I started a list.
Now, it’s not a complete list, just what I can come up from the top of my head. The list is of famous people born in Dayton – or close to Dayton, sort of like horseshoes.
Let’s see, well of course there’s Martin Sheen, the late Jonathan Winters and Erma Bombeck. And you can’t forget the Lowe brothers, Rob and Chad. How about Allison Janney, Dorian Harewood or Gary Sandy; and Gordon Jump from the old “WKRP in Cincinnati” sit-com.
Then you have Mystro Clark, Cathy Guisewite – and we can’t forget the voice of Bart Simpson himself, Nancy Cartwright.
The list, I’m sure, goes on and on when you figure in sports stars and actors and actresses from a bygone era. I’m positive I’ll hear from my loyal Dayton City Paper readers about who I missed – which I expect, so don’t let me down.
But what about a young man by the name of William Christopher Stephens? William Christopher Stephens, you ask – who is he? Well, chances are you’ve seen the Meadowdale High School grad in a thing or two, from a Wendy’s commercial to a Hollywood blockbuster.
“I’m an only child, so I have a pretty active imagination,” Stephens said. “I used to entertain myself making Kung-Fu comedy tapes on my parents’ JVC boom-box back in the day, so I was already acting before I even knew about the profession. I really got into it after my first play at Meadowdale, Woody Allen’s ‘Don’t Drink the Water.’ I decided late in my junior year I wanted to go pro.”
But before he decided on a thespian career, there was a stop along the way in the military.
“I have a tremendous respect for those who serve full time,” Stephens said. “It takes a lot of faith and courage. Those two aspects contributed to my career. It’s funny, one of my drill sergeants confided in me after my graduation he was a ‘closeted actor.’ One day he called me into his office and made this huge, grand gesture, knocking everything off his desk, including his favorite coffee cup, and made me do push-ups on top of it. He later told me he did that for effect.”
Once Stephens was paid for a play reading, he was hooked, but like any profession, there are others out there looking to do the same thing. His philosophy is simple.
“The journey will always have its ups and downs, even at the highest level of the game,” he said. “The only thing you can control is your perspective and your preparation. If you thought it was competitive before, look at the market now. You’ve got to compete with actors globally now. An instructor and mentor told me early on that the desire trumps talent any day of the week. People can get lazy and comfortable off being ‘talented.’ The person with desire can easily surpass them.”
I think it’s safe to say it’s a tough business, but it really helps when you’re pulling up stakes and moving to Los Angeles to have to support parents, and William does.
“My folks (Bill and Jewel Stephens) have been great supporters. Even when they had doubts, they never spoke of them. Of course, they always encouraged me to find something stable and the means to support myself, but they’ve always been in my corner. It can be rough at times until you can get a foothold. I think God blessed me with the best patrons of arts ever!”
William has appeared in many things, but the one he’s most proud of is a recent box office smash you may have heard of.
“Ah yes, ‘The Avengers’ was a dream come true,” he said. “I prayed and played hard for that one! It came out of me doing a three-week workshop with the office who cast it. You can see me in the interview montage after the main battle in NYC. The real joy was doing a premiere in Dayton and sharing it with my hometown.”
Now, if I may add an editorial comment here, that’s AWESOME!
Next up for William is a commercial shoot and a video game, but what are his future plans?
“It’s been said if you ever want to make God laugh, tell him what you’ve got planned,” Stephens said. “I have some personal goals, but as long as I’m blessed with doing what I love and loving what do, I couldn’t ask for more.”
So, as far as William Christopher Stephens career goes, stay tuned.