Some people might call it the power of positive thinking. Others say, “Fake it ’til you make it.”
Shawn Roehrs, who has been living and working as an actor and model in Los Angeles, Calif., since 2006, just after he turned 21, says no matter how you describe it, the saying rings true.
“It’s simple — whatever you think about and talk about, that is what you’re going to get,” he said.
“Whatever you want to be — an astronaut, a detective . . . if you believe it and follow it and act as if you already are, you can have it.”
Roehrs, who works under the name Shawn Roe in Hollywood, said he never understood that concept as a kid, but looking back he can see he was doing it all the same.
“As a kid, in my mind, I was already acting . . . running around with a proton pack on my back, chasing my sister like I was in ‘Ghostbusters,’ ” he said, with a laugh.
As a child, he was just pretending. As an adult he gets to pretend for a living.
For the last seven years, Roe, a 2004 graduate of Union High School and the son of Kevin and Becky Roehrs, New Haven, has worked mostly in TV commercials and as a model.
He has been in commercials for Honda, Wendy’s, McDonald’s and Volkswagen;
Music videos for Hanna, “Et Si”; Katherine McPhee, “Over It”; and Franki Love, “Make Love.”
And modeled for Ray Ban, Howe, Bpm magazine, 944 magazine, Levi’s, Michael Kors, Joes Jeans, haute look, Subaru and Toyota.
He’s done some TV and film work to date — “Big Love,” “The Dead Mile” (a zombie movie in Canada), Tom Holland’s “Twisted Tales” and “Pineapple Express,” but his biggest role yet will debut Oct. 18 when the feature film “Beyond the Farthest Star” is released in select theaters across the country.
The movie tells the story of a once-famous preacher who has to choose between an opportunity to become the next nationally syndicated TV evangelist and one last chance to restore his fractured family. Roe plays Kyle Tucker, the troubled son of an abusive father.
Set in a small Texas town, the movie was fun to work on, said Roe, not just because of the lasting friendships he made, but also because of how much the setting reminded him a lot of being home in Franklin County.
“It had a small-town feel so it was like being home without being home,” said Roe. “Driving around this small Texas town in an old pickup truck, it was really a fun experience . . . it was relatable.”
Filming for “Beyond the Farthest Star” wrapped up more than three years ago, and since then the movie had some ups and downs in production, delaying its release, but Roe said whether or not the film was ever shown on the big screen or went straight to DVD, he didn’t mind.
“We had such a fun time making it, and we wanted it to be in theaters, but honestly, whatever happened happened . . . it’s still art, it’s still a film and a good one,” he remarked.
Now that the movie is set to be released in a matter of weeks, Roe is so excited that he feels like a kid again.
“It’s really cool. It goes back to that whole dream I had as a kid . . . when I saw the trailer, I was tickled to death. I thought, ‘This is really cool.’ I’m glad it’s all coming together.”
Locally, tickets to “Beyond the Farthest Star” are being sold to bring the movie to Great Eight Cinema in Union. A total of 500 reserved tickets must be pre-purchased by Oct. 4. Tickets can be reserved at seatzy.com/star. If the 500 goal is not reached, credit cards will not be charged.
Family Support Made the Difference
Roe said as far back as he can remember, he always wanted to have a career in acting. Growing up on a family farm in New Haven, far from the lights of Hollywood, he never felt like the dream was beyond his reach.
“I would see actors doing interviews on TV, and I would say, ‘When I grow up, I want to do that,’ ” Roe recalled.
He feels fortunate that his parents never discouraged him or told him his dream wasn’t logical. Instead they fully supported him as he began acting in plays throughout grade school, high school and college.
“The earliest production I can remember was a Christmas play, and I was an elf,” said Roe. “I was scared to death to do it . . . but I totally got over it.”
Over the years, Roe had parts in school productions of “Guys and Dolls,” “Grease,” “Lewis and Clark,” “Fiddler on the Roof” and “South Pacific.” Two of his favorite productions were playing an ugly duckling in “Honk” and Willie Loman in “Death of a Salesman,” both at East Central College.
Roe, who left ECC just a few credits shy of being able to graduate, said he can still remember the moment he made the decision to leave for Hollywood.
“I was sitting in geology class learning about rocks and lava . . . and I was like, ‘What are you doing? You know what you want to do!’ and I knew I had to leave.”
Roe quit school and began working for his grandfather’s company selling advertising. Within a few months he’d saved just enough money to make the move to L.A.
He packed up his belongings and drove out to California with his Uncle Andy tagging along to keep him company and motivated on the way. He didn’t have a place to live yet or any kind of work lined up, but he was focused.
“I saw it as an adventure,” said Roe. “I looked at it as, ‘This is what I’ve always dreamed about and talked about, so now I’m going to finally do it.’
“It was exhilarating.”
He couldn’t have done any of it without the support of his family, he said.
“They are the most important, inspiring thing for me.”
Roe arrived in North Hollywood, found a place to live and, for the first two months or so, didn’t venture more than a five-mile radius from home.
“It was so big,” he said of the area. “I was trying to get my bearings. I lived in an apartment complex with the firehouse next door, the police two blocks away and in line with the Burbank airport so planes flew overhead all night.”
Roe said there was one day where he was watching a TV news report about a car chase when the car, police and helicopter all came zooming past his house. That was a bit surreal for someone who had grown up surrounded by acres of crops and animals.
Within a few months of moving to Hollywood, Roe began getting work as an extra on game shows and TV shows, like HBO’s “Big Love.” Although his work wasn’t highly visible, it was educational.
“For me, it was nice to be on the sets of these shows, to see how everything unfolded and worked together,” said Roe.
On the set of “Big Love” one day, Roe found himself talking with star Bill Paxton, whom he had idolized as a kid for his roles in movies like “Weird Science.”
Paxton introduced Roe to his acting coach, Vincent Chase, who has a character named after him on the HBO series, “Entourage,” and that has made all the difference in Roe’s career.
He began taking classes with Chase and learning from his years of experience. That connection opened more doors for Roe.
“It’s all about who you know,” he realized. “What I was doing up until then was good, but it had only gotten me so far.”
By that point, Roe also was working as a model. It was a friend he met at his apartment complex who introduced him to her modeling agency that got him started in the field.
“And through that modeling agency is how I met my current agent,” said Roe.
These days his work schedule is “inconsistent” and “unpredictable.”
“It can change at a moment’s notice,” said Roe, noting his agent calls to tell him when auditions are scheduled.
“I can go from having four to five appointments a day to having zero.”
In between his acting and modeling jobs, Roe works odd jobs — everything from being a waiter to a telemarketer to a retail clerk.
It’s not an easy life, he admits, but he enjoys it and doesn’t dream of doing anything else.
Still, there’s no place like home. Roe makes it back to New Haven just once or twice a year, and every time it’s a welcome respite to his life in L.A.
“The city is so fast-paced you can forget to breathe,” he remarked. “It can be like living in a hornets nest . . . You can get so caught up in the pressure, ‘Why isn’t this happening?’ or ‘I’ve gotta do this . . .’ but you have to have a healthy balance, and I get that at home (in New Haven).”
Looking down the road, Roe said he’ll continue working in the industry as long as he can.
“My end game is to be internationally known, to write and produce my own material, to have my own production company and make my own movies,” said Roe, “to open my own studio in Missouri and make the movies I want to make — that I always wanted to see made and haven’t.”
For now, though, Roe is excited about the release of “Beyond the Farthest Star” and a commercial he was up for promoting a new video game system that will be coming out soon. The commercial plays like a “small scale movie,” said Roe. “It’s very cool.”