Thursday, July 1, 2010
New York State Of Mind: Derek Allen Watson
On August 11 of this year actor and model Derek Allen Watson will have been living in New York for one year. In Ohio Derek had worked steadily on stage where he appeared in numerous productions such as 'Witness for the Prosecution', 'Rumors', 'Guys and Dolls', 'The Diary of Anne Frank', and 'Romeo and Juliet'.
This time last year Derek was working like mad in Cleveland Ohio to raise enough money for his trip and getting ready to take the leap of faith required to make the move to the big apple. Derek had just turned 21 and his small birthday party turned into a huge birthday/going away party with his friends and family.
I asked Derek if his family was supportive of his move. I think they always knew the day would come. I had been talking about it since I was 10. They were really sad and sometimes scared for my safety. But I'm a big boy and I have proven that I can hold my ground." Derek says he was mugged his first week in the city. Derek fought back and the guy ran away without getting anything. "He thought this boy in a tank top and short shorts wasn't gonna fight back. Wrong."
Below: Derek by Todd Eko.
I know when I visit New York I need at least a couple of thousand dollars just for a week. For some reason however I have an image of people arriving to make their mark in New York traveling by bus, with only a few hundred bucks in their pocket. Derek flew to NY from Ohio and says, "I brought exactly 7,000.00 and planned on it lasting 6 months, but it lasted only 2 and a half"
"My first night I threw my things down and went out to this club I heard was fun. But it was so lame and I got so lost going there. I just wanted to put on some music from "Sex and the City" and walk around."
Derek says the only person he knew in the city was an old manager from 2 years prior but there were not really friends.
Below: Derek by Work of Art Photography.
Derek's first job was for Fashion Illustration classes at FIT (The Fashion Institute of Technology). "I would wear high fashion clothes and pose from anywhere between 1-20 minutes."
Derek has continued to work steadily since his arrival in the city with modeling jobs, on stage, most notably as Draces in 'Lysistrata' and on tv. Derek spent some time as a day player on 'Gossip Girl'. One of his biggest breaks was getting the role of Todd in the film 'Tomorrow for a Dollar'written and directed by Don Crislip. Derek's second film offer came via an interesting way. He was working in the 21 Hour Play Festival, a director of a small film contacted him on facebook. "He said I was perfect for this project they were right about to shoot. So I met with them, and got the part." The film, entitled "The In-Between" is the second film in a trilogy. "I play the home wrecker. It was such a great experience. The film is doing amazing!" The film, by "Fine Young Productions" premiered recently at The Palm springs shortfest, one of the largest shot film festivals in the country.
Below: Derek by TDL
Last year one of the biggest events on television was Betty Whites appearance on Saturday Night Live. Betty's night on the show was electric and Derek was fortunate enough to play a small role. I asked Derek a little about the day 'Betty White' kicked him in the nads.
"It was a dream come true. I have no idea how the casting director got my stuff!! I was at work and they called and said "Derek we want you for this skit. Be in all black and be here in 45 minutes." I thankfully was wearing black and just ran back to work and said I had to go. And they let me. When I walked in the dressing room, Molly Shannon, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Maya Rudolph were all in there and I just froze. It felt like a dream because I didn't expect it. I literally woke up the next day and pinched myself because i was still confused as to what had just happened. It's proof that people are watching your work even if you have no idea."
Of course as many ups as there are, there are usually more downs. I was curious as to how Derek handles the rejection and frustration that comes from trying to make it in one of the toughest of businesses.
"If I get down, I turn it into a positive. I schedule a shoot or do something productive online. I get down a lot because you hear "no" so much for things you can't control. And it just gets frustrating. Also having to juggle a real job to pay rent and missing opportunity really frustrates me. But my friends and family are my biggest fans. They support me soooo much. It's amazing. If I ever get sad, I read letters from people who have said I inspire them."
Below: My Favorite of Derek's shots by Rick Day.
Derek says he will start the hunt of an agency in July. When he first arrived in the city he had an agency wanting to sign him, but he did not get a good vibe. He decided to try it on his own first. Derek says being a Leo, he likes to maintain control. When he first arrived he was told he did not have enough experience, but after working steadily the past year, he is ready to make it his #1 priority again. Over the past year Derek has shot with many of New York's top photographers including Rick Day and Richard Gerst. Derek has more shoots planned to ensure his portfolio is taken seriously.
Below: Derek by the wonderful Richard Gerst.
I was curious as how the reality of living in New York city lived up to his expectations.
"It really is the greatest city in the world. I'm still a small town boy and miss the open air. I get overwhelmed here easily because the environment is stressful in general. But I find ways to get away. And when I go home to Ohio, after like 2 days I miss it. I miss the energy."
Below: Derek by Amin Roozitalab.
"I know that one day I will be going to a movie premier with my name in the beginning credits. It's not cocky. Its more of confidence in myself."
So many people get up each morning and head to a job they have no passion for. Derek is following his passion. Derek says if you don't believe your going to be successful at something, why bother putting so much energy and time into it. No truer words!
Not everyone who heads to the big city makes it, in fact most don't. But... within a year Derek has added to his resume; several plays, tv appearances, a movie role, modeling gigs and a moment with Betty White. Not a bad first year and a great foundation for the beginning of an amazing career!
Thanks Derek for sharing your first year with FH!
Below: Derek by Liem Pham.
You Can Join Derek Allen Watson on Facebook HERE:
You can also check out his MM page HERE:
& see his complete resume at NY Castings HERE:
Below: Derek by Mckenzie James.