Monday, March 21, 2011

SUCCESS STORY: Hakim Callender

Here is another segment of Success Stories, the column devoted to the triumphs of our hardworking actors. This month we have chosen the accomplished artist HAKIM K CALLENDER. Born and raised in Harlem, New York City, he studied acting with many reputable teachers in NYC including Mary T. Boyer of MTB Studio for two years before booking several short films, TV pilots, performed in community theaters and auditioned for countless projects. Relocating to Orlando, FL in 2007 and picking up acting again in 2008 where he left off in NYC, he began studying The Meisner Technique at Orlando’s well respected Art’s Sake Studio as taught by Yvonne Suhor. Represented by Melanie Hurt's The Hurt Agency, Hakim has gone on to book a number of short and independent films, principal roles in local and regional commercials, has been specifically requested and been a front runner for guest starring and recurring roles on many television programs including “Army Wives”, “Burn Notice” and “The Glades.” Hakim has also written, produced, shot and directed a number of projects with his production company Orlando Frat Pack. The productions consist of himself and six of his closest friends who are among the high number of talented actors in Orlando. Hakim is currently auditioning for everything he can and continuing his studies of The Meisner Process as one of the students of renowned actress, teacher and private coach Lauren O’ Quinn. He is grinding every day to follow his bliss.

Breakdown: How long have you been on Actors Access?

Hakim: Oh it’s been at least 5 years. I can’t believe it was that long ago, it was before I even had color headshots.

Breakdown: How did you find out about Actors Access?

Hakim: I studied at MTB Studio located in midtown Manhattan and run by a wonderful teacher Mary T Boyer. Upon my second year of studying her process at her studio she decided to put on an industry showcase at her studio for her students to get seen by Agents and Casting Directors. She asked every student in the showcase to sign up for Actors Access and then forward her the link to our resumes. That way visiting the website for the studio showcase and looking at the cast list for the show, they could bring up our profiles by clicking on our names. I’ve been on the site ever since.

Breakdown: What success have you had with Actors Access?

Hakim: Countless auditions and booked some independent and short films when I initially got on Actors Access. The biggest benefit of being on Actors Access is that I’ve been requested by Casting Directors through my Agent to audition via Eco-Cast for “One Tree Hill” and other programs that cast out of Orlando. Casting directors of other TV shows are using it as well which is a positive thing for us all. Haven’t booked them yet, but as long as I keep getting the opportunity to be seen it’ll happen. I’m staying positive and focused.

Breakdown: How has Eco-Cast been helpful to you?

Hakim: Eco-Cast is very helpful for actors and casting in general. Knowing that I can be requested by and have my audition seen by a Casting Director in another state without having to travel there is a beautiful thing. I’m loving it baby!

Breakdown: What do you think the most helpful feature on Actors Access is?

Hakim: Definitely the notifications of projects that match your profile via email. There are only so many hours in the day that you have to search every Breakdown and there are a lot of them, but getting the email with Breakdowns that are already close to my type is very helpful.

Breakdown: How often do you update your profile?

Hakim: As often as I can. I remember my first Actors Access profile had nothing but “Representative Roles” from work I did in class. I’m proud that I have legitimate credits on my resume, but I have a loooong ways to go. It does get hard to update it when you haven’t booked anything in a while, but as my mentor and guru Lauren O’ Quinn would say, “When there’s a drought and you feel like things are down, there’s nowhere else to go but up so look forward.”
Breakdown: What advice would you give to your fellow actors for how to find success on Actors Access?

Hakim: I would tell actors to submit early and submit your ass off! Seriously, when you’re submitting yourself for projects 4 days after they’ve been posted, there’s another actor working twice as hard submitting 2 days after, and then there’s another actor working 4 times as hard submitting the day of. Be that actor, straight up.

Breakdown: How long have you been acting

Hakim: I can say I’ve been pursuing it professionally for at least the last seven years, although it wasn’t until the last 2 years that I began making money as an actor. I mean enough money to pay for classes and headshots and McDonalds and what not [laughs].

Breakdown: What made you go into acting?

Hakim: My elementary school, well one of them because I moved around a lot throughout the five boroughs of NY was PS 123 in Harlem. At 7 years old some of us were given the chance to be on an episode of “Reading Rainbow” as I guess what you would consider featured extras. Just being in front of the cameras gave me a feeling that I can’t explain, but it wasn’t until I actually saw myself on TV that I knew I wanted to keep doing it. Growing up in Harlem helped fuel that dream too, when we took trips to the Harlem School of the Arts I was drawn to the Drama and Art classes. It wasn’t until 2004 that I had the opportunity to pursue it as an adult and research what acting actually was. I walked straight up to the Performing Arts Library at Lincoln Center and every day I just started reading book after book about the craft, but it was Uta Hagen’s book, “Respect for Acting” that completely blew me away. Reading it was another one of those unexplainable feelings like being on the set of “Reading Rainbow.” From there I knew what I was going to do for the rest of my life. Here I am, almost 8 years later, still growing as an artist and loving every minute of this f***ing journey baby!

Could you be our next success story? To be considered, please send your contact information and a few words about your success