What is your family like?
I came into this world on November 3rd in Baltimore, Maryland. The youngest of a family of four consisting of a sister, 15months my elder, and two parents, that to this day remain my closest friends and forever my inspiration to continue the journey, no matter how uphill and how few footsteps are found along the way, for the finish line reveals the reality of one’s dreams. I guess if I had to reduce the ever growing list of attributes learned from my parents to only two characteristics that, if not for them I would never posses, it would be confidence and work ethic. No matter where my mind drifted to, my folks said I could take the trip mentally as well as physically through the payment of hard work; a lesson not only told by them, but also one I witnessed through their life. They were never preachers about unfamiliar ground, they always told the story in the first person. Growing up, my folks were the complete package, the story book parents that kids only dream about. They kicked my ass when I was out of line, picked me up when I needed support, had my back and walked in the shadows when I dared to go out on a limb, turned a smile into laughter, and always were present in my darkest hours with a shoulder to lean on and a hug to give me the strength to get back on my feet. The greatest of times in anyone’s life are not just lived, but also constantly relived through the use of memories that are forever stored in our minds. Memories run long in my mind, and as I write this and revisit so many concurrently, I cannot think of a single one that my parents were not directly or indirectly apart of. I can only hope to be half the role model to my kids one day as my parents were to me.
My sister has always been a constant source of motivation and strength for me. I often refer to her as my second mother, even though she was only 15 months older to the day, as she would always put me in my place if I drifted too far down the wrong trail. My sister and I are extremely close today, but growing up I think there was more hatred then love. Some say that there is a fine line between hatred and love. I would agree with that saying as it wasn’t long after she left for the United States Naval Academy that I realized how lucky I was to have her by my side growing up. My sister has the most determined mind of anyone I know. When she sets her mind to something, it isn’t a matter of if, just a matter of when her goal becomes a reality. My sister is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy (with honors) and is currently in Medical School. She has never ceased to amaze me in all that she does on a daily basis.
Talk about West Point and time in the Military?
As a junior in high school I was getting a lot of letters from colleges to wrestle for them, but what really caught my eye was my older sister’s decision to attend the U.S. Naval Academy. I watched her grow in character through the challenging atmosphere of academic, military, and athletic requirements placed on her at the academy. I knew that at the end of a four year journey through the U. S. Naval Academy, I would walk away from it with an unbelievable amount of integrity and discipline that I would not be able to find at a normal college. I had a 4.0 GPA in high school and with my wrestling background, I think I would have had a excellent chance to go wherever I wanted, but I looked no further then the Naval Academy after seeing the changes in my sister who was currently there. I began to start the applications to get a congressional appointment (one of the many pre requirements needed to be awarded admittance), undergo their physical training tests, and the academy’s general application. Midway through my senior year, all was in line and I was headed to the U.S. Naval Academy after high school when I got approached by the U.S. Military Academy (West Point) wrestling coaches after the finals of the high school prep national wrestling tournament. They talked to me about my decision to attend the Naval Academy. They said they could get the ball rolling for me if I so desired to attend West Point. I went home and started to talk it over with family and friends. Everyone told me to attend the Naval Academy for it was closer to home, my sister was there if I needed help, it wasn’t as gray and depressing as West Point, etc. They quickly talked me out of West Point until I started to think that the only reason why I was ruling out West Point was the fact that I was scared to go there to be on my own. To be far away from home. To not have my sister there to help me out. I made up every decision on why the Naval Academy was a better decision, but when it came down to it, I couldn’t convince myself that I wasn’t going to go to West Point because I was just plain freaked out. I knew that four years on my own at West Point, where when I hit rock bottom I would have to find the intestinal fortitude inside to get back up as I would be on my own, I knew four years of that would develop me into the person I wanted to become if I was able to complete the journey. I also knew I was scared of it, and I didn’t know how to live a life where I turned my back to fear at an early age. So, if I were to admit that I went to West Point to simply face a fear, I wouldn’t be lying. I entered West Point one week after graduating high school as a member of the class of 2000. I graduated West Point in May of 2000 and was appointed as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, branched Infantry.
I owed the U.S. Government five years of service in the U.S. Army for the education from West Point that found me serving my country on domestic and foreign lands. My five years ended in May of 2005 as I left the Army as a Captain, Airborne Ranger, and former company commander of 180 people.
My military experience will forever be an experience I will keep close to my heart. My time in service was as rewarding as it was demanding. The greatest experience I had in the military was the awesome responsibility of leading soldiers. Never forgotten, but forever missed.
How did modeling start?
I had just returned from being stationed overseas and was in route to my next duty station in Washington D.C. Upon arriving at my next duty station, I had about a year and a half remaining on my obligation to the U.S. Government for my time at West Point. I received a call from my mom asking if I wanted to use a free one-night stay voucher to any Marriott. I told her I wasn’t planning on going out of town any time soon, but if the voucher had to be used, I could always grab a hotel room for the night in town. A bunch of us were headed out that night to a club, so I picked the nearest Marriott to the club. I remember being at the hotel lobby bar passing time when a bunch of agents came into the hotel. I was approached by one who asked me if I was in the industry. I had no idea what he was talking about. It turned out that the hotel I picked happened to be the same hotel of some model/agent expo going on that same weekend. I exchanged information with the agent and went on my way. The following week, I decided I wanted to see what was out there and if there was any truth in what this agent had to say. I grabbed a train ticket to New York City a few weeks later and did a few shoots with some photographers. Two months later, I was on a plane flying out to Los Angeles to shoot for the cover of Muscle and Fitness. Everything else grew from there. I spent the next year and a half in the military working my ass off to get in top physical shape and usually flying out of town every chance I had off from the military to do shoots and build a resume hopefully strong enough in order to successfully change careers after the military.
How did acting start?
When I was going through West Point, I was dating an actress in New York City and whenever I was with her, she asked me to read lines with her for her upcoming auditions / jobs. I was blown away by her ability to transform herself into so many different characters with so many different levels. Many nights we would simply stay in and role-play different scripts. Even though I had a deep desire to test the acting waters, due to owing Uncle Sam the next 5 years of my life after West Point, I was forced to put my ambitions to act on the back burner. Unbeknown to me, a seed was planted and sure as the location I first was introduced to the profession, I found myself back in New York and this time living there and not just visiting. Likewise with acting, I was no longer role playing but studying with some of the best programs in the city. A few months into living in New York, I heard from a friend that there was a role that was perfect for me for the upcoming movie “The Good Sheppard” directed by Robert DeNiro. With only knowing the address of the audition, I walked into the casting room without an appointment, agent, or call time. I made them all up and forced my way in front of the camera. I continued to read the lines wrong, and after the casting director asked me why I continue to reorder some of the lines, I said it was simply habit from being in the military. He asked what I meant by that and I began to tell him how the military lingo was written wrong from what soldiers would say. The casting director was filming the entire thing and after DeNiro saw the tape, he cast me in the part, probably due to my creditability I brought to the role and not my acting, but either way, my first professional acting job was alongside professionals like Robert DeNiro, Matt Damon, and Angelina Jolie. I was hooked on the art after that and decided to dedicate my time to excelling in the field.
How does an Army Ranger and West Point grad become an Actor/Model...they seem polar opposites?
I am always asked how does one go through West Point, the intense training to become an Army Ranger, serve their country overseas, an all American wrestler, etc and end up in Los Angeles acting and modeling? Many find the career paths total opposites, yet I find the foundation to them all the exact same. I have always been one who chooses the path less traveled when facing the cross roads in life. I feel each and every one of us has a true potential inside them that will only be revealed when challenged and facing one’s fears to grow in mental and physical strength. Becoming an all American, Army Ranger, getting into and graduating West Point were all extremely hard challenges which I grew from as a person exponentially and ultimately has lead to a very fulfilling life to date. I feel one has to always challenge themselves to be the best they can be and can never get to comfortable in their own skin as it will deter you from growing as a person and causes you to settle for the present. When leaving the military, I was offered many high paying jobs, but the seeds of desire planted in me for acting back when I was still in West Point combined with the extremely challenging career path, maybe the hardest of all paths, I was sold, this is the path for me that will fulfill my desire and challenge my mind and body which I can promise anyone, given those two ingredients in the decision process, it can only be a winner.
What's your vision on life? What are your goals?
I think if one can go through life with no regrets, then they have lived a good life. Easy to say, harder to live, but once lived, even for a moment, it rewards you with a tremendous amount of fulfillment. Everyone comes to the crossroads in their lives and the decision that one makes to chose one path over the other is the decision that will ultimately haunt them or reward them. The reason for a past decision revealing itself in the future to haunt you is because of the criteria used to determine the decision. When the criteria used to make a decision at the crossroads is weighted by expressions like: “what is the safe choice,” “what makes me comfortable,” or “what if I fail;” you can bet a percentage of your potential will forever be lost and unexplored as it is left back at that crossroad in life. Many will choose to ignore and forget the moment and continue on with life. The problem is that shortly afterwards they will cash out on their childhood dreams of becoming that someone as they settle with what is left and available in life.
When coming to the crossroads to life, the last thing you want to do is look at is the first hundred yards to either path. The first hundred yards will show a beaten path on one side and a path less traveled on the other. This knowledge will cause your decision to be prejudged into which path is easier, not which path is best for you. It is better to look into the horizon and see if your goal is out there waiting for someone to capture it. Someone has to get it, why not you. Not always, but you will find your goal is along the path less traveled. The hardest step is the first one, after that first step you never look back physically, and as for mentally, you will never look back with regret or ever wonder “what if” for you choose a path based on the end state and not the temporary conditions at hand.
Along the path, you will find the width narrows and the walls get closer and closer as you feel the pressure of life on your shoulders. You will notice that the only one along with you on this path ultimately is your shadow. As the pressure builds you rely on your confidence and ability to push through, once through the first pressure plate of life, you find you have some newly developed confidence to who you are. This confidence is a perishable characteristic, but one that will be shortly called upon because the path only gets thinner and thinner as the incline gets steeper and steeper. As this path ends and you reach your goal, you realize that the journey was more rewarding then the goal itself as your confidence is so high you feel you can overcome anything. Granted, as you began the journey, you were scared and nervous, you didn’t know if you had what it took to make it, but you didn’t let that be the deciding point of whether or not to pursue your goal. At the top now looking back on the journey, you know more about who you are inside than ever before. Along the journey you remember hitting a few walls you could not negotiate on your first try. A small set back, but due to your character you don’t look at it as failure, you look at it as a representation of where you currently are and what is needed for you to improve yourself in order to overcome the immediate wall in your life.
Far too many people look at failure in a negative way. Sure, it has all the negative connotations to it, but what is also has is a report card on where you came up short. That is the beauty of failure. What you do with it will determine how successful you are in your life. You will never know where your ability lacks and falls short unless you challenge yourself and push yourself past your current comfort zone. You wouldn’t get into the car and start driving without knowing where you were going would you? How then does one expect to improve themselves in whatever endeavor they are embarking upon without knowing what areas are needed to be improved upon? Be careful on settling into a comfort zone for too long or too early in life. A comfort zone will numb your senses and desire to succeed, cause you to settle out in your mind of what could have been. So, in that sense, they are danger zones, but if you are content with yourself and who you are, then accept them for what they are and enjoy your retirement. As for failure, it sucks when you give it your all and still come up short, but get over it. At least you are one of the very few that actually tried, and even though you didn’t succeed on the first try, you now know where you need to improve so the next time you do succeed.
There will always be critics in your life. The bigger you become, the larger the population will grow with them. They will beat you down at the first sign of any shortcoming on your part. If there isn’t any shortcomings then they will make them up or do anything to bring you down. Laugh at these people and feel sorry for them, for they are the ones who never tried, the ones who chose the path that was easiest to them, ones that lived in a comfort zone and are now trying to justify their life by turning your courage into stupidity to help bring peace to the haunting memories of when they had a chance to be something and passed on it.