|Austin-Bergstrom International Airport|
Living My Dream
by Jeremy Denzlinger
I'm often asked questions like: How long have you been an actor? What made you want to get into acting? How did you get started in the business? First time I was ever on a movie set was three summers ago in Houston. I was an extra in the USA Network TV movie titled "A Face to Kill For". I don't even think I knew the call time, only that they were shooting scenes at the Sam Houston Raceway. I showed up and started asking people if I could work. I guess it was a 2nd AD I eventually found that said "Sure, but you didn't even come close to making the call time, so we can't pay you or anything." Man, I was excited. They weren't gonna kick me off the set. For those of you that have never worked in Houston in the middle of the summer, I don't advise it. IT SUCKS. Not only is it incredibly HOT, but the Humidity is usually 100 percent which pushes the heat index up making it feel much hotter than it is. I'm from Southeast TX, so these are conditions to which I was quite accustomed. They would herd us outside to do a take. By the time we finished a take and got herded back in the AC, my clothes were visibly soaked with sweat. All around me, people were cursing and swearing they would never ever do this again. Call me a glutton for punishment, but I've been pursuing the business pretty relentlessly ever since. I moved to Austin summer before last specifically to pursue my acting endeavors. So I guess it's been a total of three years since I got started.
Prior to that my experience was limited to the starring role in my 3rd grade school play, and a really small role in a 5th grade play. I'm from Groves, TX. Where the Hell is that? It's a town of about 16,000, which is surrounded by Pt. Arthur on three sides. It is also just south of Beaumont. Still don't know? It's about as southeast in TX as you can go, bordering Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico, about 100 miles Southeast of Houston. I guess I've always been a performer of sorts. As a high school football player, it was very common for me to perform in front of crowds up to 15,000. Football is a very big deal back home. It was all there was to do. Also, for a jock, I was a surprisingly good dancer. I was recruited by the local dancing school to do some productions with them. At one of our recitals, we performed for as many as 3,000 people. After High School, I got to "Rock Out" on many stages with my band SAY AHHH... Yes, I came up with the name. Pretty cheesy, huh? I love it!
My dancing sort of continued on into college where I did some productions with the college Dance Company. That was my P.E. credits. From there, because of my dancing skills, I was recruited by the Theater dept. to play in West Side Story. We sold out six nights in a row, at 500 each. It was pretty cool. That's the only musical/theater production I've ever been in. For months I had people coming up to me saying "Hey, your that guy with the muscles in West Side Story" or "Hey, your that guy that did the tumbling in West Side Story". No one ever said anything about my acting, but I didn't really mind. I really loved the attention. Hell, the only thing they let me say in the whole 3-hour play was "GOLDTOOTH!!!!" I got it right every time too. They only let me say that because the guy that was scripted to say it quit the production. That's pretty funny. We got to be on live TV, in the papers, and everything. Also somewhere during college, I did a European commercial for Kellogg's Frosted Flakes starring Tony the Tiger and Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwon. I was also a reporter for the college television news show. Nearing the end of college, I just became obsessed with the idea of becoming an actor. However, I just really wasn't interested in doing stage.
They don't make movies in Beaumont, so I had no idea how to go about it. So in my downtime away from work and school, I would spend all my time doing research about the business in the library and on the internet. Little by little, I would find tidbits of info about how to get started in the business. I started to learn about the filmmaking industry in TX, which eventually led me to Houston. I found only one talent agent in Houston that was willing to work with and develop me despite my lack of experience and living out of town. I had so much fire and drive, he said I was getting on his last nerve and if I didn't quit contacting him he would cease to represent me and drop me from the agency. I discovered a non-profit Acting School in Houston that taught the classes that I was looking for pretty inexpensively. So, I began to drive back and forth to acting classes in Houston a few times a week. I continued on-camera training, in improvisation, auditioning, cold reading, scene study, characterization, etc., while at the same time going to every audition and working every job I possibly could. Once I felt I'd established myself in the Houston market, I was ready to try Austin.
I started driving out there whenever I got the opportunity. Soon after, I had representation there also. One evening I got the first audition call from my new agent about a Sea World commercial in San Antonio. I dropped everything I had going on and drove the 285 miles (one way) for my shot. At that audition, some guy came up from behind me and said "Excuse me, are you Jeremy Denzlinger?" I about shit on myself. Here I was nearly 300 miles away from home, in a city I'd never been to (In my extremely sheltered life), and some guy knows my name. Turns out it was Trant Batey. He had just taken over the helm of this organization called the Film Alliance in Austin and had seen my headshot around. It made me feel really good, like I was making some progress. I didn't get the Sea World commercial, but that experience taught me a lot. When you're driving alone for 10 hours, you do a lot of thinking. It was the beginning of the realization of the incredibly tough journey I was embarking on and the countless sacrifices I would be making by choosing a life as an actor. I had another revelation as well. If I was going to be driving around the state at a moments notice, I had to get rid of my big red neck gas guzzling truck and get a more economical vehicle. When I got home, I traded in my full size Chevy truck and got a Honda Civic. I'd rather be getting 35 miles per gallon rather than 15, right? Good thing cause I put 80,000 miles on that car in the next two years I had it driving around the state. LOOKOUT WORLD, cause I just got my first passport!!!!
Soon after purchasing the car, I was working out in my Pt. Arthur gym when I got the call on my cell that I was being offered a featured extra role as the "Orange Glove Guy" in the Warner Bros. Feature film "Any Given Sunday" which would require a 30 day commitment and I had to be on location in Dallas the day after tomorrow. I said to the casting director, "What the heck is the Orange Glove Guy?" Before she could reply I said, "WAIT, I'LL DO IT!!!!" I hung up that phone and just went nuts. I starting running around the gym, jumping and screaming in excitement. Everyone was looking at me like the freak I was. I didn't care. I had much bigger problems now. I was a broke-ass college student. I was making like $6.50/hr working as an Asst F&B manager at the Holiday Inn in Beaumont. I was also enrolled in the last two college classes I needed to graduate from Lamar University with my Bachelors in Foods, Nutrition, and Dietetics, and minor in Hospitality Management. The next day, I gave my resignation to Holiday Inn and I worked out a deal with my Dept. Advisor at school. She agreed that I could take an "I" (incomplete) for the semester and make up my assignments to finish the courses in the following semester. My sister and her husband live in Azle, TX, which is about 15 miles or so NW of Fort Worth. It's not exactly close to Dallas, but it's the best I can do. I called her up and the conversation went something like this:
ME: Hey Sis, I'm coming to visit you.
She did call back, with good news of course. So I broke out a credit card I was saving for the right day, loaded up the car (the hatchback is so convenient), filled up the tank, and headed out on that 51/2-hour road trip to Dallas. The experience of me staying with her that month wasn't what she expected at all. We were filming 6 days a week. I was gone before they got up in the morning. I got home long after they were in bed at night. So it was like I wasn't there at all. Basically, we got to spend time together on Sunday.
When we finally wrapped at the end of the month, I was extremely exhausted; mind, body, and spirit. Never the less, I knew what I was going to do next. It was time for me to make a move, literally. For a time I had considered Houston, but my instincts were really telling me Austin. Austin is centrally located in the state, which would cut out a lot of my driving between the other markets like Dallas and Houston. Also, Austin is a very eclectic town. They are very supportive of the arts. You can do just about anything you'd like to do there. A lot more film production goes on in Austin than anywhere else in the state. This is where I need to be!!!! I called my best friend in Austin. He said, "Come on". So again I loaded down the hatchback and headed out to Austin. At this time, places to live in Austin were pretty difficult to find, especially if you need something moderately priced. I stayed on the couch in a one-bedroom apartment for two months with my friend, his girlfriend, and his 8 computers until my apartment was ready for me to move in. He is absolutely one of the most generous and unselfish people I know and I'll never forget that. And so, I've been in Austin ever since.
As an actor to date, I've been involved in over 50 projects, which span independent films, studio feature films, TV movies, Music Videos, Commercials, Industrials, and stage. Did I miss anything there? When I look back, I know that I've definitely gone to some extremes to make this acting thing happen. But will I push even harder? Even further? You bet your ASS I will! This business is the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning and the last thing on my mind when I go to sleep at night, only to dream about it again. It's the only reason I allow myself to deal with another obnoxious drunk at my bar, so I can live to make another movie. There's nothing more gratifying than to be able to do work that truly affects people. It's my passion. It consumes me. I am lucky, as there are people who'll never feel that way about anything in their life. It's been a helluva ride with many thrills and spills along the way. I've met a lot of great people and friends and some incredible assholes too. However, there's one thing of which I'm absolutely certain and I know I'll never regret. I am living. "Living my Dream!"