INTERVIEW ERIN WALSH
PHOTO SAM & DAVE
MEET Colby Minifie, actor… SBJCT spoke with Colby about literally walking the walk and making every mark you make matter, from what you wear, what you consume, and how you spend your days. A born performer, Colby has made it a practice to play a part in reshaping for better the shape of things. Read on below…
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Erin Walsh HELLO COLBY!!! Thank you so much for joining us. Congrats on your work thus far, I would love to delve a bit into your process and what really makes you tick. To start, tell us a bit about your background and your initial days as an actor? Where did you grow up and how did you first get into the BIZ?
Colby Minifie HELLO ERIN! THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME! Well… I grew up in New York City, which I can credit for half my luck in this wild business, and with really supportive parents, who I can credit with the other half. And since the start of this global pandemic, I’ve been asking myself how I ended up becoming an actor and not a fabulous life-saving nurse, and then I recall what I was like as a kid and if you met me then you probably wouldn’t think a career in anything other than the BIZ would be in my future. I was one of those kids (yes those kids) that came out of the womb with a Ethel Merman-ian belt and a Beanie Feldstein-ian desire to use it. And my father is an opera dude so he had my sister and I singing from day one. I demanded an agent when I hit middle school, my parents were like, “an agent?”, but they supported me wholeheartedly and I got my first job at 12 and lad-dee-da here we are.
EW Tell us about your process. What are some of the tools that you use to step into a character.
CM It changes every time. I always read the thing a bunch, whatever medium. I get to know the thing on a cellular level. Sometimes I’ll do the travel-to-the-place-my-character-is-from thing. Sometimes I have to take preparation with more ease. Sometimes I’ll talk it through with a very giving friend. But no matter what, right before we start, I’ll do the I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-doing-why-did-they-hire-me thing. That’s always helpful!
EW What is most challenging about deciding to become a professional actor in the first place these days? The amount of content being produced is staggering- definitely this year has changed things of course, but compared to say, 10, 20 years ago. Do you think more content makes it easier to find success? Or does it make it harder to leave your mark?
CM Oof. Good question. It makes it easier to find work, for sure. Making your mark… that’s a whole other bag of beans. In my own experience, I have found there are more jobs for people like me; people who don’t really fit into the ingenue role. For the characters I’ve played on TV, sex appeal isn’t a factor, just a lot of PeRsOnaLiTy, and that’s really freeing. And with more content, there’s just more room for an unknown face. Audiences have gotten more sophisticated, too, and we don’t always need a star to carry a show as much as we used to. We just need a good show with a good story and appropriately cast actors. I mean, where else would we have met the wonderous Ncuti Gatwa or Tayna Reynolds from “Sex Education”? They bring me so much joy. And because there’s more space for weirdos like me, I find myself thinking “they won’t cast me for this, they need a star”, less often. There’s just more niche content and less censorship, which means I feel like I won’t be as judged for the strange stuff that comes out of me in the moment. And with that freedom and vulnerability, it becomes easier to have an effect on someone.
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EW The Boys- you have had some time playing Ashley Barrett. Can you tell us about her? What do you most hope people take from the show? And how does playing a character over a few years differ from getting a short go at it?
CM Oh dear Ashley. She just tries so hard. My relationship to her has changed so much in those 2 years. This work is delicate! I’m always learning how to get better at this job and every time I work, I’m trying to incorporate those new lessons. And I’m also learning about Ashley with every new episode, so my relationship to her and how I play her is constantly undulating. When I started the job, I didn’t know Ashley would go fuck a man with elephantiasis in Barcelona when she got fired! But the joy of working on a TV show for a long period of time is that you have to give yourself over to the possibilities of your character. You can’t get too precious. It’s my first time going back to a character year after year and I’m realizing I just have to trust that the time between seasons works in both my and my character’s favor. Ashley is changing just as much as I am… I just haven’t started pulling out my hair.
And what I hope people take away from the show: Stormfront is BAD and not someone to emulate! (Unlike her actor Aya Cash.)
EW Let’s talk about 2020. Anything you found to be surprisingly wonderful about this crazy year?
CM So much was surprisingly wonderful. I mean, I have been living on planet supergratitude. I have a home, food, and I had the funds to comfortably quarantine when my job got shut down, so, in the grand scheme of things everything else is icing on the cake. I’m pretty restless so I drove a lot and camped and got closer to my friends from a distance and babysat my friend’s kids for a while. Ooo that feeling when kids start to recognize you! So good. I was happy to finally have time to take Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership training, which has helped me talk about the climate crisis with more confidence. And I was able to spend more time trying to get out the vote for this election than I did in 2018 or 2016. And now I’m armed with more ammo to hold the Biden / Harris presidency accountable during their time in office.
EW What did you find to be most challenging personally?
CM Dating!! And wondering why I’m not a nurse! ☺ But really, I went through an I-feel-guilty-about-my-privilege phase and that didn’t help anyone so I just shoved that down a shit hole and went to find a functional place for my energy. But none of us who have lost someone, which is almost everyone at this point, have had closure for these hundreds of thousands of deaths. So I think there is this cloud of collective grief flying around. And the whole time, no matter what is going on, there’s the ticking time bomb of a boiling planet, which was accelerated through Trump’s 68 EPA regulation repeals the last four years and didn’t disappear with the global shut down. That time bomb doesn’t go away with a new administration either… there’s just so much more work to be done. I really don’t think it’s wise to discount the toll that a climate-crisis-induced panic has on our daily lives.
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The stakes are too high to care what people think.
EW Tell me a bit about your own role as an artist. What do you consider your own responsibility to be as an individual with a platform?
CM Oh boy. Lots of people say I should stick to acting and shut up about politics, but I honestly don’t give a shit. The stakes are too high to care what people think. If you get one person to start to use less plastic, shop sustainably, divest in fossil fuel-funding banks, or go vegan (even for 2 meals a day!), I sound my barbaric YAWP!
EW What are some of your favorite ways to contribute, some of your favorite causes? We would love to direct our readers as to how they can be a part of the change YOU would like to see in the world…
CM The Sunrise Movement! It was co-founded by my friend Sara Blazevic and I find her and this youth-led movement to be just what we need to kick this country and its economy into gear. They have their finger on the pulse of what needs to happen to divest in fossil fuels and shift to a green economy while creating millions of jobs in the process. Also, Stacey Abrams’ Fair Fight! Right now for the Georgia runoffs!
And, I don’t want to sound all high and mighty, but I tryyyyy to think about where my money is going. I really do believe that our dollar is a vote for the world we want live in. So before I buy anything, I check the company out (there’s a great app called Good On You that will help with this), and see if they are sustainable, have ethical labor practices, test on animals, etc. It helps me feel better about buying things and lets the billionaires know where the consumers are headed. And if you want to go even deeper, investigate your bank! This pickiness is a privilege but sometimes you end up saving money because you’re buying better quality items that last longer. If you can be choosy too, try it out. It’s fun!
EW What is keeping you sane these days? Both physically and emotionally? I think this year people have really tapped into routines to help us remember who we are…
CM Physical labor. Of any kind. I started the quarantine off by making quilts. And masks. And embroidering random stuff. And now it’s building cabinets. This quarantine has really amped up my primary need to make things while listening to podcasts about the sewer blizzard our country is in.
EW Favorite place in the world?
CM Holy COW. Tough!! I’m thinking back on this great month I spent sailing in the Sea of Cortez and camping on the Baja beaches at night. January. No tents. No phones. No toilet paper! We were learning Leave No Trace and it was pure bliss. Just the stars and the sun and the desert. But truly, I’m happy anywhere with a campfire and my tent and my little stove.
EW Current obsession in terms of film, TV, reading?
CM I’m eternally in love with Rebecca Solnit. And everything Steve McQueen (“Small Axe”!!). I’m falling in love with Alice Birch. And Chloe Zhao. And Miranda July. And “How To With John Wilson”! Oh, and The Great Pottery Throw Down of course.
EW Comfort food?
CM Potatoes. In every form. And salt.
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EW What do wish our readers to know about you that perhaps that may not have known?
CM If you’ve read up to here, I’m baffled.
EW Do you keep anything in the way of a 5 or 10 year plan?
CM I want to do a bunch of thru-hikes! But other than that, nope. I’m always surprised by where I end up. Who would have thought we would be here a year ago?! I mean, of course I hope people will keep hiring me 5 or 10 years down the line. But I’ve found the more I set concrete goals in this business, the more I put blinders on and miss opportunities that have presented themselves to me that don’t seem to fit into the ‘plan’. I’m playing a long game here. I gotta ride the wave.
EW When do you find yourself feeling competitive?
CM Constantly. But I’ve really started to release that the last few years. I mean, I feel like the economy runs on people comparing themselves to each other. But the more I reject that and lean in to the things that I’m insecure about and the things that are strange about me, the more I release that competitive streak. We are all different. We are all good at certain things and bad at others. We all have our moments to shine and our moments of total failure. I’ve discovered that whole-hearted support of the people I feel competitive with releases all of that tension and boy it feels good!
EW What makes you very proud?
CM I am renovating my Airstream with my own two chapped hands. That makes me very proud. And I walked 600 miles across Spain. I can’t take that away from myself. I’m very good at delegitimizing my accomplishments but these physical efforts feel like a super power.
EW What do you hope your legacy to be?
CM Wrinkles are cool!
EW Colby, What’s Your SBJCT? What really drives and moves and motivates you?
CM Ooo big question! In my ploy for the sappiest answer, I’ll say: walks. Long form or short form. I recommend them. They have helped me answer personal debates. They have helped me discover things about the characters I’m playing, or simplify dramas I’ve created around my job. Walks have taught me to care about the space around me, consider the impact my body has on this planet by just living and breathing, and how to live my life in a more intentional way. Walks can be horrible. And they can be glorious. Either way, I always end up feeling insignificant, which makes me feel fucking great. I romanticize the hell out of them but they are pure magic to me. Ok, if you’ve gotten this far, wow! Now go take a hike!
Walks can be horrible. And they can be glorious. Either way, I always end up feeling insignificant, which makes me feel fucking great.
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