Small town boy
By: Jude Campbell
Date: August 27, 2010
Source: eVent Magazine
Although it’s been years since he left behind the tedium of ‘joe-jobs’ to pursue a career in acting, the memories and the bust-a-gut trying to break into show biz are still there. Those memories keep actor Aaron Douglas on the straight and narrow. Keep him a small-town Kelowna boy who made it big, even while he hobnobs with the rich and famous in Tinsel Town and abroad.
Douglas got his chance to grab the brass ring when he was cast as Chief Galen Tyrol in the long-running sc-fi Battlestar Galactica. “I was blessed with Battlestar,” he recalled. “It was the absolute best thing. I still get recognized for the role. Chief was a great character, it was a great show and I still get to go to conventions all over the world because of it.”
But jet-setting to distant places, sitting around on Hollywood stage sets chatting with the likes of Hugh Jackman or being commended for his screen work by Robin Williams took perseverance. The road to that point started when Douglas was a high school senior at KLO Secondary School, taking to the stage in drama class under the tutelage of teacher/thespian Neal Facey, founder of Viva Musica. A young Douglas had stints with Shakespeare in the Park and dinner theatre at a local restaurant. People told him he had a commanding stage presence. People told him he “was really good” and “a natural”. But it took a comment and a promise from a bonafide acting instructor at the prestigious William Davis Centre for Actors Studies to fan the fire in his heart. “It was the first time someone ‘legitimate’ told me I had ‘it,'” Douglas recalled. “The school only accepts 12 people a year and you have to audition to be accepted. He said he’d save a spot, guarantee a spot for me if I wanted in. So, I quit my day job at Earls on Top (in Vancouver) and went to acting school fulltime,” he said.
Douglas left behind his years of laying down flooring in Kelowna and more years being a nutrition rep and fitness gym guru at the coast. With the blessing and steadfast support of his family, Douglas took his first steps into what would evolve into a bright future, securing an agent in 2000 and landing his first screen roles just three years later. “It’s taken a lot of belief in myself, setting goals and looking for opportunities,” Douglas added. “It takes work. The norm is if you do 19 auditions over 19 weeks, expect to land one role. And that might be four, maybe five lines and a paycheque of $600 for the month. That’s why we have day jobs,” he explained. “You have to develop a thick skin. You face constant rejection, but you have to keep going back,” he said. “You have to learn that it’s not personal. I’ve lost roles to the red-haired guy, the younger guy, the older guy, the shorter guy, the taller guy, the Chinese guy, the other guy and the girl. But the key is building a tool kit, developing a strategy and surrounding yourself with people who are positive and supportive of you and your goals,” Douglas said.
One of those forever supportive people has been his Kelowna-based brother Chris, a psychologist, counsellor and author of ‘Human: An Operator’s Manual’ or as Aaron likes to quip “human for dummies.” The siblings have teamed up to offer an interesting evening for anyone, including would-be actors, looking for direction and advice in achieving their optimum potential in all aspects of life. “I’ll tell my tale, give people the nuts and bolts of how to make successful life decisions, and Aaron will be there for eye candy,” Chris Douglas said. “He’s a perfect example of overcoming adversity, achieving your goals and dreams. There are principles to his success that can be brought into and applied to your life.”
Douglas’ book launch coincides with the evening lecture which is set for Oct. 1 at the Rotary Centre for the Arts. On stage, Aaron will tell his stories of breaking into acting, overcoming obstacles and tell-all stories from Hollywood sets and personal experiences with the stars. “It can be a really daunting thing, a daunting industry, but not an impossible one,” he said. “One of the first things you have to do is identify who around you is supportive and who’s toxic. Get rid of the toxic ones. They need to be told to shut up, leave you alone or asked to go away,” he said. “It is possible to break into the industry. You can be just a Kelowna boy and make it. I did.”
Since making it in the big leagues, Douglas no longer needs to go through the grueling multi-auditions process, as roles and offers come to him. The bulk of his work is filmed in Vancouver or Toronto, with stints in Los Angeles where he did his most recent series, The Bridge. But L.A. is a city where he drops in and gets out as soon as he can. “L.A. is a place that eats your very soul,” he said with droll emphasis. Although he adds with a smile, he’d be more than willing to audition for the likes of Steven Spielberg or his other idolized director, Tim Burton. With hands raised aloft to the sunny Okanagan sky, he declares “I’d work for free to do a film with that guy!”
What: An evening with actor Aaron Douglas & author/counsellor Chris Douglas. Explore the challenges of breaking into the industry & how to make the most of your human potential in all walks of life.
When & Where: Oct. 1 at 7 p.m., Mary Irwin Theatre, Rotary Centre for the Arts, Meet & Greet with book signing of Human: An Operator’s Manual to follow.
Tickets: Available at the box office, or selectyourtickets.com, 250-717-5304
WEBMISTRESS NOTE: The above interview with Aaron and Chris is to promote two events.
Aaron Douglas on Acting
Friday, October 1st, 2010 @ 1:00pm
Rotary Centre for the Arts – Mary Irwin Theatre – 421 Cawston Avenue, Kelowna, BC. Canada.
Purchase tickets ($20) HERE.