First, prepare yourself for the downtimes.
Next, save your money. I cannot stress this enough.
Third, find something else that you love to do, and continue working on honing that skill.
Fourth, find a partner who will stand by you, and who will support you.
Last, learn that life is just a delicate balance of the good vs. bad days. One day might be high, the next, not so much. But as my father-in-law says, “one day you’ll be drinking wine, the next, you’re the one stomping the grapes.” In the end, life is simply about riding those waves.
We had the pleasure to interview Eric Ladin. Eric is a streaming and cable TV commodity and he transitions from the final season of Netflix’s “Ozark” into Sony’s anticipated feature “Where the Crawdads Sing” (July 15th) based upon the best-selling novel. His breakout role in HBO’s “Generation Kill” mini-series, lead to memorable arcs on the likes of AMC’s “Mad Men,” HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” and “Big Love,” Amazon’s “Bosch,” and AppleTV+’s “For All Man Kind”. Eric has juggled all that amongst series regular roles on HBO’s “The Brink” with Tim Robbins and Jack Black, History Channel’s “Six,” Disney+’s “The Right Stuff,” and perhaps most notably the antagonist in AMC’s “The Killing”.
Thanks so much for joining us in this interview series Eric. We would love to get to know more about your origin story. Can you tell us how you grew up and what eventually led you to your fascinating career path?
I grew up in Houston, Texas, and attended the same school from the time I was in pre-school until I graduated. Growing up, I had a wonderful childhood. My parents were fantastic, I played various sports, I was involved in theater, and loved the area I grew up in. Once it was time for college, I chose to attend USC, and while there, I continued my theater experience and decided to stay in Los Angeles not only for school but to start my acting career as well. Before I graduated, I was lucky enough to not only find an agent but also land some professional jobs along the way and even got my screen actors guild card as a way to already have my foot in the door.
You probably have some very fascinating experiences. Can you share with us an interesting story that has happened to you since you began your career?
For me, this career has allowed me to see a lot of really unusual places including Africa, Morocco, Namibia, Mozambique, Bulgaria, and Canada. During my time at these places, I have been lucky enough to meet and work with the locals and spend time exploring the cities on their terms. I feel very fortunate that I am a part of this industry and continue to have these types of experiences. This is something that I will never take for granted.
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Do you have a story of a funny or humorous mistake that you made when you were first starting and the lesson that you learned from it?
Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a humorous mistake per se, but I do agree with the statement you are getting at. When Denzel Washington gave his commencement speech at Dillard University in 2015, he said something along the lines of “If you don’t fail, you’re not trying.” I like to relate this to acting in a sense. Just because I did not get a role that I auditioned for, it doesn’t mean that I’m failing. Instead, I’ve learned over the years that each part that you don’t get, is just an opportunity to get better at your craft and make new relationships and paths for yourself.
I can say that I’ve had my share of experiences in which things didn’t turn out the way I was hoping for, but in this industry, the process which actors go through to get jobs is not necessarily about winning or failing. You might “win” at an audition, and still not land the role. But sometimes, winning is more about going in, being comfortable and confident with yourself, and just having fun. At the end of the day, if you’re happy with yourself, that’s a win and what I believe is the most important.
Can you share with our readers some of the most interesting projects you’re working on now and what you are looking forward to releasing in the future?
In June, my most recent project, the movie Where the Crawdads Sing will be coming out. It’s based on the book written by Delia Owens. I remember reading it a few years back and falling in love with it, so when the opportunity came along to be a part of the film, I was extremely excited. I think it’s going to be such a great movie and for those who haven’t read the book, I highly recommend checking it out before watching the film.
I’m also in the midst of developing shows, which I have been doing along with acting for a few years now. The most recent show that I am working on selling is based on bourbon. I have always been a big bourbon lover and collector, so I figured why not create a show out of something I love?
Many of our readers may be familiar with your work in Ozark. What do you feel is a lesson that we can all take from the show, and apply to society today?
Don’t launder money or get mixed up with the cartel! (Laughs.)
What do you think it is about Ozark that made it so popular?
First off, the cast is unbelievable. I believe Alexa Foggo, who was the casting director, did such a phenomenal job in finding just the right people. Chris Mundy, the writer of the show is awesome, Jason Bateman is also such a great lead for the show. All around, the cast, crew, and everyone has made the show such an amazing experience for those of us that were a part of it, but also for the viewers at home. When you have an amazing storyline, along with phenomenal actors who complement the show, it’s hard to not watch.
While the show might not be for everyone due to its dark nature, it was such a pleasure to work on and be a part of the experience. When I came on the show at the end of season four, the scene had been set and the smoothness of the set and how lovely it was to work with everyone was something I will never forget.
Eric, you’ve been blessed with success in a career path that could be challenging for some people. Do you have any words of advice for somebody who might want to embark on a similar path as an actor, but seems intimidated by the prospect of failure? What is your advice to a young person that would like to follow your path?
The first thing I would say is that you have to be disciplined in your day-to-day life. Being an actor is very much what you can create for yourself. There’s nobody there telling you to get up and do XYZ each day. Being an actor is about being prepared for your auditions, making sure you’re keeping yourself healthy, constantly practicing your craft, building new relationships in the community, and that you’re working towards being better every day.
Another piece of advice that I wish I would have known when I was younger was that you still need to focus on things outside of your career that you enjoy, and make time for those things constantly. Being an actor, we tend to have a lot of downtime, so finding something else to work on and feel productive about can be challenging sometimes.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Do you have a story of somebody that came into your life that you’re grateful for, or maybe led you to your next big break?
Honestly, my wife. I owe such a large portion of my success to her. This business is hard, and I feel so lucky to have not only her but my children as well. They are so supportive of my career and the choices I’ve made. When I’m gone for work, the kids help to lift that additional baggage that’s left in my absence. My wife is such a huge factor in my success, and not only that, she is someone that I can use as a sounding board to talk about projects at both work and home.
I also feel as though the managers that I have been fortunate enough to work with, have always been there for me. They have afforded me several opportunities, even during the slowest times, they continued to have faith in me, and support me, which has lent itself a great deal to my success.
What are the five things you wish somebody told you when you first began your career as an actor?
- First, prepare yourself for the downtimes.
- Next, save your money. I cannot stress this enough.
- Third, find something else that you love to do, and continue working on honing that skill.
- Fourth, find a partner who will stand by you, and who will support you.
- Last, learn that life is just a delicate balance of the good vs. bad days. One day might be high, the next, not so much. But as my father-in-law says, “one day you’ll be drinking wine, the next, you’re the one stomping the grapes.” In the end, life is simply about riding those waves.
We’re very blessed that prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person that you would like to meet and maybe have lunch? We can tag them and try to make it happen!
I would love to meet Quentin Tarantino. I am such a massive fan of his work and while I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some phenomenal directors, Quentin Tarantino is someone I’ve always wanted to meet and work with. I would love to sit down and have lunch with him to discuss his films and the idea of us working together soon.
Okay, amazing! Let’s hope we can make that happen. How can our readers follow your work online?
My Instagram is @Ericladin
Eric, thank you so much for your time today. I want to wish you continued success.
Rising Star Eric Ladin On The Five Things You Need To Shine In The Entertainment Industry was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.