You dont have to live in Hollywood to make a decent living acting in film and TV. Just ask Heath resident Luis Acevedo, who has hundreds of on-screen credits in movies, TV shows and commericals. While you may not see his name at the top of the bill in the latest summer blockbuster, Luis manages to keep busy in an industry known for being extremely difficult to break into.
Born in Cuba, Acevedo traveled with his family to the U.S. aboard a boat in the 1980 Mariel boatlift when he was 12 and settled in New Jersey. After a tour in the Navy, Luis moved to California and became interested in acting. He began to make contacts through acting workshops and eventually secured representation by a talent agency. As he gained experience at auditions, he began to book small parts in TV and commercials, and a role as a prison guard in a movie with Dennis Hopper.
He figured his acting career was over when he moved to Texas in 2005. “But, I was a member of the Screen Actors Guild by then, and learned after going to one of the local meetings that there were a surprising number of opportunities here. Also, I had a bit of an advantage. I have a look known in the industry as racially ambiguous, which means nobody can tell where Im coming from. Im also bilingual, English and Spanish, which effectively doubles my opportunities.” Luis says hes a lot busier here than he ever was in California. “Big fish in a small pond, as opposed to the reverse out there.”
After 18 years in the business, auditions have become part of the fun. “I dont get nervous any more. To me, an audition is just another chance to act. And thats what I love doing. If I dont book that particular gig, I just do another audition and have fun.” His schedule currently nets about one job a week.
At the Dallas International Film Festival which concluded recently, the buzz was on for “Bomb City”, which was filmed in and around the Dallas area, including downtown Rockwall (see related story). Luis had a small but substantial role in the movie, which won the Audience Award for Narrative Feature and maxed out the seating for three showings at the Magnolia Theater. “I was really proud to be a part of this project. To me, there is no such thing as a small part. Every role has a purpose.”
These days, Luis is getting plenty of screen time on TV. If you dont fast-forward through commercials, you are more than likely to see him in a Ford truck spot. In “NCIS: New Orleans” this year he can be seen as “Juan” in one episode, a bouncer in “Queen of the South,” and a guard in “Gifted,” a TV movie currently in production.
Any advice for someone looking to break into the industry? “Dont walk around in a shopping mall thinking youll get discovered. Start by taking lessons from a reputable acting school. From there you may get to know somebody in the business who can set your expectations to a realistic level. Develop a style, get a head shot made, and find a good agent. Directors are seeking a specific look for each project and will go directly to an agency to find it. And stay positive, because youre going to face a lot of rejection.”
“There are a lot of scams in the business. If someone approaches you and tells you that you have the look, run away. I know people whove lost a lot of money that way. A reputable talent agency will never guarantee you a booking.”
Luis also manages to stay connected to the community through his co-ownership of Cold Stone Creamery at the Rockwall Harbor. He is also active with Rockwall Pets as a foster dad to cats and dogs.
When asked about the best part of what he does, he replied, “Every time Im on the set with anybody, I am constantly learning. No matter how great an actor is, they are human. They make mistakes, and every mistake is a learning experience, just as much as a perfect performance.”
Story by Bob Lewis
Photos courtesy of Luis Acevedo