I was watching Netflix and had the pleasure of coming across the film the “Ghost Who Walks” starring Detroit bred actor Garland Scott. A talented actor who is carving his own lane by putting in the work. He isn’t quite a household name just yet, but if his past work is any indication, Garland is definitely someone to admire for his work ethic and humility. The COVID-19 pandemic has shut down LA and working actors like Garland are definitely effected. I chopped it up with the fellow Midwesterner over Skype and discussed his journey as an actor.
Ryan Glover: Growing up what would your childhood friends say about you or how would they describe you?
Garland Scott: (chuckles) Man, it’s funny, I would say they would describe me as creative man, I was always just running around doing whatever I could.
Ryan Glover: Where did you grow up?
Garland Scott: I grew up in Detroit man.
Ryan Glover: Okay, I grew up in Chicago.
Garland Scott: No way!!
Ryan Glover: Yeah, I’m very familiar with Detroit. I love a lot of different Detroit hip-hop artists. What was it like growing up in Detroit?
Garland Scott: I grew up in the 90s. 80s baby, grew up in the 90s. Detroit was kind of…it’s a lot going on around that time. Especially with everything in the world, it was a rough time. The 80s and 90s was a little rough when it comes to growing up, but I think it was easy to stay out of trouble because I always had stuff to do, you know? So, when I was old enough to get a job, I got a job and started working at Target. So, I was always moving, playing sports or working. I never had down time to get in trouble.
Ryan Glover: Man, that’s excellent. In the “Ghost Who Walks” you play Nolan who’s a convict, who cuts a deal by ratting out his old boss. But he is desperate to meet his daughter which makes him very empathetic. In the black community. Especially the hip-hop community and I know your part of that because I saw you in the Vic Mensa “Pouring Rain” video. It’s such a stigma with snitching. Was it difficult for you not to judge that particular character? Because of the [negative] connotation with snitching.
Garland Scott: No. I had no judgement of the character. The thing about snitching. I think the idea of snitching within that world, yeah, it’s bad because you abide by certain rules. However, you don’t know why he did what he did. It’s always a reason for people to do what they do and if somebody snitched you got to understand why somebody did snitch, and with his character. I loved this character so much. With him, he had a sense of integrity about him and for him to go that far to be reliable and all of a sudden stop being reliable. There had to be some underlying factor. So it wasn’t a judgement, he might not be saying it right now, but he had a good reason to do what he did. Now it’s not up for everyone else to understand that, it’s not his purpose right now.
He has one goal, get back to his family, that’s what he was doing. So I really loved that through line as a father who wanted to get back to his family and spend time with his daughter versus this hard-edged guy, you always have these hard-edged guys who get out of jail and their always the same. They have the quick wit, they know exactly what to say, they already have it planned out what they are going to do. He was a real human being who actually had no plan. He had a purpose and that was to get back to his family and whatever happens, happens. I think we followed through his story in this film that took you along with this character in his journey, so it didn’t feel like you were looking at someone you could possibly judge. He was someone you could actually enjoy and believe in and live with, you know?
Ryan Glover: When did you realize acting was a career path that you wanted to go down?
Garland Scott: Well you know, it was something I always wanted to do. You know, in Detroit it’s not something that…being an actor is not a viable option in certain communities. It’s get a real job. The odds of you getting from Point A to Point B is so astronomical. Why would you put your faith in going down this path and I think that I got to a point where I started to believe in myself versus the possibility of what other people might think and having that support. When I was younger this was something I always wanted to do but I didn’t follow through with it because I didn’t receive that support. As I was getting older, I got to a point where I decided I have to follow my dreams. Would the five-year old me be proud of me right now. I started to think about that. Would the five year-old me say “yeah, I’m happy I ended up there”. I was like I might as well go for it. Shoot the stars and miss, shoot for stars and hit. So I just went for it. Luckily right now, the films being well received.
Ryan Glover: Whose been your greatest supporter along the way?
Garland Scott: My wife. I was working at advertising at first and I was creating commercials at first, I was doing commercials for years and designing. I got tired of going on set watching people live my life. Watching people have fun, taking the scripts that I wrote and bringing them to life in ways…it felt like I was missing out on something. Like, I was watching my life pass me by. When I told her my idea to go back to it… to rededicate myself, she said “do it, go for it”. I started getting back into it the classes, the coaching and of course it goes slow. She said “why don’t you quit everything you’re doing” because I was still working and freelancing to. She said “just focus on this, I got us”. And I said “Are you sure? This isn’t an overnight thing”. So with that support I put all my energy into this craft and rededicated myself in a way that I have never done anything else in my life and the seed is bearing fruit in a way.
Ryan Glover: Definitely, I love your range. Tell me about your first audition.
Garland Scott: (laughs) Horrible. The most shaky; you don’t know how to present yourself. You don’t know to pace yourself, you rush through things, you forget to breathe, even listen. I think my first audition was for a short film in LA. I think going in there I was asked to “relax” because I was obviously very, very nervous. The lady conducting the audition told me “it’s okay, you’re going to be fine, it seems like it’s your first audition, it’s okay, I believe you can do this, so let’s just do this again”. She let me do a couple takes so I could get comfortable with finishing an audition. A lot of times people don’t get that opportunity, they just go in and people watch them and they leave and they don’t know what to think. I got a lot of positive feedback and reinforcement from the woman who was conducting the interview and they helped me move forward with the next one.
Ryan Glover: What about the first time you booked something?
Garland Scott: The first thing I booked was a student film and it was a great experience because everyone was All Pro. It was with the New York Film Academy and it was a short film called “The Boon” about a homeless guy and everyone was so professional. A lot of people don’t put a lot of energy and focus on student films, but this is the future, they are coming up and have great ideas. They are looking for great talent to bring their stories to life and I think they are overlooked in a lot of ways. I invested my time in a lot of student films. After that first experience and everyone was so great and so professional and they were able to put together a great product as well. Not just put something and throw it up on youtube, they wanted it to be great!!
Ryan Glover: Shout out to NYFA. I really enjoyed “The Boon” and was impressed by your range. Do you feel as an African-American actor its challenging finding roles that aren’t one-dimensional?
Garland Scott: I don’t think the challenge is finding roles that aren’t one-dimensional. I think the challenge is making roles three-dimensional. So you get what’s on the paper and you read what’s there but it’s your responsibility as an actor as someone dedicated to their craft to bring more to it. Not just deliver what’s on the page. So when I find something that seems two-dimensional at first, I find ways to create a real person out of it. That way it’s not exactly what is written but a fusion of what I have to offer as a talented human being, what I have to bring. I see the one-dimensional character’s, but I think they are played as one-dimensional. I believe it’s so much potential to disregard that note and give something more.