Friday, September 4, 2009
Shriner Joseph James is one of 100 contestants chosen to compete in the show "Hell Bent on Hollywood".
He’s reaching for a slice of fame Woodbury student has set sights on becoming the next big reality show star. go to www.helbentforhollywood.com to vote
by Scott Smeltzer /News-Press
Joseph James has his eye on the sky, and he won’t settle for less.
James is one of 100 people out of 2,000 who passed an audition to appear on the “Hellbent for Hollywood” reality show, currently in production.
The show will combine the excitement of “American Idol” with the competitive challenges of “Survivor,” said Jen Markewych, casting director and producer along with John Mitchell. The competition won’t be exclusively on acting skills, she said.
“It is going to be based on what the industry expects of actors, and there will be competitions based on their knowledge and professionalism within the industry,” she said, while declining to mention specifics.
A panel of judges will evaluate the competitors.
“The public can also vote for actors online,” she said. “The more votes you have, it’s like a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card. If actors are disqualified, they can use the public votes as a way to get back onto it.”
The show’s purpose is to give the public a glimpse of the real-world struggle of actors coming to Hollywood hoping to be the next TV or film star, Markewych said.
James moved to North Hollywood with his wife and child two months ago and lives near the NoHo Arts District. He’s majoring in communications at Woodbury University after transferring from Clark College in Vancouver, Wash.
“I got my big break when I got the part in ‘Crowley’ with Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser scheduled for release in 2010,” he said. “That was incredible. Fraser was nice and professional. And it gave me insight into how big movies like that are made.”
He’s been on the sets of 10 films or TV shows, like VH1’s “Tough Love” and TNT’s “Leverage.” He’s also learned a lot by performing plays as a member of the Freemasons for more than six years, he said.
“So I feel like I’m living the dream,” he said. “People back home said I’d never be a big star. They said, ‘You’re going to go there and come back or get another type of job.’ I feel I’ve worked hard networking, auditioning and working on acting skills or on location somewhere.”
He is getting a lot of support from his advisor at Woodbury, Edward Clift, James said.
“He was so proud of me,” James said. “He said going from a local level to national level on this show and getting my name identified and my polarity — that is mass media at its finest.”
James’ appearance on this show validates the mission of the university, said Clift, who is associate professor of communication and dean of the School of Media, Culture and Design. That mission is to bring students who want to be involved in creative endeavors to the university and help them interface with the surrounding industries.
“My hope is that more actors come to Woodbury so they don’t have to make an either/or decision about their career,” he said. “If they come to Woodbury, they can go ahead to get a college education while pursuing their creative endeavor.”
James is making all the right preparations for his success, Clift said.
“He’s dedicated, and he’s enrolled in classes dealing with media and entertainment studies, and I think the recipe for success is combining one talent with a self-reflective stance,” he said. Clift has sent out a mass e-mail to his students encouraging them to support their fellow student, James said.
“I’m sure the students will get on board and help me,” he said.
James believes he has the right stuff to become the next big star: He speaks fluent Spanish, and has had sword-fight training and can use a gun.
“So I can do action films or I can also be romantic,” he said. “I can play serious or comedy roles. I’m the complete package.”
He can also take direction, said Marcia McReynolds, his former acting teacher at Clark College.
“I had him for one quarter, and this is what’s remarkable: He had never taken an acting class until January,” she said. “He wanted help with public-speaking skills and caught the acting bug.”
When he started the class, he was great at the tough-guy roles, so McReynolds and the other teacher for the class asked him to find his other side, McReynolds said.
“Any direction you give him, he embodies,” she said.
He’s made great strides, already securing acting gigs in Los Angeles, she said.
“He must have put out 20 applications for colleges [in that area] so he could be there, and when he wasn’t going to school, he’d try to get into the movie business, and in three weeks, he was down,” she said. “With that same machine, he’s applying to this show. He’s so hell-bent, it’s almost scary.”