Malcolm Farrell: “Take breaks but do not stop completely”

Follow people that inspire you but aren’t too far away. It keeps you going and lets you know the dream is possible. Everybody should have a “pace” car in their industry to inspire you. I have a few of my own including Damson Idris, Deron Horton, and Jacob Latimore. Yes, they are further along in […]

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Follow people that inspire you but aren’t too far away. It keeps you going and lets you know the dream is possible. Everybody should have a “pace” car in their industry to inspire you. I have a few of my own including Damson Idris, Deron Horton, and Jacob Latimore. Yes, they are further along in their career but when I see them acting, I see myself and how the dream truly is obtainable.

Actor Malcolm Farrell has been steadily building his resume with an assortment of projects, paving the way for a successful career in the industry. Farrell’s credits include “Tijuana Jackson: Purpose Over Prison” (starring Romany Malco and Regina Hall and available on Amazon Prime, Hulu, Vudu, Google Play and VOD), “ATW,” “All Screwed Up,” and “The Freshman Year.” His most recent project is “The People,” a movie about different people experiencing different problems during COVID 19. This unique project features each actor giving a monologue explaining their troubling scenario during the pandemic.

Farrell’s good looks (which he credits to his Trinidadian heritage) and natural charm are only outshined by his talent and professionalism. Born in Brooklyn, NY, Farrell lived there for a few years and then was raised in Piscataway, New Jersey. A top athlete growing up, Farrell played soccer and baseball, but always felt a passion for acting. After high school, he went on to study Broadcast Journalism at the University of Houston. His professors were so impressed with his journalism skills that they asked Farrell on multiple occasions to host and moderate many of the college’s student forums, ranging from subjects on sports and college athletics to race and gender in the industry. In the years following, Farrell began studying with acting coaches and started auditioning, while working many part-time jobs. With his positive attitude and perseverance, it wasn’t long before his acting career took off. Farrell now works between Houston, New York and Los Angeles, landing both dramatic and comedic roles.

Thank you for doing this with us Farrell. Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

Ever since I was young, I was always inspired by watching TV, movies, and people in general. I gravitated to becoming someone else so easily and reenacting what I saw in front of me. It felt like it was my God-given talent to act and no one ever pressured me to pursue it. I would watch the Disney channel and even cartoons on Kids WB and hear the different voice overs for the characters, expressing different emotions. I loved acting out every single one of them. One of the first inspirations that led me to acting was when I was in 5th grade. I had an annoying math teacher named Mr. Green. All of my classmates disliked Mr. Green. His voice was irritating and he graded tests unfairly. He wouldn’t even let us celebrate each other’s birthdays when they came around. One afternoon he was being especially hard on the class and had us do additional work for the rest of the day. He had to step out of class for a quick teacher’s conference with his assistant. While he took his break, I immediately took center stage of the class and started mocking him. From his walk, voice, mannerisms, just everything that made him, him I nailed down to every last detail. Soon after, he came back in once he heard all of the students getting loud with laughter and saw me out of my seat which lead me to getting detention. It was worth it. It felt refreshing and easy because I wasn’t even trying hard. From that moment on, I knew I had the acting bug and trying to ignore it wasn’t an option.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

The most interesting story I have is when I booked a role and flew to Los Angeles to shoot Tijuana Jackson: Purpose Over Prison. This was by far the most interesting thing to happen for me because that was the BIGGEST role I had ever done in my career up to that point. Just the thought of being in a movie with Romany Malco and Regina Hall had me excited, but nervous at the same time. I didn’t want to overthink the opportunity too much because it would have made me more nervous, but man, everyday there was something new that I never seen before on that kind of scale. The first thing that stood out were the call times. I have never been up early for a call time to shoot with anything I had done at that point, so my sleep schedule was out of whack. Once I got to the set, I realized everybody had energy and I was the only one who was dying on the inside from lack of sleep, but playing as if I am awake and this is normal for me. I learned how important a good night’s rest is when you’re filming. The next biggest thing was how many people that were on the set. Usually there’s only 25 people on set with the projects I had done at that time but with this project it took a village. I mean it was people walking around everywhere, doing their daily duties to make sure everything ran according to schedule. Audiences don’t realize how many people it takes to make a whole film come to life. There are so many different moving parts, the crew, director, producer, actors, lighting, audio, etc. Lastly, watching Romany Malco and Regina Hall perform on camera was a gift in itself. It’s one thing watching actors on the screen when the project is done but watching it live behind the scenes makes it so much better. The chemistry of both of them was so real and natural it wasn’t even like they were acting, especially with Romany who is the mastermind behind everything being that he wrote, directed, and produced it. He also showed up to set knowing his lines and ready to work — a true professional. That by far, was the most interesting thing that happened since I began my career.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

One of the funniest and most embarrassing mistakes I have ever done was back in 2012 when I first started acting. I joined an actor’s showcase in Houston called “Agent Review.” It was very high-profile and my agents insisted that I participate. I planned on performing a monologue from Lethal Weapon. I practiced for weeks with my acting coach to get it down pat. It was a fun monologue and I felt like I knew the character very well. So well, that I didn’t memorize the material the way I should have. After all, I had rehearsed many times and had the guidance of my coach. And it always came off great in acting class.

The day came for Agent Review and I lightly glanced at the monologue before I left the house. I felt confident that I would knock it out of the park. I arrived at the banquet hall and saw all the other actors that were part of the showcase. There were a lot. Immediately, my heart started racing and I could feel my blood pumping. On the outside I looked fine, but on the inside, I was extremely nervous and anxious. I couldn’t stop shaking my leg and bouncing around. To get focused and centered, I tried to review my lines to make sure I knew what the monologue was about. All of the sudden, my mind went blank. I started to second guess myself. That is the worst thing that can happen to an actor. Before I knew it, they called my name and it was time for my monologue. I started off very shaky which was a bad sign. I was incredibly worried about my lines that I started panicking and my throat got dry and I choked. I started fumbling through the monologue which wasn’t making any sense whatsoever. I just wanted to be done. I learned a valuable lesson that you should never underestimate performing in front of people. Doing monologues in class is one thing. Actors in acting class are your friends. But when you walk into a room with a lot of people that don’t know you and you don’t know them, it’s a game changer. Practice, practice, practice and know your work so nothing can throw you off of your game when it’s time. I am glad I can look back and laugh about it now.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

As of right now I am working on a project called “The People” directed by Ricky Catter. This is a very exciting project for me because the director has been working on it for some time now and he really wanted me to be a part of it. It touches on our new norm right now, which is the pandemic, not just in the U.S. but around the world. It’s a movie about being affected by COVID-19 and it involves different people and their POV. Each character in the movie has a different background and ethnicity to make up the whole movie but not only that, it’s in monologue form. Each character is expressing what they’re going through during these troubled times and taking you on their journey. Some families got hit really hard during COVID, whether it was financially, mentally or losing someone to sickness. I’m proud to be a part of this project and have people connect. I am also working on some smaller projects with director Crayton Gerst. The first installment is called This Shit is Different. This mini short is about a guy who loves the finer foods in life but every time he eats, he pays for it. He goes out on a date with his girlfriend trying to enjoy dinner and rushes to the bathroom immediately. I love this project so much because it shows my comedic side, but also the fact that I have never played someone who had instant diarrhea. Such a challenging role!

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

One major reason I think diversity is important to be represented in film and television is that it gives people a different perspective of other’s situations and life stories. Regardless of your ethnicity we don’t know what people go through. Diversity helps the work environment and other social relationships tremendously. If you have different people from all walks of life working on the same project, it gives the project more creativity, more of a connection to its audience. The dialogue is especially important to keeping the narrative more realistic and reflective of real-life scenarios. Lastly, diversity lets people know that they are valuable and an essential part of our society. Seeing people that look like you, gives people hope and adds value to their dreams. They are role models. By adding more diversity to the entertainment industry, it opens up the doors for more stories to be told, accepted and enjoyed for years to come.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

1. I wish someone had told me when I first started that I needed to do more research on agents. As a green-eyed actor, I was trying to go with any agent that would accept me (lol) but looking back at it now, it would have paid off to wait a little to do more research. The agent that I got signed to at first was more model-based and wasn’t strong in the film industry. By the time I learned that, I was already in a contract and couldn’t leave. Yikes.

2. I wish someone told me when I first started to SAVE EVERY PENNY. Following your dreams costs money! One time I had just been paid and spent most of the money on unnecessary things. Ironically that same week, I had three taped auditions which meant that I had to pay my acting coach to read with me and tape me. Nonetheless, I learned it’s better to save money for your dreams and not for temporary pleasures.

3. I wish someone told me when I first started not to rely on your agent for EVERYTHING. Yes, actors love getting an agent. It’s one of the first things on an actor’s wish list. That’s a goal of ours, but man, I thought it would solve all my problems. In actuality that wasn’t the case. I realized that agents handle ‘x’ number of other actors on their roster, but most importantly they handle plenty of actors that fit your exact description. No matter the size of your team, you still are responsible for your own success. It doesn’t just happen, no matter how hard you think it will, just by sitting and waiting for new audition emails. Idle time can be the death of you, so make relationships and go out and network!

4. I wish someone told me when I first started was to be HUMBLE about commercial bookings. Yes, be happy for booking it but don’t go around and tell everyone what you just shot. One time I went around and told people I booked this Apple commercial that shot in Austin. Everything was great, we took photos, the crew was great, food was awesome, etc. Come to find out that Apple released a whole new line of products that same Fall. I went and blabbed about being a part of this project that got shelved and never saw the light of day. Tough lesson to learn but sometimes it’s best to keep it to yourself until it actually comes out!

5. I wish someone old me when I first started was the power of saying “no.” When you first start out you want to do everything under the sun to get the experience and build your resume. This, that, and the other. But as time goes on you will progress and you learn that quality is better than quantity. I started doing extra work, industrials, commercials, and I continued to grow. However, people still saw me as that young actor starting out. So, I said yes to a few offers even though I felt horrible because I knew I wasn’t at that point anymore. I had grown. Eventually I realized my worth and I had to say “no.” Some people will hate you for it and some will understand. At the end of the day, the only person you have to make happy is yourself. Nobody will see your worth unless you do.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

1. Always continue to learn about the craft. There is so much to learn about yourself as an actor. I know I’m always learning, reading, and doing. I’m constantly growing as an actor and I love it. It lets me know I am not staying stagnant and maintaining momentum.

2. Always learn about the business. It’s called show business for a reason. There’s a bunch of things I have learned just by reading my contract for commercials and projects. The biggest thing for me was not knowing the key words that are commonly used. That’s something I loved doing research on. Film industry words but also what this industry looks for when they book talent. Once you get familiar with what they are looking for, it will help you out a lot when it comes to choosing your own path and career.

3. Take breaks but do not stop completely. We all go through mental breakdowns here and there. But if you stop completely then the guaranteed outcome is zero. Sometimes clearing your mind from all of the nonsense that comes with the industry can help you out. I do it all of the time. Once I’m done “cleaning my own house” I feel re-energized and brand new.

4. Follow people that inspire you but aren’t too far away. It keeps you going and lets you know the dream is possible. Everybody should have a “pace” car in their industry to inspire you. I have a few of my own including Damson Idris, Deron Horton, and Jacob Latimore. Yes, they are further along in their career but when I see them acting, I see myself and how the dream truly is obtainable.

5. Focus on becoming a better you. Always focus on a better you no matter what. We all have room for improvement. No one is perfect and that lets me know not to be so hard on myself. My time is coming, until then I just continue to get better.

6. Be open to criticism and not being offended by it. I love hearing what I can do better with things because we aren’t always right. As an actor, if you don’t like being told what to do then this profession is not for you. Be open to feedback.

7. Unfollow any toxic things on your social media pages and replace them with film pages. What we consume everyday can be detrimental to us without even knowing it. If you follow too many blog sites that glorify toxicity and bad things, then you’re not going to be as positive as you think. We have to repetitiously be great and optimistic to have a positive life and outcome.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

My movement would be called Food for Thought. One thing I hate seeing is people living on the street and not having any food. I know there were times when I was hungry, and during college I didn’t have money for food for just a day or so. Knowing people that go for days without food is tragic in my eyes. Food for Thought would be an organization that will help people around the world who need food throughout the month. It would be a period of each month where collectively people in America or around the world can donate some percentage of their money/food to people less unfortunate and help bridge the gap of solving world hunger. I chose Food for Thought because sometimes people that are more fortunate than others spend money on things, we don’t need every month.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Man, I don’t think I would be as confident in myself without Rick Catter. He is my go-to reader for taped auditions and always gives me positive feedback no matter what. He has watched me learn and grow over the years. When we first started taping auditions, he would tell me if I’m off or doing a wrong take. Rick always reminds me of my talents and ability to reach folks. I need to hear those positive words, because this industry is challenging and competitive. It can be harsh and that can make anyone feel less confident. Doing audition after audition and getting some but losing most can hurt your pride in so many ways. It’s always great to have someone older than you telling you that you’re doing the right thing. It keeps me going and focused. One time, I came to him to tape an audition and I was struggling to perform it. It was killing me because I felt like I was wasting his time and mine. Ricky pulled me to the side and told me that it was ok and I’ll get through this no matter. We just have to take our time on it but it’ll come out great. Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened. That example showed me that sometimes you need to take a break and let yourself settle in, but most importantly having that right guidance by Ricky helped me get through that audition and many others.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Do what’s asked of you and then more.” I have heard that quote once when I was younger and it has stayed with me for years. It’s so relevant to my life because with everything I have ever wanted, I have always achieved it by doing a little bit more than the next guy. My father has instilled that work ethic into my brother and me. I love putting in more effort when people are doing the bare minimum. You HAVE to be different from everyone else in this industry. That’s the only way you’re going to stand out and be noticed. Be phenomenal or be forgotten. Once that gets through your head, I promise you will move accordingly with everything that you do in life.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

The person I would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with is 50 Cent. 50 Cent has been someone I have naturally looked up to and admired since I was young. His album Get Rich Or Die Tryin was one of the first rap albums my parents bought for me. To see him have great success in the rap industry and now killing it in a whole different industry is amazing to me. A lot of people cannot do that. It’s very hard and now he’s a major role on Starz and ABC with multiple shows. I’d love to pick his brain on his planning, strategy, and focus for the near future. This game is all about evolving, as an artist and as a person. I would love to hear how he evolved over the years, keeping up with time while staying true to himself.

How can our readers follow you online?

Twitter: @MalcolmFarrell

Instagram: @MalcolmFarrell

Facebook: MalcolmGFarrell


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