Photography by Hernan Rodriguez

INTERVIEW WITH ACTOR AND DANCER PAUL KARMIRYAN

@paulkarmiryan

Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Paul Karmiryan’s career as a performer has taken him all over the world. He began dancing at the age of 17. In his first three years of training, he became a national champion of Latin ballroom and was crowned winner of So You Think You Can Dance, Armenia. Then, in 2013, he went on to place the position of 3rd top male dancer on So You Think You Can Dance, USA. Thereather, he took part in “Dancing with the Stars” Season 20 and its national tour, and Derek and Julliane Hough’s “Move” Tour. Paul Karmiryan is also an accomplished actor, known for “Veronica Mars,” “In the Vault,” “One Day at a Time,” “Zac and Mia,” and “The Space Between.” His career as an actor performer has taken him all over the world

What attracted you to begin your career as an actor?

I have always gravitated towards acting, movies, and television ever since I was young. I would be glued to the TV, and I would completely be immersed in the movies and shows I was watching. So much so that I wouldn’t even notice people calling my name or anything happening around me until the commercial break. But I never really knew how to step into the industry and acting world.

As a dancer, I always connected dancing to acting because one was storytelling through words and the other through movement. And I have always been a storyteller through my movement. So after I did SYTYCD (So You Think You Can Dance), I was approached by a casting director who referred me to some acting schools. After my first acting class, I was never the same. I completely fell in love with the craft. I became obsessed and would spend the majority of my days and weeks in class or doing research on how to be better. Or I would watch shows and movies to learn from the best.

When and what was your first role as an actor?

My first acting role was a co-star on ABC’s Switched at Birth a few years ago.

How did you learn your craft?

I learned my craft through various classes in Los Angeles, and by doing my research/ watching, the greats on the screen do their thing. I was lucky to have seasoned and valuable mentors that I could absorb from. My acting coaches Sara Mornell and Alice Carter were extremely helpful and gave me the tools I needed to move forward and prosper in this industry.

Were family and fiiends supportive of your acting endeavors?

My family and friends were very supportive of my acting endeavors! I am fortunate to have such a strong support system that also keeps me grounded.

How would you describe your acting style?

I usually gravitate more towards film and television because I love the grounded and ‘real’ nature of it. My most enjoyable performances are the ones where I can be subtle in a closeup. My favorite thing to watch is a comedy, but my work gravitates more towards the drama genre.

What projects are you currently working on?

I recently guest-starred on the show ‘FBI’ and played a lead in the Snapchat Original ‘The Dead Girls Detective Agency.’ And you can catch me in the new music video by Ed Sheeran, Camilla Cabello, and Cardi B ‘South of the Border’ and also the Alesso Music Video ‘In the Middle.’

Has your experience in acting changed your movie viewing experience?

My experience in acting has definitely changed my perspective on how I watch films and television. But ultimately, I try to watch shows and movies without analyzing them from a technical standpoint. Because if I don’t, I won’t be able to enjoy what I’m watching. Instead, I would be thinking about the acting, directing, lighting, editing, effects, sound, etc. a.k.a. too much, and it won’t be enjoyable.

Do you have a role model or ideal in the acting industry?

I feel like this list grows every day and with every new show or movie, I watch. I am so lucky to be surrounded in an industry with so many inspiring performers, writers, directors, and just all-around talented human beings and teams.

How do you work on honing your acting skills?

I have had great mentors and coaches in my acting career, which have helped me shape my craft in my own unique way. Just like an Olympic athlete needs a coach to push them to the next level, I believe it’s the same with acting. Sara Mornell, who is a phenomenal acting coach in this industry, is among my favorite people to get feedback from when I am feeling stuck.

Another useful tool I use to work on honing and sharpening my acting skills is researching movies and television and learning from the greats. Even if it’s a show I don’t necessarily like, I will watch it and take anything I can from it, which I might not have thought of before. Also, I believe being on set and actually doing the work is the biggest teacher.

Ever had a really bad day but had to perform? How did you get through it?

Life is a rollercoaster, and you never know what to expect. With that being said, I have had instances where I have had a bad day, and I had to perform. But I think that is what being in this profession entails. You have to be able to turn on and off certain emotions when they yell ‘action.’ It can be very hard, but eventually, you get used to it. Ultimately outside of work, it is a life experience that a person has, which makes an actor better in their craft; a smart actor will use their hardship or ‘bad day’ to their advantage and amplify their performance if needed.

What are some great tips for becoming a successful actor?

To be a successful actor, I believe you have to experience life, travel, and be a full person. As an actor, the more you can pull from your life, the more layered your performance will be. I also believe it is crucial to hone your craft through practice, whether it be in a class, on stage, on set, or even reading a script or scene with someone else. Another important thing is knowing the industry you are working in. If you don’t know what shows are out there or what world you fit in, you are doing yourself a disservice. You can also learn a lot from watching working actors on shows and movies, and the tones of different networks and shows.

What are some of the difficulties of the industry?

This industry is a rollercoaster. Sometimes you are busy, and multiple projects are going on (even ones you have to cancel because they conflict), but on the contrary, other times, you have to find a way to keep yourself busy because things are slow. I would say finding stability is definitely one of the greater challenges many people face in this industry. Also, the idea that when you get an audition, you work hard on it, and you put your heart and soul to bring a character to life, but many times you will not get the part because you weren’t what they were looking for. So eventually, you grow tough skin and learn to let things go quickly.

What have you learned from your acting career that can be applied in everyday life?

From acting and my career in general, I have learned a lot about myself as a person. I used to be the perfectionist that would stress about everything. But gradually, I found a balance of doing my best in whatever I partake and letting the universe take care of the rest. We can’t control everything, and we need to stop caring about what other people think and say about us. Being the best version of yourself and leading by example is the best way to serve this world.

Can you tell us about your dance career?

I began training in dance at 17 years old because of a high school project. I started with the Latin Ballroom genre, and I was lucky to have amazing coaches who helped train me and guide me in the best way. I never thought I would pursue dance as a career, but they made me fall in love with it.

It all started when I did So You Think You Can Dance in Armenia. I ended up living there for six months and came back crowned Armenia’s favorite dancer. I had only been training in dance for 2.5 years when I did the show, which was unheard of, and I was terrified to be a part of an international show in a foreign country. But the experience, quickly became one of the most memorable and maturing experiences I was a part of. It was my first time in Armenia, and I was fortunate to have the opportunity to connect to my cultural roots. Thereafter, coming back to the US, I began training in all styles of dance (Hip-hop, Contemporary, Ballet, Jazz, etc.). I wanted to learn it all and become a master of all ‘movement’ rather than just one style of dance.

After working hard day and night, through all of the sweat and bruises, my career began to blossom as a dancer after I placed as top 3rd male on So You Think You Can Dance in America and became an All-star and mentor on the show for four seasons.

Through my years as a professional dancer, I had the opportunity to travel the world doing what I loved, and I got to work with amazing and talented people in the industry. I had the opportunity to do various tours (DWTS, SYTYCD, MOVE,etc.) and travel the world to perform for various artists and dance shows (India, China, UK, Middle East, etc.). I also was a movement coach for Ed Sheeran in his ‘Thinking Out Loud’ music video (which has over 2.9 billion views on YouTube alone) and got to perform for him at the European Music Awards. I began to see all of my hard work and determination pay off!

As a choreographer and movement coach, you stop thinking about yourself and what looks good on your body, and you start thinking about what makes sense for the person/people performing. It also allows you to step away and be creative in a completely different way, especially when the people you choreograph for can be non-dancers a lot of times. I felt this when I was choreographing for the Hulu show Good Trouble; I was working with a group of actors, and I had to think outside to box to make the dance scene come to life. It was very challenging but extremely rewarding to
reach the end result!

What brings you pain? What brings you joy?

What brings me joy is quite simply an act of genuine kindness. Even the smallest and most simplest thing will put a smile on my face. I believe many people can be so engulfed in their own realities (which is understandable with the world we live in today), but you rarely see genuinely selfless acts. We already have so much hate, crime, and unethical circumstances that surround our world today, and I believe it’s everyone’s responsibility to take a second and spread some love at every given moment. You truly don’t know what anyone is going through, it can change someone’s day even to receive the smallest act of kindness, and in turn, it will create a ripple effect.

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