He’s a newer face in Hollywood but is becoming a favorite among fans. You may have seen him his latest roles in Stan Against Evil, Atlanta, as well as Netflix’s series Bloodline and the USA original “Burn Notice”.
We got a chance to talk with this young actor on the rise to stardom and the journey into Hollywood.
The Acting Journey
That’s My Entertainment: Who were your influences growing up that inspired your acting?
Emmett Hunter III: Some of the actors that influenced me growing up were Denzel Washington and Robert De Niro. I’ve always loved Denzel because he’s a very versatile actor. Denzel can play the good guy, gangster, lawyer, father, politician, or any other role he decides to take on. There is a certain scene he performed in his film, The Great Debaters, that really had me in tears. He really made me feel as though I was right there in the moment with him and the other characters. I think his performance in Fences pretty much solidified why most people consider him a master of the craft. The exchanges between him and Viola Davis were filled with so much organic emotion and truth. I was really drawn in by his performance.
What really made me a huge fan of Robert De Niro, was his role in as C’s dad in one of my all-time favorite movies A Bronx Tale. Of course, I loved him in other films like Goodfellas, The Godfather, Casino, and Meet the Fockers, but it was his role in A Bronx Tale that touched me. De Niro’s role as a hard-working loving father trying to provide for his family and protect his son from the dangerous world outside of their home is a theme I think all fathers and families can relate to no matter what race or socioeconomic background you come from. I think De Niro did an excellent job of showing the audience the love, fear, and compassion it takes to raise a child in such a hostile environment.
TME: When did you decide that acting is what you wanted to do?
EHIII: I knew I wanted to be an actor at a very early age. I used to always entertain my family by doing impressions and telling funny stories. My mother took me to sign up for acting classes at round 11 years old, but we quickly found out that learning to be an actor was expensive. I had to put my dream of acting on hold for a very long time. While being an actor was still in the back of my mind I spent the rest of my childhood and young adult years chasing my dream of one day becoming a professional football player. After finally realizing that my football dreams were not going to happen, I went to a local talent agency and was signed right away. I spent the first couple of years doing extra work and going to auditions. I did not take the craft seriously at first because of my lifelong struggles with insecurities, confidence, and self-doubt. As the years went on and I started booking more commercial, television, and print jobs I realized that I had the talent needed to become a working actor in this business.
TME: Where did you receive your training?
EHIII: As far as training is concerned I took a few acting workshops, but I received most of my training by doing student films, indie films, auditioning hundreds of times, and reading books by some of the greats like Michael Caine, Ivana Chubbuck, Uta Hagen, Eric Morris, Sanford Meisner, and Stanislavski.
TME: Did ou have to go through any special training to get certain parts?
EHIII: So far, I haven’t booked any roles that would require me to go through any special training, but I’m sure I will have to in the very near future. I’m looking forward to taking on a role that will require me to learn something new like martial arts, boxing, or maybe even a new language.
TME: An actors job is not easy; promoting yourself, booking jobs with agents, not to mention working on your craft. What is your process with dealing with that all and just general daily life activities (like sleep!)
EHIII: The journey of an actor/artist is not an easy one. The process can really take a toll on you mentally, physically, and emotionally. Dealing with the constant rejection and all-around ups and downs of auditioning can really make you question if it’s all worth it. The process is somewhat tolerable for me because I have a very strong support system in place. I’ve been married to my best friend for 15 years and we have three beautiful children together. Their unconditional love, support, and encouragement gives me the energy I need to keep pushing and chasing my dreams.
My mom and dad also play a huge role in helping me keep my sanity throughout the valleys and peaks of this journey. My parents have always been my greatest cheerleaders no matter what endeavor I’ve decided to take on. All I must do is give mom or dad a call and they always seem to know what to say to keep me focused and motivated. I’m also a fitness fanatic. Physical fitness has always been an important part of life. So, a lot of times after or before an audition I’ll try to get in an intense workout and three to five mile run to get my mind off the situation.
TME: What is the process like for you when auditioning?
EHIII: When I get the sides for the audition I immediately read the script two to the three times to try and get a feel for the character as well as the tone of the story. I also like to research some of the work of the directors, writers, and producers so I can get a better feel of the possible style or tone of the show. Once I’ve done my research, I try to see how I can implement as much of my own personality as possible into the character. I then proceed to establish the relationships the character has with the other people in the script. I like to make sure I know my lines inside and out, so I can focus on listening and reacting and not thinking about what I’m going to say next.
TME: Do you have any advice for anyone trying to act for a living?
EHIII: The advice I would give is train diligently on perfecting your craft, keep an open mind, and have thick skin. Surround yourself with positive people that love and support you. Make sure you have a process that you use to pick yourself up during the difficult times in this journey. Also make sure you’re doing everything on your end to become a successful actor don’t just depend on your agent or manager to make it happen.
TME: How did you prepare for your roles on Atlanta and Stan Against Evil?
EHIII: Preparing for both roles were easy for me. I’ve always loved the world of magic and fantasy. I’ve always loved to write poems, talk life from a spiritual perspective, as well as have philosophical discussions. I believe Gerard Duquette and the Ahmad White character I played in Atlanta both have a mystical and magical presence about them. I’ve always been told I have a mysterious and intimidating presence about me because I’m usually not very sociable unless the person is willing to engage in a conversation of substance. I’m always trying to give some sort of thought provoking philosophical advice to those around me, so I basically just brought those parts of my personality to both characters.
TME: When you were cast in Burn Notice in 2013, how involved were you in the main cast?
EHIII: I had small speaking role in Burn Notice, so I didn’t deal much with the main cast, but it was my first speaking role, so I will forever be grateful for the opportunity. I am so thankful that casting director Lori Wyman, the director, and producers were willing to take a chance on a new inexperienced actor like myself. I booked Burn Notice after my second time ever auditioning for a speaking role.
Stan Against Evil
TME: When you were cast as Gerard Duquette and learned it was a nod to Geoffrey Holder’s character Baron Samedi in the 1973 Bond Classic Live and Let Die as well as ties to Papa Legba in Voodoo, what was your reaction?
EHIII: The fact that Dana Gould trusted me to play such a memorable character is really mind blowing to me. Live and Let Die is one of the greatest Bond films of all time and Geoffrey Holder as Baron Samedi is one of the most memorable Bond characters of all-time. I would also like to mention that I loved Geoffrey as Punjab in movie musical adaptation of Annie, as well. He seemed to play that mystical magical character well.
TME: What was it like working the cast and crew of Stan Against Evil?
EHIII: The cast and crew were so welcoming and kind they really made me feel like was a part of the team. I’ve worked with actors that are stand-offish and unwelcoming, Janet and Deborah were friendly and cool. Deborah even asked to take a selfie with me at end of my shoot which I thought was cool. I wanted to ask her initially, but I was too nervous so I’m glad she broke the ice. (laughs). Everyone on set was just all-round professional and cool. I felt like they really went out of their way to make me feel like I belong which is comforting as an actor because it makes it easier to focus on the task at hand.
TME: Do you think Gerard Duquette will make a return in season three?
EHIII: I’m not sure if Gerard Duquette will return for season three, but I hope so. I would love to be a part of the Stan Against Evil staff for many years to come. “Dana if you’re reading this please scribble in a few scenes for Gerard Duquette in Season three.” (laughs)
TME: What was it like working with Dana Gould and Rob Cohen?
EHIII: It was truly an unforgettable experience working with Dana. As the show’s creator and writer, he was really involved and hands on while we were on set. He made sure I understood how he wanted the character portrayed and he also gave me lot of freedom to be me myself as well. Dana was also good at making changes to the dialogue while we were shooting to make sure the scene was intense, fresh, organic, and funny. He would also make hilarious statements on set that had everyone laughing, loose, and ready to work. Rob Cohen was the director for the episode. Rob pays attention detail. I tried to absorb and apply all the instruction Rob gave me. Rob did everything he could to make sure he got the best performance out of me and the other actors on set.
TME: John C. McGinley is a beast on set. What was it like working with him directly?
EHIII: I was nervous and somewhat intimidated to work with John at first. John is a veteran actor that’s had great success in this industry for decades. Here I was basically a rookie sharing the screen with such a seasoned veteran. When I first saw him, he appeared to be a straight forward no-nonsense kind of guy. I was worried that I was wouldn’t be able to hold my own in the scene. Much to my surprise John was very patient and professional. He even gave me lot of tips and advice while we were shooting to help me spice up my performance. The advice John gave me on set was priceless and they are tools I will carry with me and use for the rest of my career. It was a big deal to me when John responded to me on twitter to assure me that I would be happy with how the scene turned out. He did not have to do that at all. I saved that tweet, so I can show the grandkids someday. (laughs).
It came the time to shoot my close for John and I’s scene and John could’ve went back to his trailer to take a break. Instead John told the director he wanted to stay and deliver his lines to ensure that I had the best opportunity to give a solid performance. By no means did John have to hang around and give me that type of courtesy. I will forever be grateful to John because I believe after working with him, Dana, and Rob, I left the Stan Against Evil set a better actor and artist.
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