An Interview With Actor, Filmmaker and Former Model Reginald Chevalier

Reginald Chevalier is akin to artistic village griot who’s got scraps of wisdom to share in just about every creative field. He knows because he’s been there. He’s been the prominent, pretty face in international modeling campaigns. He has been on movie sets as actor, filmmaker and producer. He is the owner of CUE3 Group, his own entertainment production company based in Los Angeles, which consists of a film unit that’s devoted to developing new projects.

Improvisation Theater is another skill that most actors that I’ve worked with count on in a time of need. Improv is one of the few styles of acting where you have absolute freedom to discover your range as an actor. So, where you can find an improv class, consider adding it to you repertoire. After a few years developing your craft, you will feel that you’re ready for the big time. Hold it! Not so fast.

It doesn’t come that easy, unfortunately. You will need to identify your strengths. Many “acting resumes” will require you to know what skills you have, such as accents, special abilities or impersonations. Expand these talents as much as you can so that you appeal to a wide range of casting calls. For example, being able to sing, dance and do a British accent that could open the doors for you.

The next step is having a great headshot. It’s your 8×10 calling card to casting directors. It needs to look exactly like you in order to get cast for the right parts, when going for casting calls. Before you arm yourself with a strong résumé of the work and experience you have acquired so far, your best bet is to network extensively. You need to be approachable and build your reputation as a professional with whom others like to work.

The people in your network can connect you to available jobs and can provide you with valuable insights about the business. In the meantime, start sending your headshot and résumé with a brief cover letter to all the casting directors and agents in your area. Follow up with postcards every four to six months, updating them on your current acting projects.

Therefore, give yourself the best chance at success by following these simple rules on a casting call and you’ll quickly find that, you’re already ahead of the game and you widen your chances to get the job: Learn your craft, never be late, make sure your headshot is accurate, know your lines, never rewrite your lines, listen to directions, commit to your reading. And remember, always be nice to everyone you cross in your path, you never know who’s who in Hollywood!

Don’t lie to yourself! Success as an actor won’t come overnight. There is a bunch of competition and loads of rejection in store for you. Look at this as a journey and you’ll be fine. Use the character traits you’ve discovered to get yourself working. But continue to explore new facets of your person.

You will find that everything you learn in the acting realm will be put to use someday. The happiest actors are the working actors, even though they’re not getting paid for it, yet. Every experience is a great experience. So, spend less time seeking out an agent and more time seeking out acting opportunities for yourself.

From small plays to student films—you’ll be happily surprised how many seemingly insignificant opportunities are the ones that make your entire career. It won’t hurt either to read the trade papers like Backstage and Dramalogue. You’ll stay up on the happenings in the industry and find lots of casting opportunities.

Now, here comes the tricky part, New York and Los Angeles are where most of the casting directors work and live. Also, many of the shows that are shot in any major cities within the world, are still cast in L.A. or New York. So, If you happen to live in a different city besides those two places, it may be wiser for you to move there to pursue your acting, keeping in mind that it is where most of the action is.

If you don’t have enough saving for the journey, you may have to get a loan from your parents or best friends, since looking for acting jobs and acting should be your full time job. Otherwise you’ll get stuck as a waiter at the Daily Café forever. The closest you’ll get to acting is serving coffee to some famous Hollywood actors or film producers, having breakfast there.

Maybe, once in a while you’ll be offered a gig as an extra in a “B” movie. You must prepare yourself both mentally and physically for all types of challenge. Even actors who make millions of dollars per picture still must “work” to earn their keep. They are on location for months at a time and every day they commit themselves, both emotionally and physically to their roles. It can be extremely exhausting and strenuous, so you need to be in decent shape. Exercise!

I think that’s enough to get you going. On a nutshell, the best way to become a respected actor is to start acting like an “Actor”. Be a professional in how you prepare yourself, look at yourself and treat your career the right way. And before you know it, agents, casting directors and audiences will begin to see you as an actor, too.

 

And to aspiring models?
Becoming a model can be a tricky business, because it’s all based mostly on physical look and appearance. Besides, you don’t get up one day and just decide to become a model and there’s not such thing as a school that can teach you how to become one.

They’re usually rip-offs and scams. So, I would suggest that before you go and throw away your hard earned money, have a photographer friend take different snap shots of you and bring them to a modeling agency in your city. They will be honest with you and tell you exactly what to do. A good agency won’t ask you to pay them in advance for representing you. A modeling agency’s number one purpose is to find the model work.

They thrive as the model’s representative or agent. As an agent they seek and negotiate contracts of employment for the model or talent who’s an independent business. That’s the reason they only take a percentage of what the model makes—ten to twenty-five percent—depending of the type of work. Modeling agencies can be found in every major city in the world but New York City is the number one for models.

It is the heart of the fashion and advertising industries in the United States, which leads to a high demand for all types of models. When an agency sees someone who has potential or someone who satisfies the demand, they will invest in that individual to get him/her ready for the market. These top agencies will help train you, get you test shoots, layout your portfolio, and put together comp cards and other printed materials you need.

They take care of finding you work, booking the jobs, bill for the jobs and eventually cut a check for the work you do. Once you are in an agency like this, all you have to worry about is following instructions and modeling.

As a professional model, you cannot be shy and reserved, because you will be constantly meeting new people and walking into new situations and performing before strangers every day.

You need to handle new experiences, challenges and interactions with other talents. Otherwise, you won’t last too long in this business. Besides the outgoing personality to be a model, needing the physical requirement is a must. Professional modeling is a tough business and takes a lot of hard work and stamina. A photoshoot or fashion runway can run as long as eight to twelve hours and at all times of the day and night. And at the end of the day you still have to do all the stuff needed to keep you in shape and looking beautiful.

You need to keep your charisma, your charm, and your sex appeal up at all time. Your main job is to sell yourself and the product you’re representing. That’s why it’s also imperative to be in charge of you, since your look and physical appearance are your assets as a professional model. This includes your training, your physical upkeep.

You need to be able to control your health—size and fitness—your body for posing and your emotions for acting them out, and your life so you show up on time all the time and keep track of your schedule. Needless to say, you have to be in good health by working out and eating right.

So, hire a professional personal trainer and a nutritionist. The more you work and becoming widely solicited, the more you earn. Then, you need to learn about surviving in a big world of sharks, while your modeling career becomes your personal business.

As any other businessperson you must be able to take charge of your professional practices and finances. Therefore the support of a professional accountant is a must for money management. A great lawyer can also be used, both as an advisor and a personal manager, especially when it’s time to sign the big contracts. Last but not least: Stay away from any kind of drugs! I met so many wonderful models that fell into that trap and lost a promising career over it.

And to filmmakers?
Most famous filmmakers will tell you that their passion for filmmaking started at an early age, with a small camcorder they’ve received as a gift, making movies of their high school parties and friends, but some really learn their craft working on the sets of well-known directors starring from the bottom; sometimes as a Production Assistant on a commercial.

They eventually work their way up as an Assistant Director on a Documentary, a TV production, or a short film. A great filmmaker tends to wear many hats. He’s usually a writer, a producer, a casting director, a director, a director of photography, a film director, and an editor, all at once.

Although, film school is a great way to jump-start a sense of film language, filmmaking is usually on-the-job training lifetime experience. I know a lot of very talented directors who learned by just doing it; nevertheless, having vision and a good sense of story is invaluable. Like everything else in life, there are some essential steps to follow on how to make your dreams come true. And the facts are clear.selective focus photo of turned-on black video camera

To be a successful filmmaker today, you need to have complete confidence in yourself, an unshakable faith in your talent and ability – and some very good luck. But faith, talent and luck won’t take you all the way – you also need to have the knowledge of what is expected of you when you begin preproduction, when you step on the set, and when you are in the editing room. Basically, the director is the artistic head of a movie. There are three main phases to the job of directing a movie.

Pre-production in many ways is the most important part of the process. It’s where the ideas of a film are translated into a kind of game plan, both from an artistic angle–casting, shot selection, style, color schemes, etc—and a practical logistic—scheduling, locations, etc. In many ways a movie is made or broken in pre-production. In other word it dictates the outcome of the final product.

Production is probably the phase most people associate with directing. Being on set, calling “action” and giving notes on performance and shots. This phase often feels like trying to paint a picture with a hundred people standing behind you screaming, “Hurry up”! It’s very stressful and very exciting at the same time. Some days are truly souls crushing and some days you just feel electric.

Post-production – Often the longest phase of making a movie, and in many ways the most gratifying. This is where you assemble all the parts into something that feels like a movie. The director sits with the editor as the movie is put together and finessed to hide all the ridiculous mistakes the director made on set.

Then sound effects are added and mixed, the color is corrected and visual effects are laid in. The director oversees all of this—but doesn’t actually have to be able to do any of it himself, which is very convenient.
Film festivals are a great way to market and sell your film when it’s done. In many ways, they’re the gatekeepers to the industry. The attention will come in time if you just keep doing the work and not taking “no’s” for an answer. I believe that.

If you are looking to break into Hollywood, the first thing you need to do is create something that will get you noticed. And the good news is, things got much more easier than before, thanks to YouTube and other social networks. You can start creating contents and uploading as much as you want.

In the event your video goes viral, you can rest assured that many people will re-post your video on their sites. You will want to make sure they have a way of getting back to you. Finally, your goal is to get into the habit of continually producing content. Think about something interesting and funny. Make sure the run time is anywhere from thirty-seconds to two-minutes. Anything longer and you run the risk of losing eyeballs. As a filmmaker, figuring out how to make a movie can be challenging. There are a lot of elements that must come together to provide for a smooth filmmaking process.

Here some of the steps I’ve taken when we were making the movie La Rebelle in Haiti, in 2005. I think this was the key to our success. Read and study everything you can about the filmmaking process. Also study Internet marketing.

Read and study everything you can about the filmmaking process. Also study internet marketing. Write or acquire a screenplay you want to produce.

Do an initial breakdown, schedule and budget for the cost of the project and find out if there’s anything you can get for a discount, or free, or barter. This will be one of the tougher parts of the process, but it will make the movie possible. Assuming you did get the money, pick a date for production. Hire a lawyer to help you with contracts and releases.

Finalize your script. Get it to a point where you aren’t going to keep changing things. Once you get to this point, consider it a locked script. Number your scenes and then break down your script, grabbing each element, location and character. Create a schedule. From your schedule and breakdown, create a final budget. Hire the right people—producers, assistant-producers—to help you get organized. Make sure they share your vision and they want to make the movie a success.

You may already know some talented actors interested in your project and working with you. Once you have all of your actors, you will want to find a location for a table read. Go through the script. It’s time to take some notes for final tweaks, keeping in mind that anything you change in the script also changes the budget and the schedule. Next step should be locations scouting.

Make sure you get different options in case one doesn’t work out as planned. For Marketing purpose, create a website specific to your movie. Make sure you have a way to get site visitors on your mailing list. Have a place for press, so that they can download your press kit and materials. As you get into production, you will be able to add a movie trailer. Find some good Craft Services for food and catering. Make sure you have all of your permits, releases and location agreements. Make sure you have adequate insurance for your movie.

Once you have all the above stuff checked off the list, you’ll want to meet with your producers and make sure everyone’s needs are being met. Start shooting. Make sure everything goes smoothly. This goes without saying, but don’t be a jerk. You’re making a movie. It’s a real accomplishment and it’s one of those great things you can do in life. In fact, it’s quite awesome. Shooting is over. Everything is in the can.

You’ll probably start editing the movie. I suggest sharing the edit suite with another set of eyes. Screen it with a group of people who have never seen the movie. Get feedback. Take the feedback and refine your edit. Refine and refine again. When you have a cut you’re happy with, then you can begin to plan your next strategy.

A distribution plan for the movie. You can take the festival route, send it directly to sales agents and acquisition pros, and post the trailer directly to some social networks. The purpose of your site is to get people to watch your movie and secure a great deal by selling your movie. Filmmaking is a risky business, full of unknowns and you should never sugar coat the potential risk involved in this business. Have fun and may your dreams come true!

In the film La Rebelle, you played a father of a young woman who died of a drug overdose. What do you think the entertainment community should do to discourage the abuse of drugs among young people?
In 2004, I was living in Los Angeles producing feature films when one day I got the urge to go back to Haiti and shoot a movie there. None of the scripts I have yet read got my interest, until I got my hand on one that depicted the story of drug abuse among Haitian youth.

I thought this would be an important subject to be tackled, since it was becoming a cancer inside the Haitian society and the youth stood the most vulnerable of them all. Being a Hollywood insider, I witnessed first hand the devastation that the drug epidemic created amongst the most fragile and how the movie industry and the media tried to deal with it by exposing it into films.

That’s exactly what we tried to do in La Rebelle. It became a hit in the Haitian community because the message came through, but in a fun way. If we saved one person from drug addiction, I think we’ve done our job. In the meantime, the work is not over yet. We need more entertainers and leaders willing to play their part by encouraging young people to stay away from drugs and live a healthier life. Besides their parents, we’re their biggest influence.

What makes a great film?
This is a great question, but hard to answer, for the fact that it’s relative to each and every individual watching a specific type of film. To some, a movie can be the best experience they never had, while it can turn into the worst time spent by others. Personally, I can tell a film is great after the first five minutes into it.

Besides having great actors a movie needs a great story plot to move you and captivate you. As a film director, I rather dissect a movie while I’m watching it, which mean I try to find out all the techniques used not only by the director, but also by the Director of Photography, the lighting crew, the special effects, etc. and watch it over and over, finding— every time—different clues.

When was the last time you went to Haiti?
I still live in Los Angeles, but since 2006 I’ve settled in Haiti because of the many film-documentary projects that I’ve been very fortunate to work on. It’s also a great pleasure to witness the evolution of filmmaking in Haiti and the growing number of young and talented technicians excelling in this field. We just need to revive the movie industry by not only supporting them but also by having an output with the opening of movie theaters throughout the country.

What’s next for you in term of projects?
I have a few movie projects in perspective, but I have to put them in the back burner for the moment because of a lack of movie theaters in the country, but my partners and I are developing a few show series for Television. We’re also producing more documentaries and commercial.

Do you think it’s a must to formally study acting?
You’ll be surprised to find out that a minority of actors never stepped foot in an acting class. I guess they were born with this talent. Nevertheless, The best actors you see on screen had received some kind of training throughout their lives. Many of them started as theater actors. One would definitely benefit from studying acting, unless you just want to consider it as a hobby.

In the early 2010s, to the press that you and Oprah Winfrey had been boyfriend and girlfriend. Do you have any regrets about making that revelation?
Well, I never regret anything in life. Actually, I never intended to have it come out in the tabloids like it did. I had a one on one with an author who leaked it to the press. Some people said that I tried to make a profit from making all this up. I can proudly say today that everything written is the truth and didn’t receive a penny from it. That’s why I don’t feel bad about it and still have my dignity intact.

What does the A stand for in your name?
Awesome! Just kidding. Antoine.

Did you know that Reginald means “ruler” and topped with Chevalier, meaning knight or gentleman? Do you feel like you have to live up to your name?
Actually, “Reginald” comes from the Latin word Regis—Regi, which means “king” or “ruler”. I’m not sure if I really live up to my name, it depends on whom you ask, but I definitely like to be in charge and run things my way, while being a gentleman doing it—if that makes sense.

What are you most proud of?
I’m proud of all my accomplishments because I know that my mom would be proud of me if she were alive, but I’m mostly proud of the fact that I was able to come back in my country and do what I love the most. Ten years ago, that was the last thing on my mind.

Do you have any Haiti-related projects in the works?
Yes, many. I will keep you posted as I turn them around.

Last Updated on November 10, 2023 by kreyolicious

Kreyolicious in Memoriam | An Interview With Actor, Filmmaker and Former Model Reginald Chevalier

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We Will Miss You

In loving memory of our dear friend. We are heartbroken and will miss her dearly. She was a shining light in our lives, with a kind and loving spirit that brought joy to all who knew her. Her passion was an inspiration to us all. We take comfort in knowing that her memory will live on through the website, which was a true testament to her talents and dedication. Rest in peace, dear. You will always be remembered and loved.