Interviews

Interview with Gavin Stenhouse

Gavin is an Actor & Musician born in Hong Kong. When he was 9 he moved to Lewes, a small town in the South of England. He later moved to London to train at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where he graduated in 2007. He currently lives in California.

1. For the people who might not know you, who are you and what do you do?

My name is Gavin Stenhouse. I’m an actor living in Los Angeles, California. I’ve mostly worked on TV shows including “Black Mirror” (Netflix), “Allegiance” (NBC) and “9-1-1” (FOX). I’ve also just finished shooting a movie called “Life-Size 2” with Tyra Banks and Francia Raisa, which comes out later this year.

2. When did you know you wanted to become an actor?

That’s a really tough question to answer! Haha! As far back as I can remember? I grew up in the countryside in Hong Kong near a town called Sai Kung. We didn’t have any cinemas there and TV was limited to a few local channels. My family would go to our local video store every week and rent out a few VHSs to watch. I was always fascinated by movies, captivated by the “movie magic” of it all… My first acting job was in a kids TV show on our local network in Hong Kong. Actually, I remember watching “Robin Hood: Men In Tights” when I was around 7 and I thought to myself, “I want to be Carey Elwes!”. During my early teens I wanted to be either a pilot (like my dad) or a Biologist of some kind but ultimately that childhood fascination with the movies grew exponentially as I got older.

3. What did you learn about the industry that you can share with aspiring actors?

The industry is brutal. I’m not going to lie. Life for 99% of actors is a grueling barrage of “No” after “No” after “No” and you have to have faith in yourself. If I could give my teenage-self advice from where I am now, it would be two-fold: firstly, find an activity, artistic, physical or mental that gives you a reprieve from the business. Something that allows you to shut out the world, lose yourself in the moment and express yourself. For me, over the years that has taken the form of playing music; martial arts; photography; and in more recent years, rock climbing. Find a discipline that will give you some ‘Zen time’. Secondly, work hard: you’ll go to a hundred auditions and you may not be quite right for any of them but when that one-hundredth audition comes along that you’re absolutely perfect for, you better have done your homework and do your absolute best. You want to leave that room feeling “OK, well I did the best I could have done. Now it’s up to fate”.

4. Who did you love working with on a past project and why?

Another really tough question! I’ve been so fortunate to work with so many wonderful people over the years on many different projects, many of whom have become very dear friends of mine.

5. What is the scariest part of an audition?

This is a fantastic question. The funny thing about auditions is that they’re an entirely separate discipline to anything else in the industry. Learning how to audition well is an essential skill for an actor but it also comes with experience. The more you audition, the better you’ll get at it. There’s an enormous amount of pressure to deliver your best performance and you may only get one chance to do it. Whether it’s an audition with casting or even with the creators of the show, it’s important to stay as calm as possible. Take deep breaths before you go in. Take confidence in the fact that ultimately, the decision is out of your hands and may depend on completely arbitrary reasons as opposed to “how good of an actor” you are. You should go in there wanting to do the best job you can do but at the end of the day you’ll either be right for the job or you won’t. That thought often helps take the pressure away, personally. Try not to worry about getting THIS job but instead try to focus on leaving a good impression with casting or producers because chances are you’re not right for that role but you might be right for another project they work on further down the line. Remember, you’re in it for the long game. If you impress the casting directors, then they may keep you in mind and bring you back in for more auditions on other projects. If you can, volunteer to be a reader for a casting director! Get a glimpse at what life is like on the other side of that camera. You’ll learn a lot!

6. What show could you do for years?

Oooooh! That could go one of two ways… either a show like “American Horror Story”, where the actors get to play different roles each season – that would be fun. OR perhaps a show like “Lost” that films in Hawai’i? I mean… that would be like living in paradise for me!

7. What would your dream role be?

I’ve often thought about this question and I feel like my answer changes all the time. On the one hand, there are so many movie idols I grew up watching, like Indiana Jones, Han Solo or James Bond – playing a role like that would be a dream-come-true. On the other hand, there are many real life people that have inspired me who would be amazing to portray in a biographical role: musicians like Django Reinhardt or Barney Kessel and climbers like Jim Bridwell, John Bachar or Tommy Caldwell.

8. What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?

My family. My two girls: my wife and daughter. I have no idea what I’ve done to deserve them, but somehow here I am!

9. What’s the most recent show you’ve binge-watched?

My wife and I don’t get much time to binge watch shows these days with a 1-year-old baby, but we did recently binge “Looming Tower”, which I thought was incredible. There are so many fantastic performances on that show. I really enjoyed it. Although, to be totally honest, we more recently whipped through Season 4 of “Love Island”, which is a reality show in the UK. One hundred percent guilty pleasure watching but it was really enjoyable! Haha!

10. What is your best memory from any set?

There were a couple of moments that stick in my mind from “Allegiance”. For one episode, myself and Kenneth Choi were filming at CIA headquarters in Langly, Virginia. That was pretty awesome, I’m not going to lie! Also, some of the cast members used to play practical jokes on each other and there was one day where one of the producers wrote a fake scene for Kenneth Choi, where his character had a two-page monologue of really technical jargon. The producer suddenly sprung the scene on Kenny when he arrived on set and although Kenny would never admit to falling for the joke, I DEFINITELY saw panic cross his face for a brief moment.

11. Do you have a secret talent?

I can make my stomach look like the face of an elephant…

12. What is one piece of advice you would give to your younger self?

Don’t worry too much about wanting people to like you. Don’t be afraid to be yourself; stand for something in the face of adversity. Not everyone is going to like you or respect you but that’s not your problem. Also, don’t be afraid to be wrong, don’t be stubborn and be open to learning something new in every conversation.

13. What are some causes that are dear to your heart and hope to bring awareness to?

There are a couple of really wonderful organizations I’d like to highlight. Firstly, “Skateistan” is an award-winning non-profit that empowers children and youth through skateboarding and education in Afghanistan, Cambodia and South Africa. Another wonderful non-profit is “1Climb” whose goal is to introduce children from across the US to climbing, by partnering with The Boys And Girls Clubs of America.

Thank you so much to Gavin for the interview! He is a really talented actor so be sure to watch out for his upcoming movie “Life-Size 2”. You can find Gavin on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and IMDb. Photo credit goes to Kim Hardy.

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