“From an early age, I remember that I always wanted to be an actor…”
A Brooklyn native from the Bensonhurst neighborhood of New York City, my family and I moved to Jackson, New Jersey in the late 1970s. I grew up in suburban New Jersey with my parents, grandmother, and my older brother and younger sister—who were both close in age to me. Nearly every summer of the ‘80s, I remember spending a lot of time at the beach down the Jersey shore: Asbury Park, Point Pleasant, and Seaside Heights mostly.
During my early school years, I was an extremely shy child and I mean SHY. Elementary school years were rough, but I got through it. I’ve always had a deep love for the movies, specifically going to the movies; my favorite of course, as a child of the ‘80s, being Rocky, and still holds true today. I was also a huge fan of the wildly iconic television show “Happy Days” (I’m talking ‘80s lunchboxes and action figures) and especially of the main character “Arthur Fonzarelli”, aka “The Fonz.”
One day, I remember watching a television interview of my early childhood hero, but in this moment it wasn’t The Fonz who I was watching, but instead it was some ‘actor’ guy named Henry (Winker) who was talking about his ‘other life’ and what he does when at work. I remember it vividly— and being maybe only 7 years old at the time, I managed to grasp this new idea, and I was also completely enthralled by it. No doubt was this was my first introduction to what acting was, and to a greater degree, a lesson IN acting—and the roller-coaster-ride of a life-long love affair had begun…
—10 YEARS LATER—
Fast forward now to the 1990s:
[OK: quick recap: in 1989, we move to Pennsylvania to the middle-of-nowhere, (yes- that IS a place), I graduate high school and then get accepted to Penn State University]
Four years fly by and I graduate from Penn State… with Bachelors degrees in Finance and Accounting (don’t ask..). I return to my New York City roots, and I even get a full-time job at a mutual fund company on the east side (again, don’t ask).
It was probably in my first month of my new job that I realized that I had made a terrible mistake and after only two short weeks, I was feeling miserable at said mutual fund company, and I knew, at age 23, that this was NOT what I wanted to be doing with my life and knew that I had to make serious changes immediately.
So after doing some research, I began taking acting classes at HB Studio in Greenwich Village. I also left my job at the mutual fund company and started bartending & waiting tables in Times Square.
I studied at HB studio for about 2 years, and eventually after many recommendations and seeing numerous postings in the Backstage, I made an appointment to meet with The William Esper Studio, and there I met my teacher, Terry Knickerbocker.
It was at the William Esper Studio where I learned closely and intimately what acting really was. I spent two years in the Meisner training program, and I have continued to hone my craft there after graduating from the program.
All the while I was training as an actor, I would periodically check the Backstage newspaper weekly, looking for anything I could audition for. It was tough, that is, the business side of it: headshots, classes, agents, where to study, who not to study with, which headshot photographer to work with, etc.
I started freelancing with a couple of agents, but getting auditions was still always hard. I started doing a lot of plays & theater work. It was shortly after earning my SAG union card that I had my first film credit in a principal role in the feature film “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry” with Adam Sandler and Kevin James.
Since then, I have appeared in numerous television shows, films, and commercials (including being cast in a commercial for IKEA, which filmed in Milan and in Como, Italy). Recent credits include co-star roles in Blue Bloods (Season 5 as Detective Walker), Gotham (Season 4 as Uni Cop #2), The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Season 1 as bartender), and also in Preacher.
This fall, I will be appearing in the upcoming HBO miniseries “The Plot Against America” as Saul.
More soon to come…
© 2020 DOUG SCHNEIDER