Connor Dean started acting and modeling at the age of 4. He moved to LA and began booking small roles in short films and commercials. His breakout role was playing Butch the Bully in the Cool Cat movies starring Erik Estrada and Vivica A. Fox. This character has reached cult status creating video views in the millions along with a multitude of fan pages and memes. Connor was nominated for 2 Young Entertainer Awards for his work in Cool Cat and his recurring role in Fox’s hit drama 9-1-1 starring the incomparable Angela Bassett and Peter Krause. His leading role in Jingle Trails, now streaming on Amazon Prime garnered him another nomination and win for Best Lead Actor. Connor is a philanthropist and celebrity ambassador, using his platform to help such organizations as Starlight Children’s Hospital, St. Baldricks, and SNPLA. At just 18, he is the CEO of his own production company, Penny Arcade Pictures, which has several projects in pre-production. Connor is an elite, competitive tennis player training 20+ hours per week outside of the entertainment industry. In his “off” time, he enjoys gaming, playing piano, and drawing.
StarCentral Magazine recently caught up with Connor to discuss his journey as an actor and here’s what went down:
Can you tell us more about yourself? How did you get started in the entertainment industry?
I was born in Florida and moved to Los Angeles when I was about eight years old. My older brother was an actor, and I had to tag along with him on his auditions. I decided I might as well start auditioning, too, since I had to be at the casting offices anyway. I found I really liked it, so I started taking classes, got an agent, and the rest is history.
What do you like most about acting?
What I like most about acting is that it gives me a chance to play different characters. I like reading a script and finding my own interpretation of the character to make it my own. I also love that acting has allowed me to meet many interesting people and have amazing experiences that I might otherwise not have been able to if I had not become an actor.
What are your weak points when it comes to acting? How do you try to improve them?
I think my weak points when it comes to acting is a lack of confidence. Sometimes I do not think I am good enough to play certain roles, but I always love to challenge myself. I had an acting teacher tell me, “what you believe you can achieve,” Whenever I feel like I am not good enough, I try to remember those words and use them to motivate me to reach my potential.
What are your strong points as an actor?
I think my strong points as an actor are the fact that I am willing to try anything the director asks me to do. I always put my faith in the director and know that they want me to be my very best. Some actors are stubborn and only do the role the way they want to do it, but I feel that the director also has a vision for the role, and it is important to work together to make the project the best it can be.
What have you learned from the directors that you have worked with throughout your career?
I have learned a lot from the directors that I have worked with, but I have learned to trust them most of all! I also learned that actors sometimes make the best directors because they have been in your shoes and know what you are going through.
What are some of the difficulties of the acting business?
Some of the difficulties in the acting business are the amount of rejection an actor sometimes faces daily. As an actor, you hear “no” much more than you hear “yes,” which is difficult. It can really hurt your confidence as an actor and as a person. I’ve learned through the years not to take rejection to heart. There are many reasons why you don’t book the job, and none of it has to do with you as a person.
What’s challenging about bringing a script to life?
The most challenging thing about bringing a script to life is deciding how you want to interpret the script and the character. Sometimes, your idea for the character differs from what the writer or director envisioned, so you have to change your thinking.
What do you do when you’re not filming?
I am a competitive tennis player, so I am training or competing when I’m not filming. I also like to write scripts, practice my piano or guitar, and play video games with my friends.
What has been the most memorable experience of your career so far?
My most memorable experience so far has been working on the set of Fox’s show 9-1-1. It was interesting to see how the different disaster parts were filmed and edited together to make the episodes.
Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?
I have met so many interesting people, from tennis legends such as Jimmy Connors or Andy Roddick to Hollywood legends such as Rich Little, Marion Ross, and Lily Tomlin. I’ve met musicians such as Ceelo Green, Billy Idol, and Julian Lennon. I have been fortunate to meet so many wonderful people. It truly is one of my favorite things about working in the industry.
If someone is going to make your life into a movie, who would play you?
That would be hard to say! I wouldn’t mind Tom Holland playing me in the movie of my life (laughs)!
What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.
I plan to go to college and study screenwriting and sports broadcasting as well as play college tennis. I have also started a production company with my brother, Penny Arcade Pictures, and we are working on producing some projects in 2022.