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Meet Chris Labadie

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chris Labadie.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I think I always wanted to be an actor but I didn’t start to really believe that it was more than just some nonsensical dream until high school. I took a theatre class and made a couple of people laugh while I was doing some improv. It became my weekly thrill and then I realized acting was all I ever wanted to do with my life. I even fought against it to be more practical but it just wasn’t in my heart to be anything but a storyteller in some fashion.

In college, my mentor advised me to intern for a casting agency in Arizona. So I did. After a few months of working there, I kept hearing complaints about our client’s photos. Guess my boss was having trouble finding a photographer whose work she would consistently like. So, in my overly confident state-of-mind, I took it upon myself to acquire my own camera (beg my parents to invest in me for my birthday) and take up photography on the side for some quick cash. I figured I could do what they wanted for their actor’s headshots and portrait sessions. I shadowed several photographers but never really got all that good until I think I moved to LA. By the way, being a casting associate was fun at times but more so incredibly stressful and not very rewarding unless you’re an agent or the owner of the agency.

But working at that agency helped me realize how much I didn’t want to be behind the scenes with the film-making process. And with my newfound photography skills, or I guess what I thought were photography skills, I moved to LA with some experience and some ideas on how to stay afloat. I did freelance photography to pay the bills. Headshots, portraits, weddings, engagement photos, real estate agent headshots, …horse portraits, you name it and I probably shot it. Not that I was consistently awesome and killing it, I had my side job at Blockbuster which was a really great gig that allowed me to cater into my fellow film nerds in a really great and personal way. In fact, some of my closest friends came through Blockbuster. Film nerds headquarters.

Anyway, this was all for the sake of funding my acting career. Within my first week, I had a talent manager and in my second week got a commercial and theatrical agent. If I remember correctly, I blind submitted to my agent and got the meeting which turned into representation shortly after. But with my manager, I was a bit sneaky. I got the duo’s contact info (it was a managing team) from a friend who used to live in LA a long time ago. I don’t even think she was repped by this team, she just knew of them during her time here. She passed their info to me and I emailed them saying I was a referral from “so-and-so” and that I would love to meet with them to discuss representation further. They obliged, which at the time I thought was industry standard because I was naive and just thought that was the norm but now realize getting a meeting with a manager/agent is incredibly difficult. Anyway, I met with them and I feel like we were both pretty ecstatic about each other. They got me in with Baron/Brown Studio to hone my craft a bit more for their LA-liking. I started auditioning, meeting other actors, yada yada yada.

Flash forward a few years after many ups and downs, trials and tribulations, and self-reflection. I had been told quite a few times that “Chris is great, but he’s not Asian enough” or “Chris is great, but we need more Hispanic for this role” which is all fine. If you want Hispanic, cast Hispanic. I’m not Hispanic. I’m Filipino-Caucasian. Not Asian enough for what though? Your guest star Tech Assistant with 11 lines that has nothing to do with my ethnicity? Or the computer hacker who points at the people on the screen and says, ‘Those are the guys you’re looking for.” Not Asian enough for that? Okay. I’ll wait for the standards to evolve and sway in my favor a bit more and in the meantime, I’ll create my own content so I can actually exist in stories with characters that aren’t defined by their ethnicity or are giant walking stereotypes.

And after creating some of my own content and gaining more comfort and confidence in my path here in LA, I garnered the attention of my now talent manager. And for the first time, I don’t feel like I’m constantly trying to prove myself to my representation. For the first time, I feel like my representation came into this partnership already seeing what I see in myself. I hopped into an amazing class with an amazing instructor who reminds me that every day is a new beginning. And as a result, my pilot season was strong, my work ethic is stronger, and most importantly, I’ve learned not to put all of my worth into JUST my acting… but in all aspects of my life. My community. My photography. My travels. The person I am today took some time to become. But now that I’m here, I finally feel like an actual contender in this industry. Because I’ve covered all my bases and continue to do so, so that when the right opportunity lands, it won’t catch me off guard. I’m pretty much just here waiting for it to arrive. And I’m content with the wait.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Oh, the struggles. So so many struggles. Sure there were people that proved to be some of the most difficult obstacles. From terrible and terrifying talent managers and movie producers to destructive friendships. But honestly, the biggest obstacle has always been myself. Before I moved to LA, I thought of myself as a cool, confident, funny, and talented person… so I thought it made sense to put that all to the test in the city where an actor’s dreams could come true. But after getting here I realized, every person from every hometown that wasn’t Los Angeles moved here with the same idea. Everyone is cool. Everyone is confident. Everyone is funny. And worse, everyone is talented. Very talented. So that defeated me in the beginning. And I very much saw myself trying to keep up but then I started to build all these awful self-deprecating walls in my head. And I started to retreat, mentally and physically.

It wasn’t until about a year ago or so that I started to really challenge myself and demand more from myself. I have a lot of really inspiring friends in my life and they all do amazing things with their craft and all have these beautiful minds that engaged me and pushed me. I’m working harder for my career than I’ve ever worked before and the best part of it is, I’m okay with the chase. Being an actor isn’t always “when I’m on set.” Being an actor is sitting in my apartment memorizing pages of dialogue by rote, going to acting class, getting last minute self-tapes due the same day, and going to coffee with an actor friend and talking about life. I’m okay with being an actor of this nature for another month, year, or decade. And I honestly believe that’s the most important part of it all. Being okay with being patient.

Please tell us about Chris Labadie Photography.
Well, outside of acting in a couple independent films (which were all incredible blessings), yes, I do photography of all kinds. A lot of it I talked about earlier but I’ll say what started as a means of income has turned into a passion of mine. I very much love working with people, especially actors to tell new stories in one single moment that I capture through my lens. And it’s especially beautiful when both of our visions for the story come together and become a cohesive new story that neither of us even expected going into the shoot. Creative portraits are might favorite to shoot. I love just grabbing a coffee and chatting with the actor beforehand, in the middle of, and then after the shoot. But I’ve also grown quite accustomed to shooting a nice and clean headshot to help market yourself in whatever industry you’re in.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
This changes for me all the time but my baby brother recently sent me a video of me as a little punk kid. I must have been 11 or 12 in the video. I’m sitting at the dinner table with my Dad and I go to reach for a bag of those little mini chocolate donuts you can buy from the grocery store. And just before my tiny little hand can grasp the bag, my Dad swipes it from under me and chucks a donut or two into his mouth (funny enough his name is Chuck). And the look on my face is just betrayal. My jaw is dropped and I look to my Mom sitting on the couch across the way filming me and I just yell out, “Mommmmm, he took my donuts!” And I slam my hands to the table and start fake crying or real crying, I can’t really tell. And before I can get actual tears going, my Dad tosses the bag of donuts back into my safe little hands. And without skipping a beat, I reach into that bag and chow down on some mini chocolate donuts. Watching that video today, I see why I’m an actor. Fighting the good fight.

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Image Credit:
Sela Shiloni selashiloniphoto.com Instagram: @selashiloni

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