Onto The World Stage with Zane Carter

Representing America in the global group pop Now United, Zane Carter talks with DAMAN about his journey as a singer and an actor in the entertainment industry

Fading passions is a normal part of life, but singer/actor Zane Carter’s zeal for music is undeniably undying. Growing up in Northeastern Kentucky, Carter has always had a deep connection with music. Childhood memories of watching his dad play the guitar ignited his passion. Then, an opportunity to sing in front of his friends triggered an epiphany: he realized that he enjoyed
performing and music was what he wanted to do for a living.

Suit by BOSS; Shirt by Zara; Shoes by Kings of NY

Fast forward to today and Carter is a proud member of Now United, a global group comprising talented individuals from 18 countries. Following a yearlong audition process, he officially joined the group in 2022, representing the United States of America. Bearing the number #7, Zane has appeared in the group’s numerous music videos and made his debut in “The Musical: Welcome to the Night of Your Life.” During a special photoshoot with DA MAN, the 20-year-old virtuoso talks about his passion for music and his journey in the entertainment industry.

Jacket by Advisory Board Crystals; Shirt by Todd Snyder

DAMAN: First, can you share with us a little about your childhood?
Zane Carter: I grew up in a town called Greenup County in Northeastern Kentucky right along the Ohio River. I lived there basically my entire childhood. I grew up playing sports and Friday night was pretty much the biggest stage I had ever been on at that point.

Shirt by Ahluwalia; T-shirt by Tom Ford

DA: How did you discover your passion in music—singing, to be precise?
ZC: My entire life I’ve adored music. Growing up, my dad always used to play guitar, whether it was around the house or at a bonfire with friends. So, that led to me singing along to songs as well, which is honestly why I think back with such a happy feeling when it comes to music, since from the very beginning it started off as just having a good time with family.

Jacket by Advisory Board Crystals

DA: When was it that you realized music is what you wanted to do for living?
ZC: I had actually never even sung  in front of anyone with just my voice until I was about 16 or 17 years old. One of my friends heard me singing along in the car to a song and said I could actually hold a note. From then on, I started taking it more seriously, especially in the sense of learning how to improve. The moment I knew music was what I wanted to do for a living, however, was one night I went to hang out with some friends and ended up bringing my guitar. I got to play and sing for all of them and from then on, I realized how much I love performing.

Jacket by J Crew; Shirt by UO; Pants by ASOS; Shoes by Peter Christian

DA: What challenges did you encounter during the first year of your career as a singer?
ZC: The largest hurdle to climb over for me was stepping in front of a crowd for the first time. The best way I got over the fear was understanding the more you expose yourself to something uncomfortable the easier it gets. Each and every single time shrinking that fear gets easier and easier, that no matter what I’m feeling on the inside I’m still going to step out on stage.

Jacket and pants by Banana Republic; T-shirt by Tom Ford; Boots by Frye

DA: How did your journey with Now United start?
ZC: There was a casting for the American member of the group that I submitted an audition tape for, along with videos of me singing and playing guitar. They reached back out to me after that, asking to hop on a few calls to get to know me more. From then on, I proceeded to go through a year-long audition process that went from L.A. all the way to Abu Dhabi in the UAE as my
final audition to be a part of the group.

Pullover by Fear of God Essentials

DA: Now United is a worldwide pop group embracing global talents from 18 countries. How does it feel to represent the U.S. in the group?
ZC: I can’t even put into words just how blessed I am to be in a position like this. Knowing that I’m some people’s first impression of someone from the states is such a big honor to take on. My absolute favorite part is being able to share my culture with so much of the rest of the world.

Shirt by Industry of All Nations

DA: Any challenges you encountered while embarking on your journey with Now United?
ZC: I’d say the largest challenge for me when joining the group was learning and being able to perform so much dance choreography while singing. I myself had never taken a step of dance before I became a part of Now United. Since then, I’ve had more hours than I can count spent extra learning and going over dances on my own. Which is weird for me to say, because after being in the group for over a year it feels like second nature to me now.

T-shirt by Vuori; Pants by ASOS; Shoes by Peter Christian

DA: What are some of your most memorable moments with the group?
ZC: The most memorable experience with the group was, without doubt, sitting backstage after our last show on the “Forever United” tour we had at the end of this past year. We all sat, cried and laughed in a huddle and really got to soak in the absolutely insane feat we all just got to accomplish together.

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DA: The year 2023 marks your acting journey in “The Musical: Welcome to the Night of Your Lives!” Tell us about your experience working on this project…
ZC: The entire experience as a whole really highlight to me just how much of a love I have for acting. One of the most appealing things to me about it is the dedication and singular commitment to a film and role. Being able to really think deep and spend time on a project is where I think really genuine art comes in to fruition.

Sweater by Acne Studios

DA: Can you tell us a bit about your character—Tommy?
ZC: Tommy is absolutely obsessed with performance and musical theatre. It’s always been a part of his life and even his goals in the future. He’s not very timid and has even found a love for other people through his experiences performing. He’s very passionate about everything he puts his heart in to and is a complete perfectionist in his work.

Shirt by Club Monaco; rings by James Avery

DA: Hod did you prepare to take on this role?
ZC: We had weeks of choreography and acting lessons; learning more about our characters and even being able to really build and fill in our own personal takes on the characters backstory that really helped build a full picture of Tommy in my mind. Along with that, I watched actual Broadway musicals on my own to really soak in the world through Tommy’s eyes.

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DA: Which one do you like better: singing or acting?
ZC: This question has always torn my heart in half every time it’s brought up. On the one hand, there’s nothing like performing music in front of a live audience and really feeling or feeding off the energy of the crowd. Then on the other is getting to explore completely different persons and depths of characters I didn’t even think was possible for me to reach. One thing I will say though is that I’m very much looking forward to and excited about acting more, since so much of my time has been consumed by music recently. This musical really lit a fire under me for film.

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DA: On a more general note, what music genres do you like best?
ZC: From where I grew up in the Southern Appalachians, country music and more folk style music will always have a space in my heart. The real storytelling and lyrics that’s involved
has been able to inspire a lot of my own personal work today that stretches in to multiple other genres. Outside of that I absolutely love indie and pop music. Which I know sound like such generalizations, but if I got too specific, I feel like I could talk for days.

Jacket by Club Monaco

DA: Who do you look up to in the entertainment industry?
ZC: I feel that my answer to this one changes a lot, honestly. Right now, however, it’s Zach Bryan when it comes to music, just because of his pure and genuine lyrics that I really admire. Then in film it’d have to be Robert Pattinson currently, because I’ve loved his diversity and ability to commit to some really dark roles.

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DA: As an artist, what would you say are your greatest strengths that has allowed you to thrive in this industry?
ZC: I very firmly believe my greatest strengths in the industry are my willingness to throw myself in to things and how much I really appreciate and enjoy people. There are countless people that miss out on so many amazing paths life could take them on, all from them being too afraid
to look stupid. Even for myself with music, it wasn’t a very popular route back home for me; but now I’ve gotten to meet some of the sweetest and most talented people I know in my group, all from taking those chances. Then, when it comes to the way I treat other people, I was very fortunate from a young age to understand how important it is to really be kind to people and genuinely listen. It feels as if some people just listen to wait for their next turn to speak, but I really do enjoy how many amazing and creative people the industry allows me to meet

Jacket & pants, Zadig&Voltaire; Sneakers by New Balance

DA: Any future projects you can share with us?
ZC: One thing you can definitely look forward to is more music. I’ve spent a large amount of time in the studio recently recording different songs and sounds I’m so excited for people to hear. Along with that, I can’t wait for another chance to show off another angle of my performing side with film and acting.

Sweater & pants by Zadig&Voltaire

DA: Last but not least, what is your greatest hope for yourself, Now United and the entertainment industry?
ZC: If there is one thing I’ve absolutely loved from Now United—and even the entire industry as a whole—it has to be to sharing and embracing cultures. It’s personally changed my life forever and my greatest hope for myself is to genuinely never stop learning. Whether that’s with music and different genres for singing and producing, with film being able to dive in to characters and roles or just being able to travel to meet people and connect these different parts of the world to each other.

Pullover by Fear of God Essentials Shirt by Zara


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