"As a kid I had extreme anxiety..."
A versatile actor with a dedicated spirit, Ser’Darius Blain was bitten by the acting bug at age 12, helping his mother rewrite a school play. After a trip to SHINE and an acting scholarship, Ser’Darius packed his bags and headed to New York City to pursue what he had once assumed was an unattainable goal.
What have you done recently and do you have something coming up in the near future?
For the past few years I’ve been blessed to work a lot actually. I started out doing Footloose and Meet the Browns while I was out in Atlanta. Then a show called Jane by Design for about a year until that got cancelled. Then I got a part in Star Trek: Into Darkness, and an opportunity to work on NCIS. This year has been the best year of my career so far. I shot 3 feature films. When the Game Stands Tall is a football movie about a Northern California team that went undefeated for 12 years and about the trials and tribulations that went on behind the scenes. I also did a movie called Camp X-Ray with Kristen Stewart, immediately after that. And right after that, I did another movie called Maybe Someday that was really really fun. And I’m booked for ABC’s new show called Super Fun Night with Rebel Wilson. God has really been holding it down in the work department. I haven’t been too hungry lately, so I’m doing pretty good.
Tell me about your beginnings. At what point did you know you wanted to perform?
l was a super shy kid to the point where I’d hold on to my mother’s skirt as a child. I was not very social. But I’d always watched TV and wondered what that must be like. When I entered 7th grade, my mom was the drama and english teacher at my middle school. I helped her rewrite a play and ended up auditioning and being selected to be the understudy to the lead character. I didn’t necessarily want to be in the spotlight. But of course, the main character ended up getting sick after the first show, so I had to carry the rest of the show from that point forward. I had so much fun. It was so freeing and I thought to myself, "you know, this is getting really fun and I’d love to do this but…"
I was so cerebral in thinking that "it’s probably not God." So I went to college for Biology. My girlfriend was going to audition for AMTC and she wanted me to come along. So I ended up getting in and going through in 2007 and did well. Also a scholarship for The New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts. I also met my now manager, DebraLynn Findon. She encouraged me to get my education so that when I came to LA, I’d have a long lasting career. So, it kind of came out of nowhere, but as believers, I think we know about divine appointments and about God specifically having a path for you.
Tell me about a memorable moment for you. Something exciting or unusual that’s happened to you on set?
So, so many things! [thinks for a while…]
What about Footloose? Tell me about that. Are you naturally a dancer?
NO! No! I’m not naturally a dancer so that was some scary territory for me. But I had the most fun I’ve ever had. I got to meet new people and some of them are my friends to this day. Learning the dancing side was a super challenging role for me. But I thought it was cool. I fell in love with Atlanta by doing that movie and gained some lifelong friends. So it was really cool.
You’re a tall guy too, so was the dancing challenging?
Yeah, I’m 6’4”. Tall guys can move too!
What situations have you faced on set that have challenged your faith? And how did you handle it?
I can give you a prime example without getting into the details and nitty gritty of it all. I booked a role for the show Jane by Design and after my first two episodes of doing the show, they made the character gay. When I originally auditioned for it, the character was not gay. To be honest with you, I had to have some prayer about it. And I called up my pastor about it. He encouraged me to do my job and to think of it as a job. It’s not something I’m necessarily standing for. He said that just because I’m a part of that role doesn’t mean that it’s something I stand for.
Regarding my personal feelings about this character, I had a talk with the writers of the show because they wanted me to do something questionable on set that didn’t relate to my morals. I told them that there are certain things that I will not do and this is one of them, but I would still put 100% into this character. They understood and did not push the issue. I did well with my job and they seemed satisfied with what I did.
How do you stay grounded in LA?
Something my mom instilled in me: have respect, hard work, faith and dedication, all these things. No matter what environment you’re in, they should keep you strong. Knowing this, I surround myself with people who have similar beliefs. People who don’t let me forget who I am or where I came from. I constantly have positivity flowing in and out of my ears, eyes and every gate. So it’s kept me reminded of the fact that what God has for me, it’s not for people. I do everything I do to glorify God. God gave me talent, He gave me gifts in order to magnify Him. So at the end of the day, I know that I’m not doing this for me or for pleasure. I do obviously have fun and there are a lot temptations around, but knowing what you’re doing it for helps keep me on the right path. It is challenging but at the end of the day, it’s rewarding.
You mentioned that one of your insecurities growing up was shyness. Do you still deal with shyness now?
As a kid I had extreme anxiety. And it wasn’t even just as a kid. It happened until I was a senior in high school. It was so strange. I would walk into a room and if there were more than like 3 people there I would freeze up. I would literally get nervous. I would sweat, my heart would pound and I would literally shake when I was around so many people. It still shows up from time to time now. And being completely honest, I really dislike red carpets, but its a necessary right of passage in this business. You have to think on your feet, constantly keep moving and keep smiling while hitting every angle. So before I get on the red carpet I’ll do breathing exercises and pray. I just have to shine through, breath it out, get over there and just be myself. And generally I’m able to relax. But it happens from time to time, even at auditions.
I had an audition with a really big director and I had done the audition four times already, for the casting director and producer. So I got in with this director. I got super nervous and I left. I kind of ruined my audition because of the whole social anxiety thing, instead of going in there and just having fun. But yeah, the social anxiety thing still comes in from time to time. But I’m better now than I was before.
What advice would you give performers who want to make a positive impact for God in the industry?
Persevere. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Because nothing would happen. It’s difficult to keep persevering but the scripture says "the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong (Ecc. 9:11) but the one who endures to the end will be saved (Matt. 24:13)." So perseverance would be number one. Personality is next. If you’re working with someone 15-20 hours day, they don’t want to work with someone with a bad attitude or personality. You’ve got to maintain a good personality. From the time you walk on a parking lot to audition for something, say "what’s up" to the security guard, to the person at the front desk, to the casting associate, to the casting director, producer or whoever—you’ve got to have a great personality. And being punctual. So many people miss opportunities because they’re not on time. This is a business. You have to put care into everything that you do and care about other people’s time as well. And not only that- just holding on to the faith. You might slip off the track a little bit here and there but stay on the path as far as your faith.