"Everyone thought I was crazy..."
Growing up, Adam Aalderks knew that he wanted to accomplish three things in life: become a professional athlete, musician and actor. At this point, he has done all three. After playing football in college, touring the country as a drummer for three years, and (now) landing lead roles in feature films, Adam is living proof that God’s timing is perfect.
Tell us about your recent projects.
I went to SHINE and then, and moved down to Atlanta the following September. Then that October, I started booking. I booked a fitness DVD right away, then booked a couple of small pilots. The projects just kept getting bigger. The biggest film I have done was ASHBY with Mickey Rourke, Nat Wolff, Sarah Silverman and Emma Roberts. That was awesome. I got to play the antagonist of the film, which is always a fun role to play. I also did a film called “Curveball” in which I again played the antagonist. I worked with E. Roger Mitchell (The Hunger Games, Flight), which really taught me so much about what authentic acting looks like. Then I booked a couple of national, regional commercials for a few different sports companies and product lines.
I recently started booking more network television. I booked a co-star role on the television show ,“Hindsight,” and a guest star role on NCIS: New Orleans, as well as other miscellaneous films and commercials.
What was it like to play a lead role in Ashby?
Filming Ashby was surreal. My first day on set, I walked onto the football field and saw Mickey Rourke sitting on a bench hanging out. At first, it was like “…is that Mickey Rourke? I think that’s Mickey Rourke.” That was when it became real. Nat Wolff is one of the nicest, most genuinely good people that I have met in a long time. One of the football coach’s daughters wanted to meet Sarah Silverman, so Sarah offered to go to their house to meet her. That was pretty cool. Just little things like that really encouraged me in my career, of what I want to accomplish. I want to have a career that changes lives along the way.
We were playing football on the field, and Sarah Silverman walked over to us in heels and a dress and started playing football with us. We were all shocked and she said “I’m from Jersey, you guys have to keep up with me.”
Can you name a favorite project since SHINE?
(Pauses) Oh man, that’s not even a fair question. I would have to say…probably Ashby, because of the duration of time being on set. I was able to develop my character and make real relationships with people. The other productions I’ve been part of have taken maybe a week to film, and it’s hard to actually get deep into the character. Being on set for Ashby for several weeks was a lot of fun. I made relationships and met people who will directly impact the next steps in my career.
What initially led to a passion for the industry?
My story is a little different than most. As a kid, I wanted to do three things with my life: be a professional athlete, actor and musician. I practiced and always had my head in the clouds, like most every kid. But I never grew out of it. When I went to college, I played football and got injured, so that was the end of that. Then I joined a band, signed with a record label and toured for three years.
I was playing a show as a drummer in Minnesota at a place called the Warehouse, and we had one part of our song that was amped up, when everyone would jump up and down. The song hit that point, and I played it, but my whole body went cold. I heard the words in my head, “You’re done with this, I have bigger plans for you.” To this day, drumming doesn’t feel the same. I was so passionate about music, but I felt that I was supposed to be a performer. I felt God calling me back to my original roots of being an actor. When I finally left the band and went for it, everyone thought I was crazy, but I knew what God was leading me to.
So I started searching around, and that’s when I found Actors, Models and Talent for Christ. That’s really what got the ball rolling. The first time I remember was November of 2012, I was filming my first real project as the Lead speaking role in a pilot. It was a very small project, but the camera was about 17 inches from my face, and they said “Action.” The giddy feeling that flooded my body made me realize, “This is it. I’ve finally found that one, true thing that I am passionate about.” I’ve never looked back. It’s true what they say. If there is anything else you want to do other than acting… do it. But at that moment filming that pilot I realized this was it for me.
What doors did SHINE open up for you?
When I started out my career, I booked a lot on my own and worked for free. Then as I got agents, the projects kept getting better. The thing that SHINE did for me, was it motivated me and pointed me in the right direction. Cyndee McClintock and Maggie Malone are both AMTC Coaches who really helped motivate me and guide my path. SHINE gave me a general outline of how the industry works, and what to expect. It gives a blueprint of the realistic side of what goes on.
Have you had any challenges as an actor?
This is something that I have been thinking about recently. With acting you have to know when to close doors behind you so you don’t take steps backwards. If you are doing extras work, then all of a sudden you begin booking speaking roles, you have to close off the extras work door. Then as you book SAG projects, recurring roles, lead roles, and the projects keep getting bigger, and you have to push your career forward. You must to take a leap of faith and be willing to close the doors behind you, so you don’t go backwards.
I remember the first time I said that I wasn’t going to work for free, and that I was going to put a price tag on my talent. I didn’t book for a couple months and that was scary. So I focused on classes. Then all of a sudden people began taking me seriously and hiring me. All performers have to make those leaps of faith all throughout their careers, and those career leaps never stop. You have to make a choice to follow what You’re passionate about, and that’s just the first decision. After that, you must continue to trust and know that there is a bigger plan than what you’re living.
What has Christ has revealed to you most through this?
What He has been revealing to me more and more is that if you truly feel like you are meant to do something, you might as well dive all in. There is no reason to wade a little in the water, just go for it. You have to fully commit to this. If you give God the reigns, He will take it, so hold on. I don’t have an explanation for why I book as often as I do, other than I have favor in the industry. And there is no reason that I have that favor other than God’s guidance and help.
It’s just the ability to trust, more than anything. Set a goal and work as hard as you possibly can and stay as focused as you possibly can. Trust that if God has given you this passion, He will make it happen.
Have you ever had to turn down an opportunity that was conflicting to your faith?
You bet. I made a connection on set that was looking for a recurring role on a different network TV show. The connection called me and said, “I have a role that is yours if you want it.” The role was a homosexual character who was not going to kiss anyone, wasn’t going to do anything sexual, but just had that label.
Everyone has accountability partners, and mine is my little nephew, Kamdon, who is nine years old. I think about Kamdon watching me on television, in different types of roles, and me having to explain to him my justification. So I turned down the role, even though it would have been a really nice paycheck, because it didn’t sit well with me. It was not something that I wanted to have a label as, going forward in my career. That was a hard choice to make.
Any advice to performers who may be entering the place that you’re in?
You have to have a support system. Mine is my wife. I owe my career to her. You also definitely have to have someone in your corner who will give you a reality check once in a while. For me, not only my nephew, but Maggie Malone, who is part of the AMTC Coaching Staff, has been a huge asset in giving me “kicks” once in a while in telling me what is okay, or what isn’t okay. There are things that I will do on screen and things that I will never do on screen. You have to know how it sits in your soul.