Northwestern is home to thousands of talented and driven students. Several of these students have been able to translate their talent into exciting careers, even while still in school. Robert Cunningham, a junior RTVF major from Lawrenceville, Georgia, is one of the budding talents who most recently co-starred in a movie along with Nicolas Cage set to release later this year. I sat down with Robert to find out about his career interests and pursuing his passion as a student.
Q: How/when did you realize you wanted to be an actor?
A: Since I was young I always liked performing, in whatever capacity that meant. I didn’t start acting until high school and wasn’t sure if I wanted to be an actor so I went into film. Sophomore year I missed acting and was in a production of Hair. Over the summer, the opportunity to audition for the film I’m in came up and I went for it. So it’s all very new, sort of just happened. Kind of a stroke of luck, but now I know this is for sure something I want to be doing.
Q: What is the name of your upcoming movie and can you describe the general plotline?
A: The movie is called “Mom and Dad” with Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair. For a 24- hour period for an unexplained reason, the parents in the film are trying to kill their kids. It’s set in a suburban area and it’s a horror- thriller.
Q: How were you able to use skills learned from shows and classes at Northwestern in your preparation for filming and during the actual movie?
A: It was my first time ever doing anything film related in terms of being on screen. I think I had a good idea, at least on a micro level, of what happens on the scenes. I casted a lot of shows here on campus so I thought I had a good eye and a good sense of things so I thought that was something I was able to bring to set. I’m a learner so I thought this was great way for me to learn from actors and directors and progress as I went.
Q: What are three major tips you would give to another aspiring actor for breaking into the business?
A: Always find opportunities to act. I’m always trying to find any production to be a part of, and continue to take acting or screenwriting classes. Another important thing to do is go to performances and go to movies. You learn from watching a lot and are able to take inspiration from that. Stay humble and stay motivated. Know your worth and know what you’re good at. Have a sliver of an ego because you need to be confident and keep yourself going.
Q: What kind of projects do you hope to be involved with on campus in the future?
A: I’m still doing a lot of theatrical things on campus. I’m doing a main stage show called Stick Fly. In terms of film and TV I’m doing a few auditions in Chicago. I’m going to keep practicing and try to get better.
Q: How do you plan to pursue your acting career while still in school?
A: I’m currently working with an agency in Chicago. They know my education is my priority but whenever there’s a really cool opportunity and it fits my classes schedule they’ll let me know so I can pursue it. A few times a month there’s a really cool opportunity. Looking forward to the summer, I’ll also look for opportunities then.
Q: Where do you see your career life five years after graduation?
A: Hopefully acting! I like to perform…I don’t know if it will be an on screen thing or on stage performing, maybe even creating something. A huge reason I became an RTVF major is because I love creating. I’ll definitely be performing in some capacity.
(Source: Tanisha Aker Langston)