Interview with Dean Reid - CEO turned Actor
What compels a person to completely change direction and pursue their passion. Today Dean Reid shares openly and insightfully on his metamorphoses from CEO to actor.
Whilst this interview dives into Dean's acting career, it’s worthy to note Dean is now also an accomplished portrait artist. I felt compelled to interview my big bro because he is one pretty awesome dude and quite inspirational.
INSPIRATION - What originally inspired you to get into acting?
Yeah acting was certainly left field from anything my family or circle of friends had done. Mum and our cousins and uncles (they were all musicians). Must be some performer/entertainer genes in our family. I remember enjoying church roadshows (plays) and one that I got to perform in where I was breakdancing. I just felt this natural inclination and enjoyment in performing.
The trigger was the split with the ex. There was a lot of thinking about life, goals, bucket lists after this happened. As you do sort of a revaluation of life because it was a massive change. A traumatic event that triggered it all.
A big element for me was that my self esteem had taken a hit because of the marriage split. I was needing validation and I thought acting would be an easy way to get that. Later realising how easy is it to be unvalidated by acting critics and roles I didn’t win.
CONCEPTION - How did it start out?
I’ve always loved the idea of being in film and no one I knew had ever done it. I loved watched the making of films before watching the actual film. I figured there must be acting agents so I starting to googling.
I sent some emails, from memory I sent 10, and got replies from 2 or 3 requesting I send them photos. One agency asked me to come in for interview saying they liked my look. They were a modelling agency and told me they’d put me on the books and see if they can get me some work. That was the beginning. My first jobs came in modelling men’s suits for wedding expos at convention centres. It gave me confidence being in front of the crowd and was a great stepping stone.
I got to know a casting director in Brisbane who had asked me to audition for some commercials and one day I saw he had fliers for a trip for actors. It was an intensive two weeks whirlwind tour of the acting industry in LA. This casting
director suggested I come along and a month later I am heading to LA with 20 other Brissy actors age range of 18 - 50 years.
We went to events, classes, saw the sights. I fell in love with the acting scene and I had truly found my crowd. One of the people on the trip referred me to an acting agent in Brisbane. I contacted her and she agreed to represent me. From there I became more invested in acting and had to decide, “do I really want to do this”. I made the decision to give it everything and see where it takes me. To find out who to learn from, the best teachers. I was a sponge and still continue to absorb everything I can.
ROAD BLOCKS - Was there anything holding you back, minds sets, road blocks, etc
Definitely! My self confidence in not having much experience. Asking myself, ‘Am I good enough?’. It takes a while to get used to the rejection. Wondering if I stuffed it because of how I speak, my nerves, sweaty armpits. Eventually I learned it’s not me. I just wasn’t the right fit for the role.
Another obstacle is that it’s not cheap attending classes. The biggest obstacle is finding the time. I was lucky to have the business that allowed me time and main source of income.
SUPPORTERS - Who were your supporters and how did they support you?
My first supporters were my acting tribe. Other actors who love it just as much as I did. I’d found this little community in LA and I was still hanging with them once we got back to Australia. Once I started doing little commercials I got some gigs with university films and they are a great community as well. I got a few short films under my belt and began to show friends and family. They reacted kind of more like WOW, you’re doing something so different. Cool. The fascination was nice, I think talking to dad was cool too. (Dean laughs) He’s sort of a closet bohemian and filmmaker and perhaps enjoyed living vicariously through his children.
INVESTMENT - Roughly what cash/tools/equipment etc did you put into it and how did you raise the funds
For most you have to have second source of income so I was fortunate to have my business income. It’s funny when you tell people you are an actor and they ask which restaurant you work at.
Ok actual costs let’s see. Signing up with the agency was free. The photographs and head shots cost at least $500. I had to register with an online acting directory (like yellow pages for actors) and that about $400-500 year. The trip to LA was about $5k. In the first year or so I went to physical classes every week and it was about $300 per month. Total of say $7-8k +.
DOUBTS - Did you ever have any doubts and if so what were they?
Yeah and continue to have some. I've previously doubted whether it’s worth the time and money for how far I might get. I’ve since reconciled that I’m just going to enjoy the journey regardless of how big or small the roles are. Just be happy with any role. Whether it’s a product commercial like today, or a short film. It’s all good.
Early on I felt like I had to compete with everyone in the room and the stress of wondering if I am I better than them. Will I ever get a big break? Now I’ve let go I have as much fun being in class as I do on set. Letting go takes the pressure off really. Perhaps a bit like going for a surf when its crowded and just being happy to paddle out without that pressure to be snagging the best set waves.
I still have a high expectation of myself and I want to do the best I can, I just no longer pressure myself into trying to control the outcome. I still love the idea of getting an awesome part, being in a big one (blockbuster movie), but I’m ok if it doesn’t ever happen. I see some people getting jaded and resentful because they didn’t "make it”. They think they’re a failure. Then I see others who just love being an extra. I just want to have fun with it.
SURPRISES - Was there anything you didn’t expect?
Yeah, how much of an actual skill acting is. It’s almost a science. Like any craft, when you see someone who is great at their craft they make it look easy, like they’re not even acting. These actors inspire me because I now see why they are so good. Their ability to learn lines, hit marks, work with lighting, timing, script, time management, networking, (Dean chuckles) how much skill you need is surprising and what I love is that I am essentially starting fresh like I am in kindergarten. Challenging myself to get good at it.
WINS - Biggest win?
Biggest win is getting accepted by the agent who is representing me now. He is very experienced and well connected in the industry and having him believe that I have something worth representing is so great.
It’s interesting because this agent came from one of the biggest rejections I had. I was rejected by a Sydney agent who wouldn’t work with me until I moved to Sydney. After 12 months he let me go. I think perhaps I was not getting cast as often he’d hoped I would.
Here I was feeling not good enough but I still had enough motivation left to start asking around for a new agent. I thought to myself why not shoot for the stars. Look for agents who represented stars like Chris Hemsworth and Geoffrey Rush. One door closed and I just started tapping on other "higher profile” doors.
I don’t think the opportunities would have been there with the other agent who released me. Getting rejected forced me to a better situation. I could have been defeated and just quit but I chose to keep going and shoot higher. My thinking was that people at the top of their game are more likely to give back. The relationship with this agent is so much better. He’s like a manager, and a mate.
CURRENT - Where are you at?
In Brissy in a car (he laughs) on our way to a shoot, doing what I love. I am still in the learning stage of my career. It’s been 3 1/2 years which is long enough to get to a place where I am really enjoying it, still learning a lot, and I have enough experience to navigate well. I know what it takes to succeed and I am committed to doing enough but I’m ok with wherever I get. Just enjoying the ride.
What’s not to love, it’s Wednesday morning and we are in the city, getting paid, working with my bro and our ladies are hanging out together on the sunny coast shopping and having lunch.
I really enjoy how everyone in my circles seems to be getting a kick out of any little success I have. They see me on something and it’s a cool moment. Like Dash (nephew) and how inspired and curious a 9 year old is about the acting industry. Those interactions are pretty fun.
Thanks Dean. You're willingness to take the leap and pursue your artistic passions is truly an inspiration. Since we did this interview Dash just finished filming his first role in a music video. Legend!