From Dayton to Big Apple

Quentin McCuiston working as actor in New York City, shown here at desk in a recent performance at Bryan.(Photo:GaryBolden/RheaReview)

Quentin McCuiston acting in New York

September 15, 2014

New York, NY — Quentin McCuiston is working on his acting career in New York City, a long ways from hometown, Dayton, Tennessee.  Quentin is the son of Tony and Debby McCuiston of Dayton.  He attended Rhea County High School and Bryan College here locally.  After graduating from Bryan he attended the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts.

I went to see Quentin in a one man show at Bryan a few weeks ago.  I enjoyed the show.  It was a fast paced, multi-character presentation that centered on the reservation desk at a fancy restaurant and all the side stories of a struggling actor working “temporarily” at a restaurant.  I was amazed at the ability of Quentin to stay in character as he switched from person to person in the play.  To be able to keep the voice, expressions and other characteristics consistent was quite entertaining.  The play eventually had some very interesting plot twists.

After the show, I wanted to follow up with the local kid who was trying to make it in the big city.  Quentin took time to answer a few question about how he went from Dayton, Tennessee to the Big Apple.

“I grew up with my dad acting locally in the community and at Church.  I ended up seeing theatre more than most of my peers and would end up getting involved when they needed kids to act,” said Quentin.  “My first acting that I remember was The Passion Play at First Baptist of Dayton.”

“What I consider my first professional gig is different from when I first started getting paid to act.  Just after graduating college, I was able to be involved in a couple of independent/student films.  They were unpaid, but I them of them as the beginning of my work professionally.”

“I meet my wife, Jessica, in an earlier incarnation of the Scopes Trial reanactment play.  We have been married eleven years.

“My wife does a lot of children’s theater directing and choreography.  She also acts and choreographs regionally when the opportunity arises.”

“I love that things are always changing with acting and always a new story to tell.  It is frustrating that working consistently if difficult.

I have always heard that acting required a lot of side jobs.  I asked Quentin to list a few of his jobs.  he has been a barista, cater waiter, cocktail server, event staff, grocer, retail, school handyman, assistant for education the theater, background extra and there have been others.  I checked and a barista is a coffe-house worker who serves coffee.

I talked with Quentin’s Dad, Tony Mccuiston about Quentin’s early years growing up in Dayton.

“He had always been an animated child, performing for the family,” said Tony. “He started doing the Scopes trial with me when he was at an early age. He did a lot of plays in High School. But it was his senior year, in High School when the off Broadway Production of Les’ Miserable came to the Memorial Auditorium.”

“Debby had taken me for an early father’s day gift and Quentin’s Drama class from the High School had gone as well. During intermission, he came down where we were sitting and he said, “this is what I want to do”. Referring to acting as a career. He started then to pursue it, and he hasn’t stopped.”

Tony has quite a long acting career himself. I asked about his early years in acting.

“I did a couple of plays in high school, but really got more interested after I graduated. I started as kind of a hobby and it took off, and I have had some really good opportunities throughout the years. I had just planned on amateur community theater things, but have been able to do some professional theater and film work as well.”

I was curious how Tony felt Quentin’s faith and acting had melded. Tony was glad to give some insight into this question.

“He has had some great opportunities to be able to work with Christian film folks. Under Jakob’s Ladder film is based on a true story and the directors are Christians.”

“He has done a few short films with a guy in Nashville that is a Christian and he also graduated from Bryan but not with Quentin. He has one some film work with his church for the praise team, one of those can be seen on Vimeo as well.”

Quentin has had some really good opportunities. He has done a lot of things that some folks only dream about. He spent a semester of college in L.A. at a Christian Film School.

He competed in a National Drama competition with a talent school from Chattanooga where he won 2nd place for Best Actor in the Nation. With that award he was able to go to film school in New York. From there that is where he stayed. He has done Broadway quality theater at the Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey.

“He has done a web series of a nerdy character called “Learning With Lawrence”. He did some short films that I mentioned earlier with the guy from Nashville, where in one he received “Best Actor” at a film festival it was in, and in another he received “ Best Makeup”.

He also received Best Actor in a film Festival from a trailer he filmed for a suspense or scary movie. Another movie he did is supposed to be out on DVD this year which is about a 60”s rock band.

“He has done quite a bit, but hasn’t been able to land that full time spot where that is what he makes his living from. But I believe it will come.”

I communicated with Bernie Belisle, the Assistaint Porfessor of Communication Studies at Bryan College, where Quentin attended.  Mr. Belisle offered some insights about Quentin’s College days at Bryan.

“Quentin came in with an uncanny ability to asses comic timing and while he was here, he worked to grow that ability. He matured as an actor and was especially adept at comedy, but ventured into more serious roles as well.  I recall that he was a good student.”

Bernie gave me a list of some of the plays that Quentin participated in at Bryan.  Those included Twelfth Night; Murder Room; Cinderella; The Imaginary Invalid; Comedy Tonight; The Sound of Music.

“Q(as I call him) was always engaging and I knew that he had the fortitude to pursue his dreams.”

Below are some links to some of Quentin’s work.

Quentin McCuisiton – Backstage

Snake Movie Trailer

Fathers Movie

Thieves Movie

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