By Nicole Cortese
When the Breaking Bad theme music began playing in the crowded Yvonne Theater, eager fans, all holding blue crystalized candy representing the show’s iconic blue meth, burst into applause as award-winning actor, Giancarlo Esposito, entered from stage right on March 29.
The Student Entertainment Council (SEC), which hosted the event, allowed Esposito to share his wealth of wisdom and touch on various aspects of his career including acting, directing, singing and dancing. Esposito discussed many topics that resonated with students. He began by addressing what fans of the show normally expect when they see him as “Giancarlo” in real life and not as “Gus” from TV.
“I love to do this, because it really gives people a sense of who I really am beyond what you see on television,” Esposito said. “I know some of you probably want me to be ‘that guy,’ and I also am ‘that guy,’ once in a while.”
Evan Gurman, junior accounting major and SEC president, was impressed with the size of the crowd Giancarlo drew.
“I think that, overall, the event went extremely well,” Gurman said. “We saw over 200 students and professors come to the event, which is extremely good for our standards on a weekend.”
Esposito, a self-proclaimed character actor, gave an inspiring lecture about passion, choices and rejection and encouraged students to chase their dreams and do what they love.
Esposito also shared how he overcame his biggest struggles. With a background in theater, he was told he needed to learn how to act for the camera by toning down his dramatic acting style, following an audition in Los Angeles.
“I had to learn how to do nothing,” he said. “I had to learn how to allow what’s inside of me to be thinking, cultivating, calculating and allow that to be seen, but not have it be too much. That was my challenge.”
His love and passion for his work drives him to delve deeply into each role he takes on.
“Another challenge for me is to always do the right amount of research,” Esposito said. “I have to be well versed about everything — the world, news — and understand how things work. You need to know a lot about people and humanity, and that’s one of my favorite things about being an actor: I get to live many lives.”
He inspired students to push their limits and go beyond average expectations.
“If you always settle for good, you will never be great,” Esposito said. “Good is fine. Good is just perfect for me. Good should be perfect for you, but my desire — the focus I’ve had in my life and career — has wanted me to fulfill every ounce of what I’m being put here for. You won’t know what that is until you try.”
Focusing his attention on theater students who were in attendance, Esposito was direct in his attempt to describe how harsh the industry can be.
“If you’re an actor, you’re in a world of rejection,” he said “I’ve been turned down because my teeth were too white. I’ve been turned down because my hair wasn’t straight enough. I’ve been turned down because my hair has been curly all my life.”
Esposito explained how his passion for his work no longer includes yearning for the movie star life of being rich and famous. He considered himself a communicator who was given the opportunity to portray a role that is the opposite of his normal personality.
“I transform myself physically, and I transform myself mentally,” said Esposito. “I try to connect with who that character is.”
He also stressed that everyone has the power to make choices and choose his or her own destiny.
“You have choices in life, believe it or not,” he said. “You’re not just pushed around by the world. If you don’t make a choice, that’s a choice. If you’re too overwhelmed to make a choice about what you want to do, who you want to be, what kind of life you want to live, and it’s just too much for you to decide, the choice is made for you.”
Gurman was excited students enjoyed themselves and hopes the SEC will host more meaningful events like this in the future.
“I hope that students learned a thing or two about Giancarlo,” Gurman said. “Not only that, but I hope they see that there is a strong opportunity for weekend programming and how it can bring Rider’s campus back together.”
Before the standing ovation that concluded the evening, one of Esposito’s last remarks delved into the creation of each character and the ability to move forward after the performance was finished.
“I’m a character actor, and I believe in letting go,” Esposito said. “I want to allow new characters to take me over and allow myself to work on those, but it’s a challenge to not be always reflecting that Gus-like image.”
Printed in the 4/2/14 edition