Everyone is on their own personal journey through life. Whether you desire a quiet life in the countryside surrounded by close family or you have aspirations of being a world-renowned actor, each journey has a story to it that is no more or less important than any other story. Far too often in society, people think they need to look to the top intellectuals or the most famous celebrities for the answers to the problems in their own lives. However, this is far from the truth because if one listens carefully enough, each person’s individual story can not only impact one’s own life, but teach one valuable lessons that can then be adopted and learned from, directly aiding one’s own personal journey in the process.
Today I got the privilege of hearing a new story; the story of Luke Albright. Being an actor living in Los Angeles for several years, Luke has dipped his toes in a variety of projects in the film industry ranging from, playing the lead role in the thriller Devil’s Pass, to getting cast on the hit show Burn Notice, as well as acting, producing and co-writing with Gary Cairns II, a very recent film called Monumental. On a more human level, Luke and I got to sit down and go past all the accolades and delve deeper into Luke’s own personal journey, the beautiful art of acting, and the role that film/media might play going into the future in terms of showcasing the many socially conscious movements beginning to arise within society. He might not be Brad Pitt and his movies might not gross hundreds of millions of dollars, but he has a story in which we all can relate to and learn from. This is life and film through the eyes of Luke Albright:
A Brief Background:
For those who don’t know you, explain how you went from a young child to ending up pursuing a career in acting?
That’s pretty circuitous. It was nothing that I ever really planned. I guess going back to when I was really little, I was always just kind of weird, creative, and loved to draw and write. My sister and I would come up with plays and put on different performances at home for my parents to those 45 records. That was always really fun but it was never really a thought of, “I could do this for a living.” I grew up in a family, which was very much structured like, you take care of your schoolwork, you excel, you figure out what you want to do with your life, and then you go get a job. It was tough for me because I never really knew what I wanted to do. I felt like “man, wouldn’t it be lucky to be one of those people who knew exactly what they want to do.” Besides a fighter pilot, I just didn’t know. So I graduated with a finance degree from the University of Oklahoma, I got a job for a bank in Austin, Texas, and was just not happy. There was something missing and I didn’t know what it was. Randomly one day at the gym I was working out at, I met a guy who was like “man your really funny, have you ever thought about doing acting.” It occurred to me that “no, I had never really even considered it as an option,” but was somewhat intrigued by it. I was lucky enough to have the confidence to go try it and so I went and took a class and just fell in love with it. I quit my job two weeks later and that was it. From that point on, my life was going be about acting and slowly writing crept up into play too.
Being that you started in acting later in life, how did the late start affect your career in acting?
This is a youth driven business, and I think whatever part of the business you want to get into, it does help to start younger. However, it can be very dangerous. You see a lot of people come out here when they’re 18 and they’re still developing their personality and forming who they are as a person, so if you don’t have a really strong support system and an inner confidence, you see people all the time get chewed up and spit out from the system. It’s just how the machine works. Although I was too old for some roles when I moved out to Los Angeles to do acting, at the same time I had a really good idea of who I was and what was important to me so I think that really helped me manage through all the ups and downs to get to the point I’m at now. I think if you don’t know yourself and love yourself, it can be a very rough ride for you. That goes for anything in life, but there definitely is an edge to this business.
What part of the film industry are you primarily in?
Acting is what got me into the business, but now I’m moving more into writing than acting. I’ve gotten a little into the production side of things too, but acting and writing is what I love most.
What is you favorite type of media to do?
Strangely enough, I get cast into thriller and horror roles the most. I don’t really understand it, but I guess I die really well! So I put that on my resume. But, really the most fun for me is writing comedy because you don’t have to go to a dark place to get into it and your just making yourself laugh the whole time.
What is some of your recent work that people might recognize?
One of the bigger movies I got to do was when I got to fly to Russia and play the lead in a movie called Devil’s Pass, which was directed by Renny Harlin and based on some real events that happened in the 50’s which were quite creepy and intense. I also had a really good role on the 5th season of Burn Notice, which I got to do the season finale as well, which was a great show and cast to work with. I also did an experimental film called, Lost in a Crowd, which was a ton of fun to be a part of.
Going Deeper Into the Art of Acting:
What’s a common misconception about acting that goes unnoticed by the majority of the public?
I have these conversations with my fiancee Agnes, a lot. It’s tough because we get up everyday, we might memorize 5 pages of dialogue, then drive through heavy traffic where you get to sit in on an audition just to perform for maybe two minutes. It’s hard because you put your heart and soul into a role and you might study for days, but there is just no guarantee at all. That could be the only two minutes you get, so it’s frustrating when you give it your all and get nothing back in return. It’s especially tough when I see my fiancee go through this because I know how incredibly hard she works. I think people have this perception that okay you get in front of a camera, act, and get paid but that’s if you’re even lucky enough to get the opportunity to audition let alone get cast for the role. There is a lot of work and auditions that go on in the background that goes unnoticed in order for these opportunities to come. They don’t just happen. For every yes you might get, you will probably hear about 100 no’s. So unless you are just a complete natural, which is very rare, it’s a mental beating that really tests you along the way. After so many no’s you start to question your self, “Am I good” or “Am I crazy for continuing this.” You really have to build up an internal confidence through all the mental beating to improve and make it in this business.
However, at the end of the day my philosophy has always been that you have to feel lucky for what you have. After growing up on a cattle ranch and doing all the manual labor, I know it could be a lot worse. Especially with people out there waking up without something like food or water, I think you have to feel very lucky and blessed.
What has been the hardest role you have personally encountered and why?
I would say there was some very challenging scenes on the most recent film I did called Monumental. I play this kind of fuck-up character that has a really shit dad, so for a few days I have the realization that I’m turning into my dad and so I have a confrontation with him where I just lose it. I breakdown and cry for almost 10 minutes, so getting to that moment as an actor and telling myself “it’s ok to just let this happen” and “I’m not going to get embarrassed about anything,” was very challenging. I mean you got snot coming out of your nose and you’re a wreck. It’s a vulnerable moment and you want to do it justice, so it can test you. It’s also very hard to get the emotions out of your head once the camera is done rolling and tell yourself “everything is ok now. Back to normal.”
I would also say that the film, Lost in a Crowd, was quite challenging because it was done through a very strange technique where the director/writer had an idea on the direction he wanted to go with the film, but we actually improv’d the scenes out and he wrote based off that. So for 6 months we were meeting 1-2 times a week and going through all these exercises of improv. I just thought that was really interesting and really challenging because you’re spending so much time before the film doing work. I love improv so it was an amazing experience, but a lot of work.
What emotions are the hardest for actors to recreate?
Strangely enough, I think you will find a lot of other actors say this too, but joy. Just pure joy can be very hard to access at times and sadly I think it is somewhat a mirror image of our life with all the fear and negativity that we’re bombarded with. How many moments can you think of where you just say, “I was so completely happy in this moment?” You know you would think joy is really easy to get to and access, but it’s not.
Getting even a little deeper for a second. With acting being a very internal art, when you go inside yourself and look at your life to derive these emotions for the characters you play, does it enlighten you when you look back on many of your past experiences for emotions and cause you to maybe reflect a little differently on them?
Absolutely you do. Just from my perspective, I will go into a character thinking like, “I know people like this, I’ve experienced this is my life, so let me bring these elements out and try to put them into the character.” For example in Devils Pass, I might not know what it feels like to run from Aliens in the middle of nowhere in Russia, but I have to think of times where I was extremely scared in order to get into character. I know from my most recent film, Monumental, when you’re dealing with really intimate moments, like between father and son or wife and husband, you go in thinking “I’m going to use this emotion,” but when you get done with the day and all those emotions come out, you look back like “wow, there was also this I didn’t even think about.” By making yourself go through the moment, you come out realizing I have not dealt with that and those emotions exist. I don’t want to say it’s therapy or self-help, but you do realize a lot coming out. I didn’t mean to access it, but I did and now that I’m thinking about it, I can deal with it.
Branching into a More Socially Conscious Area:
Given their status and reach within society, what role do you think film/celebrities play within the social direction of society, even branching into political/social conscious movements?
Well first of all, I think it’s personal and each person has to individually decide if they want to use this as a platform for something else or not. I respect both ways. I respect the people who keep their lives and family out of the spotlight and want to live a normal life. At a certain point that becomes impossible, but I also admire the people who pick up a flag and say this is a cause that I’m really passionate about. You may think “I’m just an actor/writer and what the fuck do I know, so I should keep my mouth shut.” But why? I always thought that if I were to get up to a certain status and had a voice, that I would love to stand up for causes that I believe in and want to fight for them. At the end of the day, I’m a person just like everyone else and so we should listen to anyone who has the courage to stand up for what they believe in their heart. If you agree, you agree, and if you don’t, you don’t. I do think though, that actors have a really good opportunity to rally people to a cause and I think that’s important and should be taken into consideration.
Sticking to that subject, what is a social movement your passionate about?
I would say children. There is just something to me that breaks my heart when a child is sick or abused and can’t get proper medical care even though we are one of the richest countries in the world. That just really breaks my heart to see because I know we can be better about that and it’s just so easy to mess up a young person if we’re not careful. I also would say, started in large part because of my fiancee, being aware of the cruelty to animals and how it not only affects animals but us, is very important to me. With all the stuff they inject into animals and the factory farming practices, it’s quite hard to deny and look away for me. It really affects our own health too because we then put this into our body and it really does affect our health even more than we may realize.
With the rise of the Internet and the age of information that brought so many new socially conscious topics and events into the light, do you think movies/television will branch out into a more socially conscious direction as a result?
I think you can already see it. You might not be able to blatantly point it out like, “wow they’re really hammering this point home,” but I think if you pay attention and look closely at the really good shows, those themes are interwoven into the story. I think you see this in shows like Breaking Bad, The Wire, and even shows like The Walking Dead have subtle themes like that. The writers have just become incredibly good and therefore can weave so many things in the story indirectly. I hope that’s something that does catch on more, but it remains to be seen where it goes.
Where do you see entertainment media going as a whole moving into the future?
It’s moving towards streaming for sure. The days of the four big network stations are slowly fading, and you see things like Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon streaming taking over because they can be accessed straight from your home console. I hope the days of going to the movie theatre don’t go away, but it might. At $16 a ticket compared to the option of just renting something at home for a few bucks, is making it hard for movie theatres to compete. I think there is something about sharing the experience in a public gathering amongst other people that is special, so I hope we don’t lose that as a culture. With the many good things about the Internet and live streaming, there is also the negative of it isolating us at times and a loss of public gatherings. I don’t think people want to just enjoy these experiences alone, so I hope movie theaters continue to stay relevant.
Where can people find your most current work and what is on the horizon for you?
As far as my current work, there are a couple of my recent films on Netflix and Amazon Streaming right now, including Devils Pass and my episodes of Burn Notice. Also, you can find Lost in a Crowd, which is the improv film I worked and am really proud of, online at http://lostinacrowd.vhx.tv.
As for what’s on the horizon, I recently just did a sci-fi movie called Watch the Sky, which I was an actor in, so that’s currently in the process of being sold. I’m also working on writing a few TV shows that hopefully I can sell soon. The main one though is the film Monumental. It’s a film in which I put in a ton of work and am really proud of. It has been submitted around to many festivals so were currently in the process of trying to sell it. Hopefully it will be available soon on something like Netflix or Amazon Streaming. (The trailer is provided below)
Lastly, what advice would you give to any young actors out there who are about to set out on their own journey into the art of actin?
Do it only if you love it. If you’re thinking, “I’m going to come out to L.A. and make some easy money and get famous,” then why are you doing it? If you’re passionate about it and absolutely love it, then come do it. Give it everything you have for as long as you can and if it’s not what you want to do anymore, then don’t do it anymore. I think too many times we get tied into that mindset of “this is the life you have to live” and “these are the choices you have to make”. I say No! Do what makes you happy and if it continues to make you happy, don’t let anyone tell you to stop doing it. Just make sure you have the passion because unless you’re a rare complete natural, this is a tough business and you’re going to need that passion to take the mental beating throughout the hard times. You’re going to have to work hard everyday, so just be prepared and know that going in.
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