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8 Questions with………actor/writer Joel Craig

It’s 11:54 am
hazy

Tomorrow is Lori’s birthday and my heart is all over the place today. I can’t seem to focus on anything without thinking about her. So when Joel Craig,an actor/writer/Registered Nurse emailed me his interview,it was just what I needed on a day like this.
Joel was one of the four artists that Stephen Foster recommended to me as a talented artist who wants to make career entertaining people. Personally,I think Joel’s career as a skilled and dedicated RN is a hell of a gift already and it has a left a lasting impression on me. But when when someone has a creative itch and needs to express that,I can totally get behind that as well. Joel is not only a actor but he is a writer as well.
So what makes this artist who he is today?  We’re going to find out because Joel Craig is going to answer 8 Questions……..

 

 

Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about yourself.

  Gosh. I don’t know where to begin. I’m at heart an actor and writer and by profession, I’m a registered nurse. I wrote a graphic memoir about my first few years as a nurse called, Welcome To Nursing HELLo. My story is told in a series of cartoons. I have a second book, a graphic novel called Journey To Gaytopia, about my friend C. Stephen Foster and myself,who are cast in The Julianne Moore and Madonna Half Hour Comedy Show. However, Madonna is captured by Mae Dunaway (who is giving Madonna acting lessons), the evil twin sister of Faye Dunaway, and taken to an alternate parallel universe. Julianne Moore sends us to rescue her. 

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   Also, I’m an actor in What’s My Intention which I cowrote with C. Stephen Foster. (I call him Stephen).  I work as a registered nurse during the daytime but would like to take to become a full time working actor. 

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 What led you to becoming a registered nurse?

I wish I knew to tell the truth. No, actually my husband, Donovan Holden who is a musician and actor, decided he needed a stable job. He had always been interested in the medical field but for some reason or another never pursued it. I helped him to find nursing schools and I got the idea maybe this is something I could do too so I blindly dived in and ten years later, I’m still a nurse. I’ve worked in medical/surgical, ICU and now I survey skilled nursing facilities. They need nurses to look at the areas that pertain to nursing. 

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 What were the 3 biggest cultural differences between living in Nashville and Los Angeles?

I lived in Chicago for 3 years before moving to Los Angeles so I had the experience of living in a big city. Cultural differences. Hmm. I felt like I could be gay in Los Angeles and not in Nashville. I think the gay community is growing there now and perceptions are changing, but 20 years ago things were not as evolved. 

  The second difference is we have mountains, the desert, and the ocean pretty close together. There’s a lot of places to hike and get out and see the world in Los Angeles. 

   The third difference there isn’t a home town feel here in Los Angeles. Even though I think it is harder being gay in Nashville, people generally were more polite and courteous. Here in Los Angeles, many people really have no manners so it is refreshing when I go back home to see my sister and have people really be polite and mean it.

 With so much creative energy at your fingertips, what are the three most helpful things you do to keep focused?
 

My husband, Donovan is my support and helps keep me on track. My husband and I have been together for 18 years. We are both artists and are there for each other. Donovan is in the web series, What’s My Intention, but his big focus is his music. He has two albums on CD Baby, An Ordinary Thing and Accepting All Prayers. (more at www.donovanholden.com

    Humor takes time to become aware of. When I was in my 20’s I didn’t always see the humor in the situation but as I’ve gotten older I see how absurd some people are and situations are so all you have to just laugh sometimes. 

   The third is exercise. It makes me feel young and attractive and it’s nice to be looked at with your shirt off.

   Wait,there are four. Talking to other friends of mine who are creative like Stephen or my friend Kathy Taylor, who plays Stella in What’s My Intention. 

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 “What’s My Intention” – How did this series come about?

A few years ago, I told my friend, C. Stephen Foster (who I call Stephen) about this screenplay I had written but put away in a drawer. This screenplay just sat in a drawer. I told Stephen about it and he said we should make a web series so we did. 

     Basically the story revolves around an aging alcoholic actress, played brilliantly by Kathy Taylor who teaches these different people in her acting class. I want to show what some of the challenges actors have such as auditions, connecting with another character in a scene, dealing with over-the-top histrionic people, just to name a few. I wrote this crazy teacher who had been married four times and then I met Kathy and she sort of was the character. Kathy doesn’t have to reach very far in her psyche to play this character. But I mean that in a good way. Yes.in a good way. 

    Stephen and I took the screenplay and rewrote it, breaking the scenes into short 2-3 minute scenes and adding a few characters here and there. We filmed it at my house with a digital video camera, one of the actor’s in the series, Justin Basl, edited it for us put it on YouTube. We had great initial reception but life happens. We all got busy with other projects and it just sat there on YouTube collecting dust. Now we are picking right back up where we left off in the series and moving forward with another set of scenes hopefully coming by October.

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 What makes a Gay Icon? 

My first thought was I don’t know or I would already be one of those. But I guess of the traits are strength through adversity and not being afraid to march to the beat of a different drummer. For me, I think it is someone who pushes the boundaries of people’s minds and make them perceive things in different ways than they are used to thinking . In my teens that person was Madonna. People told her she shouldn’t dance in her underwear and be sexual and she said why? She broke the rules when the rules didn’t make sense. When she performed Like A Virgin on the 1984 MTV music awards I was at the same time shocked but also excited because I never seen a woman be really sexual like that. I know there were sexy females like Mae West and Raquel Welch but Madonna picked things up where Mae left off and took it further. 

     When I was in college the football jocks used to harass me in the dorms and cafeteria calling me fag and and other similar derogatory names. I felt really bad at first but after awhile, I thought,”This is just silly” so I told them:  “Why don’t you call me some other more creative gay insult term instead”. I even gave them the idea to sing the song “Pretty Woman” when they saw me but instead substitute the word man for woman. So it was: pretty man, walking down the street, pretty man, the kind I’d like to meet… They actually sang it, and I loved it. I was so desperate for some friends and company that I started enjoying the attention I was getting from all of this. That’s absurd in itself. So when they saw I like the attention, they stopped. But something else happened after that which I didn’t expect. One of those jocks stopped me in the dorm hallway and asked me if I was gay. I told him that I was. He asked me a few questions about being gay, and then other guys came out of their rooms and listened and asked questions. I held my own impromptu forum and educated these people. After that, they actually respected me and left me alone. I changed people’s minds and it felt great. If I can do that through my art I would feel like a gay icon. Because to me, gay icons aren’t just people who are popular among the gays but someone who is instrumental in changing people’s perceptions about gays and what it is like to be gay.

   My graphic novel, Journey To Gaytopia, has gay lead characters which aren’t written very often in mainstream comics. I want other comic book readers to see that there doesn’t have to be a “gay” character but simply, here is a character who happens to be gay. 

 What three pieces of advice helped you the most in your creative career?

Quentin Crisp said, Never keep up with the Joneses. Drag them down to your level. I try to live by that. 

Once when I was working as a medical/surgical nurse and training to be an intensive care (ICU – where patients are sicker) nurse, I told this clerk who I worked with in Med/surg named Linda about how I felt like I was in over my head in this tough new job. She told me to just do it for a year and if you don’t like it I can always come back to med/surg. I took her advice and it took awhile but I adjusted. Starting this web series up after some time off is scary but just take a chance.

And the third: Just show up.

 What 3 things do you like/dislike about working on a stage?

Likes- The whole store unfolds within 2 hours and you can take an emotional journey within a consistent time period. Also anything can happen which can be happy accidents and a discovery can be made about the character that might not happen from just reading the play. And the friendships and relationships that can happen from the people I’ve performed with. Actually Donovan and I met doing a play for this theater company Stephen Foster and I formed a long time ago. Donovan auditioned for our company (called Off Hollywood), got into the company and got cast in a play I was doing, called The Son’ll Come Out Tomorrow,” by Christopher Reidy (one of the co-founders with Stephen and I). And 18 years later,we’re still together. 

Dislikes – Performing to an empty house, getting bad reviews, and blowing a circuit. That happened once when we using all these toasters for True West by Sam Shepherd. There is action and lines in the script where one of the characters have to use all these toasters to make a lot of toast. Luckily that happened only once during rehearsal.

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I take it you are much more home on stage then anywhere else….

Michael, I think so. I have performed in plays from age 19 and now I’m making preparations to film our series What’s My Intention again which we hope to have up in late September on YouTube and Facebook. I’ve always been sort of an exhibitionist and so being onstage is natural. And that stage can be an actual stage or it can also be in life.

 The cheetah and I land in Los Angeles to see a taping of “What’s My Intention?”
but we have a day to kill…we draft you as our tour guide,what are we doing and where are we going?

 I’d take you for a stroll around the Silverlake Reservoir and then a dinner (with drinks) at Casita del Campo and a show afterwards in their basement theater, the Cavern Club Theater. If you love pizza,we could go to  Masa, this Italian restaurant in Echo Park. They have the best deep dish pizza. I build my own with purple onion, rosemary chicken and buffalo mozzarella.  They should call it the Joel Donovan because we always order it and my friends love it.

 

My deepest thanks to Joel for taking the time to talk with us. We’ll be posting a update on when his YouTube series “What’s My Intentions” drops in September. If you wish to keep up with Joel and his busy career,we encourage you to follow him on his many social media links.
I would be remiss if I didn’t once again thank Stephen Foster for helping set up this interview. Stephen’s love and respect for his fellow actors and peers in a industry where it can be rather cutthroat is very unique.

If you wish to send Joel a friend request on Facebook,send away on the link.

If you want to check out Joel on Instagram,follow him by clicking the link.

And of course you can always go to his website which is here.

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2 thoughts on “8 Questions with………actor/writer Joel Craig

  1. Will be thinking about you tomorrow, Michael. I’ll definitely say a prayer for you as well. When sincere, thoughts and, particularly, prayers are helpful. They have got me through some difficult times.
    –Pam

    Liked by 1 person

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