Last season we began our “Actors’ ExPats” series – interviews with folks who once were involved with Actors’ but had since moved away. This year, as we move our 30th Season, we are going to take that idea and expand on it. We are going to be celebrating some of the many, many people who have made this theatre such a success!
So, we’ll be interviewing all kinds of folks, from those that helped start Actors’ in the very beginning to those who are helping out today; people who have moved from West Michigan and those who are active in Grand Rapids theatre now. Our goal is to get to know some of the amazing people who have graced our stage, from acting to directing to everything in between. This is an opportunity to take a look at the past and also look to the future – and why Actors’ Theatre has been a passion for so many.
This week we talk to Air Force Serviceman, actor and voice talent Aaron Fryc. From Grand Rapids to Washington DC to California, Aaron has been across the country serving in his dual roles. We got a chance to talk to him about how a guy from GR ends up traveling with the President and the First Lady and appearing in such movies as National Treasure 2, The Bourne Ultimatum and many more!
Aaron, when did you decide you wanted to become an actor?
I don’t know if I ever decided to be an actor. I think I always acted crazy and it just made sense that the only place where it made sense to fit in was acting. Does, that make sense? I mean, I was a very energetic kid, always doing funny voices and hamming it up. I always enjoyed making people laugh and really got into lightening the situation. It was only until later in life that I realized that this was actually acting.
After graduation from the Colorado Institute of Art, I moved back to Grand Rapids and I became a photographer’s assistant. I was freelance and worked for many different photographers and many different types of projects from product to fashion. Oftentimes that would put me in contact with models and/or actors for various shoots. Having done various plays in high school and college and having a deep passion for acting, I gravitated more toward the talent and would chat them up (much to my boss’ displeasure) and pick their brains on classes and the biz. It was on one particular shoot I had to actually sit in and be a talent at a restaurant where I met the late Scott Dawe. He told me about this wonderful guy Fred Sebulske and this group called Actors’ Theatre. He also said they had this workshop they put on for acting. I later took the class, quit photography all together and became a full time actor/voice over talent in GR.
What were some of your favorite shows?
It’s hard for me to say which were my favorite shows, as I’m sure any actor will tell you. I had the pleasure of being cast in shows that required me to play multiple characters; Shows like Our Country’s Good, and Travels With My Aunt. These types of shows taught me so much and were so fun to perform! I did get to run naked across Circle’s stage for Vast Difference. I would be interested in hearing if that was anyone ELSE’S favorite show! Of course, as anyone will tell you, any show that I was onstage with my best friend, Greg Rogers, would have to have been my favorite. I think we’ve done nine shows together! Sorry, I had to “mug for the camera” on that one!
What does Actors’ Theatre mean to you?
It’s hard to put in words what Actors’ Theatre means to me because it is such an emotional place for me. Especially since I’m going through some stuff right now. It was and is such a wonderful place in my life that I don’t know where to begin. It taught me the honesty of the character and the script. About how to truly connect with your audience. Regardless of the director or the show, this was always the case. I attribute that to Actors’ as an institution because of their ideals and how they select their directors and plays. I do know what it means to GR as well. It means a place where good theatre can be explored and celebrated. I know of no other place that allows such freedom to this. I hope it continues for many years to come.
What do you think you gained from doing community theatre in Grand Rapids?
I learned that Grand Rapids has a wealth of talent that most people don’t even realize. It’s funny that people judge talent or success these days by IMDB alone. When I say I’m an actor, or a member of the Screen Actors Guild, the first thing people ask is, “Are you on IMDB?” It’s pretty sad. The people in Grand Rapids may never get anywhere near the camera or do any more than one show but I tell you, that one show will stick with more than one person. They will wow a room full of people and THAT is what a good actor does. Grand Rapids is full of good actors-period.
So, what have you been up to lately?
I’ve actually had somewhat of an interesting sidetrack from theatre after GR. In ’99 I was in “61*”, directed by Billy Crystal. Although I was just an extra, he gave me a line and that allowed me to get in to SAG. From ’99 –’01 I was seriously considering moving to LA to give it a shot when the World Trade Center was bombed. I was actually filming a TV commercial on Alpine when it happened and I remember watching it in the lobby. Long story short, I sold my car and voice over studio, enlisted in the Air Force and put the Acting on hold.
I just recently ended a tour in DC with the White House Communications Agency in which I traveled the world with the President, Vice President, First Lady and Secret Service. I was responsible for all of their secure satellite communications. This small town Grand Rapids guy even had full access to the entire White House and could even park there! Ask Greg Rogers! During my time in DC I was finally able to afford the initiation fee for SAG and appeared in National Treasure 2, the Bourne Ultimatum, Body of Lies, State of Play, the Wire, America’s Most Wanted and most recently Salt. I am currently serving in Vandenberg Air Force Base California. However, along with my other Air Force citations I proudly display my letter from SAG saying I have been transferred to the Hollywood Branch! I have been able to set up my home voice over studio once again and have been doing voice-overs. I have even had the opportunity to voice “The History of Buckley Air Force Base” during my time there. It was a video shown to the top brass during a presentation. They thought the History Channel guy did it! Nice! I look forward to the day where I will be back to doing it full time. Until that day, I continue to serve proudly but I’m always aware of where my passion truly lies.
To read more about Aaron Fryc and see a video clip of him in action, see this article: Who’s Who (in the Background) from the Washington Post.