"A lot of times we think as artists we have it all together..."
Austin Crute found mainstream success on national television shortly after attending the SHINE conference. Along with that success, Austin encountered the challenges of the music and television industries. But his grounding faith and discipline show how this talented young performer stays on top.
What have you done recently and do you have something coming up in the near future?
Recently I went to the The Georgia Theater Conference (GTC). It’s basically a conference where high school plays compete against each other to go to Southeastern Theater Conference (STC) which is the whole SE region of the US.
I play Lucian P. Smith, a mentally challenged patient at a center, in our H.S. play The Boys Next Door. I won best actor at GTC! The play didn’t win- so we won’t be going to STC. But we also competed in a state competition.The judges saw the show…and I won best actor for that as well. So I got two “Best Actor” awards!
I have also been writing and producing with Brandin Jay for his artists who have been doing covers. I started auditioning this summer and I am beginning classes at Alliance theater.
Tell us about your experience on Majors & Minors.
Billy Clark, a manager that comes to AMTC, discovered me and introduced me to Evan Bogart, my songwriting mentor. Evan and his brother created Majors & Minors, a television reality show on the Hub network that follows 12 kids ages eleven to seventeen, as they develop their songwriting and performing skills and [learn to] become a brand. On M&M we had “majors” who were the celebrity songwriters, come in and teach us how to become better musicians. The “minors” were the contestants on the show. Being a contestant on M&M was an amazing experience. Brandon Michael (who is also an AMTC alumni) was on the show with me. The cast created such an amazing family. We got to work with Will i AM, Jennifer Hudson, Brandy, Ryan Young Kingston and a bunch of other celebrities.
I worked with Keith Harris to write the song on the M&M soundtrack (available on iTunes) and ultimately get a songwriting contract. The album is called Loose It. Keith helped me write and do different things to propel my writing in the right direction. It was just an amazing experience and I don’t think I will ever get another one exactly like it. Of course every experience is different but that experience was just so surreal.
While doing things in the industry, have there been times where you faced things that challenged your beliefs? People who were challenging?
When I went to LA, I found a very prestigious acting studio where actors like Will Smith, Jennifer Lopez and the Wayans Brothers have been coached. When I signed up for the class they told me that it was an adult program. I said “ok that’s fine,” but I am from the South and live in the Bible Belt, so I was not expecting all of the adult content! On the first day of class the teacher was getting our warm up exercise ready and she said “a lot of times when we are in movies and TV shows and we see a script and see a curse word in it, we automatically think it’s aggressive, so we are going to play a little game…” and at this point I am thinking “what is going on? I am about to be cursing in this place.” Then she said “I want everyone to go around the room and say hello “b*****” in your own way.” At this point I take my phone out and pretend to get a call. Then I leave the room. I call my dad (Pastor Bryan Crute) and say “I don't know what I am doing here! This place is crazy and I can’t do this. I have made a vow to not do anything dishonorable.” Then my dad said “First of all, I am proud of you for calling me and for not participating in that…” I stood out of the room and waited for the class to finish the exercise. Then I got off the phone and went back inside and they were done with the warm up exercise.
The second time they did that exercise I did the same trick. I pretended like I had a phone call, but this time she caught me and said “do you really have a phone call or are you not allowed to cuss”? I said “no, I am not allowed to cuss.” After that, instead of being ridiculed for not cussing and feeling like they would think I was acting like a child, they actually respected me for not doing it. It was not the reaction I was expecting- so it turned out well. But I am still dealing with certain things in LA and in the music industry that make it hard. What the world sees as just edgy or appropriate for the character, I see it as spiritually significant.
How do you stay grounded?
I stay grounded by my upbringing. I was taught to seek righteousness. And if I ever did anything wrong, I would not have to answer to my parents but to God. With that mindset I’m not thinking “are my parents going to find out?” I’m thinking “Is God going to be pleased with what I am doing? Will I be able to tell God I didn’t sell myself or sacrifice my integrity or virtue to be famous, get money or be successful?” So when I’m about to audition or participate in certain things, I keep that in the back of my mind: “will God be pleased?” We can question morality, but keeping that balance is the most challenging thing in my career at the moment. I’m just wondering how long it will be before I have to take a public stance and say “this is how I am going to choose to produce my music and this is how I am going to choose to act.”
Would you be prepared to take a stand now?
I think if I had to make that choice today I would be prepared to stand for my convictions, because in this whirlwind of success that seems to be coming my way, I have stood strong on my convictions. Going into the future, I will have to define what pleases God and what doesn’t. It’s all about defining what I will do and what I will not do. I just have to stay on my course instead of thinking about what other people are thinking of me.
How was your AMTC experience?
I credit AMTC for jump starting my career. AMTC was a life altering experience for me. It required a level of maturity that I had to cultivate, and it allowed me to channel my talent into a market rather than do it just to do it. It also gave me a level of understanding of what it takes to be a brand and an artist. There is a business side to it and it gave me a new perspective, but it’s not all about the money. Being around all these talented individuals is very humbling. And knowing that I am not the only one doing this and I am not the best one was a good wake up call and reminder that it’s a community. Everyone is helping each other out. AMTC was a community driven experience.
What advice do you have for future performers who want to make a positive impact for God?
There is always room for growth and to allow yourself to be groomed. A lot of times we think as artists we have it all together. If someone else feels something needs to be changed, we get defensive. We feel like it was our artistic vision. If people that are artistic can stay humble and can accept input from others, it will expand their territory – especially teenagers. I have to work on receiving input from others. Teenagers already feel they know it all!