Theatre of Arts class of 2017 alumnus D.R. Bellard [IMDb] is a theater-trained actor, filmmaker, writer and standup comedian from Houston, Texas. Now based in Los Angeles, he has starred in multiple stage productions, independent films, national commercials and music videos, and has directed and written three award-winning short films.
TOA: When or how did you first realize you wanted to become an actor?
D.R. Bellard: The acting bug bit me in middle school, where I joined the drama club. When my parents and family came out to see my very first play, I had one line that made the audience erupt in laughter. After that, I WAS HOOKED.
I went on to star in plays at my local church, but after high school I joined the Air Force and put acting on the back burner for many years until one day I self-tape auditioned for an online feature film written by Jeanine Daniels (formerly of Black & Sexy TV). It came down to me and an L.A. guy from England who got the role, but Jeanine told me if I had lived in L.A. I would've booked it. That bothered me so much, that when I saw Idris Elba later that night in a movie on TV, I told myself, "If he can do it on that level, why can't I?" It was as simple as that for me, and the rest is history. I visited L.A. for three days to see if I could live here, and I loved it. I went back to Texas and looked for a good conservatory to mold and hone my raw acting instincts, auditioned for TOA, got in and moved to LA.
TOA: What about TOA attracted you to choose it over other acting conservatories?
D.R. Bellard: I had researched a few conservatories in LA by phone and the internet and they just didn't seem like they cared. Some had rude admissions officers and others didn't even bother to pick up the phone or call back. I almost gave up until I saw a Facebook ad for Theatre of Arts and it hooked me right away. The classes looked small and very intimate and the students seemed like family, while in the video clips the instructors were fully engaged and looked like they actually cared about making you the best actor you could be. But what really sold me was one of the admissions clerks, I believe her name was Leslie. She took the time to answer all of my questions, and asked me questions that really made me think about the journey I was getting ready to embark upon. And when I got there, Micheal Jury and Jason Weiss made me feel very comfortable.
TOA: What was your favorite class or classes at ToA and why?
D.R. Bellard: I actually had a few. Acting with Kevin Stidham and Jason Weiss, because in their own unique ways they pushed me constantly to find truth in every scene, no matter how hard it was to find. The other two were Stand Up Comedy with David Conolly and One Man Show with Ryan Travis because I was DEATHLY afraid of doing either. But David and Ryan both saw my vision and my talent, and they helped me take that fear and turn it into outstanding performances. I will always be grateful for the time and genuine caring they showed me.
TOA: Can you share an example of a lesson you learned at ToA that has proved especially helpful in your acting career?
D.R. Bellard: Alex Feldman used to tell me that no matter how small the scene or insignificant the line is, before an audition I must "always create a world and a backstory in my mind" for the character as if you were the main character. I still use that advice to this day before I read for anything. It helps me believe the character.
TOA: What advice would you give to prospective students considering pursuing their degree at ToA?
D.R. Bellard: Honestly, the two-year program at TOA is no joke! It can be really fulfilling but is also extremely challenging. There will be times where you feel you're walking in your purpose and this is exactly where you should be, and there will be times where you question your life decisions and want to quit and give up -- but if you stay the course, REALLY do the work and have a burning desire and passion to be great, Theater of Arts will nurture that passion and put you in the best position to succeed in the industry. Don't give up, work hard and cross the finish line at all costs!
TOA: Anything else you'd like us to know?
D.R. Bellard: If you'd like your personal brand or logo revitalized, my production company Narrow Path Productions also does social media digital marketing. Contact me using the info in my bio!
TOA: Thank you D.R. for sharing your continuing journey with us!
D.R. Bellard's Work:
Recent Project: "Shot by an Angel" -- Award-Winning Short Film
Follow D.R. Bellard:
Narrow Path Productions Intl.: nppintl.com
IMDB: DR Bellard
Vimeo/Derek R. Bellard
D.R. is repped theatrically by Carmen L. Williams of Dream Entertainment Agency in Beverly Hills and commercially by Gail Marx of Daily Talent Agency in Las Vegas.