We had the good fortune of connecting with Neil Vanides and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Neil, how do you think about risk?
For me, I played it safe for a very long time… That is to say; I like making responsible decisions especially when it comes to money. However, to get my startup capital where it needed to be, I did make a lot of risky moves to multiply my capital. When I first started putting away little bits of money here and there, I decided that I would follow in my Father’s footsteps and invest in used automobiles. (My first word was “car” so it only makes sense..) I started buying cars on craigslist that I felt I could repair on my own with little to no money. I started with Mercedes because they are the most reliable cars I’ve ever been in and I knew the brand well thanks to dear ole’ Dad. -My Dad has faithfully worked with Mercedes for my entire life… The first one I bought to flip was a 1990 Mercedes 190E with roughly 185,000 miles on it. When I got it the brakes had all seized and the owner was unable to drive due to losing their license.. So, I brought a crow-bar, jumper cables, and had a friend come with as I popped the brakes loose, jumped the car and gave the owner $500. -I drove the car for a year while selling my car for $3,200.. This turned my $500 investment int roughly $2,500 investment capital toward my business once I replaced the brakes myself.. I repeated this process about 5 times that year making enough side money to quit my job at Starbucks and have enough to buy all the tools I needed.. This process was not always flawless.. I did mistakenly buy a Jaguar once.. which I regretted immediately.. But otherwise, I still came out very much ahead. This all goes to show that the risks you take should still be educated risks.. you should know a lot about the idea, or investment, and work involved before diving in. This did play a huge role in my life though.. It got me here to LA, where I go out and take risks every time I make a character choice for an audition, or choose representation. Again; Know your risk before you take it…
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m an Actor and Voiceover Artist when I’m not running my other business. I worked in Christian Films, I’ve been on Television, I hosted a television show while I was still in high school, and now I’m really making the push here in LA to land a leading role in TV and Big Budget Hollywood Films. What sets me apart is my desire… When I say this, I mean that I don’t just want to be “famous,” -our president is famous for so many bad reasons… I want to be successful. I’ve been acting professionally since the year 2003… I want to inspire my audience while I uplift my coworkers; my crew, my co-stars.. When I worked in Christian films, the set was like a dream-family.. Everyone was so happy and proud to be a part of their job. When challenges arose they were met with joyful enthusiasm and never defeat or negativity. I learned that this was a real thing while working with Steve Boettcher on “Come Follow Me,” and “My Son, My Savior” where I played John. I’ve never felt that kind of “Holiness” to my work before, but I try to bring it into my work now, whenever I can. I grew up doing a lot of theater which is how I fell in love with the craft. I worked with Morning Star Productions based in Wisconsin and there I learned the meticulous and self-sacrificial commitment that sets Good Actors apart from Great Actors. I was good then, but the directors, the leads (before I became one) and the musicians were all incredibly sharp and polished. I knew then that I had to dive in deep, so I went to a 4 year Conservatory Training program known as the Acting BFA at UW-Milwaukee. I’m not a model who took a few workshops like most “actors” in Hollywood who come for a season and leave, I’m an Actor. I have been an actor since I was old enough to desire anything and I will be an actor for as long as I have breath in my lungs. My biggest challenge in getting to where I am today was always the same – sacrifice. I would sacrifice what I saved for my goals to help the people I loved. I was not good at compartmentalizing nor was I good at keeping myself isolated enough to keep driving forward. I was a “fixer” and many times I would put myself in the middle of problems that were not my own simply because I knew the solution. I eventually underwent a lot of therapy which I am very proud of, as well as set up healthy boundaries for myself and others. This made me so much more focused and also rounded me out where I had previously been more rough around the edges. As I learned to sacrifice less in the immediate present, it enabled me to help more in the overall… if that makes sense. As far as my “Brand,” well, I’m very cerebral, I studied Northern Shao-Lin Kung-Fu for over 8 years and it taught me many things. For one: I am afraid of nothing more than the defeat of not trying. Another lesson I learned is that the human mind is very powerful, and just as the body, we can cause great damage if we put negative influences in our minds. What we focus on expands, so expand on being positive, on growing, on healing, on loving, on forgiveness, on grace, and on joy. For me that ties in perfectly with my faith as these are also all a part of that. I grew up always feeling like an outsider… I was stabbed and attacked for being “white” when I went to a school with only two white kids, then I was picked on and looked down upon for being Greek when I went to a predominantly white school… so I learned that fitting in or “belonging” could never depend on your surroundings. The joy of being what you should be, who you should be, and where you should be is something that only you have authority over. I choose joy in the morning and joy when I lay my head down to rest. It works.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
My best friend Andrew actually did come to visit and we DID go out on the town! (I also showed him the last article I was in and he loved it; so, cheers!) We went to Griffith Park and did a Photoshoot with his beautiful girlfriend Maila We went to Moore’s – My favorite diner and had Lavazza coffee, brunch and admired the illustration walls in the back section We checked out The LACMA because.. well it’s the LACMA! We went through Hollywood and I drove them up and down Hollywood and Sunset Blvd in my BMW as it was too hot to walk.. We also dropped them in Downtown Burbank and they got to enjoy the shopping centers and the beautiful views of the mountains which for them was new to experience while at a mall.. Of COURSE! -We went to Disneyland and enjoyed the new Star Wars attractions. What a hoot! Had we more time I would have loved taking them through the Studio lot tours at Warner Brothers since I live so close and they were staying with me, but, that will have to wait until next time..
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
If anyone deserves a “Shout-out” or credit for my story, it’s my Dad. Jim Vanides: You are the best Father a man could ever hope for. I look up to you every day as you have never wavered. You are humble, patient, understanding, loving, supportive, clever, funny and you have been a rock for so many. My Father is the shining example of what love can endure. He has never discouraged a wise pursuit and always cautioned me to do what is right and honorable. I can only pray that my children one day if I’m blessed to have any will look up to me as I look up to him. My Father did everything possible for his children and sacrificed rest, comfort, and sometimes health just to be certain that we could never doubt his love. I will never respect or admire anyone more. I love you Dad.
Jarrick Wenslow – Michael Roud Photography