We had the good fortune of connecting with Alex Matthews and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alex, how do you define success?
Success can take many forms, but from what I’ve found, success is more than a good grade, finished product, or trophy. Whenever I would start on a creative project when I was in high school, whether that was making a film, writing a story, or putting on a stage performance, I would get so focused on the end product that I would forget to enjoy the process. While it would be awesome to be able to say one day, “I made 37 movies!” or “I wrote a 400-page play!”, I think it is equally important to be able to say, “I made some incredible friends from this project,” or “I found out a lot about myself while writing this play.”
Success can be just as internal as it is external. It can be seen by others or just yourself, but depending on your values, I believe it will resonate deeper if you don’t look to others to decide if you are successful. If we get caught up in how many movies one makes or how many novels one writes, the joy from the process of creation may be lost in the need for the spotlight. I think my generation gets overwhelmed with the need to be seen as workhorses that never put down the pencil. But, in my own experience, I find that way of thinking will exhaust creativity over time. Now when I tackle a project, I make sure to enjoy it instead of rushing to get it out of the door.
So as you create, remember to enjoy the process! That’s where the learning takes place and projects find deeper meaning. If you’ve made 37 movies, good for you! But… do you find success in that number alone or in the journey to get there?
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I believe everyone is an artist in their own way, but I am so thankful that I get to do it professionally! Countless stories flew around in my head as a youngster growing up in the midwest. Whether I was providing origin stories to stick-figure-ninjas in my sketchbook, building crazy lego sets without instructions, or pretending to be a teenage mutant ninja turtle while playing on the jungle gym at school, I was always pretending to be somewhere else telling someone’s story. So I suppose one could say I never grew up.
I did all of the plays, acting competitions, improv shows, and open mic storytelling sessions in high school. All of those performances led me to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles. That’s where I met some of the most amazingly talented performers and friends. Both my peers and professors inspired me every day with their own stories and wisdom.
I’ve also made a collection of short films and podcast stories with my brother and close friends. We’ve done as many genres as we can, from romantic dramedy to arthouse horror. Some are definitely better than others, but we had so much fun putting them together. The things we learned from each film are certainly priceless.
If I’m not on the stage or running around with my camcorder, then I’m probably hiding somewhere writing with a cup of banana almond milk nearby. Weird drink choice, I know, but actors like me are odd. Anyway, I published my first novel during the 2020 quarantine through amazon, which was super exciting! It was the first part of my “Waking Up” book series and I’m getting ready to publish the sequel very soon. I had a number of crazy sequential dreams as a kid that I wrote down and made a story out of. The coming-of-age horror series titled “Waking Up” follows a ragtag group of friends as they navigate a world being torn apart by monsters and maniacs. Lots of action, suspense, and… I even included a picture you can color with crayons if interested. Just kidding. Sorta. You can use markers instead if you want. I’ve also made a few short films based on the book series as well. Seeing my dreams come to life on screen was certainly a one-of-a-kind feeling!
I know a lot of artists share a similar story as mine, whether they write or perform all day, but I can safely say that even with all the challenges that came with these projects that I wouldn’t trade any of it away. Okay, maybe a few cringy student films I made I wouldn’t mind forgetting, but the creative energy we all shared while working together was so awesome. I can’t wait to work with more amazing people and continue writing more novels as I grow older. I will always cherish my earliest projects for their lessons and memories. Thank you to everyone who supported me along the way!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Wow, where to begin! I’m still new to the Los Angeles area but that doesn’t mean I don’t have some awesome memories from all around the city. Of course, there are so many touristy things to check out, like the beaches or the Hollywood sign, but in all honesty, there are so many cool things to find in the quieter spaces of the city.
During my time at school in my first year at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, I would find hiking trails to take my mind off things for a while. I didn’t have my car, so I had to find places close by. There is a park in LA called Runyon Canyon that I would visit often. You’ll see dog walkers, influencers vlogging, or even the occasional actor running lines to themselves. The trails will lead you up to the tops of hills, allowing you to see the Hollywood sign, the ocean, as well as almost all of Los Angles. Pretty cool, right?
But if you search for them, there are some trails that don’t get as much attention at Runyon. They lead you through lots of lush forests, filled with all kinds of statues made by artists from a long time ago. Not weird-cultish statutes from a horror movie, just cool artifacts that people left behind that found a home in the brush. The city can get overwhelming sometimes, so to find quiet places in these kinds of hiking trails brings a lot of peace.
So if you’re ever needing a spot to get away from the concrete or crazies, Runyon Canyon is an awesome place to check out and explore.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Thinking back through all of the creative endeavors I’ve done, none of it would be possible without my parents saying “yes, go for it!” They are big believers in following your dreams. They taught me that everyone has a purpose, and if you turn away from that purpose, life can get pretty dull. So as soon as I found a passion for storytelling in all forms, they did everything in their power to help. From helping me find someone to help professionally publish my novel series or even providing pizza after filming all day, they were always there to show their support for whatever project I was working on. Without them, I wouldn’t have been encouraged to do what I love every single day!
Maharry Photography Justin Salem Meyer Eli Borgs Alison Hisel