(This article was published in the Life section of The Oklahoman, Monday, April 2, 2012.)
Talent is certainly an element necessary to achieve a successful acting career.
But there is another component that is probably just as important — persistence.
Oklahoma City native Noah Crawford, 17, who stars in the Nickelodeon series “How to Rock,” shared his philosophy on the value of hard work and not giving up during an interview on a recent visit back to his home state.
Crawford, whose credits include playing “Young Earl” on the NBC series “My Name Is Earl” and a supporting role in the film “The Killer Inside Me,” plays Nelson Baxter, the tech-savvy keyboard player and DJ for the band Gravity 5 on “How to Rock.”
The show, which airs Saturdays, is about Kacey Simon (Cymphonique Miller), a popular girl who, after getting ignored when she briefly has to wear glasses and braces, makes new friends by joining the band “Gravity 5.”
On the family front, Crawford has lots of support. His father, Rich, commutes between Oklahoma and California while running his pet sales business, and his mother, Jennifer, and three younger sisters, Bellah, Oliviah and Hannah (also pursuing acting careers), reside in Burbank. His older sister Lindsey lives in Norman.
Here are some of the topics Crawford discussed during our interview.
Q: How did you get your start in acting?
A: I was like 5 or 6, you know, the age when you’re young and you’re just trying everything, like every sport, and everything.
And, I was taking this acting class here in Oklahoma, and it was a day that I, I don’t know, I didn’t want to go. I had some excuse. I was tired or something. I didn’t want to go to acting class.
And, I was a huge “Star Wars” fan growing up, and my mom said to me, she goes, “Well, do you want to be in movies like “Star Wars?” And, it didn’t take me long at all to be like, “Yes, that’s what I want to do.” And she goes, “Well, those guys are actors, so if you keep taking acting classes, maybe one day you will be.”
That’s when it finally, like, it really clicked what I was doing and what acting was really about, and then I never stopped.
Q: You studied with Michelle De Long at ACTS Acting Academy — you must’ve enjoyed that a lot.
A: Yeah, I did. I learned like all of the basics, everything I needed to know. I did some plays and stuff there, and some theater which I really enjoyed. And then some more serious on-camera work, and I learned a lot of, like the terms and everything. And, so, that was great for me starting out, because it really showed me the basics in everything I didn’t know, and that I needed to know, to start.
Q: You were 11 when you were on “My Name Is Earl?”
A: Around 11. I think I was 10 when I booked it, and then 11 when the show started going. That show was a lot of fun ’cause that was one of my first big gigs in California.
I learned a lot on that show, too, ’cause you can only learn so much in classes. A lot of it’s through experience like working, so that was really fun. I had a blast on that show.
Q: How is working on “How to Rock?”
A: It’s awesome. I love comedies, and I love multicamera comedies with an audience, because we get to film in front of an audience, and their energy affects what we do so much.
The show’s a lot of fun. I get to do a lot of physical comedy, which I really enjoy.
Q: What’s ahead for Nelson?
A: You can expect more about Nelson’s crush, which is on the character Grace, that will be explored a little bit more in episodes coming up.
You can expect some more performances. We usually have a song and a performance like every other episode or so.
You can expect a lot more of Kevin and Nelson and their goofy adventures and Nelson’s inventions.
Q: Would you talk a bit about your musical side?
A: Maybe two years ago I started teaching myself piano because we had a piano, and I was always really interested in it. I always thought it was a really beautiful instrument, and there were a lot of songs, like classical music, that was on piano that I really liked.
So, I started teaching myself, just random, like I’d YouTube “how to play” and then a random theme from a movie that I really liked. And, I’d teach myself that. But, I was no Beethoven or anything. I wasn’t awesome.
When I got this show, they decided that Nelson would be playing keyboard, and, so, I was like, I’d better start practicing. So, I started taking lessons, and I’m learning more. I really enjoy it. I can’t read music perfectly yet, but I’m working on that.
Q: What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
A: If this is what you really, really want to do, you’ve always got to give it your 100 percent, always, because if you only give it 50 percent every time, you’ll never get anywhere.
You always have to give it your 100 percent, and then you have to keep at it, because you will hear “no” a thousand more times than you’ll hear “yes.” That’s one thing I’ve had to face is a lot, a lot, a lot of rejection.
It takes like forever, and it’s never instant. Getting the part’s just half the battle, because then the show cannot be picked up, stuff like that, so I’ve shot a lot of pilots that haven’t gone.
You may hear a story of someone going to California and a director sees them in the grocery store and says, “I want you in my movie.” That never happens.
Maybe it’s happened once, like ever, but it’s very rare, so you can’t expect that. You have to expect to work hard and start out really small and just keep building your resume and just keep going at it.
– Melissa Hayer
Follow me on Twitter: @MelissaHayer