Owning What You Want: A Chat with Rising Star Colin Michael Day

By , Columnist

As a guy, Colin Michael Day doesn’t seem like my usual type . . . of interviewee, that is. But while he may not have been in the entertainment industry for long, this ambitious, successful, and down-to-earth young actor/producer is already racking up stage and screen credits.

After graduating University of Denver as a theatre major, his first big move in Hollywood wasn’t to find a role - it was to create one. In The Loneliest Road in America, Colin and close friend Mardana Mayginnes churned out a film festival hit detailing a disillusioned college grad’s road trip. He’s had several further successes and, happily, has a number of other projects in the works, including the film Passenger and at least one play that he’s hoping to put on in Chicago or New York early in 2012.

Though in the midst of a move, Colin took a break from lugging boxes to chat with me earlier this week, allowing me some insight into the goals, achievements, and philosophy of this charming rising star.

I know that some success doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve “made it.” What are you doing right now to further establish yourself?

I’ve been able to create a support system of people who want to get stuff done rather than just talk about it, which is great. Aside from just acting, I’ve been pushing really hard on [new projects on] the producing front. [And I’m] always building a network. That’s one of the big things: you have to be talented and all, but it’s also about who you know and your relationships, the people you trust and can be creative with.

Do you have a 5 year plan or are you just sort of flying by the seat of your pants at this point?

It feels like I’m flying by seat of pants because a lot of things just come at me. But it’s best having as many projects as possible going at the same time because you never know what’s going to hit first . . . I used to take one thing at a time, and now as I’m becoming more successful, I’m starting to create more goals and I always have things in the works for the future.

Regarding The Loneliest Road in America, why make your own movie instead of acting in someone else’s? It seems like the riskier choice.

It seems risky, it does, it is. But you know what, me and my good friend Mardana, the writer and director, that’s kind of who we are, and we wanted to do that because there are a lot of people being safe and going through the motions. We decided if we were going to do this and were going to fail, we were going to fail really hard. And it was big . . . the main driving force was me and Mardana being positive and pushing forward, because there were a lot of opportunities where it could’ve been shut down by anybody.

If you could give up-and-comers, in the biz or not, a piece of advice, what would it be?

You’re going to get depressed. And that’s not meant to be a downer - it’s more about the ups and downs of being out of college. I loved college and had a great time, but it’s also a crutch . . . it’s a stable environment with people who are supposedly looking out for you. But when you get out on your own . . . there are a lot of ups and down that are going to hit you - you get a lead in a project and you’re excited and then the funding falls though. But it’s not about you . . . That’s one of the main things I like to talk about . . . it hit me the hardest because I’m a very positive person, and there were a lot of times I wanted to quit and go home. But when I got through [those times], I was really happy because I found out what I could get through. [Also,] don’t be afraid to say out loud what you really want - own what you want in any industry.

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Emmie Scott is an English major-turned-marketing exec, with a passion for writing, humor, sharing knowledge, and "pink drinks." After hours, she started Are Toe Rings Professional Attire?, a blog for college grads and twenty-somethings looking to find their way through that daunting labyrinth called…

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