NY. I’m also the singer / guitarist for CAROLINE BLUE-a Melodic Hard Rock Band whose music is similar in style to KISS with touches of LA Guns, Dokken, Megadeth, Chevelle and Type O Negative thrown in.
2. Why acting?
Growing up, I started to get drawn more and more into the creative arts. Believe it or not, I initially wanted to be a scientist. My first year in college, in the science program, basically killed that idea off. I was barely treading above C level. I just seem to be more geared towards the creative arts. They hold my interest longer and I get more satisfaction from them. In addition, thru out most of my life, I’ve been in front of a camera-whether it be still and / or video so it’s seemed like a natural extension. Being a musician also had me performing in front of people for years, so there’s that as well. There are actually a lot of parallels with music and acting (as well as other creative arts like writing, painting, dancing, etc.)
In addition, there are times when acting just seems kind of easy for me to do. I know its not-it’s actually a lot harder than people think, but it’s also a lot easier. How’s that for some Zen? One of my main attractions to music was that it was a field where I could honestly express myself and I found that I can also do that with acting. Yes, I’m playing a role but, to me, the ideal is to become the role. That can be quite hard-especially if the role is not like the real you. Many people will just play any type of role as they would play themselves-whether it calls for that or not. There’s nothing wrong with that approach per se, but to me, the challenge is to play something that isn’t the real you and be able to pull it off. I don’t always succeed at that (but I’m working on it), nor do I approach every role like that. Each role is treated individually depending on many factors. However, when I get a part where I get a chance to spread my wings, so to speak, that’s the challenge. Some examples for me are the roles of Captain James T. Morris from “Slade Collins 2: In & Out of Time” (Mad Angel Films), Dr. Mosku from “Zillafoot” (SRS Cinema LLC), Malachi from “Transformation” (Hewitt Films), Corneilus from “Night of Something Strange” (WLPFilms / SRS Cinema LLC / Virtua Interactive) and Dracula from “Tales of Dracula” (Wolfbane Productions).
3. What is your earliest memory of wanting to be an actor?
I dabbled in it in 2010, but didn’t get serious about it until 2011. Before that, my focus was primarily with music. I mean, growing up, I did do a few acting things here and there like school plays-but that was all just for fun and /or because I had to. I’d say the seed was first planted when I got a lot of positive feedback from a music video and commercial I did for a class towards the end of high school (sadly-no copies are known to exist, but if they do, contact me!) Then I took a theater class and I received even more positive feedback, to the point where I was actually at a crossroads as to whether to pursue music or acting. Music won out, but it’s kind of ironic that I eventually switched my main focus to acting. In 2010, the acting bug got reawakened in me during the filming of a music video for my band CAROLINE BLUE. Not soon after I was laid off from my then job and at another crossroads. It was at that point I made the decision to get serious about acting and I’ve been on that path since.
4. What are your favorite subject(s)/genre(s)?
I was always a big fantasy fan-probably cause I used to be a hardcore gamer in regards to RPGs like Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and video games like the Final Fantasy series. Sci-Fi could be thrown in there as well. For ex., when I saw Star Wars (ep.IV) for the first time, it made quite an impression on my fragile little mind. I also like comedies and action / superhero movies.
5. How do you work and approach your subject/character?
First I’ll print out & read the entire script. Then I’ll go over it again, focusing on my character and the people I’m interacting with in my scenes. The next step would be memorizing the lines. If there are a lot of lines and /or a lot of interaction, what I’ll do is something that I learned from a friend in theater. I’ll audio record the lines-both of my role and the others-in the scene. When I get to my part, I’ll just say the character’s name and then continue on. In that way, when I get to my role, I know when to hit “pause” so I can say my lines and then resume playback. This is also very helpful if you don’t have anyone to run lines with you. After the lines are memorized I’ll work on making them my own, so to speak, and on the flow. Ideally, an actor wants to become the role, not just “acting” the role.
6. What are your favorite performance(s), actor(s)?
With acting, it varies-especially since, for the longest time, I didn’t really watch a lot of TV or go to many movies, so I’m now slowly catching up on stuff. My initial favorite actors were Bruce Lee and Arnold Schwarzenegger, but not necessarily due to their acting (although I enjoyed their movies a lot-still do actually). What attracted me the most was their drive and I’ve incorporated parts of that, and what they do, into my own makeup.
Of the top of my head, some of my favorite moments with acting are Heath Ledger as The Joker in “The Dark Knight”, Ricardo Montalbán as Khan in “Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan”, Bruce Lee in any of his movies, Arnold in “Conan The Barbarian” and “Predator”, Star Wars & The Empire Strikes Back, several Clint Eastwood and Mel Brooks movies, “The Final Countdown” w/ Kirk Douglas, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children . . . just off the top of my head.
I also have to add another big influence in my makeup-and that is KISS, specifically Paul Stanley. Anyone who has seen my band performs and / or our music videos know I wear this influence on my sleeve. Interestingly enough, I just recently read his book “Face The Music-A Life Exposed” which revealed many things-primarily his drive to succeed, which is on par with Bruce’s and Arnold’s.
7. What are the best responses you have had to your work?
I’ve had people say to me “That’s you?” and / or ‘I didn’t know you could do that” and that is always wonderful and appreciative to hear. It’s also great when producers / directors / writers I’ve worked with ask me to come back in their next productions. The best is when I’m told a lead / supporting role was made specifically for me to play. The only thing better to hear, in addition to the role being tailored to me, is that the role is paying :).
8. What do you like about your work?
That I’m in it (HA!). Actually, I can be my harshest critic. In addition, I have this strange feeling of detachment when I watch myself performing; almost like it’s another person and not me. Ever had a dream where you are watching yourself in 3rd person? It’s like that-a whacky feeling…
9. What advice would you give to other actors?
While there can be many parallels, everyone’s path on the creative arts is unique and there are no surefire guides to success with it (if there are, contact me-HA!). Not to mention I’ve only reached certain points on my own journey and still have a long way to go, but I can say a few things . . .
• PREPARE FOR THE LONG HAUL – A lot of people see others skyrocket to fame and fortune within a year or so and don’t realize that, for the most part; those are the exceptions more than the rule. Even then, many of these people have worked as much as 10 or more years to be labeled an “overnight sensation.” You may get lucky and hit the jackpot early-but I wouldn’t bank on it. There’s a common phrase in acting called “Hurry up & Wait.” The waiting kills a lot of people. An example would be a call time at 7 AM, but not even be in makeup till 1 PM and then not filming till 5 PM. I once had, on a production, a call time at 10 AM, went into makeup at around 11 AM, got out at around 1 PM (I wasn’t the only one being done) and then sat around till 10 PM, only to be told “Oh, we don’t need you today.” Believe it or not, that’s not my record in regards to this 🙂
• DEVELOP YOUR “ARMOR” – This relates with preparing for the long haul. If you’re doing stuff that will be consumed by the public, be prepared for their opinion on it-whether you want it or not. While I believe everyone is entitled to their opinion, that doesn’t mean you have to always listen to it. Destructive criticism should always be ignored. With constructive criticism, weigh it in and then decide whether you choose to heed it or not. It’s your choice and whatever that is doesn’t necessarily mean that you or the other person is wrong. Sometimes other people can see things you can’t. On the flip side, sometimes you see things other people can’t. Do what is best for you. People’s opinions can really get to you if you let them, causing all sorts of doubt, frustration and stress. You have enough going against you as is. In the end, it’s your path and you have to make the decisions that move yourself on it.
• ALWAYS WORK ON IMPROVING YOURSELF & YOUR CRAFT – Get as much experience and training as you can and always set the bar higher for yourself. The higher you go, the more opportunities you will be exposed to, but they won’t do you any good if you’re not ready to tackle them.
• WORK / NETWORK AS MUCH AS YOU CAN – The more work you do, the better you potentially become-as well as the possibility of someone higher up seeing your work. Networking is very important-more so than many realize. I’ve been in a number of productions due to working with someone, them liking what I did and / or my attitude on set, and wanting me to be in future productions of theirs. Or someone I work with refers me to another production and I get in that way.
• GET WISE WITH BUSINESS – Now, when I say this, I’m not saying you have to know as much as an entertainment lawyer, but at least get familiar with the basics-especially on how to read a contract. If you only take away one thing from this “advice column,” let it be this: It’s not a case of “if” you’re going to get screwed over, it’s “when”-and how many times. Worse-it will come from people and places you’d never expect. Always read over something you have to sign and if you don’t know what something means-ask.
10. Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
Ideally alive. and (in one year, every year) doing the following…be in one major movie (min.), record / release one CD of music (min.), put out 1-2 music videos (min.) and write / release one book (min.). When I reach this point consistently, I’ll be a happy lad! 🙂
WAYNE W. JOHNSON LINKS
Website – http://waynewjohnson.com/
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/wwjofficial
Twitter – https://twitter.com/WWJ13
IMDb – http://www.imdb.me/waynewjohnson
You Tube – https://www.youtube.com/user/WWJOfficial
LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/pub/wayne-w-johnson/24/30b/2a8
Google Plus – https://plus.google.com/+WayneWJohnson/posts
CAROLINE BLUE LINKS
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/carolineblueofficial
Soundcloud – https://soundcloud.com/caroline-blue
Twitter – https://twitter.com/CAROLINE_BLUE
You Tube – https://www.youtube.com/user/CarolineBlueOfficial
Reverbnation – http://www.reverbnation.com/carolineblue