Sheen Magazine had the opportunity to chop it up with rising star, Mike Merrill as he shared his story of getting started in the business.
Tell me about your modeling career and how you got started.
I started in modeling about a year and a half ago now. I got a casting call with Walk Fashion Show, if you’ve ever heard of them. So it’s Walk Fashion Show 2015 and this is my first modeling gig. I figured since I get all these likes and stuff on Instagram and what not, I figured I could go on ahead and use my ability to try to do this fashion show. I attended the fashion show (auditions) and they wanted me in the show and I was picked by four designers.
I met my first director who does stage plays in Detroit. My mom was doing stage plays for her and I met her and asked her if she could give me a role. So her next stage play she ended up putting me in [it]. I had a supporting lead role along with Carl Payne, Tameka Scott, and Tasha Page Lockhart, just to name a few big names that were in the stage play. That’s when I started my acting career.
But with modeling, I ended up getting on Detroit’s free press, I had an interview on Fox 2 News, I ended up in the New York Times newspaper just off the designer I modeled and walked for in the Walk Fashion Show. That’s when I started doing my networking thing. My networking thing was based off of going to Atlanta, Chicago, and New York. And when I made it back home, Atlanta was the city that was booking me the most. So I decided okay, after I got into acting, Atlanta was my second choice of income so I wanted to move to Atlanta and see what this industry was really about. In Detroit, it’s a different industry. They think they know what’s really going on but when I got down here [Atlanta], it was a whole different ball game.
Were you ever shy as a kid or did you always like the spotlight and being in front of the camera?
You know what, I was kind of shy. It’s weird to explain. I don’t mind being myself in front of anybody but if you put me on the spot, I’m shy. That’s how it used to be when I was younger. But it’s like, now, if you put me on the spot, I’m ready. I think it broke my fear with that, when I did the first stage play because I saw all of those people out there in that audience and they [were] looking at me to say something. It broke me because I almost froze up. I’m not gon’ lie, I don’t lie about anything so I almost froze up but I didn’t. I continue to go along with my lines like that and ever since then, I just loved seeing the crowd. People ask me ‘Do you [get] scared when you do theatre?’ I’m like, ‘No. I love the crowd.’
Tell us about some of the role you’ve played and what we can expect from you and your career in the future.
I was in a stage play called Stay in Your Place. So the one before that one, I was basically the friend of a couple that was going through this crazy relationship and I just so always happened to be there in the mix and they’re just like ‘Where did you come from?’ ‘Who are you?’ I’m that person. You know, I’m always giving my advice and nobody asked me for advice. That’s the person I was but my first lead role, I was a not-so-good husband who was cheating on his wife and using her for business only. She was a business move when I married her. I had you know um…side chicks and what not. I’ve played more of the boyfriend and husband- type roles and I’ve played the thug role twice. I tell everyone that I am a versatile actor. It’s not a certain role that I want to do. I’m good for anything basically. I just want to show my diversity.
What would you say has been the hardest part about your journey so far?
The hardest part of my journey is…I’ll say the things that you go through. You have to really have tough skin and a great mindset and stay focused. No matter what, you have to stay focused. When life is hard on you, it’s kind of hard to stay focused and what not. You have to find something that comforts you. You know, keep you stress free and that’ll keep you on track if this is what you really want to do. This can’t be a want, it has to be a need. Like, this is a need to me. I treat it like it’s a need, not a want. This is what I need. I just feel like, this is what it’s going to take. I’ve never felt this happy in my life. I feel like this is it. This is what’s going to make my life more comfortable and happy when I get to that point where I deserve to be at.
So, like I said, you have to remain focused and stay stress free. Whatever it is that can take your mind off of ‘Ahhh man, I got bills coming up. My job is taking up my time I can’t even get to acting class. I can’t do this audition. I can’t take this gig because I have to work overtime now.’ Well, that’s when it comes to a point where you have to take that leap of faith and see where that path will take you and that’s what I did. You know so, I just felt like this was it and I just… put all my money to the side and saved and see what I could do with myself. I’ve seen people that have their own businesses and stuff like that and be on the laptop with suits on and stuff like that and I was always that person that wanted that. Now I have that and I see it’s not easy—especially going through the stuff that I’ve been going through. I have a deep testimony. My testimony is very strong and I wish to share it someday but as of right now, I’m still growing and learning so um yea that’s pretty much it.
What’s your absolute favorite thing about your job?
That I can wake up at any time to do this job. Well, not a job, career. This is my career. I can wake up at any time I can have only four hours of sleep and wake up happy and ready to film but if I had a regular job like I used to have, I would be so irritated. I’ll be slouched and grouchy and don’t want to get up. I’ll hit the snooze button on the alarm clock and all that but when it’s time to film, I’m happy. It’s something I love to do so I’m ready to get up and I’m ready to film. I’m always anxious no matter what project I’m on and I pray that I keep that feeling every time that I get a gig and not get comfortable and used to it. That’s what I don’t want to do is get comfortable.