Some of you may or may not know exactly HOW the Society of Artistic Veterans began, and if you do then you can just skip this post. It began as an idea for my co-founder Neath Williams to be able to run a casting agency like those of Harry Humphries and Dale Dye except for our generation. I was attending Actorfest 2012 here in NYC and saw an opportunity to see how viable an agency, or at the very least a database, was that is specifically tailored to military veterans who are also actors.
My girlfriend Heather and I sat in on a workshop that two casting directors from ABC were going to be speaking at and I saw my opening. These two had just finished casting the first few episodes of the upcoming series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which is set in the comic universe and involves a lot of special abilities background & day player roles that would be perfect for the military. The mic came around and I stood up and asked Marci Phillips, “Is there an agency or database you as a casting director turn to when looking to fill military, police, and other tactical roles? And would you be interested in something like that to provide an authenticity to the shoot?” Her response was,”No, we don’t want veterans…we want actors.”
After I pulled the knife out of my gut I sat down speechless. How is this woman going to tell me that veterans CANNOT be actors? After cooling down later and venting a little bit to some fellow veterans who have also been pursuing careers in the industry, maybe Ms. Phillips didn’t mean it exactly the way it sounded. What I really wanted to know, and probably didn’t word properly, was if they would like to see veterans who are ALSO actors. She probably thought I meant just veterans with no actor training…I hope.
Regardless, that is the spark for me that fueled the creation of the Society of Artistic Veterans in order to enable veterans to pursue careers in the arts & entertainment industries. We want to make it known that having a veteran on set, either in front of or behind the camera, is an asset. So spread the word, because we have traded in our camouflage for monologues, writer’s block, & dancing shoes.