We had the good fortune of connecting with David Sheftell and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi David, what role has risk played in your life or career?
As an Actor it has been proven to me time and again that risk is an essential part to anyone looking to venture into a life in the entertainment industry. You take a risk every time you walk out on a stage, in front of a camera, in front of an audience, or even just doing an audition. You risk a little part of yourself, and that risk can lead to wild success or tremendous failure. There is one particular instance in my life where I took a pretty big risk and it changed my perspective on the idea of it from that point forward. It was my freshman year at Pepperdine University and I was a brand new Theatre student. At the beginning of the year, you audition for two shows, the Musical which is on the main stage and a drama in the Black Box Theater. The auditions go on for several days in the very first week of school. So before you really know anyone, know where to go, or exactly what to do, you’re learning sides for auditions, sheets of music for singing, and dance steps to do in front of total strangers who are determining what you can and can’t do for the next four years of your life. I was auditioning for both shows but I was particularly interested in the musical that year which just so happened to be “Anything Goes.” That year the school had brought in a guest director to direct the show and conduct the auditions. I went through the rigorous rounds of the auditions over the course of the week, singing my 16 bars on the main stage to an all but empty theater, except for the director, choreographer, and musical director. Learned countless tap dancing routines, doing everything I could to secure a role in the show. As the days went, people started disappearing. The group began to get whittled down as the director had seen what he needed from them and was making his final selections for the callback. On the final night of the initial auditions a list went up, I was called back but only as a dancer. The people called back for the dancers and the chorus parts were dismissed and they were going to start reading for the lead roles. I was stunned; I was certain that in my first year in a brand new school that just like in high school I would be selected for one of the leads. What I came to realize very quickly was that everyone in the Theatre department had been the best in their High Schools as well, and it was a new playing field, and the competition was fierce. I’d have to step up my game. It was at that moment that I decided not to accept my fate but rather to take it into my own hands with a huge risk. I ran. I ran as fast as I could back to my dorm. I flew past my new roommate, flung off my dance clothes and dressed myself to the nines in my best suit, shirt, and tie/handkerchief combo and ran back out the door. Of all the lead roles in the show I knew there was one that I could absolutely crush if I were cast. The role was for a comedic Englishman named Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. He was described in the breakdown as an energetic, quirky, and good-natured English aristocrat. Check, check, and check. He had an English accent, was a baritone, and had the ability to move well. Another triple check, this was my chance. In my very proper suit and tie I waited by the door where they were conducting the one-on-one auditions. I could hear the gentleman who was reading the sides inside. I waited for him to finish his audition and leave the room. Before the director, choreographer and Musical director knew what had happened the door burst open and in my finest English accent I said, “Oh I do say, I am dreadfully sorry but there seems to have been some mistake. You see, I was let go prior to auditioning for the role of Lord Evelyn Oakleigh and I do think that was rather harsh. I would love the opportunity and as you can see my English accent is impeccable.” They all started to laugh, I continued, “I know the callbacks are tomorrow and wouldn’t you know it, I’m available. Might I read for the role?” I waited for what felt like minutes in a room where the air had been completely sucked out. Finally the director said, “Ok, come back tomorrow and read for Evelyn.” “Thank you,” I said, “Thank you so very much and see you then!” I ran out the door before they could change their minds. I was elated; my risk had paid off big time. But this isn’t the end of the story, I read for the role the next day against three others. I didn’t get the part; in fact by the end of everything I wasn’t even cast in the show. I now felt that my risk had done more harm than good. It wasn’t until later that year, when I was finally cast in my first of eleven shows in the Pepperdine Theatre Department, that I found out it was THAT risk that had so impressed the faculty of the Theatre Department that got me my start. The head of the Department, Cathy Thomas-Grant, had told me “I heard about you crashing the callbacks for “Anything Goes” and I loved it! That proved to me right there you belong in this department. This business is tough and you need to be able to create opportunities for yourself, and I can see you’re willing to do that.” She was right; I was and still am willing to do that. If a door is closed, sometimes you have to kick it down to get what you want. A risk may not always give you the desired result right away, but it may bear fruit down the road.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m incredibly excited about the movie I shot earlier this year that is coming out soon. You can see me opposite Nicholas Cage, Emily Tosta, & Beth Grant in the horror thriller called “Willy’s Wonderland.” I play Deputy Sheriff Evan Olson and honestly can’t tell you much more than that,but I will say this, it is a wild ride and I can’t wait for you to see it! I’m also incredibly proud that I got to play the role of Max Devore in “Stephen King’s Bag of Bones” on A&E with Pierce Brosnan. I played a pretty bad guy, so for people who’ve seen it, and who see what I do in it (I won’t give it away, go give it a watch!) they are always surprised when they meet me and say, “You’re nothing like your character, you’re so nice.” I take that as the biggest compliment to my acting. I’m also well known for my voice-over work, and one of the absolute thrills of my career has been repeatedly called in to work on three of my absolute favorite shows “Family Guy,” “American Dad,” and “The Cleveland Show” for Seth MacFarlane. I’ve also had the privilege to work on a myriad of other cartoons, and commercials as well as becoming the voice of Erie Insurance, and playing Lucas in the hit Video Game series “Days Gone.” I also have an upcoming Voice Over project for Facebook, which I’ll give more details to once I can!

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.
Things are a little difficult with the pandemic and I would definitely want everyone to be safe, but in normal times as an LA native I think I can give a pretty interesting perspective on places to go and things to see. For the best in breakfast you have to head to Lily’s Café in Malibu for a Breakfast Burrito. Anyone who went to Pepperdine University or lives in Malibu will tell you that this hidden gem has the most amazing Burrito in LA. This leads you perfectly to going to the beach, because when in LA you have to go to the beach. A lot of people will tell you to go to Zuma or Westward, but there is a beautiful little public beach that not everyone knows about called Broad Beach. It’s right next to some of the most luxurious homes in Malibu and is a little off the beaten path. You park in the Broad Beach Rd neighborhood and head down a set of wooden stairs to the most perfect beach you’ve ever seen, it’s magical. For dinner I’d say my hometown of Calabasas has the best Sushi at a place called Shibuya, but get there early because this restaurant gets busy. Most people around town haven’t heard of it, but the Kardashians and Kanye West frequent there because it’s that good. It’s first come, first serve so sometimes there’s a wait but it is worth it. Everything is good on the menu but I would definitely recommend the Shibuya Roll, which the owner Mark makes specifically for those who know to order it. For the rest of the week I would take my friend to some of the great local spots like shopping on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Going up to Griffith Observatory for the most amazing views of Los Angeles. At night taking in a comedy show at UCB Improv or the world famous Comedy Store for some all-star Standup Comedy. And you would have to end the trip with a visit to Universal Studios or if you’re ok with a little drive Disneyland is always worth it!

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?
There have been so many people who have helped me on this journey; it’s incredible and would be too hard and too many people to mention here. But, if I were to dedicate this shoutout to anyone in particular it would have to be to my wonderful family. My Mom Kim, my Dad Craig, and my Sister Samantha. No on this planet has helped me more in literally everything I’ve ever done than these three people. My family, from the very start, have been my biggest cheerleaders. If there were a David Sheftell fan club, they would be the founding members. They have done everything for me. My parents have been incredibly supportive since the minute I said I wanted to be an actor; they encouraged me and believed in me from the very start. Every show I’ve ever had they have been to, and when I say every show, I mean EVERY show. When I’ve had two weeks of performances they would come every night. When I performed in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival they flew to Scotland to be there for the Opening. If there was a TV show or a movie I was in they would have viewing parties with their friends. They haven’t only been there for the final performances though; they’ve also been there for the entire struggle along the way. Taking me to every singing lesson, dance lesson, acting class, and helping me read through audition sides. In fact my sister Samantha helped me with the Self Tape I did for the role I booked earlier this year in the horror movie opposite Nicholas Cage, Emily Tosta, and Beth Grant called “Willy’s Wonderland.” I truly believe without her help I wouldn’t have gotten the part. My parents, sister, and I have always been a tight knit group. We have always looked out for one another. I know a lot of people, especially those who pursue a life in the arts, don’t always have that support system. I am truly blessed to have such an amazing family who not only continues to support all of my endeavors but also believes in what I’m doing and want only the best for me. Thank you Mom, Dad, and Sam, I love you with all my heart!

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