On a beautiful Saturday morning, I got to sit down with my equally beautiful friend Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman about moving to the big city, pursuing the dream, and his exciting new series Stargate Universe.
Jeffrey has a way of inspiring and pushing the people around him to live things that they think might not be possible. I know in my life, he was the sole reason I had the commercial acting and modeling career that I had, taking me to my first pro bono shoot kicking and screaming (below), getting me to put myself out to agents, and consistently being positive about my life and career when I was around him. You can feel this tall 6’3″ drink of water before you even see him. His friends can tell you that his presence brightens the room, and as you can read below, this positivity has gotten him far while chasing after his dream of becoming a professional actor.
NO: Why don’t you introduce yourself to our public
JBC: I’m Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman *smirking*
NO: Yes. The man that needs no introduction.
JBC: Aw Nicholas.
NO: Because he has three names!
JBC: *laughs* You’re amazing.
NO: You are one of the new stars of Stargate Universe.
JBC: I am.
JBC: It’s been incredible, I don’t even know where to start. It’s the best job I’ve ever had in my entire life. It was totally unexpected. I went in and read for …four different characters over the course of a month and a half before I ended up actually landing my character Darren Becker.
NO: Oh wow.
JBC: Yeah. It’s been…it’s been fantastic. We’ve shot nineteen episodes so far. We’re shooting the last two, uhm, this coming month. We’ve been shooting since last february. It’s a really really character driven show and it’s really different than the other two Stargates in that sense. There’s eight leads on the show, and about thirty recurrings so…
NO: Wow that’s a lot.
JBC: Yeah it’s insane when you’re on set there’s like fifty trailers all over the place and just, just the majority of the cast just playing and having fun in between takes and we’ve all really become a family over the last nine months.
NO: That’s amazing, because I know there’s a lot of facebook status updates that I get from outside North America and there’s been a couple in the last few weeks actually that have been about Stargate Universe. This is actually a global thing let alone North America.
JBC: Honestly out of all of the projects that I’ve done in my career, the fans for Stargate are insane. Ridiculous. Before the show has even aired I’ve been getting hoardes and hoardes of fan mail sent to my agency, sent to my facebook, sent to my personal e-mail. I don’t know how they got my personal e-mail but they sure do their research.
NO: And did you know that coming into the show?
JBC: Mmm, I was told? I had no idea to this degree honestly. Ya.
NO: Well congratulations, but this isn’t where it started. You’re not actually a native of Vancouver right?
JBC: I’m not, I’m from Alberta.
NO: From where in Alberta Jeffrey? *smirking*
JBC: *laughing* Oh Nicholas. I’m from Red Deer, Alberta.
NO: Funny how your IMDB page does not say Red Deer.
JBC: It doesn’t mention it at all does it? *continuing laughing*. It does mention my age however!
NO: No it says “Edmonton”.
JBC: Ya? Does it?
NO: But you did spend some time in Edmonton.
JBC: I was born there. I spent the first few years of my life there.
NO: And you came out to Vancouver strictly for acting?
JBC: Uhm, I came to Vancouver when I was nineteen for modeling mostly. I started to model when I was sixteen years old and moved here, got signed with a modelling agency here and then just kinda fell into acting honestly. I was…do you want to hear the story?
NO: Well ya kind of because I think it’s really interesting knowing a couple people that moved to Vancouver strictly for acting to know that sometimes it does fall in your lap when you least expect it even if it’s not what your priority is.
Nic & Jeffrey (Modeling Photo)
JBC: Ya absolutely. I had always had the dream, you know, like any actor slash model or model slash actor to step into the world of acting but uhm, I was twenty years old, I was on a bunch of castings for fashion week. I decided to skip my last casting for the day and go for lunch with a friend. I was sitting in Earls on Burrard Street and was approached by an acquaintance of mine asking me if I had any acting experience. I said “No, I model but I would love to”. He said “Come over and meet my friend” so I went over to the table and met this lovely gentleman named Ron Oliver who told me that he was desperately looking for somebody to fill the role in uhm…
NO: Shock to the Sytem.
JBC: That’s right. Shock to the system in his new movie starring Morgan Fairchild and Chad Allen. I told him I had no acting experience but I would love to come in for an audition so he set one up for the next day. I went in and the casting room was full of ten, thirty-five year old, big, brooding muscley black men. I thought I had no shot whatsoever. I was literally about to grab my bag and walk out the door, completely defeated.
NO: And it’s a good thing you didn’t.
JBC: It’s a good thing I didn’t. They called my name just as I was standing up to walk out. I went in and just kinda said “What do I got to lose?”, read the ten pages of lines and booked it on the spot.
NO: Fantastic. And do you feel like that was your big break? Is that what you would define as the “big break”?
JBC: Absolutely. That was…that was the defining moment of my acting career in the sense that, that was what got me in the room in front of other casting directors to be seen for other projects. From then I started booking guest spots on TV series and doing voice work, and other movies of the week and feature films.
NO: Ya, voice work. You also do the voice of Black Panther on Iron Man.
JBC: I do.
NO: And maybe people would be interested in the contrast of working doing voice work and how you can make a career out of that and what it’s actually like.
JBC: For voice work it’s really fierce competition actually. It’s a really small knit group of people in the city who do it and they’re all incredibly talented. I was really really lucky to get in when I did. It was a total fluke as I see it. I was called by my agency seeing if I could do an african accent, and like any good actor the answer’s always ‘yes’.
NO: Like any good black man.
JBC: *laughs loudly* Yes, like any good blacktor, the accent is a yes. I made up an african accent on the spot. I went in the next day and read for Iron Man, and I guess I was the best of the worst.
NO: That’s amazing. I know with all this work that Shock to the System was kind of the first time you were recognized as well.
NO: I remember you telling me a story about a woman in your apartment building.
JBC: Oh my gosh. Hmm.
NO: Do you remember this? She was living upstairs or something along those lines.
JBC: Oh that’s right, it was my neighbour.
NO: Ya, and she had said that she had watched the movie and she thought you were the actor.
JBC: Ya that’s right!
NO: And has that happened since then? Is that something that happens a lot in vancouver specifically.
JBC: You know what? Out of all of the projects that I’ve done, I get recognized most from Shock to the System. I think it still runs on pay stations, on Super Channel and stuff. Mostly Vancouver but yeah, even when I go home for christmas, I have…last week actually one of my best friends and my Mother both called me in the same day telling me that Shock to the System was on.
NO: That’s funny.
JBC: Yeah I get recognized for the L Word in Vancouver too, and this movie I just did last summer with Amanda Crew called The Break-Up Artist.
NO: That’s right, and when is that out ?
JBC: That’s already aired on television. It’ll be on DVD in the next couple months.
NO: And are you ready to get recognized for Stargate now?
JBC: You. Bet.
NO: *laughs* You are excited for that aren’t you?
JBC: It’s fantastic honestly. Actually just two nights ago I was at a film gala at Opus and I got recognized from Stargate specifically, and only two episodes have aired. It’s the best feeling in the whole wide world to see…to see so many people from so many different genres, so many age groups, and you know, races that all have this common interest in the show. It’s not just for Sci-Fi fans.
NO: No I definitely get a sense of that as well. Especially all appreciating your work after struggling so long in your acting career…
JBC: Oh my gosh yes.
NO: …you could have given up so many times like so many people do, but now’s actually your chance to succeed and be proud of that.
JBC: Absolutely. No, it’s been really fantastic and smooth sailing at times, and other times it’s been…it’s been a struggle for sure. I was working as a waiter for years in between while going out for castings and auditions and just hoping to book a job. Uhm, yeah, it’s been really fulfiling. If you put the time into it and stick to it, it will pay off. I see so many people who, who try for a couple of months or a couple of years and kind of half ass it, and don’t get what they want out of it. You really do have to put the work in to reap the benefits.
NO: Absolutely. I think with anything really, as with acting, there’s a lot of people who need to hear that and I think you’re a big inspiration for people that can make a successful career out of acting in our tiny city.
JBC: Well thank you very much.
NO: Well thank YOU very much for sitting down with me I appreciate it.
JBC: My pleasure.
JBC: *laughs* Adieu.
Jeffrey and the rest of the cast can be seen on Stargate Universe airing on SciFi, Friday at 9/8c.