Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cheeks From "Husbands"

Cheeks attended Los Angeles City College to pursue film production before studying improv and becoming a graduate of Second City Hollywood. He then appeared as himself to mentor a young gay teen in the ways of “being confident and fabulous” on MTV’s Why Can’t I Be You? This experience sparked his drive to inspire others by being a free spirited and creative model of the modern man. He adopted the moniker Cheeks, a nickname bestowed by Paris Hilton, and began building a fan base by releasing short form comedy videos on You Tube. Cheeks then recorded an electropop EP titled The Boy From Venus, and followed with Glambition and T.C.M.C.; both charted on iTunes Top 10 Electronic Music downloads. In 2011, Cheeks founded the entertainment and lifestyle website WeYüMe. Cheeks can currently be seen in Husbands the Series at HusbandsTheSeries.com and in Billy Clift’s I Want To Get Married, now on DVD. You can follow Cheeks on Twitter @gocheeksgo.

What inspired you to create your website "WeYüMe"?

Living a life that is rich with laughter, information, thoughtfulness, introspection, and friends. How can I better provide that for people? That was where I started. Pursuing my own success simply for the sake of my own success left me feeling empty. I thought, "am I going to sacrifice having a relationship and a social life and privacy for success?" What was I giving to people? To the world? When developing original web content full time became an option for me, WeYuMe was born.

How do you measure success?

I measure success by whether or not I'm meeting the goals I've set for myself. I try not to let outside factors weigh in too much. Ie, is it being validated by the public, making money, winning awards. If I set out to create something and then I create it, I've succeeded. Whether or not it reaches millions, makes millions, or brings me endless acclaim -- none of that matters. Ideally, you determine what it is you love, you commit to doing it, and you do it. To me, that's succeeding.

How do you handle rejection?

Rejection is such an awful term. It's become standard industry lingo, which is a shame, because it's an incorrect use of the word. Poor actors. No wonder they're so fragile. They keep telling themselves they're being rejected and go back to their catering jobs feeling vulnerable when really, there's no need for all that.

No one gets "rejected," they simply don't get the role. Rejection would be if the casting director said, "Oh dear god, what were you thinking?! YOU? YOU?? Ha! Get the hell out of here before I blacklist you for wasting my time." Now, I'm sure somewhere, something like that has happened. But 99 times out of 100, you read your lines, they smile and say thank you, and you leave. No one kicks you to the curb. One can't take things too personally and expect to survive in Hollywood.

What is the best thing about starring a webseries?

The incredible outpouring of love and support from fans all over the world. It's different than a project with mass media exposure because there's an intimacy that exists with you and your audience. I get to interact directly with the people I'm making it for, the people who love it, who get my sense of humor, who encourage me when I'm overworked and feel like giving up. It's like hosting a party where I perform a play for friends around the world. Every day, more friends show up to the party. It's wonderful. It's by far my favorite thing.

What is the worst thing about starring in a webseries?

Unfortunately, the Internet is still the red headed step child of entertainment. Forty years ago, if a movie star transitioned into television it was seen as a downgrade. Today, TV is arguably a better gig for working actors. That's how I see the Internet.

There are incredible, crafted, smart projects that resonate with thousands or millions of people, yet a perception exists that it's not up to par with "real" entertainment. When you consider this idea, it's really quite an ignorant mentality. Just because anyone can put anything online, it must mean everything online is amateur. When a show or personality isn't on a massive outlet like film or TV (which also features quite a bit of low brow content, by the way) a large majority of the public think it must not be that good, otherwise it would be "legit."

This mentality will change. It's changing now. In my opinion, anyone who carries this derogatory view of online entertainment into the next decade will only immediately identify themselves as out of touch. Like when people say, "Did you tape it?" No. I DVR'd it.

What is the estimated number of projects you have worked on?

Oh god, no idea. Um, twentysomething-ish? Maybe more?

How has your life changed since you became involved with "Husbands"?

I get recognized at Starbucks now! After it happened a few days in a row I was like, "Damn, I gotta start getting cute before I leave the house. No more of this backwards hat and sweatpants look." Husbands has opened up big opportunities for me. Life changing. I've learned a lot about all elements of production, myself, the craft of writing, the inner workings of Hollywood and new media. I made wonderful new friends like Sean Hemeon and Jeff Greenstein. Actually, I can say with full confidence that I am not even close to seeing the massive impact that creating Husbands will eventually have on my life. This is all very hard to explain without going into details that are still very hush hush, but Husbands is only starting to be as life changing and big as it will ultimately be.

What is one piece of advice you can give to someone who also wants become an actor?

Well, first, that rejection bit. I'd tell them that. Then I'd strongly encourage them to ask themselves: why do I want to be an actor? If it's for fame or money, give up. If it's because you have some idealized dream of people loving you all day or how much "fun" it would be to appear on TV, give up.

Picture yourself as a fifty year old bank teller who is just deliriously happy to act on Thursday nights with your community theatre because it's what you love most. Could you be happy with that life? If not, then don't pursue acting.

It's hard. Its dark. It's lonely. I remember, years ago, eating Chef Boyardee out of a measuring cup after a long day working as a telemarketer. About to take my first bite, I started laughing my ass off. I thought, "This is actually what living the dream is all about." My state of misery was absolutely hilarious. If that doesn't sound like something you can laugh at, a career in show business is not for you.

So, if all that sounds doable to you, my advice would be to work harder than anyone else. Submit your head shots at 7am when other wanna-be actors are sleeping. Never expect your agent to get you work. That's not their job. Make friends with everyone. Never complain, especially about other people. Most importantly, know your strengths. If you're a Kathy Griffin type, don't try to be a Reese Witherspoon. Be honest with yourself about what you can and can't do.

What do you like to do besides working on your webseries and website?

You mean... there's other things?! It's been so long. I can't even remember. I like to go to this place. It's called -- oh what's the name of it? Outdoors, I think? There are big trees and lots of nature type things. I like to go there and sleep under the stars. I like to listen to the sound of nothing. I like to sit under trees and let them tell me about all the things they've seen in their time on Earth. I also really like to dance. Naked. In the forest.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

It's the end of the interview, but I feel like this is only the beginning of the good stuff to come. 2012 is going to be a huge year ...and not just cause it's the apocalypse, other stuff too.


Thank you for doing the interview.  I'm a HUGE fan of you and the rest of the cast and crew of "Husbands". I look forward to seeing what happens in 2012 with the show. I'm also going to look out for new stuff going on at your website.