Shrewd & Skillful.
As an actor and more recently as a musician, we learn about Devon's career, insight, and what we can expect from him in the near future.
Let's start with your music. You have streaming albums, Ep’s and acoustic's that you regularly release online. Was music something you always wanted to follow or did it happen later in your career as an actor?
It’s all relative, right? I started acting at 8 so technically music did come in “later” at 15. I began playing guitar on the set of Ned’s, and around 15 started writing songs. Acting is something I need to book a job for, or be in a class, it’s something I need other people to really practice. It’s also something that requires me turning up or down aspects of myself to play the character. Music is something I can do all the time and find my center. Not be a character for someone else’s story, but express something authentic to me. A message I want to send. It is always evolving and deepening. The EP that I am about to release (which was made through crowd-funding) is the project I am most proud of so far. And yet, I already have a bunch of new songs I am ready to start recording.
You’re an artist so the internet is a great tool for someone like yourself to
constantly release new material through social media, youtube, etc.. I get the feeling though that you see the brokenness that comes with a world that is dependent on their phones?
I am broken because of my dependency to my phone. For real. It’s something I am trying to break my habitual, unconscious, attention from. There’s this great group called Brick in Los Angeles, that holds phone-free social events where you turn your phone into a “brick” for two hours by turning it off and locking it away. It’s liberating. And we need more of that. Even though the phone is amazing! And it means I can film great moments. Connect with people. Release music. Record music. Film a video. Find the closest gas station. All the stuff is so great. But it’s hard to not be bothered by how it’s affecting our attention spans and ability to connect with one another in real life.,
Let’s go way back before Ned’s Declassified. How'd you snag your first role in Randall Wallace’s film We Were Soldiers, which went on to gross about 100 million at the box office?
This was when I was still living in my hometown Atlanta, GA. And was one of my first auditions. The family part of the film was going to be filming at Fort Benning, in Columbus, GA. I had to recite the Hail Mary, the Our Father, and sing Happy Birthday or something like that. Thank goodness I was raised Catholic and knew my prayers.
Fast forward around 2003-ish. As a young actor, you’re killing it. You’re doing TV roles and probably seeing some pretty intense stuff for your age at the time. Does someone at Nickelodeon personally reach out to you to offer the part as Ned Bigby or was it something a ton of other kids were trying out for?
Ned’s was like every other audition. A ton of kids going out for it. It was a dream role. And by some grace Scott Fellows saw me as his Ned and I booked the pilot. And then...get this. After we filmed the pilot, I had to do a small additional round of auditions, because Nickelodeon was going to be recasting one of the three leading roles. Talk about nerve racking. Ultimately I remained the one and only Ned.
Since the early-mid 2000s, there is no question that Nickelodeon's content has shifted. Do you think Ned's Declassified's uniqueness could be appreciated by a 2019 nick crowd?
I think Ned’s is timeless. I mean if we made it today we’d have to add some tips for the cell phone generation, we we’re a little bit before social media took over our lives. But ultimately the show speaks to all the silly, messy, private, public, strangeness of growing up and trying to survive it with our hearts in tact. I think it’s still relatable.
What are some films or shows that have influenced you throughout your
career thus far?
I don’t directly know how they’ve influenced my career, but some favorite films of mine: Almost Famous. Into The Wild. The Departed. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy. Interstellar. And shows: Avatar The Last Airbender. Avatar The Legend Of Korra. Breaking Bad. The Office. Always Sunny In Philadelphia.
Devon, thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us. Are there some
future projects or albums in the works that we could expect to see soon?
My Chapter One EP will be out by the end of 2019. With some music videos and singles coming out before the full release. I have a small, very different kind of role in Crown Vic which is a gritty cop film coming out at the end of 2019. I did a Christmas Movie with Jennifer Stone and Barry Bostwick that comes out this year called Santa Girl. And overall you can always find me on social media to connect, or find out what I am up to.
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Macoproject FF 2019 MD9145