Making A Life on Stage
Parker Croft has been drawn to the arts and to acting in particular from a very young age, with his mom’s own singing career providing early inspiration. He has worked tirelessly in NYC and LA, securing ever more challenging and increasingly visible acting jobs. And now? Though still early in his career, Parker’s portfolio boasts a recurring role as Felix in ABC’s Once Upon a Time; appearances in FX’s Nip Tuck and American Horror Story and in NBC’s 1600 Penn; co-writer and co-star of award winning film, Falling Overnight; and NYC stage roles in the Sam Shepard Festival. How did Parker know he has what it takes to make it in the incredibly competitive world of the performing arts?
At a very young age, Parker’s parents recognized his natural talent and interests and enrolled him in an acting camp in Vermont called the Very Merry Theatre where his first play was an abridged version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Interested in screenwriting as well as acting and knowing that he also needed a strong academic background, Parker came to The White Mountain School as a sophomore. While at WMS, Parker took advantage of all of the theater classes offered and crafted a Senior Project in which he wrote, directed and starred in his own play called, The Treatment. One faculty member from that time recalls, “Parker brought life to the stage in a way that truly captured an audience the moment the lights came up. He brilliantly and thoughtfully executed all aspects of his play The Treatment, creating a deep and moving performance. Parker was always incredibly thorough and professional when it came to the theater and there were certainly clues of a successful acting career in his future. I have really enjoyed watching his success over the years.” Here’s what Parker has to say about his time at WMS, “Without a doubt WMS was an incredibly formative experience. As I reflect on my time there, I think of the patience extended to me in my most tumultuous times. WMS also gave me the opportunity to produce my first play and the time and freedom I needed to make it exactly what I wanted it to be. That experience has reverberated throughout my life.”
Following WMS, Parker headed to NYC to immerse himself in the world of acting. He began at the New York Film Academy in a two month intensive. Over the next two and a half years he pursued as many intensive opportunities as he could, studying at the Stella Adler Conservatory, The William Esper Studio, the Herbert Berghof Studio, and the Actors Movement Studio Conservatory. Like anyone pursuing a career on stage, Parker combined study with on-stage work. He auditioned for numerous jobs in NYC and secured roles in a number of plays in smaller theaters around the City. Parker has especially fond memories of acting in the Unseen Hand at the Sam Shepard Festival and of producing and starring in play that actually broke even – truly a victory for a young artist in NYC!
At around this same time, Parker booked his first movie – a lead role in an independent comedy that also starred Cory Feldman and Bronson Pinchot. Securing his first agent and manager, Parker soon appeared in his second film, Were the World Mine. Moving to LA in 2008, Parker appeared in the TV series, Nip/Tuck where he played the creepy Jared McCloud. Following several unsuccessful pilot ventures, Parker and his writing partner teamed up with Conrad Jackson to make the film, Falling Overnight. A success on the festival circuit, Falling Overnight won 11 top honors and Parker won best actor at the Nashville Film Festival, Jacksonville Film Festival, and Blue Whiskey International Film Festival, as well the Jack Nance Breakthrough Performance Award at New York’s VisionFest for his performance. When asked about the kind of characters he most enjoys playing, Parker replied that Elliot Carson from Falling Overnight has probably been his favorite role as it felt like the clearest vision and most fully developed character he’s worked on so far. But overall Parker says that he has a lot of fun with meaner characters, because they do the things most of us would never allow ourselves to do in real life, yet he can play out their actions without real-life consequences.
Most recently Parker has appeared in FX’s American Horror Story, NBC’s 1600 Penn and had his first recurring TV role as Felix on ABC’s Once Upon A Time. Parker also played Garland Jefferson in Field of Lost Shoes with Jason Isaacs, Tom Skerrit and David Arquette as well as in a few soon to be released films, Talbot County, Malibu Horror Story and After Ours.
What keeps Parker going? What does he love most about the career he has chosen? Parker answers this way, “Every day I wake up and I say, “What’s the coolest thing in the world?” and the answer has been acting every day since I was a kid. Now why do I love it? I’ve had a hard time articulating this throughout my life, but the closest I’ve come is this… I’ve always been drawn to art in general. I grew up in home that encouraged artistic expression and the consumption of art. But unlike the creation of a painting, where there is a separation between the artist and the painting, in acting, at least for a moment, YOU are the art, you’re not a person who is making it, you’re it.” And for aspiring actors on the WMS campus, Parker offers this, “It’s a long road. Everybody knows it’s hard to work in Hollywood, but one of the toughest lessons I’ve learned is that it’s not just hard, it’s also not fair. That said, if this art form is important to you, dedicate your life to it… without reservation. Jump all the way in, because there is no greater reward then spending your life doing what you love.”
In 2015 Parker will finish his second screenplay with writing partner Aaron Golden. When asked about future acting jobs, Parker replies mysteriously, “I’ve got things going on…I’m just not sure what the rules are on spilling the beans.” We’ll be waiting, Parker!