Adam Hicks Tells Us How He Broke Into Acting and Shares His Plans To Conquer The World of Hip-Hop
“When you’re from Las Vegas it’s not hard to envision your name in “lights.” It’s also easy to find yourself in some type of entertainment related career path like Adam Hicks did. I’m from East Las Vegas, and grew up there. In my elementary school I took a couple of classes and was always involved in drama. The guy who taught my drama class had a radio station where he would announce auditions on the air. So when I was about 7 or 8, I went down to the MGM Grand and did this 5 second commercial audition and was picked by 3 or 4 local agents for representation. I chose one and started going out on local auditions.”
But Adam’s path to success in film and television was not short. It’s been a long journey for the young star, one that helped him recognize that this is no overnight business. “I’ve been doing this for 11 years now and it has definitely been a learning process. This was not an instant fame thing for me at all.”
Also influenced by the hip-hop scene in his native Vegas, Adam honed his skills at an early age on local stages. “Growing up in Vegas has a lot to do with my love for hip-hop. In 4th grade, for my D.A.R.E. essay on “Don’t Do Drugs,” I made a rap and my D.A.R.E. officer made me perform it in front of the school.” [laughs]
Here, Adam shares his journey to becoming a household name and gives us some insight into the life of a superstar on the rise.
How did you get into the Disney market and what was your first major acting gig with them?
The first major thing I ever did with Disney was a movie called, “MOSTLY GHOSTLY.” It was like an R.L. Stine, “GOOSEBUMPS” remake. After that, I kept auditioning and then I got to read for ZEKE &LUTHER. This was all so different from what I was use to because before all that, I worked on movies that were either low or mid budget where you work for 2 months and then come home and chill. But with ZEKE &LUTHER I was there every day, continuous for 3 ½ years putting my all into this one project. It really opened my mind up as an actor. Then LEMONADE MOUTH happened, which has been incredible!
Tell us a little about how you got the ZEKE & LUTHER gig.
Disney called me in to audition. After that I had 3 call backs. I hate auditioning because it’s real nerve-racking because you don’t really know what they’re looking for. The first time I went to the 23rd floor in the Disney building, I remember stepping into the room and they asked me if I could skateboard. At that time I had been skateboarding for about 3 years. They really liked what I did so I got a call back and they did a line up where they match you with other actors. Then I got the final call back and they matched me up with Hutch Dano (he plays Zeke) and we vibed out. I remember this scene where we starting arguing and I just ran up to him and grabbed him during the middle of the scene and I could tell he was a little surprised because he didn’t think I was going to grab him. We started wrestling on the floor and we were really into the scene when Gary Marsh said, “Okay, all right! You can calm down now.” [laughs]
Before I booked LEMONADE MOUTH, the head of music for ABC/Disney contacted me and said he wanted me to do some music for the movie. Then I got the audition for the movie and I was like, “I hope I book this too.” [laughs] The reason I wanted it so badly was because I knew that LEMONADE MOUTH would give my fans a different side of Adam Hicks and my talent. I love “Luther” but I wanted to show my fans a different side of my acting ability.
That’s great that you’ve made these strides in your career and haven’t gotten complacent. A lot of actors get the big head after they get a series regular role and become complacent or know-it-alls and you haven’t done that.
Thank you! I totally agree with you on that whole thing, and the craziest thing about the business is that you find yourself becoming super addicted to it. I talk to my parents about things other than entertainment, but the majority of the things we talk about is the business. It becomes your whole lifestyle, and if you love it and understand that it’s real competitive out there, you will stay hungry and humble at the same time.
What’s the best part working at Disney?
Oh man! Disney looks out for their people. When you’re in with Disney they really look out for you. If you want to book a role and you’re already on a Disney show, they make sure they find you a role somewhere. I’m trying to accomplish as much as possible and take it 20 years from now. I really can’t see myself doing anything other than entertainment.
Has it been tough for you to get opportunities outside of the Disney market?
It’s a huge struggle, especially now that I’m jumping into the music realm. I knew how hard the acting industry was, but I’m finding that the music industry has a lot of ups and downs too. But no matter what the industry throws at you, you have to keep that passion going. For instance, my dad used to drive me to L.A. for a 3 minute McDonalds commercial, and then we would get half way back to Vegas and the casting office would call and say I have a call back tomorrow morning at 8am. So we would have to turn around and go right back to L.A. and stay overnight. [laughs]
You’re a talented young man. You’re a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, you play all these instruments, and now you’re doing the rap thing. Tell us about your music career?
Vegas has a huge Hip Hop culture and my friends and I jumped into it at a young age. I remember when I used to read the dictionary and put the words together. Most people didn’t expect that coming from me, but I always like that element of surprise because it leaves people saying, “What? Adam can rap?” There was a time that I wasn’t good at it, but I just kept at it and over time I got better. I have a toy chest filled with notebooks full of dope rhymes. My first pay check from Zeke & Luther, I started building this studio in my house and it’s pretty crispy (nice). I vibe out right here in my house all day and make music. Honestly, I’m so blessed to do music professionally, but music was something I would have been doing whether I did it professionally or not. I’m grateful that LEMONADE MOUTH came around because I got to bring all that Vegas swag and mix it in with the Disney machine. It’s just incredible.
I would have never pegged you for a rapper?
[laughs] I know red hair with freckles? It’s all good though, I love this music game.
When can fans expect to buy your music?
Sometime in 2012. I’ve been talking to a few major labels, but it’s the same as acting where the first thing they do is look at your resume. I thought I could impress somebody with my talent, but then I realized that you have to have a separate resume for your music and prove your credibility. It’s a business and you have to go at it with that type of mentality. I’m still trying to learn the ins and outs of the music side.
What words of wisdom can you give to people who are interested in a career in entertainment?
The advice for those who want to pursue a career in entertainment is that you have to start with your initial passion. I still get butterflies when people say “Rolling” and “Take 1,” right before the director says, “Action!” I still get that sky diving feeling and I feel like if you really love your passion and you stick to your dreams, the accomplishments kind of come. Before you know it, you really get to look at it like, “Wow, I really did that!” You also have to stay level headed and look at your day-to-day plans and stay true to your passion. Don’t get off track by admiring what you’ve accomplished because that’s the past, just remain focused and keep looking ahead. Think about it, when you start admiring your own accomplishments, what do you end up doing? You wind up chilling, playing video games all day and become complacent. [laughs]
Just for fun: who’s your favorite music artist?
I have a lot of them! I go all the way from Biggie Smalls, to David Bowie, to The Rolling Stones.
Who’s your biggest influence in entertainment?
I love Robert Redford. He’s just a man who has accomplished so much. He’s like the Richard Branson of acting and I really admire everything that he’s accomplished. I actually met and sat down with him for about 20 minutes and he schooled me on the game (film business).
What are your favorite TV shows?
I’m starting to watch GAME OF THRONES. I love to watch WHOSE LINE IS IT ANYWAY, because Wayne Brady is a real cool guy, and his comedic timing and spontaneous reactions are real sick!
What’s the ideal type of girl for you?
She has to know how to chill and have fun. She has to know how to laugh, please, please, know how to laugh. I don’t have a long list at all. I hate forceful fun where you have to do something cliché or it’s awkward. [laughs] If you have fun, then I have fun.
[Originally Published September 9, 2011]