Tell me about your background?
I grew up in Austin Texas. I was born at Bergrstrom Air Force Base. Which was not closed a few years ago and became the Austin international airport. Funny how things change in time and other things will stay the same.
My dad was in the Air Force and my mother was a preschool teacher at our church. I would say I had a normal upbringing. From the earliest time, I can remember I was on stage. I love to sing and I love to play instruments. And I mean by instruments banging on a triangle loudly. But by the time I was five years old my mother put me in piano lessons. Which I truly enjoyed and stayed with even today I enjoy playing the piano. I was born an entertainer.
I sang in church and in the local mall at Christmas. I played piano anywhere someone would listen to me. That means in my school, church, nursing homes, and the occasional impromptu concert and all my friend's houses it had pianos growing up. By the time I was in elementary school I was doing plays for local theaters. By the time I graduated high school I had done over 20 musicals and several plays. After high school though I join the military and did not pursue my dream of being an actor. Are used to lay awake at night wishing on a star if I could move to Hollywood and just be discovered. But I did nothing about it. I joined the military and chose a life of service over entertainment. Well, until just a few years ago in my late 40s had an opportunity to be in a film. It was a life-changing experience. Long time overdue. And since then I’ve pursued my dream of being an actor.
What inspired me to be an actor?
I think my greatest inspiration came from watching films when I was a child. My greatest all-time favorite actor to this day was, Danny Kaye. Are used to dream that one day I would work with him on a film. He could sing, dance, tell a story, his face contorts in 1000 directions... and one minute he would have you laughing in the very next moment he would have you crying. He conveyed emotions through his acting. I wanted to be that kind of actor. It took people from where they were and transported them to a world of make-believe and touch their emotions.
Why acting? What intrigues you about it?
I love acting and everything about it. I love studying a character. I love becoming that character. I love acting out as somebody else. My favorite is when I get to wear someone else’s costume or clothing so I’m completely lost in the role. I love and I don’t have to be Carlton. Whether it’s a gangster or a real person out of history I can transport myself to aid another place both physically and mentally. As someone who suffers PTSD from Iraq and Afghanistan, I have to tell you, acting is pure therapy for me. It lights me up. It touches my soul like nothing else. And when I’m doing it and I look around on set and I see the cast in the crew all just looking at me watching me do my thing it is so exciting. Again, I love to entertain.
How do you prepare for a role?
Every role is different. I never approach any role the same way. Sometimes I am a method actor. And let me clarify that because there are a lot of people that use the title method actor and they do crazy things to get into character. That’s not what I mean at all. What I mean by a method actor is I draw on experiences. I use what I’ve gone through to make the character better. For example, if I’m doing a military role, I think back to what it was like to be in the military. I draw on those experiences and that makes me play the role from a legitimate standpoint. The other technique that I like to use is Meisner. Getting completely out of my head. I enjoy letting the character take me over. This can be really fun when you’re using accents and costumes to enhance the character. I am lucky about one thing though, I have a photographic memory. It doesn’t take me long to memorize a script. That’s my secret weapon though don’t tell anybody!
To date what was your favorite role?
This one’s a hard one to answer for me. You would think it would be just so easy to pop out the first thing in your head that was your favorite. But there have been several roles I have played that are my favorites for different reasons. First, I haven’t had a role yet but I didn’t like it. I played a racist cop once in a film. The role took me to a place I had never been before inside myself. Dealing with that character was a challenge. But why is that role one of my favorites? Because it was a narrative on the current situation in the real world. It was so well received it went viral.
I received many calls, emails, comments, and messages. They told me that that role spoke to them. That film made a difference for them. I was told people were moved by the performance. And that made me feel really good about my acting that role out. Probably the role that I enjoy the most as far as just becoming the character and letting loose was playing Pastor Scott, the lead role in the film, “cast in the first stone“. I got to really experience letting my improv and all of my acting skills come together in one place. I was able to be loud and boisterous, funny and entertaining and at the end of the day it turned out great on film. This was a TV evangelist who was a fake healer. I got to sing and dance and just let loose. You don’t get many roles like that in a lifetime. A big shout out to the Director, Cyndell Addison, who cast me herself in that role.
What type of role do I enjoy? What type of role will you never play?
The type of role that I enjoy the most is one that allows me to use my creativity and improv skills to bring the character to life. In 2020 I won an Addy award. That’s the covert award for advertising. It’s the Emmy for commercials. I won that award for playing a doctor in a Commercial for a minor emergency center. The commercial was 100% improv. Meaning it all came out of my head at that very moment. I really enjoyed that. I have not found a role yet that I would not play. I have played the bad guy, the racist guy I even had a chance in a film to play gay. I had no problem with any of those roles. I just wanted to make sure that the authenticity of them was genuine and that I did them justice. Of course, I guess so it might say what are your boundaries. Well, I haven’t been asked to play nude yet. But nobody wants to see that. LOL
What films have I appeared in?
I started my journey in film about six years ago. I have been doing this full-time for five years. I have appeared in such films with actors like Regina King, Robert Duvall, Matthew McConaughey, Luke Wilson, Martin Sheen, and many more. I have had the privilege of working with nine Oscar winners. I am as shocked as anyone when I look at my own IMDb. (That is the Internet movie database where all the films are listed with their cast.) I started out doing many background roles before getting speaking lines. Currently, I’m now working on films and television shows as a supporting or lead role capability. I have several films that could be found on streaming channels. Like Terror Birds and Round of Your Life to name a few. I am on the Vid Chronicles YouTube channel as a lead in several films. And I have some feature films coming out soon in theaters. To include but not limited to, 12 Mighty Orphans, Texas Kill City, Triple Ds Revenge, and His Stretch of Texas Ground.
What was my misconception of being a film actor?
Actually, I had quite a few of these. The illusion that it’s always going to be fun and exciting with red carpet and champagne toast was quickly corrected when I played in a movie set in the summer and filmed in the winter. I stood there in shorts and a T-shirt in 30° weather, oh to make the scene. Only to be covered with a large jacket and a space heater the moment the director said cut. Conversely, I was a mascot once in a Coca-Cola commercial. I have my complete Clemson Tiger mascot costume in 110 Texas heat on the sidelines have a football field. But you know what I wouldn’t change a second of any of this for the world. I love what I do. And I’m so privileged and blessed to be able to do it every day.
What does it take to make it in the film industry?
I think you’re making the film industry today it takes opportunity meets preparation. Not every day you’re going to get an opportunity, but when it comes along be prepared. I audition every single week, but I don’t get every role I audition for. But when it does come my way and I am booked I am ready and prepared to do what that Production is asking me to do. Acting is not easy. Or as a cliché says everyone will be doing it. Acting is a lot of work. Character study and script study and script memorization and travel and long nights on set and being gone from family and friends for weeks on end and living out of a hotel room. This is not everybody’s dream. But it definitely is mine.
What are your moral boundaries in this industry?
I believe everybody has a moral compass. And I believe everybody has in them a belief system of some kind they live by every day. There are some things that some people are just not willing to ever do. And I think that’s respected in any field that you’re in, including acting. If you turn out a role because you don’t believe that that role suits you for your morals or your boundaries, I do not believe that hurt you in this industry. It will limit you, yes, but will not kill your career. But I think if you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything. I live by that code in my regular everyday life and I live by that code as an actor.
How was your first experience on a film set?
My first experience on set was very exciting. I was an extra. An extra is someone who basically is in the background of a shot and doesn’t have any lines. My first experience being on a film set was when the director approached me and asked me if I know how to act. I was super excited and I blurted out, “yes “! Next thing you know, I was being changed into wardrobe hair and make-up and given sides (My lines for the scene). So, in one instance I went from a background artist to a supporting role in the film. I can’t tell you how much adrenaline I was pumping through my body that night. I just know, I didn’t sleep. I could not wait to tell everybody I was in a movie!!!
Do I see myself acting for the rest of my life?
I hope so. I wanna do this until I am Betty White’s age and beyond.
How has your love for acting increased or decreased over the years?
My love for acting has increased every day expeditiously. I love what I do. I love who I get to do it with. I have made some lifelong friends in the industry. I love meeting these people that I used to watch on TV or in movies and now they are my colleagues. My love for acting is increased because I really now respect the craft. I know how hard it is and I know what it takes to be an actor. Anyone can say I am an actor. There’s no license for it. There are no requirements for schooling or formal education. There’s no law against it. You can just wake up one day and declare yourself an actor. But it is so much more than a word. It’s a life. It’s a job. And to me, it’s like breathing. I couldn’t imagine my life without acting in it.
What’s the most rewarding and challenging part about being an actor?
The most rewarding part about being an actor is the therapy. To lose yourself and to be able to play pretend. You’ve heard many comedians over the years say the things that I used to get in trouble for doing in school I now make a lot of money for doing every day. It’s so true. Don’t make your face that way Carlton it’s gonna stay that way. Now I can’t make enough funny faces. You’re acting upside down and act right. Boy were they wrong! The more I act up the higher the paycheck. Rewarding, The most rewarding thing though about all of this is the reaction of other people. I love to entertain. I love to see people‘s reactions. I love that they tell me that they were moved, they laughed they cried, or even it made them think. These are the accolades that drive me every day to get up put on a costume, go-to hair and make-up, learn my lines, put up with the elements and do my job. But not just do my job, do my job at the best of my ability. And do it for my fan who is paying good hard-earned money to see me do what I do.
What is my future as an actor? Is there an actor or director that I must work with before I retire as an actor?
Well, my future is not in my hands. It’s in the hands of casting directors. My hopes and prayers are that I am cast in films until the day I die. Although, I hope that’s not anytime soon. I want to do this forever as long as they will let me.
Is there anyone that I wanna work with?
Yes, there are a lot of people I wanna work with. On the shortlist I would love to work with Betty White, Clint Eastwood, Alan Arkin and Kirk Douglas, Denzel Washington, and Morgan Freeman. These are people who have made their lifetime job entertaining others at a caliber of excellence.
What are the positive negatives of becoming a union actor?
I think the simple answer to this is if you live in a nonunion state it would probably be beneficial if you do not join the union because it’s not necessary for the local jobs. But this is a political topic actually and one that I don’t feel I can answer for anybody else but myself. The union is there to make sure that we get fair pay for fair hours worked. It’s there to make sure that nobody takes vantage of our craft and the hard labor that we put in every day.
Have your pressure on film and if yes tell about it.
Nope. I have never put it as my own film. I have been in other productions of other people cast by casting directors. I make a joke all the time that I am just an actor I don’t do crew. It’s a joke, but it’s true. I do not have any ambition to be on the crew side of things. I enjoy what I do as an actor and I love it so much. It lights me up like nothing else does.
What’s next for you?
Who knows? I don’t know the future. What I do know is I hope what’s next for me as more film and television and commercials. I hope that I continue the success that I’ve had for years to come.
What advice do you have for up-and-coming actors?
Obviously, there is a somewhat laid out formula for becoming an actor. Get headshots, take classes, get an agent, and many more good foundational things to be an actor. And yes you must do all those things. But let me go one step further with advice for the one who wants to be an actor. Do it? Don’t wait another day or another second. Jump in. my high school baseball coach used to tell us you could never steal second if your foot is still on first base. Go for it! The only one stopping someone from being an actor is themselves. If it’s your dream… Pursue your dream! If it’s your passion… Pursue your passion! Don’t live with the regret of what if one day. Because that day will come. And you’re gonna say I wish I had. Go to your local theater and join in a local play. Go to church and jump into one of their Christmas or Easter Cantata‘s. Or if you’re really ambitious get a camera then go in your own house or backyard and start filming. Just do it!