Interview with actor David H. Stevens: On teaching and Attitude – Part 2

Written by | The Business of Acting

We return to our interview with David H. Stevens. He offers up his thoughts on teaching, why some people should act while others shouldn’t and shares his advice on how to be rehired as an actor.

Part I of this article was published last month and is available here.

RG: You are now teaching. What are your greatest joys and frustrations as a teacher?  

DS: As part of my ongoing quest to master the craft of acting, I have taken the advice of my martial arts instructor, who explained that to reach the highest degrees of black belt, one must teach what he has learned. I find that putting into words the things I have learned and seeing the growth in a new actor has improved my game immensely. It is hard, though, sometimes, as I find some students who just do not seem to have the creative talent to compete and I am forced to be honest with them and encourage them to explore other options. I also wonder sometimes if I am inspiring people to commit to a life of an artist, and it worries me because if they do, it is often a long, hard road full of wonder and magic, but also very frustrating and difficult at times.

RG: Give me some reasons why people should act and some why they shouldn’t.

DS: You should act only if you have to; if there is something else you love that you can do well, then do it. You should act if you love being part of a team. If you are looking to be a “star,” you are in it for the wrong reasons. You should act if you are good at it and keep on until you are great. Just loving it, though, is not enough. If you are not working, you may want to face the music.

David H. Stevens as Jesse James in AMC’s The American West Photo Credit: Lawrence French/Getty Images For AMC

RG: What is THE role that you haven’t done yet?

DS: I don’t have one. I have been fortunate over the years that the role I am playing at the time seems to fit into what is right for me at the time.

RG: Why have you teamed with

DS: Easy: Catrine asked me to. One of the things that has made her such an excellent producer and casting director over the years is her ability to find the best person for the job, and since she asked me, then that must mean it is me (laughs). Just kidding; she does have that knack, but more than that has been her unyielding desire to teach and uplift everyone who has ever come before her in any capacity. If a young actor has a mediocre audition, she is the kind of person that will send them out the door with something constructive to work on instead of the usual dismissal one often finds in this business. I have a similar attitude and enjoy seeing young actors improve and succeed, and I know that this forum is an excellent opportunity to do so. Also, I get better by being able to put my experience into words, and I have already grown from simply being a part of this endeavor.

Be the kind of person and actor that filmmakers cannot work without, and you will find success.

RG: Do you have any final thoughts that you would like to convey to our readers?

DS: It is impossible to make a film great by yourself. Seek out films that have a collection of talent and believing that the film can be excellent. It does take the whole team. A great script, a great director, a great cast, a great editor, a great producer, and a great crew. When you are working, look around at how hard everyone else is working and be the kind of actor who is looked at the same way. If you have a great attitude, a humble demeanor, and a sincere dedication to being excellent, you will not only succeed on that job but you will be asked to do it again. A good friend who works all the time once told me that a career is not made of hires, but of rehires. Be the kind of person and actor that filmmakers cannot work without, and you will find success.
Editor’s Note: You can ask David your acting questions in our column, Close Up with David H. Stevens.


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Last modified: August 13, 2017

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