HOLLYWOOD—HELLO AMERICA! If you are looking to be inspired that any dream is possible, all one has to do is spend some time with actor-musician IRA GOLD. He’s an exciting young guy who makes it very clear that nothing will stop him from achieving his dreams!
Q: Throughout the years, as an actor-singer you don’t never seem to hesitate when faced with a challenge. Is this something you learned at a very early age living in Hollywood?
A: Absolutely. Working in the entertainment industry is full of obstacles. As actors, we compete to get the opportunity to audition and then must compete again in the audition room to book the role. Every step is a challenge. I don’t know if I’d be as resilient without the experience I had growing up in Hollywood. If making it in this industry was easy, more actors would be earning a living in the field. Facing obstacles on the way to success makes me a stronger person, but dealing with success if and when it comes, that will be a welcomed challenge.
Q: You are often pictured jumping out of planes, hiking, and involved in all sorts of sports. What is the fascination with this kind of physical activity?
A: Oh, skydiving! I love it. I also go canyoneering, which is an extreme activity where one descends into canyons using ropes and specialized gear. It’s incredibly scenic and perfect for an off-the-beaten-path adventure. Actually, heights scare me. A lot. I had always wanted to skydive but couldn’t bring myself to do it because I was afraid. In college, I realized that I didn’t want to miss out on things I truly wanted to experience just because I was afraid. So, I forced myself to make the jump and had the most amazing, eye-opening epiphany: that I could overcome a strong obstacle within myself in order to achieve what I truly desired. This is a bit of a metaphor, no? I earned my skydiving license a little later and now voluntarily jump out of planes every few months in order to relax, refresh and reset before returning to the hustle of Hollywood and my chosen field.
Q: Since I’ve briefly couched you as a singer, I know your passion for music and your desire to entertain, who were your influences in the area of music that seriously impacted your determination in becoming a full blown entertainer?
A: Oh wow, that’s a great question! Two musicians, two musicals, and one soundtrack immediately come to mind. Cat Stevens and Weird Al Yankovic are the first two artists I ever really loved. While I didn’t fully understand the underlying messages of Cat Stevens’ lyrics, his music was the first that actually changed my mood while listening to it. It was my first experience with the moving power of music. Weird Al Yankovic was (and still is) absolutely hilarious. My parents took me to several of his shows and I was amazed at his energy and creativity onstage. During car rides, my Mom would play Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera. Apparently, I sang the entire score in the shower for years, much to the neighbors’ chagrin. But, perhaps the most influential musical element in my entertainment career was the soundtrack to the film “Good Morning Vietnam.” The various songs were amazing, but Robin Williams’ monologues were so much fun. They were fast, they were funny and bursting with energy. So I put a few of them together in a monologue (the appropriate ones – I didn’t understand the others anyway) and used it to get my first big agent. I still perform it in the mirror every once in awhile for old time’s sake.
Q: When you first made an appearance on stage in a musical or drama, how did it make you feel? Was it nerve racking or was it thrilling and you realized how much you needed to be on stage or in films?
A: My first experience with a live audience was in front of my neighbors and family at my parents’ house. I must’ve been 5 or 6. I charged the neighbors $1 each to watch me tell jokes from a joke book my Grandfather had given me. They were awful but nobody asked for their dollar back. It was great.
The first time I was actually on stage was in a production entitled, “Hallelujah Horrorwood”. It was a culminating performance of my first musical theater class. We were all dressed up as monsters and I was the Wolfman. It was very cool. There was so much hair glued to my face and it itched, but the experience was more than worth it. To be performing with others, on a stage with music and lights and in front of an audience was a new world for me. I was nervous but the excitement was unparalleled and indescribable. Even as I child I knew I was hooked. But first, I needed to get all that hair off my face.
Q: Because thousands of people are arriving in Hollywood daily reaching for the dream of becoming a star, how difficult is it to make contact with the right people who might offer an opportunity for genuinely talented artists?
A: I’ve found that so many movers-and-shakers who could actually hire an actor for a role, avoid us like the plague. Networking is the name of the game and I can only imagine how inundated many casting directors, directors, producers, and writers are by actors trying to get something from them. I’m very conscious about being “that actor guy.” At the same time, I don’t want to miss an opportunity. If I walk past a coffee shop and see people talking over an open script, I’ll briefly introduce myself, hand them my card and offer my assistance if they ever need an actor to read their work aloud. I keep lists of people I meet including people who have helped me in some way, so that I don’t forget. I strongly believe in the cliché, “It’s who you know,” especially in this industry. I’m not looking to be given anything but an opportunity, and I’m happy to earn it.
Q: How do you handle rejection from casting directors and producers, especially when you know in your gut that the offered role was perfect for you?
A: Rejection and the acceptance of this rejection are imperative. Actually, it would be easier if this rejection was tangible. As actors, we usually aren’t told that we aren’t getting a callback or booking the role. There are just too many of us auditioning for the Casting Director to notify and there’s no time. We are simply not told anything. I may audition for a project tomorrow, not hear anything for 2 weeks, assume I wasn’t right for the role and then get a callback. Or, I may just audition and never hear from the production again. It’s a silent rejection and that’s tough to take, but obsessing over it just makes me question myself and stress out. Learning to accept this and avoid over-analysis is an ongoing process. When I step out of the audition room, I sit in the car for a few minutes and reflect, then tell myself not to think about it again…until my parents ask how the audition was. Repeat the process.
Q: Have you learned much about yourself as a person in contrast to who you were years before you seriously pursued a career as entertainer? Do you feel more complete now or has life and the game of survival become more intense?
A: I was a very lucky guy when I was a teenager and had lots of commercial success. I was also very naïve. After high school, I took 4 years off from the business to attend college (UCSB) and thought I would waltz right back in to the same big agency and say, “Here I am, let’s go!” It didn’t quite work that way. I’ve had successes and tough awakenings right from the “Welcome to Hollywood, now get out” handbook. Lessons learned. I’ve explored other options with career coaches and taken all the job assessment tests known to man in order to see if I’d be interested in pursuing work in other fields but it always comes back to acting. After roughly 10 years of soul-searching, I’m still as invested as ever in my dream. So, in this sense, I feel more complete. I know my purpose, if one in fact exists. This being said, the game of survival intensifies with every year I pursue my passion and the more I struggle, the more intense the desire to succeed becomes.
Q: Are you happy?
A: I’m happy in my persistence of following what I’ve wanted to do since my earliest memory. Watching movies, theater, or television allows us to take a temporary break from reality. I love being a part of that. Looking forward, I hope to have an increasing number of opportunities to continue pursuing acting in the professional realm and to achieve my ultimate goal: to sustain a living as an actor in film and television and be in a production substantial enough that my parents can watch from the house seats of a playhouse, their home couch, or a big, fancy movie theater.