A young actor with a long-ish resume of various supporting roles probably comes in the thousands in Hollywood. But one that already realized that his bumpy career path is shaping him into a better person –and actor- at a very young age, is probably a rare breed. Alex MacNicoll is exactly that. A jock while he was young, a struggling menial worker in his adult life and now an experienced actor, he’s found many education about compassion, tolerance and conscience through his roles in acclaimed series such as “Transparent”, “13 Reasons Why” and “The Society”.
DA MAN: You’ve been acting since the beginning of the decade! What makes you decided to be an actor?
Alex MacNicoll: Well, when I was a kid I always used to re-enact scenes from a movie or TV show I was watching in my living room. My Dad was an opera singer and an actor, so naturally he and my mother used to encourage me to do summer theater. But I was always occupied playing sports and video games with my friends. In high school I took a TV and media class for fun and I really enjoyed creating short movies and presenting the morning news. During my senior year, instead of writing a book report for “Grendel”, my English teacher Ms. Gray, allowed me to make a short with some classmates based on the book. We had a blast, and I think that was the first experience where I got “bit by the acting bug.”
DA MAN: How did you start to act?
Alex MacNicoll: I originally went to college to study Elementary Education, with the idea that I would be a teacher. But after shadowing one for a few days I realized that was way too difficult. After changing my major to Sports Management, I wasn’t doing too well scholastically and thinking of dropping out rather than wasting my parents’ money. A friend suggested I take an acting class as an elective. I really enjoyed the class and had fun acting. One day I decided to audition for the theatre program at myschool -and if I was accepted, I would change my major to theater and finish school. Well, I got accepted, so I changed my major and dove into the world of theater and acting.
DA MAN: What did you do before you started acting?
Alex MacNicoll: As a kid? Sports, video games, hanging with friends. While professionally, I’ve worked in many fields. Washing dishes, serving food at events, bartending, dog-walking, security.
DA MAN: Is acting something that you’ve always wanted to do?
Alex MacNicoll: I think maybe subconsciously. I really wanted to be a professional athlete as a kid. I would daydream about playing baseball for the Atlanta Braves, or soccer for a major European club, or basketball in the NBA. Then when reality kicked in that I didn’t have the drive, I decided to put that on the back burner. Maybe in another life?
DA MAN: For those unfamiliar, tell us more about your latest hit series
Alex MacNicoll: “The Society”? Yeah! I hope you dig it. It’s definitelya binge-worthy show. The cast is phenomenal, the writers and directors were so damn good. The series asks the question “what do you do when order ceases to exist?” It’s a sophisticated young-adult show, it touches on real themes of how societies are formed. It gets very philosophical and political; how they operate, the leadership, the rules, the responsibilities. Then also about the political systems; socialism, democracy, oligarchy, and others. It’s a bit of a modern and edgy take on “Lord of the Flies.” It also has bits of allegory with what happened leading up to and during the 2016 presidential election in the USA.
DA MAN: You’ve worked in series that carried important social issues such as “Transparent” or “13 Reasons Why”. What do you think about the importance of these series?
Alex MacNicoll: “Transparent” definitely changed my life. I had little to no experience working with transgender people -or even knowledge of what transgender was, to be honest. By using her personal story, Jill Soloway created a safer world for trans people. She humanized them onscreen in an art and media that had previously only branded trans people as prostitutes, drug addicts, or victims and criminals.
“Transparent” is very educational and is such an incredibly heartfelt show. It’s very funny and painful at times. It’s so human, it’s a beautiful, beautiful show. Meanwhile “13 Reasons Why” provoked conversation about bullying and teen suicide. It is definitely a controversial show. I try to see both sides of the conversation. From the sides that thinks it is awful and very triggering, and that it glorifies suicide. Also from the other side that thinks it’s thought provoking and gets people talking about the importance of anti-bullying campaigns.
DA MAN: Tell us what was your most memorable role so far.
Alex MacNicoll: “Transparent” definitely changed my life. The cast an crew on that show are remarkable. The bond that everyone had was so strong and special. It opened my mind and heart to examine the human experience, more specifically what sexuality is, what gender is, what love is, what hate is,what insecurity is, what loneliness is, why do people treat others with love/hate. It definitely kick-started the activist inside of me. That series will always have a special place in my heart and the experience I had working onthat show made me a better human being.
DA MAN: Similarly, what was your most memorable experience as an actor?
Alex MacNicoll: Well, I’ve been very fortunate and had some amazing experiences -both wonderful and embarrassing! I’ve worked with amazing legendary performers and directors, and I’ve had a funny ‘sex scene’ moment that I’ll save for another interview sometime. (laughs) A highlight recently was playing a young Dick Cheney and getting to sit and talk with Christian Bale and Adam McKay. Another one that comes to mind was sitting on top of the Carpathian Mountains with Robert Patrick while working on a film. But, I think the most memorable was my first professional story. I played a dancer for a Las Vegas Scottish dance troupe called “The Kilty Pleasures” on an episode of Modern Family. And the scene took place in a hotel room.
Sofia Vergara’s character was wrapped in a bedsheet, implying nude underneath, while we were all in kilts, no shirts. In between takes, I was sitting alone at craft services, snacking. Sofia walked up (in her bedsheet) to get a snack. So it was only me and her, nobody elsearound…and I wanted to chat with her, so I tried to break the ice and think of something funny to say…so I said, “Hey, we’re kind of wearing the same thing.” And she looked at me and said, “Um…no,” before she turned and briskly walked back to set. Aside from being embarrassed, I was confused and thought I was gonna get fired or something. So I grabbed a burrito and went back to the background holding area and hid! To top it off, prettymuch our entire dance was cut out of the episode. I don’t think it was related to my interaction with Sofia, but I learned another valuable lesson that day about the editing room.
DA MAN: You’re considerably young – is there any dream role or project you would like to tackle in the future?
Alex MacNicoll: I’m very excited for any roles that come my way on a project that engages the audience and changes their lives…or at least makes them truly feel things and question things in their personal life, or theirexistence or societal issues. This is also the same with myself-roles or projects that make me question all those things and feel all the feels. I would also love to get into voice in animations, and comedy someday!
DA MAN: How do you see yourself in five to ten years?
Alex MacNicoll: Hopefully more world-traveled and cultured, connected. Maybe with a dog? Also, hopefully not still playing a high-school football player.
Photography Mitchell Nguyen McCormack
Styling Amir Dobos
Hair Ted Gibson @STARRING by Ted Gibson for Tomlinson Management Group
Makeup Robert Bryan
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