A Conversation with Actor Daniel Newman

(Photo property of Daniel Newman; courtesy of IMDB)

By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com

It is a pleasure to welcome actor, activist, model, and musician Daniel Newman to Jake’s Take.

As an actor, Daniel had the opportunity to work on several memorable television series and films including 7th Heaven, One Tree Hill, Heroes, Homeland, The Dark Knight Rises, and The Vampire Diaries.  However, he became an international household name when he played Daniel on AMC’s The Walking Dead.  

In addition to his acting talents, Daniel Newman is also an accomplished  model. He appeared in several advertisement campaigns for Calvin Klein, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, and Tommy Hilfiger.

Daniel is also a strong advocate for the LGBTQ community.  On March 30, 2017, Daniel Newman released a YouTube video where he declared he was “#OUTandPROUD” and opened up about his sexuality in People Magazine. GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign, and My Friend’s Place are among the charities he supports.

In this edition of A Conversation, Daniel opened up about The Walking Dead’s loyal fanbase, educating his social media followers on equality, and the lessons that he learned on the sets of some of the millennial generation’s favorite shows.

Jacob Elyachar: When did you first get interested in performing? How did that passion evolve into the desire to pursue a career in the entertainment industry?

Daniel Newman: I started performing when I was 3-years-old. I would sing with my mom. Then around 11-years-old, I started doing local theater, and school plays. When I was 15, I started researching the industry, and I found out where they were filming in Georgia, and I got a friend to drop me off on set. Then, I pretended to be an extra and Joined all the extras and found all day. Then, I came back several days on several tv shows and worked until I got caught. Surprisingly the casting director thought I was cute and driven, so she started calling me and hiring me. I started a local newspaper in school to give me the excuse to approach the celebrities and directors to do interviews and introduce myself trying to get discovered. My life has always been two different worlds. I grew up with my mom way out in the country and with my dad in the inner city culture. But I just wanted to live in the fantasy world I saw on TV and movies, so I was always inspired to perform. I saw it as an answer to being able to achieve my dreams and get out of my town. Then, I got agents and managers and did some TV shows as a kid before I took off and went back to school and focused on school and touring with my band and recording music.

Jacob Elyachar: During the early part of your career, you were cast for several beloved TV shows such as 7th Heaven, Heroes, and The Vampire Diaries. What were some of the lessons that you learned from those sets?

Daniel Newman: I got fortunate and have been able to work on several of the world’s biggest TV shows, but I have also done over 1,000 auditions. (Laughs) Lessons I have learned or if something is worth doing then develop your discipline and craft. But I also know most things are just hype and not worth doing, so figure out what you truly love and what you want to leave this world, so you don’t waste time doing something you are not passionate about. But also always look at the big picture. You need to figure out if this might be an essential piece of the puzzle that is required to get to your goals. Hard work is great, but you have to know it’s getting you to your ultimate goal, or not. Be brave to go after what you want.

Daniel Newman became an international household name thanks to his work on The Walking Dead. (Photo property of AMC)

Jacob Elyachar: You became a household name when you portrayed the character Daniel on The Walking Dead. What were some of your favorite memories from your time on the show? In your humble opinion, how does The Walking Dead fanbase standout against other fanbases?

Daniel Newman: The Walking Dead is between the first and second biggest show in the world each year so the Fanbase is global and it is the first time in my life I started to get recognized walking down the street in different cities, and I received global press. It’s been such an honor and fun adventure. It is incredible to be filming in my hometown. I know that the show is helping the economy of Atlanta and giving everyone so many opportunities.

Jacob Elyachar: What have been some of the challenges that you faced throughout your career? How did you overcome those obstacles?

Daniel Newman: I think mainly dealing with being LGBTQ as an actor. Everyone told me it would ruin my career and I would have to hide it or give up all I have worked for. That was a life  changing moment when I put out the YouTube video coming out because at the time I thought I was choosing my truth and supporting my community and I believed I was going to lose everything I had worked for but I knew it was the right thing to do. Then, shockingly it launched my career and I suddenly found so much purpose helping  empower other people and being a voice for our community. I suddenly got more job opportunities than I have ever had. It’s been beyond my wildest dreams so fortunate. Besides that pretty much just the same obstacles or artists go through trying to stay true to your integrity while being broke growing  up and trying to just get by while doing things that inspire you and that you believe in.

Daniel Newman’s “#OUTandPROUD” video has been viewed over 2 million times. (Video property of Daniel Newman)

Jacob Elyachar: You have used social media to address several social and civil issues. What are some of the topics that you have addressed to educate your followers?

Daniel Newman: My main social media themes are about equality. It is an issue that must be a daily weekly discussed because people are going through discrimination and pain and depression still even though things have gotten so incredible in many major cities there are still minorities in every group  that are being abused every day in towns across America and the world. It is important to make people laugh and bring them joy and inspiration.  It is so important to be a positive voice of encouragement. We all need it and we all have the ability to be that light in other people’s lives we just have to make a conscious effort daily to do it and know that it is important.

Jacob Elyachar: If you had the opportunity to meet with aspiring actors who want to have a career in the entertainment industry, what advice would you share with them?

Daniel Newman: Do not do any job in the arts if you were trying to be wealthy and famous. This life is not worth it.  The facts are more people win the lottery then become famous.  The actors union, Screen Actors Guild, admitted that like 85 percent of “Working” actors make less than $5,000 a year minus the thousands we all spend on auditions, classes, headshots, marketing, agents, managers, publicist, lawyers.  

I won the lottery of the acting business and every actor you see won the lottery. For each one of us there are 20,000 other actors that spent years of their life trying and thousands of dollars trying to do this, and they never got lucky, they just all lost their time and money. It’s a total lottery you can’t control.

 Like any business it is so important if you want to have any control of your life that you educate yourself on how the business works and become a boss. Create your own projects. Create your own success. It seems way harder at the beginning but years later you will realize it’s the only way to have any real chance other than putting your fate into a total lottery. And since the odds are probably worse than 99 percent you will not make it, then make sure whatever it is you are doing you truly love it no matter what so that you can get the most out of your experience.  That is why I produce TV shows now and create music and art. I got tired of not having control. 

Also, figure out what is it about performing you love, and see if you can find other careers and businesses that you can use those people skills and life skills, while making tons of money. Almost at other industry is better. (Laughs) This one is only good for less than one percent of us that win this lottery. 

Check out Daniel Newman’s music on iTunes and Spotify!  You can also connect with his Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube channels.

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Copyright 2019 Jacob Elyachar