A Pre-Law graduate turned screen actor. Will Blagrove started out working on commercials for companies as McDonalds, Sprint, KFC, MTV, ESPN, Showtime and countless others! Will's goal has always been to branch out onto the silver screen and his commercial success has, no doubt, helped to launched his film career.
At St. John's University, Will took an active role in the arts and was elected Vice President of the school's theatre community. He wrote, directed and acted in several plays and has been unable to shake the acting bug ever since.
With his experience, education and boundless enthusiasm, Will has begun successfully carving out a career and making his mark as a respected screen actor.
Will sat down with us to discuss how he got started and how he stays busy!
Melanie Novy: As a Pre-Law graduate, what made you want to switch gears and become an actor?
Will Blagrove: While studying for the LSAT tests to go to law school, I was auditioning for commercials on the side. One day, I landed a commercial for UNCF directed by Spike Lee. I’ve always loved movies, so I figured, if a big movie director saw something in me, I might as well give it a try. The rest is history.
MN: Once that was decided, where did you begin?
WB: I had always been studying with different acting coaches in New York, whenever I got a big audition in between classes (St. John’s University). Although it was after I graduated and my commercial career began to take off, I decided to really take acting seriously an enrolled in a conservatory program (William Esper Studio).
MN: Did it click for you immediately or do you remember that moment when you discovered yourself as an actor?
WB: I’ve actually had several moments. Although, I remember one specific time when I was in class, I did a scene where my teacher, Bill Esper, really pushed me to the limit. And it freaked me out when I was coming out of the scene. His response, “Yeah…yeah…and that’s what it takes to be an actor. Are you sure you’re ready for this?” And the ‘Taurus’ in me was like, pssch, yeah!! Meanwhile underneath, I was like, nooo nooo. Law school, por favor.
MN: You have a great reputation on set and have gained many industry contacts. How do you present yourself on set and how do you use these connections to help your career?
WB: It’s still fun to me. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the business of acting, which I still think is a necessity since it is a business. However, I think it’s because I haven’t forgotten the reason why I got into this. Playing different roles, keeping a willingness to learn, and create great storytelling, is fun to me. So by the time I’m on set (I’m smiling just thinking about it), I’m in such a good mood, I think it’s contagious to those around me. I gravitate towards people like that on set, and just keep in touch. Furthermore, I try to see what I can do to help their career in whatever field. Not necessarily always actors. Cause there’s nothing like the feeling of helping someone achieve their dream.
MN: How important is an actor's relationship with their agent?
WB: An actors relationship with their agent is clutch. If they don’t get you, how can they sell you. I’ve gained much more success by having a solid relationship with my team. Furthermore, I’ve always thought of getting an agent like dating. In the beginning, you two don’t really know each other, ya kinda “freelance.” Over the course of time, your relationship begins to grow. You get to know one another, and hopefully it’s the right fit where you two stay together. You’re loyal to each other, you have each others back thru the ups & downs of a normal relationship, and you grow together. So many people, stay in relationships that they’re not happy in, yet at the same time forget, relationships take work on both ends. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
MN: You have been signed with some top agencies. What do you feel the pros and cons are about being signed with a large agency vs a boutique agency?
WB: I think it’s what you make of it. I’ve been signed to both a boutique and a large agency for yearssss. (Well…maybe not that long ). It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle of a large agency since they have a large client list. A boutique agency can focus and cultivate a more personal relationship with their roster that is short & selective. A large agency will probably garner more appointments than a boutique, but if an actor doesn’t book jobs, they’re more susceptible to being dropped because it’s expensive to carry a long client list. Again, for me, I’ve always focused on having a strong relationship with my team. It helps me avoid, getting lost in the shuffle of a big agency, meanwhile having a focused amount of attention on my career from a boutique. I love my reps. I try not to work with anyone I wouldn’t want to get a beer with. Although, it’s whatever works for you. I prefer to be able to joke with my agents outside of work so it doesn’t feel so “suit & tie.” For others, that may work better. As long as progress is being made, it doesn’t matter. To each is own.
MN: You are always busy, whether on set or off. What do YOU do for yourself to make sure you continue to work and keep on your agent’s radar?
WB: Welp, we’re in the digital age. So sometimes, I might connect to my rep thru social media with my latest commercial, film & tv role, or even charity I’m involved in. Social media is a great way to keep your agent in the loop without bothering them while they’re trying to do their job and get you an audition. If I’m in a play/indie film that’s getting some great performance reviews, I might put together an EPK of everything that they can use to pitch me for future projects. If the project is really good, I’ll try to get them comp tickets to come see it. Usually theaters and film festivals have a publicity department that allow for a select few industry guests or I can just pay it out of pocket. And then there’s the occasional email, to let them know, I might’ve recently met a show runner/producer/casting director of a series I know we’ve been trying to get in for. And try to connect them to each other. Or maybe I went to a seminar on commercials and if I got a chance to strike a real conversation with the guest, my agent can followup with them for future work. I’m always trying to see what I can do to help make my rep’s job easier. Actors can be a handful, so the more we can do to help, the better. Teamwork makes the dream work, baby!
MN: What are a few recent projects that people can watch you on?
WB: I play a FBI agent in ABC’s 2nd episode of “Quantico”, I play Sharlto Copley’s friend/superhero in Playstation Networks’ 5th episode of “Powers”, and I’ll be appearing in the upcoming season of Netflix’s tv show Bloodline.
MN: What has been your favorite job? Favorite actor to work with?
WB: My favorite job was working on Batman v. Superman. When I moved to Hollywood, I printed out the Warner Brothers logo on my wall right next to my bed and everyday I woke up, I reminded myself that one day, I’d fulfill my dream of working on a WB movie. Something about those initials ;) Then it happened. Not overnight, but eventually that dream came true. Again, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Favorite actor to work with, would have to go to Shailene Woodley. I got a chance to play a Dauntless soldier in the first installment of the Divergent franchise, she’s the star of, and she’s probably the most genuine person I’ve ever worked alongside. Within seconds of meeting her, she introduced herself with a big hug, then follows up with the usual greetings and salutations, “Hi my name’s Shailene.” But by that point, you feel like you’ve known her your whole life. To be in her position, on such a high budget set and have that attitude, I’d definitely vote her as my favorite actor to have worked with.
MN: Marketing is so important for an actor. How important do you feel social media is? How do you manage it? What are your favorite and most effective ways to market yourself?
WB: Social media is definitely important these days. I’m a pretty private person when it comes to my personal life, so I’m still learning how to navigate promoting your professional career without sounding like a complete douche. Cause nobody wants to hear about an actor talking about their acting jobs all the time. Even an actor. I have a lot of basketball fans on twitter for my role as Jackson Ellis in the NBA2K games, so I tend to get wrapped up in the playoffs via twitter. Instagram has become my new friend, cause everyone loves a good picture or short video. I’m still learning the whole game but between Facebook and all the other million sites that are popping up daily, it’s definitely a great way for fans to keep up with your work and/or retweet someone’s funny video.
MN: Do you have any advice for new actors just starting out?
WB: Just do what you love. And keep doing…what you love.
MN: Lastly, who's your favorite agent? Ha-ha! I'm kidding!
WB: Novy baby, yeahh!! (Austin Powers vo)