Ask The artist vol. 5: Philly Wenderoth

Philly was born and raised in Minnetonka, Minnesota. He began his life in the sports world but realized his passion for performance in high school when he auditioned on a whim for the Spring musical “Legally Blonde.” He was cast as Kyle the UPS Guy and never had so much fun in such a welcoming, talented and open minded community.

Philly attended Iowa State University where he served as Greek Week Co-Chair each year. He was responsible for writing sketches, writing song lyrics and choreographing dances for hundreds of students in his community. Showing first time performers that it’s okay to make a fool of yourself as long as you’re having fun was Philly’s element.  After a near-fatal fall from a 3-story roof, resulting in a broken pelvis, arm and ribs, Philly realized that if you want something in life, you have to go get it. With a swift recovery, he returned to Iowa State to complete a degree in Performing Arts and Speech Communication. Simultaneously he decided to enroll in the John Robert Powers performance school where he excelled and eventually became an instructor for future students. Next stop, Los Angeles.

Philly has now been living in LA for almost 3 years. In that time he has acted and modeled in commercials, feature films, short films, TV series, comedy sketches, and music videos. He has studied improv at the legendary Groundlings Improv Theater. He has hosted comedy, music, and poetry open mics and even performed his own stand-up routine at the iconic Comedy Store. Philly has been teaching acting, modeling, and singing with John Robert Powers for the past 5 years to students all over the country, from Boston to San Diego.

What’s your favorite job you’ve ever worked on?

Well, I’m a huge Sci-Fi/Fantasy fan, particularly Star Wars and Game of Thrones, so my favorite job that I’ve worked on was a Game of Thrones music video parody called “Hodor Funk”. It’s a fan film and was independently funded and is on YouTube, go check it out! This project was an absolute blast all the way through. I got to meet so many other fans of the show and chat with them about all our favorite moments in the series from Oldtown to Qarth. I also got to play the role of The Night King which required a 5-hour makeup session with face paint, prosthetics, a bald cap, and a whole lot of villainous facial expressions. Projects like these are what really remind me of why I like this industry so much. Being able to experience this level of immersive joy and excitement with like-minded people is priceless. Working on this project was truly a step into the World of Ice and Fire and an absolute dream come true.

Any Self-Tape Do’s and Don’ts

KNOW YOUR FRAME: It is so important to be aware of the frame you are shooting in, whether it be tight, medium or wide, you must know the boundaries of the frame. In other words, you must know the area you have to move around in that still captures you on the tape. Being able to seamlessly move throughout your frame without it appearing like you are confined to a small space is a pro skill. Directors will love you for this. If you act out a good scene but leave the frame for some of it, that take won’t be usable. As the actor, you need to be seen in the shot, which means you need to mind the frame and feel the lens.

How do you handle nerves or stage fright?

Nerves are good! Nerves make you feel alive! Being nervous means you care about your performance and YOU SHOULD. Thus, you should be nervous. Your nerves will give you energy. I promise you the last thing you will feel before a performance is tiredness. This is good, use that energy given to you by your nervousness and channel it into focus. This isn’t easy, but it can absolutely be done. It takes discipline and intention and most of all it requires you to be present in the moment. Don’t allow your mind to get ahead of you, imagining all the bad things that could happen. Those things never happen anyway. Fear is rooted in the unknown. Focus on what you know, like your performance that you have studied and prepared for this very reason, to perform it in front of an engaged audience. My mantra is “Your energy introduces you before you do”. This reminds me to be my positive self. The me that I know and am confident being.

Do you have any tips or tricks for commercial auditions? (What do you do if they involve improv? Etc;)

  • Commercial auditions should be grounded in reality. The commercial market wants real people and real personalities. Uniqueness is great, but it must be real and not how you “wish” you were. Don’t strive to be unique, strive to be yourself and you will inherently be unique.
  • MAKE THE SCRIPT YOUR OWN: If there’s a word or a phrase in the script that you just know would never come out of your mouth, switch it up! Change it to something that reflects your voice, but has a similar meaning. Doing this will allow your personality to shine naturally.
  • BUTTONS: Buttons are little elements at the end of an audition that are unique to your approach, to your vision of the scene. Whether it be dialogue, body language or facial expression, it embodies who you are and is a choice that you made with the information given to you. Buttons are key for any audition but especially commercials. 90% of the actors that read for a commercial audition will take a basic vanilla approach to the script. 10% will bring their own perspective to it and display something different than everyone else, which is way more memorable. Be in that 10%.

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

CREATE YOUR OWN CONTENT: Not only will this allow you to possess media of yourself so industry professionals can actually see your face and personality, but this will help you sharpen your skills, your overall vision of a project, and most importantly your CONFIDENCE. Those who create content can also talk with others about the process of creating content and that is literally what the entertainment industry is. It’s 2021, quality equipment accessibility has never been better. You pretty much have everything you need in your pocket, literally everywhere you go, your smartphone. Furthermore, there’s a plethora of affordable cameras, lights, microphones, editing software, backdrops, and even actors that will more than suffice. Art is the expression of one’s emotions and ideas. Have you expressed what’s in your mind lately? If not, I promise you, someone wants to see what’s in it.

How do you deal with rejection? And how do you stay positive?

Denial and rejection is the most common thing in an actor’s life. The actual, most exercised job of an actor is auditioning. Perseverance is KEY in this industry, or any industry for that matter. When I don’t book a gig, I like to tell myself “it wasn’t because my performance was bad, it was because I wasn’t right for the role.” Honestly, this usually is the case. A director/writer/CD has a vision of who they want to cast in any given role. If you don’t fit close enough to that vision, they probably won’t cast you no matter how impressive your performance is. Now this doesn’t not mean you should half-ass an audition that you don’t feel is right for your character type. Someone else might see you differently or better yet, they might be impressed by your performance and consider you for a whole different character. Success is where preparation meets opportunity. You don’t want to miss an opportunity due to lack of preparation, that feeling sucks.

How do you prepare for performing in a live show? Is there a ritual you have?

  • Firstly, you need your body to perform, so treat it well! In the days/hours leading up to any performance, it is crucial to eat well, sleep well and exercise well. You want your body to be at its peak performance levels, so give it what it needs!
  •  Secondly, as your performance time approaches, find your happy place, remember your mantra, do whatever you need to do to find calm and focused energy. It’s important to remember the audience will project back whatever energy you bring to the stage. Breathe, stay loose and throw a smile on.

You can find Philly’s Website HERE.

You can find Philly’s Instagram HERE.