Getting To Know Rick Staropoli; A Staple In The Local Acting Scene

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

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Photos courtesy of Rick Starpoli

Tell us a little about yourself, where you’re from, grew up, what H.S./College you attended etc.

I grew up in the City of Rochester.  I’m one of six kids, and most of us are still in and around the City – so if you meet someone with my last name, they’re a relative!

I went to Boston College, then SUNY Buffalo Law School, and practiced law for six years here in the ROC.  I found that being an attorney was bad for my soul.  (That’s not true for everyone, and there are wonderful attorneys out there, contrary to public opinion!)  I was heading down a dark path with my life.  So I escaped.  Reinvented myself, with major help from family and close friends.

Now?  I live a patchwork life – producing film (mainly through our company, Granville House Media), commercial acting, voice acting, stage acting, and staying active in causes that concern me.

I’m married to my gem of a wife, Tiffany – who also happens to be my business partner.

What inspired you to be an artist/entertainer? Early experiences worth sharing?

I didn’t act from the end of High School until my early 30’s – when I guess I fell back into it.  I didn’t realize how much I was missing it!  The good news is that I was keeping my skills sharp by being a litigating attorney.  It turns out that standing in front of a judge answering questions about your client . . . is IMPROV!  Giving a closing statement at the end of a hearing or trial . . . is PERFORMANCE!  I was using those skills all along, and just needed to redirect them creatively.  Now, nearly everything I do involves acting in some way.  I just ended a ten-year career in corporate training of all sorts – which, of course, is ACTING.rick 1

Talk about a time where you have faced adversity/conflict and have triumphed.

I was diagnosed in 2004 with Multiple Sclerosis.  Instead of dealing with it emotionally, and grieving about it, I internalized the pain . . . and developed full-on depression.  After self-medicating for a while, and sending my life into something of a spiral, I reached the true low point in late 2006, when I tried to take my own life.  Essentially, I hit the Restart button on my life, and began at square one.  I reinvented myself (including my career), using family support, transferrable skills, and the humility of someone who has hit rock-bottom.  Only after many months of rebuilding was I truly well enough to meet my wife Tiffany – the ultimate “new beginning.”rick 2 cropped

What do you believe sets you apart from other artists/entertainers?

I’m not sure that ANYTHING sets me apart from other actors in the ROC scene.  But I can tell you what I think makes me good at what I do . . .

First, I have no fear.

Second, I’ve learned from every human interaction I’ve had, and every (insignificant) struggle I’ve gone through.

And third, I’ve worked with the best.  For example, I recently was privileged to play a small role in a brilliant play (Death of a Salesman at Blackfriars).  I was on stage for maybe 11 minutes, in a three-hour show.  But the cast was absolutely BRILLIANT – so I had a two-month education in the art of great theater!  That’s what it’s all about for me.  I surround myself with talent, so I can absorb.rick 7

Do you have other interests or hobbies?

Sure!  I shoot pool on a team once a week – have even been to Vegas twice for competitions!  I read quite a bit (though it’s mostly audiobooks nowadays).  Tiffany and I travel whenever we can.  And I spend as much time as possible with our families – especially our 14 niblings (the gender-neutral term for niece/nephew).

Any projects you have out or currently working on?

I’m so excited about a show I’m rehearsing for right now!  PUSH Physical Theater is bringing back and updating their version of Dracula this Fall – and I’ll be playing the role of Renfield.  In this version, written by Danny Hoskins of Blackfriars Theater, Renfield is the only true speaking character.  The other six performers on stage create brilliant characters and scenes using their bodies – as only PUSH can do!  We bring the show to several places around the country in October, followed by an eleven-show run at Blackfriars starting Halloween night.rick 8

Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?

If I fast-forward five years, not much changes.  Tiffany and I are still producing film content of all sorts through Granville House Media; I’m still doing some stage and film acting; I do quite a bit of voice acting out of my home studio; and we continue to enjoy the flexibility of being our own bosses (that is, we can each choose WHICH 60+ hours we’ll work this week), so we travel, we spend time with family, and we get out-and-about in ROC!

What advice can you give to aspiring artists/entertainers?

Want to succeed as an actor (film/stage/voice)?

Step One:  LISTEN.  Listen to everything you encounter.  Soak up conversations, podcasts, commercials, shows, lectures – any time you hear people speaking.  I’m confident that any success I’ve had in acting is a direct result of my active listening over the years.

How can we follow along in your journey? Social media?

Sure, I’m on FB (and some other platforms, but not very actively).  Come find me!

SEE ALSO

Revisiting Rochester theater