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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Charley Koontz: 'Acting' In Faith

(Update: Charley Koontz returned to #ConversationsLIVE in March 2015. Listen to that interview here. )

by Cyrus Webb

"It's crazy how when you get on a positive train that things start to open up. The hard thing is getting on the train." Those words by actor Charley Koontz said to me during our interview together I believe sum up not just the way he looks at his career path but the results of the choices he has made.

Known to many by his role of "Fat Neil" on the hit NBC show Community, the actor has been able to take what is a genuine love of the craft and couple it with his desire to bring his best to each and every performance.

His path to success began as so many do, but what has been a large factor in his ability to turn a passion into a career is the faith he had not just in his skills but his ability to bring life into each and every performance.

"I did school plays in elementary school and high school. It wasn't until I went to college (being a film major for 2 years) that I realized I had a passion for  it. (The business) is not really what I anticipated it to be. I did plays in college, met directors and other actors It was at that moment when it stopped being a fun thing and became really great work. I realized this is something I want to do. It's a lot of work, but it's the kind of work that fills you up, makes you want to keep going."

"I knew it was going to be a lot of work, but I didn't understand what kind of work it would be. Like anything else it's hard to know until you're in it exactly what that entails. I have made it by being as genuine as you can be. A lot of it is meeting people and the business aspect, but what matters is the genuine craft of it. I have found that stuff won't be credible or viable unless the craft is there.You get people who come to Hollywood who talk about how fake people are. You need someone to be really genuine. It's the genuine people who are living, It's the thing that's rare."

"When I was growing up I got comfortable with myself early on. The community around me was fantastic. I found that when I got comfortable with me that things like being bullied stayed away. The reason I am able to go into characters like Fat Neil is become I am OK with me. It's really important to know where you are and who you are. You have to be comfortable with yourself if you want to be able to play another character truthfully. I have found that it's important to stay who I am. You appreciate when someone connects with you that way."

"I think the biggest thing is that I don't get pigeon-holed into one thing. It's a privilege to play Fat Neil (Community). He's taking a real journey. I like to be able to have gotten to play a lot of different parts. I don't want people to see me as playing Fat Neil because I'm fat. I want them to know I'm playing this role because there is a character there. I want people to come see me because they want to see my performance and not the way that I look. "

"Don't allow the way you see yourself or the way others see you stop you from going for it. Make that opportunity for yourself. Find the thing that is right in the core of yourself and be really honest with yourself. Go right in there, and if this is something that you can not NOT do then you have to do it. Every moment that you have that you're not out there trying to get exposure or working, as frustrating as it might be, you can see it as time to hone your craft. It's hard, but you owe it to yourself to keep trying."

Stay in contact with everything going on with Charley by following him on Twitter at or on his Facebook fanpage.

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