Rising Star Zach Avery: “Our world right now is suffering from an enormous amount of hurt and hate. If we could all just be kind to each other and work through our problems, who knows how far we could go”

BE KIND. It’s simple. I think our world right now is suffering from an enormous amount of hurt and hate. If we could all just be kind to each other and work through our problems, who knows how far we could go. I had the pleasure to interview Zach Avery. Widely known for his character […]

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BE KIND. It’s simple. I think our world right now is suffering from an enormous amount of hurt and hate. If we could all just be kind to each other and work through our problems, who knows how far we could go.

I had the pleasure to interview Zach Avery. Widely known for his character acting in various roles over the last few years, Zach Avery is taking his career to the next level with multiple movies set for release later this year. Seen starring opposite Kate Beckinsdale and Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje in FARMING, which premiered this season at the Toronto International Film Festival, he will also be seen in THE WHITE CROW, the story of legendary ballet dancer Rudolph Nuryev, directed by Ralph Fiennes, which was recently previewed at the Telluride Film Festival and picked up by Sony for distribution in 2019. A Midwesterner at heart, Zach spent his teens playing football and dabbling in high school theatre, ultimately playing for Indiana University until an injury ended his NFL dreams. While the arts continued to be a hidden passion, upon graduating he entered the Doctoral program at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. While there, he was also attending underground comedy shows and joined local theaters groups, which ultimately let to the decision to shift gears and take a leave of absence from his schooling to pursue acting full time. To fund his goal of moving to LA, he began selling Quickbooks software door to door in the Chicago suburbs and finally made the move west on New Years Eve 2011. Acting classes helped him get acclimated to LA and meet upcoming directors that lead to work on shorts and indie films. He’s also found his relationships outside of agents and managers have been the most effective way to get roles, finally landing CURVATURE in 2017 via his friendship with Producer Andrew Levitas. Over the last year he has worked with Levitas and Ralph Fiennes on THE WHITE CROW, Adewale Akinnouye Agbaje directing FARMING and finally an upcoming starring role opposite Mr. Robot’s Carly Chaikin in the psychological thriller, LAST MOMENT OF CLARITY to be released in early 2019. His greatest role to date has been that of husband and father to his toddler son. An outdoorsman at heart, Zach spends his downtime enjoying his newly adopted hometown of LA with hiking, skiing, practicing his scuba diving skills and enjoying nature with his growing family.

Thank you so much for doing this with us Zach! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Of course — thank you guys for having me! I was born in Berkeley, CA but moved to Tampa, FL when I was about 2 years old. I grew up there until the summer after my freshman year of High School, when my mom and I moved to Ft. Wayne, IN — where she got married to my stepdad. Finished high school there and then went to Indiana University in Bloomington. IN. So definitely moved around a decent amount.

Credit: Bobby Quillard

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

I have always been drawn to and fascinated by performing… even before I knew it was an actual job. I remember as a kid, my mom would take me over to her longtime friends house that had daughters that were around the same age as my sister and I. For whatever reason — all I wanted to do was come up with plays for us to perform in front of the grown ups every night. So I would get the kids together… write small “plays” and we would set up the whole production for to perform after dinner.

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

Man — this career has been full of interesting stories but I think the most memorable would be meeting with Julio and Diego Hallivis for the first time. I had just moved to LA and didn’t know anyone so my mom had a friend’s daughter (who lived in LA) take me to dinner with some of her mutual friends so I could meet people. Julio and Diego are a producer/director duo so they came into the dinner dreading the idea of having to “meet” with a “want to be actor” that just moved to LA. Long story short — we end up forming a solid friendship (that still lasts to this day) and we have worked on multiple short films and feature films together over the past 5–6 years… you just never know what will come of a dinner.

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?

The funniest mistake that I made was for my first feature film, Curvature. We had a table read, which is when all the actors, director, producers and writers come together and simply read the script so everyone can hear the lines out loud. This was my first real table read so I thought that I should come completely in character — my character was a nerdy, engineer type so I get totally dressed up for the part including wearing glasses that didn’t actually do anything. Needless to say, I was definitely the only one “in character” and looked like an idiot. Definitely learned my lesson on that one but you can only learn through experience so its all a part of the process.

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

I just finished a film called The Gateway that was directed by Michele Civetta and stars myself, Olivia Munn, Shea Whigham, Bruce Dern and Frank Grillo. Really cool thriller set in St. Louis — very excited for everyone to check that out. This year I have a few cool projects coming out starting on July 12 — a stylized home invasion thriller called Trespassers were be released theatrically and later this year Last Moment of Clarity and Shookum Hills (2 films I shot last year) will also be coming out.

I’m 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?

I think the main reason is that we simply live in a diverse world and film/tv projects are created to put a microscope on certain aspects of our lives and dive deeper to teach, investigate or entertain — without portraying the diversity of our actual lives within these projects… we are simply telling a false story and doing a large disservice to the audience. Additionally, diversity is what makes projects interesting — no one wants to hear the opinion of the same types of people that look the same, grew up the same and think the same — diversity sparks conversation which in turn allows for growth and discussion through learning about people and circumstances that we may have not gone through ourselves.

From your personal experience, can you recommend three things the community/society/the industry can do help address some of the diversity issues in the entertainment business?

  • 1) Stop looking at the past to package projects for the current climate or the future. What “worked” in the past may not be what audiences are looking for today.
  • 2) As a community — embrace and go buy tickets for culturally diverse projects. At the end of the day, if people are buying tickets for diverse projects — studios and production companies will make more of them — supply and demand.
  • 3) Learn from and listen to our peers. Get out of your own head and be open to discussion from other creatives around you. This will allow for collaboration and exploration of diverse ideas, projects and stories.

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

I think the main lesson here is that there is not a fast track to success in this industry. When I first moved to LA, I had this dream that I would get discovered on the street and immediately cast in a studio film and my dream career would be laid out in front of me. Reality is that this industry is extremely difficult and it takes a ton of work but if it is truly the only thing that fulfills that creative engine inside of you — the journey is worth it and every step along the way is a learning experience so who needs the fast track.

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

Every audition is an opportunity to show someone in this industry who you are and what you can bring to the table. Most of the time, that specific job won’t be the one for you but if you use auditions as an opportunity to build relationships and simply get on peoples’ radar…. Every “No” is just a stepping stone toward a “yes”. We can’t just wake up an act… someone has to hire us so be grateful for the audition and the opportunity to do what you love rather than viewing it as an interview for a job.

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. 🙂

BE KIND. It’s simple. I think our world right now is suffering from an enormous amount of hurt and hate. If we could all just be kind to each other and work through our problems, who knows how far we could go.

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 amazing wife, Mallory has been my rock, my sounding board and my partner in crime throughout my entire journey. We drove across country together on New Years Eve 2011/12 with nothing but our dog and a few bags…. Today we both have amazing careers, a true home in Los Angeles and wonderful life. Without her support and belief in my dreams — I definitely would not be where I am today.

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

“When odds are One in a Million …. Be That One.”

A million people could be walking into a room but you bring a unique perspective simply because you are you. Know that and truly believe it…. And other people will as well.

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. 🙂

Michelle Obama — I think she is truly incredible but in reality my mom asks me at least once a week if I could find a way to get them to meet each other so I would try to make her dream of meeting Michelle come true.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

My instagram handle is @_zachavery

This was very meaningful, thank you so much!

Thank you so much! It was a true pleasure. Cheers!

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