Interview: Francesco Antonio on Acting, Not Giving up and ‘Wayne’

Source: IMDB

How much do we know about the new actors? The actors who are future stars, but today they are just another name in the credits we see? And that’s the main problem the new generation actors face when they must convince us that they are worthwhile of our attention and that as actors, they are no worse than those who sell more tickets in cinemas.

But with all the Online Streaming Platforms, all that misconception changes. As of today, every actor matters, every small role is big enough to talk about, every name deserves to be known, and every movie that’s out there gets at least one viewer which is more than enough.

So who’s Francesco Antonio? Born and raised in Toronto, he is not only pursuing a career in acting, he writes screenplays, directs, and produces. His recent portrayal of Reggie in Youtube Premium’s ‘Wayne‘ has been seen by millions. The role he portrayed may not as big as the titular, but grand enough for you to learn about.

You might have heard of Mr. Antonio getting closer to becoming one of Canada’s up and coming stars, so did I. However, after getting a chance to interview him over the phone, I realized he indeed deserves to be called not only as a rising star but as an individual who truly loves what he does, be it acting, writing, directing in the cinematic world.

MOVIEMOVESME:  You star in Youtube Premium’s ‘Wayne’. Can you talk about Reggie and why he is so significant for a titular character?

Francesco Antonio: Yeah, Reggie is like the ultimate antagonist. He is not a nice guy, gold teeth, tattoos, and the thing about Wayne is this kid is almost indestructible, but Reggie ends up being his match. I think that it’s a fantastic show, I was honored to be a part of it, but Reggie has definitely got to be one of the most interesting characters I’ve ever played and I feel like I could have done even so much more with it, it was fantastic.

MOVIEMOVESME: As a screenwriter and actor, you not only wrote the screenplay for “Addiction” but also starred in it. How was it moving from the writing stage to portraying the character you wrote?

Francesco Antonio:  Great question. I mean, easy but also difficult because I feel like, you know, when you write something, you understand it one way but then when you’re acting it’s completely different and those words become more of a translation. So, fighting myself on what I wrote but what I felt in the moment was definitely an interesting experience. But Addiction was the first little project that I did myself and I won so many awards worldwide and it meant so much to me because I had all those roles as a writer and director and I was acting in it. I put my heart into it. So yeah, definitely an interesting process.

MOVIEMOVESME:  And if to go back to the writing again, do you think those kinds of transitioning moments help to improve not just the writing of the character but improves the entire story as well? Because during the production it’s different.

Francesco Antonio:  Absolutely. Yes, absolutely and that’s why I love working with producers and writers and directors who are open to collaboration, which most are because at the end of the day, you know, somebody may write something but when the actor has an interpretation, it would be wrong not to also take notice of that and let that influence either the writing or if it’s a TV series, the next episode and the storyline. So for example, even in ‘Wayne’, you know, Reggie was supposed to be a small character in like, one episode, but we had so much fun together and I found this really crazy interesting complex character with all these layers, and the writers continued to write me in and then they would write in things that I would do that were my choices, so you know, if you watch ‘Wayne’, Reggie always has a toothpick in his mouth, doesn’t matter what he’s doing which is something that I did, but they continued to write that in. That made the story, you know, at least my story, better.

So, it’s a beautiful process when you get to collaborate with writers and directors and producers on that organic level because everybody’s interpretation is different but if we’re all honest, and we all really listen to people’s natural interpretation of things, I think that’s where we find the most honest work, and the best work.

MOVIEMOVESME: Who are the characters you’re interested in portraying?

Francesco Antonio: That’s such a good question. I mean, I could just say, you know, I like characters like Reggie, characters like Ndraghetta Henchman in “Bad Blood”, you know, gangsters, but I can also say who I want them to be, I think I want characters that I play to kind of be versions of myself, obviously to the extreme, but I think my job as an actor and the most exciting roles that I get to play are ones that I can draw parallels between the character and myself, again, to the extreme. Have I ever had a pet alligator and do I wear gold teeth? No, but Reggie does have these things at an extreme level that, again, I can draw upon in my own personal life. So, the most interesting characters to me that I’ve played and the ones that I wanna continue to play are, again, versions of myself in whatever form that they take.

MOVIEMOVESME: We live in an era of online streaming platforms like Hulu, Facebook Originals, YouTube Originals, Netflix, and so on. And as this universe is growing, it also helps actors or their persona, or perhaps the roles they portray to boost interests from viewers, so it’s like you’re liking the page and the more clicks you get, the more people are interested in it, and they keep coming back. How much do you think online streaming is really good for the film industry or for the actors?

Francesco Antonio:  I love what’s happening online and I’ll tell you why. Look there are people and I’ve been that way where you love the true form of cinema and film, television, and nothing can beat it and you know, whatever, but the truth is that online streaming is innovating and changing the game, and it also provides a lot more jobs for people in the industry, actors included, crew, whatever, it’s just giving us another platform, and to be honest with you, I find that cable television is really starting to die, which is an unfortunate thing, I’m sad about it, but there’s a reason. Who am I to say what that reason is? I mean, I have my own interpretations, but it definitely has to do with the fact that streaming is instant, it’s the internet, it’s worldwide. ‘Wayne’ for example, 17 million views, huge. Some cable TV shows don’t do that, you know? In an episode, in a season, whatever.

 It’s because they have this huge platform already that they’re able to reach millions of people across the globe. So, now they’re creating more jobs, they have a better platform, and they’re providing the people who are part of their shows, actors, to be seen by millions of people, it’s great exposure. I think the lottery right now is to get a gig on a streaming platform, regular recurring series because, again, the exposure is fantastic, the relationships are lifelong and like you said, some of these topics we can talk forever on because I’m passionate about it, but it’s also given filmmakers a better chance of creating their own content, it’s another platform for them to pitch to. And so you see all these people that maybe wouldn’t have had a shot to get in the door, in the room with a big network, but then they had a shot with one of these streaming platforms and boom, they have a hit show worldwide.

So, I love online streaming. It’s a fantastic new platform and I hope it continues to grow.

MOVIEMOVESME: We live in Canada and I’ve seen so many struggles in actors; some of them are doing a part-time job and then they go after work, at night to do casting and they’re not being paid. They work hard but at some point, they just give up like, “Maybe it’s not my thing.” What would you tell, given your young age, to those who give up their dream to become an actor?

Francesco Antonio:         Yeah. I get asked this question all the time. I just went back to York University which is the school I graduated from to talk to the first year students, and I had the same conversation with them. I went through that, I know I’m young but I went through all of that, I mean I worked, at one point, you know, three restaurant jobs at the same time, started my own business, trying to make money there. I won’t even get into all of the things that I did in a year and all the moments of feeling extremely overwhelmed, sitting there and thinking, “How am I gonna do this self take? I just worked 14 hours. My hair hurts. How am I gonna do this?” Or, “I’ve gotta go to this audition but I’m not gonna make this shift, and I won’t have the money so I can’t do the audition.” You make those decisions when you’re scared, and although, you know, I have other conversations where if they fear it’s good, we should let our fear guide us, fine.

My point is because people are so afraid to fail and because there’s this misconception that we’re limited, we can only do what maybe our parents tell us to do, or what society tells us to do, and some things society has told us is not possible is becoming an actor. Okay? That’s not true, it is possible. The only thing you have to do is actually work hard at it. So for those actors sitting there thinking they’re gonna give up, the first question I want them to ask themselves is, “Am I working hard enough?” If you are, fine, skip section A, go to section B and that’s a conversation about, look, it is possible and you need to keep doing it and believing in yourself, and making the decision that you just wanna do it. But section A is, there are still a million people that want to be actors and all of them are putting in the work, so you still have to make sure you put in the work.

But I will tell you that working through restaurant jobs and when I was in this point in my year where I was like, “There are a million things I want,” and I was really stressed. I had to just stop and do my checklist, by A and B and say, “Wait a second, what am I doing here? If I wanna be an actor, forget it. That’s what I’m gonna do.” And I dropped everything except acting and I just focused on that, I gave myself a couple of months, I said, “I saved up this money, these two months, I’m only acting. That’s what I’m doing. I’m not giving up, I’m an actor.” And I branded myself online, you’re presenting yourself well, you’re investing in yourself.

I had to stop everything and I just acted and then things really started to pick up because I focused on that and I told myself there was no other option, there’s no backup plan, there’s no, “I’ll just pick up an extra shift”, I’m only doing this. So I’d better book that job because it’s not easy to live but if you work hard, I’m telling you, anything is absolutely possible.

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