Always go into the room with an energy that they can’t turn down. When I first started auditioning, I would have nothing to talk about with the casting directors. After I got coaching with an acting teacher, he told me that when they ask you how you are, you can say something quick about your day. It doesn’t have to be a huge story…just enough to solidify that you can talk to others.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Nolan Gross. He’s an actor, director and a creative. He’s been pursuing acting since the age of seven and has been in multiple feature films like, “NOAH,” “Terminator Genisys,” and “Any Day.” This past year he has gotten into directing and had the opportunity to direct a commercial for Nike.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Thanks for having me! What brought me to this career path was watching Disney Channel at a young age. My taste in entertainment has evolved from that, but at the time I don’t think I was old enough to understand what was happening in the story. I remember I always wanted to be on TV. I told my parents one day that I wanted to pursue acting, and they saw my passion for it and helped me start seeking the industry.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
I auditioned for NOAH in Los Angeles, and I knew it went well. A few minutes after the audition, they called and said if we wanted to pursue the project, we had to fly to New York on our dime by Monday…it was Friday. My dad owns his own business, so unlike some parents who couldn’t take off work, he could get on a plane with me and fly across the U.S. After I auditioned in New York for the director, Darren Aronofsky, Logan Lerman and the producers, Darren’s assistant thanked us and said, “See you soon.” Usually, “see you soon,” means that they’ll be seeing you again. I eventually got a call and was asked to stay in NYC for one more day. I went in one more time to do another scene and finally a few weeks later, I booked the movie. The crazy part was that in this industry, you never know what’s going to be thrown at you so when I flew to NYC, it was a significant risk, but it eventually paid off because they wouldn’t have established a connection with me if I wouldn’t have taken the chance.
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 about eight years old, my dad owned a Prius (it was bright orange) that had black mesh seats. On a particular audition day, I was wearing white pants…which probably wasn’t the smartest idea. I had spilled water on the seat without knowing, and because they were mesh seats, it absorbed all the dirt from the seat right onto my pants. So when I got out of the car, I had a massive stain on the back of my pants. It was so bad! The lesson I learned from that was being adaptable. Not everything is going to go as planned, so now I know that I have to be ready for anything that comes my way, big or small.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
As of now, I’m diving into making music. I’ve always had an ear for music but never really liked playing it when I was younger. Nowadays, I have found a passion for making music and producing beats. I’m just starting, but I’ve seen some freedom in experimenting with different instruments and devices that I have.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
I’ve met some super cool people since I have started acting, but the most interesting to me has been the guys from my favorite band LANY. I’ve been listening to LANY since they began in 2014, I’ve seen them nine times in concert, met them three times and was invited to an exclusive Spotify listening party of their last album. I met them for the first time in the summer of 2017 when they had a pop-up in L.A. The band was signing records or posters if you bought the merch at the pop-up. I liked the pieces they had, and I had bought a shirt and threw it on. When I went up to meet the band, Paul, the lead singer, said that he liked how I looked in the shirt and asked if they could take some photos of me in it…I said yes. After the pop-up I got to talk to them for a little bit, and it was super cool to get to talk to the guys in my favorite band. I’ve had a few conversations with them after that and what’s so interesting about them to me is that all three of them are super down to earth. Nowadays celebrities seem so far out of our reach, but with them, they still are real guys.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Everyone has that moment where they feel burnt out…I’ve been there before. About a year ago, every audition that I would go on was a drag. My parents would always tell me, “Nolan, we’re not forcing you to act, if you want to be done, just tell us, and you can stop.” I always wanted to quit, but something in me felt like I shouldn’t. The thing that brought me back to acting was that I realized why I loved it so much through a new acting teacher. Sometimes you don’t realize why you started something after it’s been years and someone or something needs to remind you why. You can go searching for that, or it can just come to you.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start 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. 🙂
I would try and help people find their strengths and what they are good at doing. So many people are stuck doing a job or pursuing a career in something that they don’t like. My dad has an idea on how to help people realize their passions and pursue them, and when he shared it with me, I was taken back. Stay tuned…we’re working on something already!
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 that someone told me that you’re not going to get every project you try out for. The first project that I was on hold for I ended up not getting and that was heartbreaking to me. If I knew there were going to be more opportunities down the road, I wouldn’t have been so hung up on it.
2. Always walk out of the room confident. If you bombed an audition or didn’t think you did that well, always walk out with confidence and don’t put your head down. The casting director may have seen something in you despite what you thought about the audition.
3. Always go into the room with an energy that they can’t turn down. When I first started auditioning, I would have nothing to talk about with the casting directors. After I got coaching with an acting teacher, he told me that when they ask you how you are, you can say something quick about your day. It doesn’t have to be a huge story… just enough to solidify that you can talk to others.
4. It’s not always you. Sometimes the directors or producers end up changing their mind and you might not know that until the project comes out. If you put your heart into the audition, you will make an impression and even if you didn’t get the part you tried out for, they could always bring you back in for another project or role.
5. Get coaching! I didn’t really believe in going to classes because I thought that I had acting down to a T…that wasn’t the case! When I started working with Marjorie Ballentine recently, from the first class I had with her, I saw a whole different side of acting than I knew. I started out doing private coaching with her and she eventually said that I should check out her group classes. After attending multiple weeks of the class, I learned from her coaching others on their scenes. Going to class will be a game changer for you, hands down!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.” The most down to earth people that I know have accomplished some big things but what makes them down to earth is that they can talk about themselves when asked and it’s not in a way of boastfulness. Learning from people like that and how they manage relationships and make an impact on others around them is something that I’m trying to take note of.
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 parents have been some of the most significant help in my career so far. They have been helping me from the beginning. Driving me is just one example, but more significant than that is how they helped me guide my career at the start and helped me find the right people to work with. We got to learn together what the right decisions were and how we were going to learn from the past.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. 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 see this. 🙂
There are so many people that I would love to meet that inspire me to do what I do. I’m inspired by artists, musicians, actors and fashion, so it is hard for me to pick just one person. Someone that I would love to have breakfast or lunch with (preferably lunch because breakfast is my least favorite meal of the day, haha) would be the musician, A$AP Rocky. I would love to have lunch with him because I think he’s so interesting and he was the reason that I started creating because his Instagram used to be super aesthetic and I was inspired by it. He seems super humble from the interviews that I’ve watched, and I would want to talk with him and learn more about the way he thinks. I think that would be a great connection to have.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
The best places to follow me would be:
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!