Today we’d like to introduce you to Eric Feltes.
Eric, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Prior to acting professionally, I was a full-time Spanish and Theatre teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. I absolutely loved teaching. I loved my students, I had a great staff to work with, and I was given the opportunity to direct the high school productions. It wasn’t until I came out of the closet at 25 that I realized I wasn’t living a fully authentic life. Coming out encouraged me to question everything I was doing. I’ll never forget watching my students perform. I was part inspired and part jealous. And let’s be honest, no one wants a bitter teacher! So I put in my notice and moved to Chicago.
I lived in Chicago for three years, and as much as I loved the city, my career was a bit non-existent. I realized if I wanted a career in acting, I needed to create. So I wrote a short film with my brilliant friend, Mindy Fay Parks, Off Book. This short went on to screen at over 20 film festivals and win several awards, and it is currently streaming on Omeleto, a YouTube channel for award-winning short films. That was a great experience, but, of course, I wanted more. I moved to Los Angeles in 2016 with anything I could cram in my car.
Since then, I’ve made it a point to draw from personal experiences as inspiration for my work. I wrote, produced, and starred in The Substitute, a comedic web series about my experiences as a substitute teacher, which can now be found on Revry, an LGBT streaming site. During this time, I was involved in an LGBT improv group with John Potter, who became my next writing partner. John and I improvised a scene during one of our performances, where we were both sexually attracted to apathy. From this, we created our comedic short, Lukewarm, where we “put the lust back in lackluster.” This film has been accepted into over 20 film festivals so far, including Outfest, one of the largest and most prominent LGBT-focused film festivals in the world.
In my first year in Los Angeles, it became very obvious to me that substitute teaching was not a sustainable side job, and so I became a property manager. This job inspired the creation of On-Site, a mockumentary about Derek Setliff, the Michael Scott of property management. We’ve shot our pilot and are now in the process of putting together a pitch deck for producers.
Creating projects based on personal experiences has become my lifeline. It’s therapeutic to focus on what I can control while also graciously accepting without having answers to those tough actor-questions, like “When is my next audition?” Fortunately, I have nothing but trust and respect for my team who gets me these auditions, but I have no intention of waiting on the sidelines for a career to be handed to me.
Has it been a smooth road?
Giving up a full time job with benefits, coming out of the closet, moving seven times in four years, the extensive bad actor thoughts (What was I thinking?! I’m a terrible actor. I haven’t had an audition in three weeks! Is my hair thinning?), this all weighs on you! I’ll never forget the first agency meeting I had in LA just three years ago. At the time, I was just happy someone thought I was worthy enough to be in their office. After a week of no news, I called the agent to check in. They laughed at me and told me I was too gay for their roster, but that if I “butched it up, the door was always open.” I was crushed. That wasn’t a door I ever wanted to walk through again. I felt like a failure, and even worse, as if I was being punished for living an authentic life. Fast forward to one year later, when I dropped my first LA agent for what I felt was a lack of competence on their part. Their response: “You’ve burned this bridge with your backstabbing ways,” followed by my final check from them bouncing. LA is crazy, man.
Fortunately, things are much better now. I finally have a team that not only knows and appreciates my brand but also recognizes that my talent as an actor is not limited to my sexual orientation. I also take an ongoing scene study class at Lesly Kahn in Hollywood. It is there where I’ve been given two things: the tools to make more accurate choices while staying present and listening, and the best support group I could have asked for. Because here’s the thing – those bad actor thoughts, those crazy agents, that billowing cloud of the unknown, those things will never cease to exist. It’s not our job to control them, but it is our job to learn from them while also creating a community of support and trust.
What’s your favorite memory from childhood?
Oh, I can’t pick just one. I had a great childhood. I remember climbing my grandpa’s tree and fishing for tadpoles in his pond and having my mom’s apple pie for every birthday. I remember playing Ghost in the Graveyard with my sister and our neighborhood friends. I remember my dad taking me to plays and musicals with him while he worked as a photographer. I remember him taking me backstage after a high school production of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” to see a machine that turned rocks into gumballs, and I remember thinking just then, “theatre is magic.” Or the time I got eaten by Audrey II from one of my favorite musicals, “Little Shop of Horrors,” backstage at the same theatre. This theatre, located at Oswego High School in Oswego, IL, is the same school where I taught and directed. Some of my former students still message me to ask for advice or invite me to their shows. To be a part of something so cyclical and so good is a huge honor.
- Website: www.ericfeltes.com
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ericfeltes/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theericfeltes/
- Other: www.imdb.me/ericfeltes
Diabe Sale (striped shirt with jean jacket)
Arthur Marroquin (shirtless)