Tempe native Blake Webb spent three years in marketing before deciding to pursue his dream of acting and move to Los Angeles. Acting clichés aside, it took a while for Webb to begin his professional acting journey, but the two years he’s been in the business have been busy with independent films, shorts and even a play, and has produced a résumé loaded with lead roles.
Webb, who graduated from Corona del Sol High School, recently starred in “The Virgins,” an independent comedy film about a young Christian couple whose first night together is thwarted by mischance. This is one of 12 lead roles Webb has earned; he also appeared in films such as “Alienate” and “Wichita.”
Matthew Wilson, writer and producer of “The Virgins,” said Webb really stood out during the audition process.
“What Blake brought specifically to the character was just a distinct personality I hadn’t even envisioned in the script,” he said, “even his voice was unique. When I first met him at auditions, the first thing that struck me was that he reminded me of a young Michael J. Fox.”
Entering the industry
Webb wanted to be an actor at an early age, but grew up in a conservative environment where he was encouraged to pursue a career in marketing for its practicality.
“I went through middle school, high school and didn’t get into it. In college at BYU (Brigham Young University) Provo, I got my degree in marketing and went on a two-year church service mission to Mexico, and it took getting my degree in marketing and working with a degree in marketing for three years to realize I was not happy with the job,” he said.
Webb said he felt like he settled for something safe, and, “It took me until I was in the second half of my 20s to realize I don’t want to wake up in my 30s, 40s, 50s or 60s and say I never tried getting into acting.”
Webb started taking acting classes while living in Salt Lake City. He then started auditioning and hired an agent.
He was living in Salt Lake City when he found the ad for “The Virgins” and drove to Seattle where it was being filmed. Webb said he went on a whim and that earning the role was kind of ironic.
The opportunity for change, a gypsy lifestyle and the ability to meet new people are what Webb loves the most about acting.
“Last week, I thought I was going to film in Switzerland,” he said. “That didn’t come through, but I did book one in Utah. You never know where it’s going to take you.”
Webb moved to L.A. to explore acting prospects six weeks ago.
“I think the move to L.A. is going to be a good move for him, it’s opening him up to a lot of new opportunities,” Wilson said, “I could totally see him ending up on a TV show.”
Webb said he puts himself in the character’s shoes and uses his own instincts to react to the situation and that he watches actors like Mark Wahlberg and Leonardo DiCaprio in shows and movies to catch the nuances of their performance that bring a character to life. Relatability and a genuine portrayal of human emotions, as well as a real passion for the craft, are the keys to acting, Webb said.
“What are the little things they are doing that make them special,” he said, “I think the key to it for me is to be true to yourself. Be yourself.”
Shifting from cubicle to Hollywood
Wilson said Webb’s success is rare for new actors; it usually takes a very long time to book regularly and to book lead roles at that. Webb said he often tells himself that he shouldn’t even be where he is and that he should be behind a desk.
“I know some people jump into it way later, but it’s an attitude where I can say I’m just glad to be doing this,” he said.
Scheduling and disappointment are the hardest parts of an acting career, Webb said. Rejection is constant, but it does not mean you can’t act — it may mean you just didn’t fit the role.
He advised budding actors to look for local acting classes and then to find acting opportunities presented by schools like Arizona State University. Even if the job is unpaid, it still helps an aspiring actor build a reputation and determines if he or she is good for the industry.
However, he said he wouldn’t recommend up and moving to L.A.
“The first thing you should do is ask yourself why you want to do it. Because I think if anyone wants to be an actor for money or for fame, they should go do something else,” he said.
From an office position to Hollywood, Webb obtained a role in an upcoming science fiction film in Utah and said he hopes in five years’ time to go to work everyday at a job he loves: acting.
“All those experiences I have in life really define who I am. I think I’m a genuine person who just happened to get into acting and I’m really grateful to be doing it,” he said.
• Sam Gauvain is a junior at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She is an intern with the Tribune this semester. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.