The "Artist Spotlight" and "The Director's Chair" are continuing interview series highlighting entertainment professionals,
working actors, singers, stage managers, producers, directors, designers and others in the arts and entertainment industry.
He was Sky in Mamma Mia! at Laguna Playhouse. You Saw Him as Ted at the Candlelight in Bonnie & Clyde. Meet the Joy of Every Director in Southern California – This Segment’s Artist Spotlight, David Šášik!
May 23rd, 2021 — By Chris Daniels
Acting on film is not as easy as it looks. You have to hit your marks and you have key lighting and you have to avoid overlapping. It’s not as carefree as it might look. Stage acting has its own set of challenges: it’s equally difficult – maybe even more difficult – with projection and blocking and how to open up to the audience and things like that. In both disciplines, your main job is to enter the world of make-believe and become the character. But that’s really the fun of it. That’s half the reason you’re there. Playing the game like you are a kid again. That’s the joy of acting.
Those words perfectly define our focus this week – a quintessential actor who has already performed laudably in his short career in both theatre and film, and has gained respect in the community from peers with decades of experience. Already a sublime singer, cultured actor and dazzling dancer. But one who is pushing the envelope again into the field of film directing with a walk on the wild side. This week’s Artist Spotlight: David Šášik.
David Jaroslav Šášik was born in Columbus, Ohio, USA on August 31, 1995, to Czechoslovakian parents, Roman Šášik and Helena Šášikova. His father works as a scientist and his mother spent most of her young adult life performing in plays and musicals – loving parents that instilled within him a love of both arts and sciences.
As Prince Eric in "The Little Mermaid"
In 2009, David became a viral hit in Black Veil Bride’s premiere music video, “Knives and Pens,” earning him over 130 million hits and a fan base that continues to this day. David later made a cameo in Black Veil Brides' music video, "Perfect Weapon," and returned as "the kid" in their music video for "Goodbye, Agony" alongside Alicia Vigil.
Throughout his teenage years, he studied scene-work, acting and writing under the esteemed Constance Tillotson and performed in a number of short films, including “Love in the Time of Flannel” (2011), “Lemongate” (2012), “The Shelter” (2012), and “The Age of Innocence” (2009) as well as a television pilot for the childrens' television series, “Danger Jane” (2011). David completed two more short films in 2014: “Necklace Girl” and “His Name Was No One.”
Graduating with honors at UCI in 2018 with a BFA in Musical Theatre and a BS in Mathematics, he followed that up by appearing in three films in 2019: “Church Camp,” “He's Real,” and “La Bella Necropoli.”
Also an accomplished musician, director and writer, David has performed in award-winning musical theatre productions throughout Southern California, such as San Diego Musical Theatre (“She Loves Me”); Candlelight Pavilion (“No, No, Nanette,”); Laguna Playhouse (“Mamma Mia,” “Hairspray,” “All Shook Up”); Chance Theater (“Dogfight,” “The Little Mermaid”), Candlelight Pavilion (“Bonnie & Clyde”) and many others, receiving rave reviews for exemplary, professional performances.
His hallmark executions on stage are an introspective mix of comedy, romance, suspense, many times representing the darker side of people. He takes characters on like aging rock stars, cutthroat executives, gallant princes, Brooklyn party boys or troubled combatants. David possesses these characters and opens them up — warts and all, but we seem to always root for him in the end.
In 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic, David founded his own production company, First Generation, and wrote, directed, produced and starred in the horror short, “Game Night” (2020) and the Webseries thriller, “Anza-Borrego.” He was also voice-over cast in the animated feature, “Forever Nester” and the short, futuristic “Federal Approved Parent,” both directed by Katrina Cebreir.
Most often cast as a leading man or protagonist, David Šášik adds both luster and depth to the characters he portrays, whether on stage or in film. If one rule to follow is grounded in David’s ethics on life and career, it’s “be true to yourself.” What follows is a short impromptu conversation with our publication, in which he chats about his latest doings, what’s on his calendar, and when we can expect to see him back on stage.
Since the pandemic hit early last year, this has been an extremely difficult time for most artists and performers. Have you had any personal challenges you’d like to share with us?
“This has easily been the most difficult year that I have lived through thus far. Fortunately, my family and I have been able to stay healthy and safe during the pandemic, but the year has been difficult nonetheless. I would say the two biggest challenges I have faced as an artist are feeling anxious about what the future of performing will look like and trying to find ways of being creative even when most conventional creative outlets have been shut down for over a year now. Luckily, I have been able to learn much from dealing with these particular challenges because now, when those anxious feelings creep in, I can acknowledge their presence while also knowing that I have made it this far by finding my own ways of being creative. Also, now that large-scale vaccinations have started to roll out, I am hopeful that artists and performers will be able to return to their professional careers after all.”
Can you walk us through an average day in your life?
“During the pandemic, I have made it a goal to do something creative or something for my career as a professional actor every day. I've also been blessed with a support job during this time so once I come home from work, I make sure to do something creative and then, as the day winds down, I get in some relaxing time by reading or watching an episode of one of my favorite shows.”
David, how old were you when you decided to pursue a career in the arts?
“I was 12 years old. I remember sitting in a meeting where someone was explaining how to get involved with a background talent agency, what agents and managers do, and how SAG-AFTRA works. In that meeting, I was so excited that I could barely pay attention. I remember thinking that I wanted to be on set for something, anything, the next day! Of course, it doesn't work that way, but that day I was the definition of “lemme at 'em!” From then on, I knew that I wanted to have a career as an actor and I have worked hard to make that 12-year-old version of me proud.”
What have been some of your proudest accomplishments so far?
“When it comes to my career as an artist, there are two accomplishments that come to mind that I am most proud of. The first one is becoming a member of SAG-AFTRA. As I mentioned earlier, 12-year-old me wanted to be SAG and on set for some really cool show the day after I had that meeting. When I finally joined SAG, it felt almost like I was fulfilling a promise I had made to myself. That I would get to that point no matter how long it took. The other accomplishment I am very proud of is acting as a SAG-AFTRA producer on my own project that I also wrote and directed. I had written and directed a short film once before I became a SAG producer, but writing, directing, staring in, and producing a film via SAG-AFTRA is a whole different ballgame. Not only do you have to carefully prepare the artistic side of it so you can have a good shoot day, but you also have to make sure that all of the SAG paperwork is in order. I am proud that I was able to keep all those plates spinning while also having a blast making a movie with my best friends.”
Who do you look up to as your greatest creative inspiration?
“My two greatest creative inspirations have to be Hugh Jackman and Bradley Cooper. Hugh Jackman has done it all: badass superhero movies, Broadway musicals, movie musicals, etc, and has somehow been able to bring so much heart to any role he plays regardless of the type of production. Bradley Cooper has played so many different types of characters: hungover bachelor party friend, a military hero, a faded rockstar, and he recently made his directorial debut as well. These are two artists who have had the chance to work on a wide variety of projects in extremely varied roles. This is exactly what I would like to do as well. Act in certain projects, maybe even direct some projects while always being able to try different genres and role-types.”
People often talk about working toward their dreams, especially actors. What is your dream and where would you like to be, say, five years from now?
“My dream is fairly straightforward: to be a working actor. I don't need to be famous or anything, but I would love it if I found myself in a position where my income comes primarily from working as an actor and I had enough money to take care of my family. I have no idea what the future will bring (hello, Covid pandemic), but five years from now, I would like it if I was living this dream of mine in some way. That could take many forms! Working consistently on television shows as a series regular or in guest star roles, working as a voice-over artist, working on one feature film after another, or working together with the same group of artists from project to project because we all enjoy working together so much. I don't have my heart set on one type of project, but I would love to stay busy (and employed) as artistically as possible.”
You’ve played a number of characters on stage. What theatrical character do you identify with the most and why?
“I would probably have to say Prince Eric from 'The Little Mermaid.' He strives to be kind and loving while also being fierce and determined to accomplish his goals.”
How do you prepare yourself for an audition, and what tips can you give a novice entering the field?
“I am a firm believer that ‘hard work beats talent every time.’ When possible, I try to put in as much work into an audition as I would into a project that I was actually cast in. This means memorizing your audition script, personalizing your scene partner, and analyzing what the script is giving you in terms of context clues. Your hard work and preparation will be noticed by someone so it's crucial that you put the work in. I have also found that practicing meditation and relaxation exercises before an audition, self-tape, callback, etc. is an excellent way of getting yourself in a healthy headspace. In terms of advice for someone new entering the field, I would say find an acting class/teacher that you love and learn all that you can from them! Going to acting class when I was a teenager (before I had even booked my first film project) was so important because it helped me learn about acting technique and it helped grow my confidence in my abilities as an artist.”
What is your absolute favorite song?
“My absolute favorite pop/rock song is ‘Getting Away With Murder’ by Papa Roach (they're also my favorite band). My all-time favorite musical theatre song has to be ‘Her Voice’ from ‘The Little Mermaid.’ Not only do I love singing that song, but it's also just a beautifully written song.”
What else are you passionate about when you’re not acting or directing?
"When I'm not acting or directing, I absolutely love to read. I have loved reading ever since I picked up my first Captain Underpants novel as a child. The best part is that, when you're reading, you get to direct the mental-movie version of the story in your head! Having a wild imagination is key to being a smart actor so I always think of reading as entertainment as well as training for acting and directing.”
And finally, David, what’s something you are really good at that few people know about?
“Well, there are some people out there who know about this, but I do a killer impersonation of Goofy! I've even used it as an ice breaker during an audition.”