By Sergio Jewell
At one time aspiring actors and actresses would have had to migrate to California or New York in order to pursue their ambitions of becoming a film or television star.
Those states will soon have to make room for Georgia, as the “Empire State of the South” is beginning to emerge as a media capital.
With numerous television and feature film projects, including “Anchorman 2” and “The Prisoner”, currently shooting in Atlanta there has never been more opportunities for locals in the peach state looking to break into the film and television industry.
Student and Interim President of SGA, Nibio Downer, moonlights as an actor/background artist in his freetime. With the “Walking Dead” and the upcoming Jackie Robinson Bio-Pic “42,” along with many other show cameos on his resume, Downer could be on the verge of the “big break” that so many ambitious thespians strive for. “Because of some of the tax incentives Georgia has in place, entertainment companies find it easier to set up shop here,” Downer said. “I find this as a blessing to any aspiring actors/ actresses. You can find many avenues to work on your acting craft before heading to NY or LA. Some may not even need to leave.”
Downer is studying to become a lawyer. He plans to continue his education at the University of Alabama in Fall 2013. Prior to acting, Downer already had a clear path to success laid in front of him. However, he said if the right opportunity came along, he is willing to put his dreams of becoming a lawyer on hold to pursue acting full time.
“I take every moment on set as a learning experience to gain more working knowledge. The more on set experience I have, the more comfortable I’ll be acting out whatever role I decide to take on,” said Downer. “Working with mentors and training to hone my craft will yield the best chances for bigger things, whatever they may be”.
Speaking of on-set experience, Downer has plenty of it.
Downer has made cameos in “The Following”, “Teen Wolf “, “Necessary Roughness”, “Drop Dead Diva”, and the recently released comedy “Identity Theft” starring Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy.
The aspiring actor has even had the opportunity to experience behind the camera work with directors, writers, and co-stars.
“The experiences have definitely been an eye-opener for me,”he said.“You appreciate the time, effort and visions that go into making some of these top- rate productions. That 30-minute show you just watched took a month to film.”
Alot of time goes into the production process. Downer said he is expected to work when the sun comes up until the sun goes down.
“The toughest part can be the hours required. Although they are most times 8-12 hours, it can be about 15-16 hours. You have to make sure your schedule is completely free because there are no opportunities to leave in the middle of shooting,” said Downer.
Downer’s first acting gig was on a pilot episode of “The Following” where he played an FBI technician. The show currently airs on Fox. The premier of the show, which stars Kevin Bacon, was a critical success. It had over 20 million viewers and was renewed for a second season in March.
“I had friends who were involved in the shooting of the pilot episode of The Following. My availability and my look matched what casting was looking for at the time,” said Downer.
Those who may be interested in acting can always be on the lookout for a break in the industry.
“The Internet is the greatest tool at your disposal. Lots of open casting calls can be found online, you just have to put forth the effort to look, said Downer. “If you happen to make it on-set, be humble and genuine. The people you work with will notice and in turn it will open more doors.”