…The movement would be one of love and ending toxic masculinity. When we influence through fear and hate, we further send the world into chaos…and there is already enough of that. I mean, what the hell happened?! Seriously! Why have we become so obsessed with guns, violence, killing, and being downright evil? These “I have to look cool and tough all the time or else people will think I’m weak” ideas that are passed onto the male specimen are inherently killing us. Personally, I know that I am my own worst enemy when I am acting out of the ego — mean, overly aggressive, on edge, ready to attack like some wild animal. Look, there is nothing wrong with being ambitious and passionate. I enjoy being so and taking action but it’s important to not harm those around me in the pursuit of my goals. Have the heart of a child, but the skin of a rhinoceros.
Awhile back, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Aaron Dalla Villa as a part of my series about pop culture’s rising stars . Now seemed like a great time to check in with how he’s doing. Aaron Dalla Villa was born and raised in Suffolk, Virginia. He studied music and dance training at the prestigious Governor’s School for the Arts in Norfolk, Virginia — including classical ballet and modern dance. Prior to experiencing an injury, he had a career in dance and was part of NB2 — Nashville Ballet Second Company. After moving to NYC, Aaron continued to pursue performance as an actor and has been featured in numerous film, television, and theater including a starring role in the feature film PLEDGE, distributed by IFC Midnight, a starring role on the series DUELS, spots on GOTHAM, MADAM SECRETARY, LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS, and voice work in the popular video game series Earth Defense Force. He will be seen in the upcoming films TRICK, directed by Patrick Lussier and starring Omar Epps (2019) and Alpha Rift (2020). He’s also lent his talents to numerous short films and music videos.
Thank you so much for chatting with us again! What have you been up to this last year?
I am incredibly grateful to say that I’ve been up to quite a bit. In January, IFC Midnight’s PLEDGE hit theaters, as well as had main premieres in both New York and Los Angeles. It’s been incredible to see how much horror fans and critics alike enjoyed it. It’s now streaming on Hulu which means many new horror aficionados are getting to experience it for the first time.
I also got to shoot a scene for an episode of Gotham which aired during its last season — that was such an awesome feeling to live in that rich, comic book world.
And I just finished filming a part in an episode of Madam Secretary which will air this fall.
Can you remind our readers how you started acting and performing?
I was a professional ballet dancer sidelined by an injury. I began looking for other performing work and auditioned for a small dinner theater role in Chicago and the rest is history.
That confluence of events led me to start acting in short films, make my way to New York, continue with theater and find myself in commercials and feature films.
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?
When I was first starting out, I thought I could just walk into the room and read from the script and that my charm and looks alone would book the job. How wrong was I! It’s all about the work and digging deep into your heart. I missed so many opportunities in the early parts of my career because I had no idea what I was doing, but that was part of the learning curve that I had to go through in order to become a better artist.
You have to do the work. Period. So dig deep, learn your craft, find your voice, experience life and pull from its ups and downs. Every success and failure is an opportunity for growth. Personally, I think failure is a greater motivator than success. If you really put yourself out there and it doesn’t go your way…you will feel the pain. Believe me. It’s sharp, intense, throbbing, burning, and so uncomfortable, BUT THAT’S THE GOLD. Pain from failure has been my biggest motivator. Have you heard those stories of all of those famous Hollywood actors and how they never gave up? Well, look at them now.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I just worked with director Patrick Lussier on his feature film TRICK. It was a joy working with him because he let me go hog wild with the character and bring SMOOTH JOHNNY to life. The film is set to release in theaters on October 18th.
Just shot a “Suicide Prevention” music video for Nick Santonastasso with one of my best friends, and frequent collaborator, director Andrew Kiaroscuro, AK for short. We all hope it will bring a lot of awareness to people struggling with those thoughts.
I also shot a pilot episode with AK called MAIO which is being pitched around for development.
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?
Diversity is incredibly important because there are so many people from so many different cultures and backgrounds in our world.
How can we effectively represent and be an accurate reflection of our society if we only have a few types of people/ethnicities/genders on the screen? We can’t.
Everyone has a story to tell and everyone loves a good story.
What we do as artists is larger than ourselves. We affect culture and are a reflection of culture. We can directly impact social opinions, influence elections, set hearts on fire, and inspire revolutions. Art is Power.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
- TAKE THE PRESSURE OFF YOURSELF TO “BE SOMETHING.” YOU ARE ALREADY INCREDIBLE.
- PERFECTION DOESN’T EXIST. STOP TRYING TO “GET IT RIGHT.”
- DO THE WORK
- IT’S A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT
- DON’T LET YOUR HAPPINESS BE DICTATED BY YOUR SUCCESS WITHIN THE INDUSTRY
- BE MOTIVATED BY THE HATERS
- BE GENUINELY HAPPY FOR OTHERS AND CHEER THEM ON IN THEIR SUCCESS. WE RISE TOGETHER.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I have to take breaks from the industry. I have to step away and give myself a chance to breathe. Weekends off or a day where you do absolutely nothing related to work — except maybe binge-watching, reading, hitting the gym, making music, dating, or whatever I’m feeling. When you come back to the work, you will be fresh with a clear mind.
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. 🙂
The movement would be one of love and ending toxic masculinity. When we influence through fear and hate, we further send the world into chaos…and there is already enough of that. I mean, what the hell happened?! Seriously! Why have we become so obsessed with guns, violence, killing, and being downright evil? These “I have to look cool and tough all the time or else people will think I’m weak” ideas that are passed onto the male specimen are inherently killing us. Personally, I know that I am my own worst enemy when I am acting out of the ego — mean, overly aggressive, on edge, ready to attack like some wild animal. Look, there is nothing wrong with being ambitious and passionate. I enjoy being so and taking action but it’s important to not harm those around me in the pursuit of my goals. Have the heart of a child, but the skin of a rhinoceros.
Also, I would tackle the social media facade issue and how the digital age distracts us from forming deep, human relationships with others. For example, if you’re taking a walk down the streets of NYC you’ll feel how on edge people are. Everyone is living in their phones and people rarely talk to each other out of protection. I understand the protection part because we do live in a “mad world” but how did we get here? What happened to us on the way that led us to think that these social avatars that we create are more important than the actual human beings around us? How did our images of success suddenly have more value to us than our own mental and bodily self-care? It’s crazy! And I get it. I fall into this same trap because I’m “so busy” with my life and then I neglect to take the time to acknowledge the human beings around me.
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?
My mentor, James Bonney. He practically saved my life and helped me realize that I was on the wrong track. After adopting his principles, I started working in my field immediately.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
TAKE YOUR HORSE OUT OF THE RACE
This quote came from Bonney. When we take our horse out of the race, we take off the pressure from “winning” or achieving and allow ourselves to just focus on the work. We let go of the result of our work — God, the universe, whatever you believe decides. Since we have let go, we aren’t desperate for the outcome that we want and are more likely to receive it because if it’s meant to, it will come back. This philosophy goes hand-in-hand with Bryan Cranston’s advice to actors. Present what you do. You act. Do your job and let the rest go. Give a gift and walk away. There is power in that and it is enough.
Now, it’s much easier said than done. It has to be practiced. Try it! Focus on the process, not the outcome. I struggle with this one a lot. It’s so hard to let go but we have to!
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. 🙂
Meryl Streep, Daniel Day-Lewis, Joaquin Phoenix, Bryan Cranston, Jim Carrey, the list goes on and on. There are so many interesting people that I’d like to meet.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Subscribe to my newsletter via my website at aarondallavilla.com
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