June 4th, 2017
You first met Che in Rochester works for actor Che Holloway, an impromptu interview and amble through the Neighborhood of the Arts. An aspiring and successful actor, Che is deeply immersed in the Rochester cultural scene. So much so, we’ve named him Che of The Town! Exclusively for Talker, Che has solicited and is conducting interviews from about 80 Rochestarians working in a diversity of creative fields. For the full series, see Che of The Town: Interviews
Born in Washington DC, grew up in Rochester. Went to James Sperry (Rush Henrietta) went to Penn State University and studied communications, writing, and eventually theatre arts and acting. Got out of their right as shit started to hit the fan.
I was extroverted as a young boy, and absorbed a lot of pop culture capital from films and TV I watched with my mom and dad… this naturally lead to an interest in school plays, creative writing, etc. I was a passable athlete but never had much interest in team sports. Very much an “English and history kid.”
Doing the GEVA theatre summer academy (Che is a grad himself, though in a different year) was huge in informing my interest in performing on a consistent basis. I was in a play at a local in the summer I graduated high school that I received a paycheck, so to have a paying gig before I was even in college was a big deal to me. As I began not only acting more in college, but also writing more plays that the student groups performed, trying my hand at directing and even running a soundboard for a production, helping the film students with their projects… that’s when I realized I may have something worthwhile to contribute here.
Getting cast in Geva Improv in 2011 was also huge for me. It was a great opportunity and epiphanies came by the avalanche… perhaps I’ll get to that later in the interview.
2011-mid 2012 was a period I’d like to forget. I got laid off from a day job I liked a lot. Rushed into another job that fucking sucked. Terrible work, terrible environment. Terrible hours… I was missing Improv shows at Geva right and left and I’m humbled by the fact they didn’t can me. Drank a lot, smoked a lot, borrowed money from my parents with no real intent of paying them back. Ran afoul with the law. Acting reckless. I had relatives close to me in hospice fighting for their lives against cancer, and here I am acting like a total shit. Very selfish.
Being mad at yourself and recognizing that you must do better is very surreal. I’m very “libertarian” in that I don’t like to ask people for help and I don’t like to disclose my personal problems (unless it’s facetiously for a comedy routine) I decided to get clean and sober up and start tidying up the shit storm that I started. This was March of 2012…. by October of 2013, I was in a much better place- new day job, getting more dap in the improv and theatre scenes through Geva, all around things were great!
I have been clean and sober for 5 years. There have been highs and lows since then. Some days I hate myself and some days I know I need to do better but have no clue where to begin. But I have my sobriety and that counts for a lot.
Everyone has a dimension of character to their personality that makes them unique. I have a very disarming personality, I enjoy irreverence and controversial but I try to make it very measured and digestible. I guess I’m pretty self-actualized in how my work informs my worldview as an “artist citizen” – everyone has the potential to realize their full capabilities as an artist citizen, but it’s a heady concept and I think it may bug some people out.
The big plus from doing improvisational acting is it strengthens your empiricism – learning through your five senses – because you have to be constantly alert. Your attentive listening and observational skills need to be next-level keen. You have to be smart, and know how to apply your knowledge and cultural capital as well. In the course of a 90 minute improv show I may have to play a toddler, a geriatric, a leading man love interest, or a wild animal all on a dime. You have to know a little bit about everything. You have to be incredibly patient, diplomatic, and amicable with people of all walks of life. All real world, practical application skills.
Do you have other interests or hobbies?
I am a freelance arts and entertainment writer for the “Centre Daily Times” newspaper in State College, PA. All remote work for quite a while but I love doing it.
I collect vinyl records and have a large library of DVDs… several grad students who teach film courses have borrowed titles from me for their lectures and not returned them. No hard feelings.
I DJed parties and weddings back in the day but don’t have a professional audio set up at the moment. Sound design in theatre and film is also an interest I have that I would like to explore before the days get too short. I need to buy another electric guitar and amp, apparently.
I will be performing in a play with Peter Doyle called “Fielder’s Choice” at the Lyric Theatre this summer. The play is written by David Andreatta of the Democrat & Chronicle, quite a capable actor in his own right. The director is Don Bartalo. I respect all of these men a great deal and could not be more excited.
I am working on a rap EP with local MC Zach Childs, who is a good friend of mine. The end result… should be interesting.
Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?
If I’m clean and paying my bills on time – that’s a fine start.
What advice can you give to aspiring artists/entertainers?
Christ, this will be a long list. Caveat emptor on all of these:
*If you are serious about performing, have your eye to a major metropolitan area like NYC, LA or Chicago. Do your research on what it takes to become Equity, SAG, etc. These are where the money gigs are but you must do your research.
*Establish multiple “home bases.” I have done shows in New York and Pennsylvania. Local non-equity productions, but it has meant a great deal to showcase my draw as a performer and prove my commitment and capabilities. If you are re-locating to a different city for college to student acting, explore opportunities outside of the school’s theatre program for work – local theatre companies in town, Voice over work, local modeling or camera work, etc.
*If you have realized that acting is primarily going to serve as supplemental income or a hobby for you (I am in this boat – no shame!) be aware of what how to transfer a skill set of an actor into a career you enjoy. Anyone who says a theatre degree is a waste is full of shit – the degree holder (ideally) holds great public speaking, critical thinking, writing and problem solving skills. It is up to the degree holder to use them constructively to pay the rent whilst they are waiting for the next cast list to be posting, or the final night of a run to get their check!
You’ve heard the term “triple threat” – but a lot of actors are even upping the ante and learning graphic design or website design, photography, film and video production, or other skills that help enhance their brand as a small business. Me? I love to write, and I have kept an open mind about lots of writing jobs that I have had in the past – journalism, advertisement and copy writing, training/tutorial and instructional copy writing. Sometimes it does get a bit dry, but I approach it with enthusiasm and it becomes something I enjoy doing and will put a good deal of effort into.
*Save your money and do your best to reject extravagance. Fiscal conservatism is challenging because of all the fancy shit they’re rolling out constantly, but let’s face it… the cost of living will just be getting higher, especially in the metropolitan areas where the acting gigs are. I see a lot of people who exclaim “I’m literally broke” but they have nicer shit than me. Am I mad? Not in the least! Saving and investing in your money and realizing how to spend it pragmatically and constructively is a skill everyone should have.
*I can’t claim I lean very far to the right, but the adage “No one is gonna throw good fortune into your lap” is something they like to tout a lot and I try to live by this credo. Everyone has different levels of support – some come from money, others may be on welfare, some people struggle and scrap to make things happen for themselves and they have 7 day work weeks. But you… yourself… you have to answer to that person looking back at you in the mirror at the start and end of each day. These were some tough questions I had to ask myself and decisions I had to make when I was trying to quit booze and drugs.
I’m not going to measure my success against a cat my age with a family, a paid-off home and a boat, and I won’t measure myself against a cat still living with his parents who does drugs all day. I have my own goals, needs and wants… I pursue them as I see fit, revising the plan as needed as I go along. I have missed some major opportunities and “what if’s” but I try not to kick myself over them. Developing a solid work ethic, honing my capabilities, and genuinely affording something unique to these areas I’m passionate about… that’s what’s opening doors for me.
*Show up on time to rehearsals, be nice to your director, your crew and your cast members, maintain your performance as directed, don’t flap your gums incessantly in the dressing room.
How can we follow along in your journey? Social media?
Ask 100 people you pass in the street if they’ve heard of me. You’ll probably only hear one “yes,” but they’ll tell you all you need to know.
The Laffayette Café presents “We Roc R Own Radio” airs Fridays 5 to 7 PM on WAYO 104.3 FM.
Geva Comedy Improv is lurking around the corner at “gevacomedyimprov.org” and “@gevaimprov.”
ALSO ON GEVA