When asked about his professional inspirations, Xavier Woods—a young actor currently completing his bachelor’s degree—highlighted Tyra Banks, describing her as an individual who is hard-working and unapologetically herself.
To give our readers some perspective, where are you currently in your career?
Currently, I would say I’m in the very early stages of my career. I have done some local plays and musicals here and there for the past 5 years, and have taken some classes to further my skill! With finishing my second year of college and finally making a move to an area I feel I can really further myself in, I’d say that I’m just now taking off!
What led you to pursue a career in acting/modeling? Had such professions always been your passions?
Ever since I was younger, I always felt like I was supposed to entertain people. I remember looking at the television, imagining myself in a role, and acting out for my family. Put me in a room with a group of people I didn’t know, and it was the first thing I did: entertain. I felt comfortable and happy when I was entertaining.
It wasn’t until high school that I really decided to act on it and join my school’s theatre group. From that point on, I did shows and musicals, and it felt like I had found my home. As cheesy as that sounds, everything from that point on was like trying to find where the last puzzle piece fits. Also, the idea that you can create someone—a person with a past, present, and future, is so cool to me.
Modeling came a few years ago when a friend and I decided to get dressed up and take pictures of each other. The whole process was super fun and while it might not be the same process as a supermodel getting ready for a shoot, we were already hooked on the idea of being models. She set the goal of becoming a Victoria Secret Angel, and mine was to model for the clothes I wear (so Adidas, H&M, etc.). I started taking it more seriously by building more of a theme for my Instagram account, to make it pleasing to the eye with regard to what content I posted at what time, with what colors, etc.
Who inspires you, and why? Is there any actor/model whose career you’d like to mirror in your future endeavors?
My inspirations would, of course, be my family. I have the tendency to think about things too much, and they end up not happening because I scare myself out of them. But with my family, they’re honest, supportive, and don’t take no for an answer.
Since I am so new to the modeling world, I don’t know of a lot of male models, but from what I do know, I admire Tyra Banks. She is unapologetically herself and has an amazing work ethic.
As far as acting goes, Zendaya and Taraji P. Henson. Zendaya has done so much and has taken part in so many different fields other than acting in such a short time. With Taraji, I remember feeling so discouraged with finding my way into acting, and a video of her talking at a conference popped up on my phone. She was discussing her introduction to the entertainment industry and how she heard a lot of negativity entering that world because of her age and circumstances, yet she is a huge actress to this date.
With my career, I don’t really want to mimic anyone else’s. Of course, I would like to do some things that I’ve seen other people do, but I want this experience to be unique and new.
Thus far, what has been the most difficult part of pursuing acting/modeling? Have there been any particular challenges?
The most difficult part of this whole experience has been getting my foot in the door. Where I live, there aren’t many outlets to do that, so I’ve relied solely on social media and the internet to get as much exposure and knowledge on what I should do when I get to an area that allows me to further myself.
Also, I consider myself to be a huge challenge. When I go on social media or watch a new blockbuster that just came out, it’s super easy to start comparing yourself to those people on the big screen. But the one thing I have to remember is that these people have been working on their skills for years, and I have all the time in the world to get to where I want to be.
Are there any projects you’ve worked on that have stood out to you as particularly influential or exciting?
There was one project that I worked on that really stood out to me: my first musical, The Producers. Might I add, I do not sing. I managed to get a solo in this musical, and I was so scared that I contemplated dropping out; however, I worked with the musical director and practiced every day. When the show opened, it was a feeling like nothing else. It was still far from John Legend quality but you could see and hear the results, and it was extremely rewarding. It showed me that there are so many different aspects you can add to acting, and it just made me want to explore them all!
What are the next steps for you in your career? And what are your long-term goals?
The next steps for my career are to go further, find an agency, and get to work. I will continue to work on my Instagram while also working with local photographers to build my portfolio. I want to work with Lee Daniels on his show Empire because I’m a huge fan of his work and the show. As far as long-term goals go, I hope to have started acting and booked at least three modeling gigs within these next five years.
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about you?
As of now, I am closer to the Seattle area, but once August 1st rolls around, I will be in Arizona working on my bachelor’s degree online and working towards getting signed to a talent and modeling agency.