I recently interviewed actor/producer David Serero. David has been in the industry for over ten years starting in Europe, and ultimately working in New York City. His extensive experience in the world of theater gives him a lot of insight into the industry. He recently produced an abridged version Shakespeare’s “The Merchant Of Venice” that had a successful sold out run at the Center For Jewish History in New York City. He went on to explain to me the importance of producing and casting in the theater industry that can lead to more opportunities to stand out in this industry.
Christian Roberts: What is the best way to stand out in theater?
David Serero: Follow your instinct, and make sacrifices. Be patient, humble, yet productive. I personally focus mostly on how to give the best show that I can whenever I’m performing. Whether it’s through a show that I’m cast in or that I produce, or in front of a camera. I do it because I really want to entertain the audience and want to work with amazing actors and colleagues. I don’t think that it’s a question of budget to put on a great show, but rather creativity, engagement, passion and commitment. I grew up artistically watching theater with small set. A table, for example, would be everything from a house to a car. I like of course big budget productions, but it’s also very interesting to find the creativity into a smaller productions.
Roberts: How long have you been working in theater?
Serero: I’ve been working professionally for the past 15 years. First as an actor, then singing musicals, and then people told me that I have a voice for opera. I enjoyed a large career in Opera until its slight collapse in 2008/9 because its budget depends mostly on patrons and sponsors but little on ticket sales and investors as it is for Broadway and Films. I started to do concerts with a “special touch” which became very popular. I have performed over 1000 concerts to this day. In my native France I started to produce and to put shows together and to create Festivals. I was fortunate to play Don Quixote from Man of La Mancha in Paris, which was big success. I created my own record label and signed various artists such as Jermaine Jackson (brother of Michael Jackson) and produced his last album of Jazz Standards, and I even did a duet with him. And then after moving to New York, I got engulfed with straight theater with a “special touch”. I love to create shows and if work doesn’t come to me, it’s me that goes to the work.
Roberts: So essentially you create your own content in the theater world?
Serero: Yes, I love to create my own content even with well-known classics. I’m passionate about people. I want to give joy and entertainment to people. Singing to people is a way to express my love to them. The problem in Europe is that you have almost more shows than audience! At least in New York you have a larger audience who wants to see shows. But they are trained and educated to see the best shows because all the best talents worldwide in theater come.
Roberts: A lot of actors think L.A. is where the heart of Show Business is. Do you agree with that?
Serero: It’s depends more where it’s happening for you. Today New York is where it’s more happening for me. There is theater, opera, musicals and more and more films. I love New York so much! I have no problems to live in L.A but since October 2014, I did the lead in more than 25 independent films and also commercials for Sotheby’s and eBay..etc. What more could I dream to?
I’m happy as long as I can practice my profession.
Roberts: You seem to be an avid fan of Shakespeare.
Serero: I love Shakespeare! Huge Fan! Shakespeare is a brand that can be valued all over the world. To associate yourself with this brand is good. I’ve just played Shylock (The Merchant of Venice) and I’ll do it again in January at Center for Jewish History for the American Sephardi Federation, where I’ll be performing Nabucco (Verdi’s opera Nabucco), and the lead role of Shakespeare’s Othello. This season I also played King Edward (Richard III) and Lewis the Dauphin (King John) by Shakespeare.
Roberts: How important is the casting process when you produce a show?
Serero: I need to have the right actors that I need/want for each roles otherwise I can’t do the show. Actor’s choice is the most important. I don’t cast an actor just because he was only one that was available that day and agreed to do the part. I’m very snobbish to always cast the best ones. Voice projection is very important for me, at least in my productions. I don’t look often at the resume or the credits but the most important is the personality and the expression on stage and what he can do today, not what he did. If it’s a Shakespeare part I don’t even care if he played it before, but more what he can bring to the part. I usually get credit for good casting and finding the right talent for the right part. I had a teacher who said “If you are a good guy in life, you will be a good guy on stage. And the opposite is true.” So it’s important to have the best persons in life as well.
Roberts: How do actors sell themselves?
Serero: Actors don’t understand the concept of “selling” themselves. They don’t see it as a business but it’s likely one. They have to think, as they are their own company. You have to be honest about yourself. And analyze, correct and criticize yourself. Find the appropriate training, then find the right experience, then you have to see your value. If you don’t get cast for the little jobs, it means you’re not ready yet. Make the right choice in terms of part…etc.
Roberts: What’s the best piece of advice you can give to an actor?
Serero:Be yourself. Why? The others are already taken! By being yourself you become unique! Be respectful to your colleagues. Know your lines! Know your market. Keep working. Prepare well your audition and try to dress up a bit a make your best impression. Also there is no shame to fight (in a good way) to get work. Don’t Photoshop your headshot. Be natural, you want to look like yourself. Most of the time in the U.S, I can’t even recognize who is the actor in front of me and the one on the headshot. In everything you do in life you need at least one of these three things: Experience, Exposure, Money. I always give those three to the actors that are in my productions.