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, NICK HERRA. Nick is a Hispanic-American actor, vocalist, musician, and fitness enthusiast/trainer. As an actor, he has starred in everything from GO Daddy commercials to multi-award nominated films and web series. Musically, he is the percussionist and backup vocalist for rising star Stephanie Bade’s band. In fitness, he has played sports his entire life and trained with professional football players, Olympic athletes, and fitness industry elites. He currently works for Gentle-Force Productions and was cast in their acclaimed television pilot “Morning Light.”
How long have you been on Actors Access (AA) and how did you find out about the service?
Nick: I have been part of Actors Access for a little over two years. I believe Aaron Michael Marciniak, a good friend and talented fellow actor, mentioned it to me.
What success have you had with AA?
Nick: When I didn’t have an agent, the primary benefit was the ability to learn about national and regional projects as well as submit myself for them. Now that I have multiple agents, most of them require that I have an Actors Access account. It makes it quick and easy for casting directors or directors to click on my profile and see my stats, pictures, reel, etc.In terms of concrete examples, I have auditioned for many national commercials and some films from submitting myself on Actors Access. It has even opened the door for some excellent networking opportunities with filmmakers.
How has Eco-Cast helped you with your career?
Nick: Eco-Cast is an outstanding resource! There are benefits across the board. It saves money for the actors in terms of traveling expenses. It saves energy for filmmakers and casting directors because they don’t have to deal with no shows, rescheduling, cancellations, etc. It gives actors the opportunity to put what they deem to be their very best in front of casting directors and filmmakers. It gives casting directors and filmmakers the opportunity to see a wide variety of actors rather than the “same ol’ sampling. Regarding my own career, it is highly beneficial for me because I am a regional actor. I have been trained extensively under seasoned Hollywood veterans at the Creative Actors Workshop but I am still currently based in Missouri. I am privileged enough to have the means to travel to many auditions but there are still financial limits. With Eco-Cast, I can submit my performance for the first round of auditions via video. Then if I am chosen for a callback, I can make traveling arrangements to attend in person. It’s likely that finances would limit my opportunities if I also had to pay for the initial traveling expenses. So, Eco-Cast is amazing!
What are the pros and cons of being a regional actor?
Nick: Each region is different so I can only comment on my own. One of the huge pros of mine is taking classes from my acting coach, Scott-Arthur Allen. He has an extensive history of success that has included training cast members from the academy award nominated film “Winter’s Bone”, the academy award winning film “The Artist”, as well as the JJ Abrams blockbuster “Super 8.” In addition to that, he has trained Heather Locklear, Sela Ward, Tea Leoni, and many other successful working actors as well as being president of The Talent Managers association. Honestly, the list goes on with what he has achieved. So his belief in my ability and his encouraging style of teaching were highly instrumental in why I even considered acting but soon I just fell in love with the craft. All of that to say: had I not been in this region at this time, I may have never given acting a shot. So, of course, that’s a huge pro. Additionally, I have multiple agents in my state and surrounding states that are constantly sending me on calls. If it weren’t for those things, I would have left this region long ago. Either way, the move to LA is definitely in the cards. It’s all about the right timing though. The cons are there are obviously fewer projects than there would be in major markets. (Unfortunately, fewer projects are generally due to very limited state film incentive programs). Other cons would be the traveling costs for my LA or New York auditions. The good news is that Eco-Cast and the expansion of filmed auditions is helping to give regional actors a chance to demonstrate their talents nationwide.
What advice would you give to your fellow actors?
Nick: One of the most important things I have learned is to find a great acting workshop or school where you can develop your craft. There is a lot of ambition with beginning actors. That’s fine! You want to have your ambition and passion maxed out because this business takes every drop of your blood, sweat, and tears. However, you also want to put yourself in the best possible position. The first step to doing that is getting a solid training foundation. After you get the foundation, you have to prove to yourself that you can consistently give good performances because there is nothing worse than nailing your first audition then blowing the callback or booking the job and being known as a 15 take actor. The next thing I always tell actors is to never pursue this for the fame. It is fleeting. The critics will love one performance and dislike the next. Fans will come and go. All that matters is the overwhelming feeling of pride you gain from giving an outstanding performance. For me, I know the most satisfying feeling in the world is when I’m looking in the mirror and I say: I gave every ounce of myself to that project.
How long have you been acting and what made you go into the field?
Nick: My first exposure to acting was at 17 years old. I don’t recall what possessed me to tryout for my high school one act but I did it. By some twist of fate, I managed to get a role. At first, it was kind of weird for me. I remember the director Beth Litwak having this strange sort of reverence for the theater. She pushed us to put a lot of thought into characters, play the reality, and truly dedicate ourselves to it. To be honest, my 17 year old mind thought she was borderline crazy but I always respected her passion. So, I did my best for her. Long story short, I loved the opportunity but I didn’t feel like acting was for me. I was an athlete-I had been since I was 6 - I was going to get a scholarship to play football, get my degree in business, and be another success story. I acted in one more play during high school but I thought that was the end of my acting career. I attended college in Missouri. While I loved my college friends and I did well in school, there was always a feeling of emptiness. I imagine it’s the feeling one gets when they sense they’ve missed their opportunity. The problem was I didn’t know what that opportunity was. A few years passed. One evening, I randomly looked into acting schools across the country. Of course, I read about people like Larry Moss and his success as a coach. At the time though, leaving my area wasn’t realistic. So I searched for local acting coaches. The first name that appeared was the Creative Actors Workshop. My initial thought was: This ain’t LA or New York, brother! I hope you’re not expecting Larry Moss caliber! But, I was willing to give it a shot. As I read about the workshop, I quickly realized coach Scott-Arthur Allen wasn’t just some average joe. I had found a gem-a diamond in the rough. He had been president of the Talent Managers Association, he had coached some major stars, he had performed music on the same stages as Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis, he was a successful actor, and he had many prior years of experience in LA. Right away, something told me I had to try the class out or I would regret it forever. I tried class for a month. It was incredible! Scott-Arthur had a friendly, welcoming personality but he was still knew how to pull the best out of me. During the cold readings and prepared work, I immediately felt pushed to the very limits of my potential. Out of the scenes, I felt like part of a family. For me, this was the perfect recipe for growth. When the month had passed, I left class and started college again. A year later, I knew my heart was intensely gravitating to acting. So in early 2010, I started acting classes again. Ever since, I have dedicated every ounce of myself to it. When I’m not taking classes, I am auditioning and vice versa. I’m always striving to push myself to the limits of my potential and it all started by randomly Googling acting schools.
Outside of acting, what else fills your time?
Nick: I am a percussionist and backup vocalist in a band with my talented singer/songwriter girlfriend Stephanie Bade. We are constantly writing songs and music together. In fact, we’re planning on going into the studio and recording later this year. I am also an associate for a film company called Gentle-Force Productions. We recently presented our television pilot “Morning Light” at Film-Com in Nashville where we received rave reviews from many of the industry elite. We also completed our first feature a couple months ago. We’re now in post-production. Stephanie and I are privileged to be scoring the film. Lastly, fitness is a huge part of my life. I am always working out, creating new workout routines, and thinking of ways to push myself to the limit. The people who have influenced me most in this area are fitness pros like Joe Donnelly, Richard Rykbos, Jeremy Hoefs, and Brian Llewellyn.