by Betty Dravis
Betty Dravis: Hey, Sherwin! I just read your biography and am intrigued by your unique approach to life and your way of expressing yourself. After I met you on Facebook and viewed some photos of you. My first thoughts were: Wow, that guy has such an expressive face… a man of many faces… Like Robert De Niro…
I see that you’re quite versatile as an actor and are in other areas of the industry, as well. You’re not at the peak of your dreams yet, but you’re working hard and things are beginning to happen for you. But before we get to the present, let’s dig into your past. When did you know that you wanted to be an actor? How old were you at the time?
Sherwin Buydens: Well, thank you for comparing my facial expressions to Robert De Niro. He is versatile… Such a fabulous actor, and an actor whose career heights I can only dream of reaching.
Ms. Dravis… Betty, my whole acting career really started out with a change of mind, after taking Don S. Williams’s course “On Camera Scene Study.” Don was the executive producer and director of his own longest- running TV show in Canada, The Beachcombers (1971-1991). At one time during the course, an American actress Maria Louisa Figura was substituting for him. When she took me aside after one of the classes and said, “You could be a working actor,” I felt like the manna of Heaven had descended down upon me and rays of light had filtered their way through the clouds of Vancouver, Canada. (laughs)
I could be a working actor! I could be a working actor. Wow!
I was about 26 when Maria saw me acting in Don’s class and that was the turning point in my life! My possible destiny was then chosen for me. You see, at that time I was in a rather cushy English-as-a-second-language job that I disliked and would soon receive a settlement for a small motorcycle accident I had been in.
Up until then, Betty, I treated acting largely as a hobby. I did all right in acting class, in my opinion, and I took a Fine Arts Minor in college. My long-term friend Bob Phipps is also an actor, but I hadn’t yet connected the dots in my mind. “Don’t quit your day job” was always in the back of my head. The other thing that always concerned me was that J-O-B stood for “Just Over Broke.” I knew that if I was ever to transcend being more than middle-class in title–the prices in Vancouver are almost as high as Los Angeles–I had to think of a lasting opportunity to propel me forward in life. I had to quit treating acting as a hobby and get serious. I also knew I needed money to carry me through until acting roles came along, and that I was capable of more.
Betty Dravis: Thank God for putting people like Maria in our lives…people who first recognize that spark in us. Whether one has a talent for ditch-digging, plumbing, acting, writing, or any skill, we all need encouragement to believe in ourselves and pursue our dreams. Sherwin, I’m forever grateful to my parents and to my high school writing teacher for first believing in me. And I’ll never forget the icons that came later: Clint Eastwood, Jane Russell, the late Senator Ted Kennedy and others who spurred me on, not to mention my children, my best friend, you, my co-author Chase Von, actress Katherin Kovin Pacino, actor/director/producer Tony Tarantino, actress/singer Jenny McShane, photo-journalist C. Robert Lee and many other Dream Reachers in these books.
Let’s discuss your mentors a little later in this interview, but for now I’m eager to know what happened next. Did you make it to Hollywood? And how did you support yourself?
Sherwin Buydens: It’s fun to look back on that, Betty… Fast forward six months, and with settlement money in hand I was off to Los Angeles to check out the scene. Fortunately, I was trading commodities in oil and cattle, both of which were paying handsomely at the time. I was selling short on oil because before the spring of 2005, “Crude Oil” had never traded above $40 a barrel. That meant, whenever the price of oil approached close to $40, I made fistfuls of money when the price went down quickly. If you like nostalgia, that’s nostalgic enough for me. (laughs)
And I only traded “Live Cattle” because of the “Mad Cow Scare” that essentially dropped this commodity to fifty-five percent of its original price. I rode the price back up to ninety percent of the original. Ironically, later that would be the topic of a film I acted in called Mad Cowgirl. (laughs)
Fortunately, my world in commodities ended in 2005–and for the better. I discovered real estate, which was the second key to my life. I had come to discover this was the vehicle that many film producers use to finance their own films. It’s all beautiful to say, “I’ve got this project in the works,” and “I’ve got that project,” but unless you are really marketable, how is that film going to be produced? The number one challenge to all filmmakers is cash. Ideas abound, but ultimately money in your pocket is how your project gets done. The biggest stars–Tom Cruise with the Mission Impossible series, for example–largely self finance their own projects, so why should I do anything differently?
Betty Dravis: I read a story about that recently, Sherwin. With the multi-millions it takes to make a film in today’s economy, it’s a wonder any films get done, but if they get a blockbuster they recoup their investment many times over. And if they bomb, well that’s another story… But it certainly is smart of you to find something to tide you over until you establish a firm foothold in show biz. It sounds like you’re laying a good foundation. I don’t understand the world of commodities, but I do know a little about real estate. Second-hand knowledge to be sure, since my daughter Mindy James is a Realtor in Los Gatos. I know enough to know that the bubble burst, but that’s a subject for later.
But for now, Sherwin, my readers and I are eager to know if you ever hear from Maria anymore? Did she become your mentor and who are other mentors in your life?
Sherwin Buydens: Strangely enough, I have not kept in touch with Maria. She was like an angel that came down to me at the right time and, somehow, many like her have entered my life at just the right time. Maria is still a beautiful woman and a consistently working actor herself. Check her out on the Internet: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0276759/.
I enjoy remembering those days and the many wonderful people I have met along the way. Probably first in the ranks is Andrew Magliolo whom I met in Santa Monica. He is an accomplished actor /producer, an intelligent, articulate man and successful in real estate. He emphasized to me the meaning of discipline in this business because acting is part of “show business” and how having money to pay the bills should be first on any artist’s list of priorities. I remember him saying, “It took me seven years until I landed a co-starring role on Designing Women.” He has been a personal mentor to me and others in life, stressing financial responsibility, advocating discipline, not losing focus on the big prize, and making it as a working actor.
Betty, another person of huge importance was Rock Riddle who preaches a similar theme, emphasizing the “business” part of the industry. Rock has been in the entertainment business for nearly thirty years, first as a wrestler, but also as a film and television actor, Beverly Hills agent, manager and now a promoter. http://www.hollywoodsuccess.com/rock_riddle.htm
Through his ideas I have met a wide variety of people, including Tony Tarantino, whom you interviewed recently. Since I’m a person who wants to reach the highest echelon of achievement–and acting is one of those industries where most people are working a day job to survive—it’s instrumental to reach out and meet people of prominence and deliver excellence.
One such example was at the American Film Market where I met Bruce R. Schwartz, back in November of 2004. He is the son of Sherwood Schwartz, probably best known for being one of the head producers of the television shows Gilligan’s Island and The Brady Bunch. Bruce had an upcoming educational short film titled I Stand Here Ironing that would be a period piece taking place in both the 1930s and 1950s. Even though I was slated to be only an assistant producer or perhaps an associate producer, I relished the opportunity. So when Bruce’s number-two person became ill with Lyme Disease, threatening to kill the project, I was determined to make that project work. I felt it was my calling.
I had remembered–after assisting in production at the theater level–how important details were to making a project work and what might be needed to make this project successful. Young people today may think of Elvis Presley as being an icon of popular culture for the 1950s, but for a 1950s middle-aged couple, there is no way they would be listening to Elvis Presley. Instead, we dressed this set with Mario Lanza, another icon for a different generation that my late grandmother adored.
Even though I did no more than background work for this piece—performing the role of an out-of-work person in a 1930s soup line–I certainly was believable. I simply made the most of the opportunity that came my way, Betty, and in the end, I was given credit for co-producing this film. I was very happy when it received two awards, the best being a Telly Award at the Chicago Film Festival. I have this award posted on my Facebook page.
No matter how large or small, when opportunities come your way, you must take advantage of them whenever possible. I bet you’ve learned that along the way, too… (laughs)
Perhaps one of the most inspiring anecdotes on that note is a certain character actor by the name of Kelsey Grammer. He, as I understand it, was slated to work on just four episodes of an upcoming television show called Cheers. As we all know, through his brilliant portrayal of Dr. Frazier Crane, he became a season regular and then gained his own show.
Of course, Hollywood is known for sexy stars, but we character actors can also do very well when the opportunities arise.
Betty Dravis: Wow, Sherwin, it sounds like you moved to L. A. at an opportune time and met many successful people. That’s exciting and those are stimulating people to have in your life. I know that when I interviewed people like Tony Tarantino and others in this book and the first Dream Reachers, it invigorated me anew. And I agree with you about taking advantage of opportunities. That’s been the key to whatever writing success I’ve achieved and I certainly regret the ones I’ve missed along the way. It’s often in the choices we make too. We live and learn… (laughs)
I enjoyed the anecdote about Kelsey Grammer going from character actor to lead role all on the strength of his acting abilities. That’s awesome! He’s one of my favorites; he can sure deliver… And I’m impressed at your taking such a small part in your first movie and turning it into an award by being a team member and helping wherever you could. I wish you the same good fortune as Grammer and other TV stars that went on to major success–like the stars of the colossal hit “Friends.”
But to lighten the subject, what’s this I hear about you having an “affair” in America?
Sherwin Buydens: So you’ve heard about that, have you, Betty? Well, it’s not what you think! It’s not an affair “in” America! It’s an affair “with” America! (laughs) As you know, I’m proud to be Canadian, and it’s a wonderful country to live in, but at the moment, Canada is number two on my list. At present I’m having an affair with a lady that stands 150 feet tall, is made of copper and is proudly American. And so I am fiercely proud to be in this country too…pursuing her dream as well as my own.
Betty Dravis: I see, Sherwin! Thanks for making that clear. I love America, too, of course, and may God continue to bless us here.
You’ve been blessed by being in some movies. I know this is just a start, but you played the role of Ned in the short feature Ned the Caveman; Mo Lester in Mad Cowgirl; and an orthodox man in Driving to Zigzigland. I’d also like to share the links to two powerful videos, Crow Magnon Man and Military Man that impressed me, especially the depth of your voice and your wide range of expression, which I mentioned above:
I also saw a photo of you behind the wheel of a Vegas cab and the poster for the movie Vegas Cabbie. That’s certainly a colorful, eye-catching, intriguing poster. I hear that you not only acted in that movie, but you also directed and produced it. How did that come about? Is it out yet? Please share the latest with our readers.
Sherwin Buydens: That film has not come out yet and I may have a hand in being the assistant director in it. The film needed a poster, and the best role I could fit in was the British gangster in an Elvis costume. This certainly is a colorful character role and I’m simply so grateful to have the opportunity. Even if you may not fit the role, you never know what role will make your career. Henry Winkler, who for many people defines the motorcycle-riding Fonz on Happy Days, didn’t know how to ride a motorcycle. Yet, the most memorable picture of him in my mind is in the opener where he rode a motorcycle–and apparently crashed it afterwards. (laughs)
Betty Dravis: Well, good luck with Vegas Cabbie, Sherwin, and thanks for the bit of Hollywood trivia about “The Fonz.” That’s cool…
Now tell us, besides the acting classes in Canada, have you studied with anyone in the States?
Sherwin Buydens: I had taken an auditioning class with Jeff Rector some time ago, but really acting classes, overall, I would argue, are not that important once you know how the camera operates. Auditioning is important because if you can’t land the acting role, you won’t get hired. Keanu Reeves is an excellent example of an actor who made it in the industry because of his sensational auditioning skills. In my mind, film and television actors should also be strong theater actors, and if there is anywhere I want to improve, more theater is in the future for me. I have already performed as the doctor and old man in a Scottish play, as a soldier in Antigone, and as Telygin in Uncle Vanya. I am confident in my acting skills because I have had to perform the same roles over and over again with fresh enthusiasm each night, and because all of the great actors at one time came from the stage. If a person wants to have a career like Spencer Tracy or Jack Nicholson, or even Kelsey Grammar, there is no substitute for stage-acting. The same is absolutely true, too, for the women, such as Katherine Hepburn or Elizabeth Taylor who also added Broadway to their resumes.
Betty Dravis: I never thought of it like that, Sherwin, but it makes lots of sense. Show biz certainly is fascinating.
I understand that you went from commodities to real estate as a means to finance your film career, but before we get serious again, I’d like to ask you a few lighter questions. If it were possible to spend the day with anyone throughout history, who would you choose…and why?
Sherwin Buydens: Fascinating question… There are two people that come to mind. One is Nostradamus and the other is William Shakespeare. I, like most people, am fascinated by the unknown. I definitely trust my intuition, and I would say my clairvoyant skills are a fair amount above average. Because I have a certain ability to “see” into the immediate future, I find Nostradamus especially interesting for his ability to look hundreds of years ahead.
My knowledge is based on a rough deduction based on current events and their probable statistics. There’s also a certain amount I can derive from people’s personalities. Nostradamus, though, was truly touched by the finger of the Almighty, for his predictions were not even remotely conceived by anyone during his life
The other person far beyond others is William Shakespeare because he is, perhaps, the most articulate and intelligent writer in the English language of all time. By reading and performing Shakespeare, I find myself not only improving my acting, but also my vocabulary, history and general intelligence. He not only had an IQ over 200, but his wit and wisdom is truly uncanny. Shakespeare’s plays have endured thus far in history and probably will endure as long as there’s an English language because the concepts and level of meanings that he conveys speak across classes that even people today–with some practice–can well understand. The politics of art has changed dramatically since his time, yet the brilliance of the depth of the context of his characters is truly astounding.
Betty Dravis: Your choices are incredible, Sherwin, and I think you picked perfect ones for an actor.
And now, I’m going to put you on the spot… (laughs) Since most people have had embarrassing moments at some time in their lives, do you mind sharing one of yours? It can be funny or sad, but I find they are always interesting in retrospect.
Sherwin Buydens: Betty, I don’t have any embarrassing moments I wish to mention that will not get me arrested–and I have more than a few! I do have one defining moment when I was young that made me who I am today. Many people would find this embarrassing. When I was twelve I was chosen to deliver a sermon in front of the church on the topic of “Faith, Hope and Love.” Speaking in front of 400 people at a relatively young age, I believe, helped instill my confidence in speaking publicly…and even today I enjoy it. Public speaking sure can be embarrassing, as George W. Bush learned the hard way. He’s given us plenty of fodder for decades to come. Even though I’ve made an idiot of myself many times, if you don’t put yourself into potentially embarrassing situations, how will you grow?
Betty Dravis: Ah-hhh, the famous “Bushisms” of both father and son… (laughs) Their verbal boo-boos have spawned several books, Sherwin, but I think if you scrutinize anyone who speaks a lot in public you’ll find many such errors…
But moving on, since you haven’t mentioned your family, it would help us understand you better if you told us a little bit about them. Do they support your dream of becoming a great character actor? I understand that you live in Las Vegas now, but plan to return to L. A. Will that be soon? And how often do you get back home to Canada?
Sherwin Buydens: Well, Betty, to answer your last questions first, Canada is a bit of a distant memory already. Last time I was up north was in 2008, and I’ll probably make it back early next year. As for Los Angeles, it’s definitely in my near future. My feeling is, when the time comes, I will be ready and waiting. Los Angeles is already my second–nearing first—home, but when will I move? My best guesstimate is a few months…
In my family, Dad was the entrepreneur, and although he was never thrilled about me becoming “just an actor,” he definitely accepted my decision when I got involved with anything financial. As for my mom, that side of the family contains the artists and athletes, so she understood and promoted my dream with enthusiasm. My grandfather was a talented fiddle player; a cousin on that side of the family has danced for the National Ballet of Canada; another cousin has played for the women’s Canadian national soccer team. And my mother’s older brother played semi-professional baseball.
Betty Dravis: Hey, you’re a pretty diplomatic man, then, Sherwin… You hit on the very things that keep both parents happy with you: real estate and acting. (laughs)
But moving on… This might seem trivial, but what are your favorite foods and restaurants in Vegas? You also appear to be slim and trim by nature. Does that make it easier for you to stay in top condition in order to keep up with your many interests?
Sherwin Buydens: Absolutely, Betty! The foremost purpose of food is to keep your mind and body healthy. Thanks to Mom, I’m slim by nature and I, generally, eat very healthy. Spinach is one of my favorite foods and if I ever grow up, I want to look like Popeye. (laughs) As far as restaurants, anything cheap and relatively healthy is good. I like hotdogs as much as the next person, but I’m more likely to eat at Subway. The Klondike has the $1.59-24-hour breakfast with eggs, bacon or sausage and toast, which can be addictive. Cici’s Pizza has an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet for $3.99. The Orleans has some good cheap food too. Vegas is a fun place to eat, no question about it. The area around Vegas is also scenic and wonderful for hiking and walking, which I also enjoy. Red Rock Canyon makes an excellent day trip and I can often be found there. It is easy to see why Star Trek, and other television and films have scenes that were shot there.
Betty Dravis: Having lived in Reno for a few years after retirement, I know that in “gaming” towns, it’s easy to find excellent meals at very reasonable prices; they offer lower prices on food to lure the gamblers to their casinos. It’s only good business… Thanks for that information, Sherwin, and for telling us about the scenic wonders of the Las Vegas too.
Now, before we get into your real estate interests, what advice would you give to anyone aspiring to break into the entertainment industry?
Sherwin Buydens: Well, Betty, anyone serious about acting–or any business, for that matter–needs to understand the business and learn from the masters of personal achievement. People like Bob Proctor, Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Burt Goldman, Vishen Lakhiani and Earl Carmichael should be at the forefront in their world.
I also believe it’s easy to make it in the acting world. In Los Angeles the prime determining factor for people is money. Marketing is huge and your contacts will help you succeed. If you can volunteer in a worthy project you are usually “in” because people of talent with ambition and enough money to cover their bills will rise to the top.
Betty Dravis: Everyone else says it’s hard to make it in “Tinsel Town,” but what you say makes sense if one is willing to work from the bottom up. Your attitude is spot on!
What’s your favorite quote, Sherwin?
Sherwin Buydens: I have many, Betty, but I’d like to share one that will give everyone some food for thought. It’s from Napoleon Hill who wrote for Andrew Carnegie, the second richest man ever: “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve.” I also recommend that everyone view this YouTube video:
Betty Dravis: That’s powerful advice, Sherwin. I’ve watched several of those inspiring men on TV and they are, indeed, masters at motivating people to reach the heights in whatever they do in life. Thanks for sharing that.
And now, tell us about your real estate ventures. I hear that something big is in the works. Before sharing that, please tell us your thoughts on real estate. How are you doing so well since the bubble burst and so many were hurt by losing their homes?
Sherwin Buydens: The latest opportunity in my life has been commercial real estate. Why buy houses when you can buy apartment buildings? We all know many areas of the country are in a residential-housing mess. So, too, another potential mess is coming up if one wishes to cash in at the commercial front. I am not the first proponent of the saying “Think Big and Kick Ass,” as
used by Donald Trump, because thinking small will land anyone from any walk of life in the slow lane, as I’m confident you know. These days I’m partnering in buying apartment buildings of at least 100-150 units. My position will be the asset manager. I find the deal and help implement the management which will assist in changing a potential gem of an asset into a moneymaker.
Strangely enough, I didn’t have to go out into the world and learn this skill. My grandparents were caretakers of an apartment building before they passed away and I took an active role in cleaning and landscaping it. From them, I’ve gained a true understanding of the industry from the bottom up, and yet persuing acting has led me on this career path, which is fascinating, lucrative and life changing.
Betty Dravis: You certainly are versatile, Sherwin. Most people would be happy simply to make it in real estate and own all that property, but you burn with ambition to be an actor. With that attitude, I expect you to go a long way. How did you gain such confidence?
Sherwin Buydens: I’ve always used a Raymond Aaron reference about taking a look back
on your life. Pretend this day is your last day on the planet and ask yourself what you have contributed. My life has already had some big challenges with playing semi-professional, under-eighteen soccer, playing piano and failing in the first year only to get first class honors four years later. So I’m not starting from a position of a lack of self-confidence. That’s not to say I have any greater or more obvious talents than anyone else. I simply have searched to work with the best I can, and for that reason, there will be some big challenges ahead.
Betty Dravis: Who is the man in the photo of you with a product called Elbow Friend? What’s that and why are you posing with it?
Sherwin Buydens: That’s my friend Stephen Goetsch who has directed and edited numerous projects in both television and film. Like me, Stephen is an ex-athlete, in the tennis world—and girls, he is still single. (laughs) We’re posing with the pink Elbow Friend, which is the latest color in the ergonomic armrest cushion line, because he had many requests for the color pink and finally found the right fabric. You well know the line: “Know your audience,” and that line works in many genres of life…
Betty Dravis: I watched the video about that product and wouldn’t mind trying it myself, Sherwin. I have no problem with my elbows, but I do get neck tension from typing so much. I see that it could help in that area, also.
What do you hope for in your future, Sherwin?
Sherwin Buydens: I want to reach my highest purpose, Betty. (laughs) I believe what you and Chase state on the cover of Dream Reachers: Only those who strive to reach their dreams find themselves living them. And I’ll work as hard as I can to make my dreams come true. I want at least one Oscar in my future, a whole list of real estate assets, and I want to meet more people to obtain maximum growth in this life. Currently, I’m very close to signing my first apartment deal–176 units in Dallas, Texas. That’s exciting because I’ll own a full fifty percent!
Betty Dravis: That’s incredible, Sherwin. Congratulations! It appears that you’re well on your way to reaching your dreams. You may end up being a Donald Trump and Kelsey Grammer combined in one big bundle of happiness. I certainly wish that for you. That’s why I wanted you to join our growing rank of Dream Reachers.
Now, since we’re nearing the end of our interview, is there anything I missed that you’d like to share today?
Sherwin Buydens: You went into more detail than I had hoped for, Betty. I cherish the opportunity to work with like-minded people such as you, and I really wish to create a legacy I can be proud of. Then, like Andrew Carnegie, I can give away much of my wealth. My first goal financially is to obtain a thousand units. Every day I re-affirm to myself that I deserve to be great! Here is another quote for you from Muhammad Ali: “I am the greatest… I said that even before I knew I was.”
Betty Dravis: Good ol’ Ali! How right he was! And, Sherwin, don’t forget me when you start giving that money away. (laughs) You’re certainly an ambitious man… I admire that in you and let me repeat: from watching your videos, I’m truly impressed with your acting skills and wide range of facial emotion.
By now, many of our readers will want to know how to reach you, so it’s time to share some Internet links. By the way, I’m really impressed with the Internet Movie Data Base, a website that shares so much about artists in the entertainment industry. It’s a fabulous research site for writers and those in the entertainment industry too.
Sherwin’s main show business website:
Thanks for sharing your busy time with us, Sherwin. This has been a fun, fascinating interview. We wish you all the best and please keep us posted about your life and your dreams. See you on the big screen.
Sherwin Buydens: Well, thank you, Betty. I’ve really enjoyed doing this. There, no doubt, will be plenty of fantastic news on the horizon and I promise to let you know when more develops. We spoke of opportunities above and I’d like to thank you again for taking time with me for this opportunity. I’ll be looking for more books written by you and Chase Von. And whatever I can do to make your dreams come true, please don’t hesitate to ask. Take care…