Planning and Malleability: An Interview with Faheem Rashid

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From behind the camera to out in front, Faheem Rashid discusses transitions, determination, and an eagerness to leave no passion unfulfilled.

When we first heard from you, you mentioned watching Jurassic Park 3 with your father as being one of your fondest memories. What role did film play in your childhood and early development? Was watching movies with your father a regular occurrence?

I used to watch a lot of TV and movies as a kid. I would watch something and think about it for days afterward, putting myself in them and imagining what I would do. I would imagine the things that happened before the movie, and what would happen afterward. I may have watched too much TV when I was young, but the way I felt when watching is something hard to describe; I felt things that normally I wouldn’t have. I grew empathetic to characters on the screen.

The first time I can remember crying was during the episode of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air when his father came back and then left again. I don’t even know how old I was, but if I were to watch it today, I would still tear up. While I did watch movies with my family, I can’t say I remember a specific movie that I saw with them. Still, I’m grateful that we did. The experience with my dad watching Jurassic Park 3 does stand out. Why? I don’t know. However, I do cherish it.

You mentioned that you worked behind the camera for much of high school, before eventually transitioning to acting. Has that production experience aided and/or influenced your work as an actor?

In high school, I took film classes for two years. I thank my teacher Mr. Korovezos. He helped cultivate my love of film. During class, I spent most of my time behind the camera. Having an idea of what goes on behind the camera helps mold the way I act. This was expanded upon once I read Secrets of Screen Acting by Patrick Tucker. Using the information he gave and actually knowing about [the concepts] he spoke of allowed me to perform better for the camera.

You spoke of a period in which you lacked self-confidence, which ultimately caused you to part from the film world for some time. Do you have any advice for a young actor who is perhaps uncertain as to whether he or she should pursue acting? 

After high school, I decided not to pursue film. Although it was something I truly loved and felt I was good at, I was influenced by people telling me that there was no real future in it.

While I don’t regret it, I do imagine where I would be if I did continue after high school. In all honesty, I probably wouldn’t be acting. As I said, I was mostly behind the camera, and I never really liked the way I looked. I was always the “chubby Brown guy.”

Although I was loud and outspoken, I didn’t really have too much confidence in myself. That confidence and acceptance of myself only came as I got older. As for being chubby, I could change that, and over the last year, I was able to lose 60 lbs. The big thing though was realizing this is something I wanted. I had to create a big enough “why” in my head. I had to be honest with myself. It is never the perfect time in anyone’s life [to act]. So whatever you’re waiting for, stop waiting. Take steps to improve yourself and get to where you want to be.

For our readers who don’t know you, where would you say you are in your career at the moment? 

Life is always a journey. I’m still relatively new to acting; I’ve only been doing it for about three years, but I love it. I am currently still learning every day, trying to make connections, and audition as much as possible. There’s a lot I want to do, and one day I will achieve [those goals].

Are there any actors who inspire you?

There is a saying that “people have lived before you and people will live after you.” The way I look at that is to learn from those who have lived before you, and leave something for people to learn from you. There are many actors and actresses who I respect greatly. I actually have a “film bucket list” of different actors and types of movies on which I want to work. Every person on that list is someone who has in some way connected with me.

Will Smith was the first person who made me cry. Tom Hanks is one of the most amazing actors I’ve ever seen. The late Robin Williams was the “funny uncle.” Michael Caine and his words of wisdom in his memoir, The Elephant to Hollywood. I would have to put them as my top four currently. But the list of actors I respect goes on and on. To name a few from the top of my head: Dave Bautista, Sandra Bullock, Ryan Gosling, Helen Mirren, Vin Diesel, Charlize Theron, Jeff Goldblum, Anne Hathaway, Michael Keaton, Daniel Radcliffe, Sir Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Cate Blanchett, and so on.

What has been the most difficult part of being an actor thus far? Have there been any periods or experiences that were particularly challenging?

The most difficult part of being an actor for me was not having a plan. After I got my agent, I did not have an audition for months. I was racking my brain trying to figure out what could I do to work more. I’ve read many books to help give me a roadmap to follow, but this industry is one of uncertainty. You’re always second-guessing yourself, but to me, it’s all worth it.

I’ve been asked before whether it’s harder to be an actor of Indian descent. In all honesty, I don’t think it’s a hindrance at all. I am what I am; I can’t change that. If I lose a role because of my ethnicity, oh well. I’m going to keep trying and auditioning. I’ve actually gotten more support from people saying we need more diversity.

Are there any projects you’ve worked on that have stood out to you as particularly influential, enlightening, or exciting?

It’s a short film that I did called Field of Flowers. I believe it will always have a special place in my heart. The film was the first time I did a romance film, and I was the lead. Usually, I play supporting characters. This time the director trusted me with her project. I had never met her before, but she liked my video audition. I had an amazing time on set. Mary Tran, the director, had amazing art design, and my co-star, Sahara Ale, was a pleasure to work with (as well as an outstanding actor). Although I know I will have many projects in the future, I will always keep this one in my heart.

What are the next steps for you in your career? And what are your long-term goals?

Right now, I’m trying to create more connections and get some clout. I’m auditioning for as many things as I can, and am working with my agent to try to work for the future. I want people to experience the emotions I did as a child while watching films, except through me. Beyond that, I don’t know what my next steps are. If anybody has advice I’m open to it!

Is there something you wish you had known when first starting out your acting career?

It’s a process, and I’m learning more every day. Yes, I made some mistakes early on, and I probably will make many more, but I’m grateful for the process. The only thing I could say would be to be a little bit more patient. There were months when I did not audition at all and I got very antsy. Just calm down and go through the process.

Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about you? 

I have been really blessed with my process so far. I met an amazing teacher, Mrs. Deborah Stone, who guided me along the way. I’ve made amazing friends, and I just don’t want to stop. I’m grateful for what I’ve learned from the books I’ve read, including Secrets of Screen Acting by Patrick Tucker, and The Audition Bible: Secrets Every Actor Needs To Know by Holly Powell.