Photo by Sarah Malone
Freshman Anthony Wells is an 18-year-old from Sao Paulo, Brazil, who has already achieved far more than many struggling actors in the LA area. Prior to enrolling at Pepperdine, Wells worked for Disney Channel Brazil.
Various actors, such as Tia Mowry-Hardrict, Tamera Mowry-Housley, Brandy Norwood, Clayton Snyder and Chace Crawford, have found their place at Pepperdine.
Wells said he wanted to attend a school located in California that had access to the beach and was not too big. “I wanted a place that had theater and communications and just a well-rounded school,” Wells said, “and Pepperdine filled all of those requirements.”
As an actor, Wells is familiar with the obstacles the entertainment industry as he has faced them himself.
“The biggest challenge for actors, in general, is the competition out there,” Wells said. “There are hours and hours of sitting in waiting rooms, waiting for an audition, waiting for someone to call you; and you have a five-minute audition, and in two hours they call you and you didn’t get the job. This is something actors face on a daily basis.”
Wells began acting in school plays when he was 9 years old.
“I started to get the hang of things because I liked comedy a lot. When I was 15 years old, I got my first professional contract working for Disney Channel in Brazil,” he said.
Wells played Paulino, a scientist in the Brazilian version of “Saved by the Bell.” He was signed exclusively to Disney for nearly two years.
“My experience working for Disney was so good,” Wells said. “When I went to the audition, I was fortunate enough to make the cut. There were around 500 people that auditioned, and they only took in eight new actors, so I consider myself very lucky.”
He credits his agent for his success with Disney Channel. “Already in elementary school, a couple of people approached my parents saying, like, ‘Hey, we can get your son an agent’ and ‘I know some people that would love to have your kid work for us.’”
His parents believed he was too young to start acting professionally because he was still in middle school. However, once he was in high school and people still approached him, he decided to give acting a shot.
“The first play I did in high school was ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’” Wells said, “I was Bottom, which is the funniest part. I remember the audience laughing so much. At the end of the play, a guy came up to me and said ‘Hi, I work for an agent, and I’d like you to come try out and speak to us.’”
Wells denied the initial request.
“The next year, the same guy came back [when] I had another comedic role in high school,” Wells said.
Wells took up the offer this time and spoke to the agent.
“She (the agent) seemed very nice and she found me the audition with Disney,” Wells said.
He found his place in acting and loved his experience learning from others as he was growing up.
“I’m a very energetic person, so I always liked laughing and making people laugh. [Acting] was always something fun to do. I always loved doing it,” Wells said. “People depended on me, and I depended on them. You act for the person next to you. You act so that the whole group comes out with an excellent performance. So that the audience walks out a little different than how they walked in. I think that’s the beautiful thing about it.”
Wells has even had his celebrity moments as a Brazilian actor.
“Disney Channel Brazil is much smaller than Disney Channel here,” Wells said. “It is very popular among the little kids. I remember one time I was in the local bakery at my neighborhood and some little girl came and hugged my leg. She had a little piece of paper in her hand, and she wanted me to give her my autograph and take a picture with her, and she called me by my character’s name. The show, itself, was the most popular show on Disney Channel Brazil.”
Despite deciding to leave Brazil and attend Pepperdine, Wells has continued with his acting on campus. He’s currently working on “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” playing the role of Oberon’s guard.
At Pepperdine, Wells does not want to focus solely on acting; but, he does not want to ever let go of his dream, either.
“Since I came to Pepperdine, and it’s a bit isolated from everything, it is sort of difficult to go out and find agents and auditions and things like that,” Wells said. “So, since I came here, I am trying to focus more on my studying and trying to do a bunch of other things, as well.”
Wells appreciates the value of acting at Pepperdine and making the most of the opportunity to do so.
Auditioning for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” as a freshman, he got “a relatively minor role, but I’m still loving doing the work. It’s excellent; I learn a lot from it. The people at Pepperdine are fantastic actors — there’s a lot to learn from them.”
The Sao Paulo native took older actors’ advice about receiving a full education and earning a college degree before continuing with his acting.
“For three years, I dealt with professional actors, and I saw how competitive the world is. It demands a lot of you. There are a lot of good actors, talented actors, that just don’t find a way to make a living out of doing what they love. But, since I like speaking and communicating, I can see myself doing a lot of things other than acting to make a living out of and still doing acting on the side,” Wells said.
Wells chose to major in advertising. Due to the competitive nature of the industry, he decided to focus on something he could fall back on.
“That’s why advertising fit everything I needed. Even though it is not theater, it uses elements of theater. You have to learn how to communicate well to advertise a product and things like that,” Wells said.
Wells aspires to be a successful student, and said he really wants to make the most of his time at Pepperdine.
Follow Paola Ramos on Twitter: @PaolaRAwaves