Today we’d like to introduce you to Wolé Parks.
Wolé, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I grew up in New York and was good with numbers, so had always planned to do something with math. But then in high school, a casting director plucked a few kids from class and had us audition for a national commercial. I ended up booking the role and was surprised to learn you could make money being an actor (I’m from The Bronx – it’s not something they teach over there). I auditioned for NYU, got in and graduated with majors in both Mathematics and Fine Arts. I spent many years in the corporate world utilizing my math skills, while acting on the side. After booking a role in a feature film, my agent finally convinced me to give acting a shot, full-time. I did; moved to LA and over six years later, I’m still a working actor.
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?
HA! There has been nothing “smooth” about this process. Well, that’s not true – if I sit back and think about my life now, I can put the dots together and see how everything made sense. But while you’re going through the crazy, it’s really hard to see why things are happening the way they are.
Overall, the biggest struggle has been being okay with myself. Yes, that sounds incredibly cheesy and “California” but it’s true. I’m a person who likes structure and consistency. Yet, I ripped myself out of a very good job that I was comfortable with and threw myself into a career where you get rejected 99% of the time. I really don’t think people understand how hard it is to be an actor. You have tons of people saying, “you’re great” or “that was perfect”… and then, they don’t call you back. You have to develop a very strong sense of self because you’re not going to get the kind of external validation that you get from most jobs.
Please tell us about Wolé Parks.
I’m an actor, so I guess, my “business” would be myself. I studied it in college, along with math. But, I’ve only been doing it exclusively since the beginning of 2012. I’m most proud of being able to say that I’ve been a working actor in LA for that entire time. Being able to work consistently in this business is a rarity. The old me wouldn’t be comfortable talking about that but now, I think it’s good to stop and take a look at our accomplishments from time to time.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
I’m sure, I’ll have better memories pop into my head later, but for right now, a particular birthday party comes to mind. I didn’t grow up with money, so one year, my mom organized a birthday party at McDonald’s. A bunch of my friends showed up and we had a blast. It’s not that anything special happened, but what I took from that was that it doesn’t matter where I’m at – as long as I have the right group of people with me, I’ll have a good time. That’s a credence I still adhere to this day.