This interview has been one I’ve been wanting to do for YEARS. Ever since I discovered the life changing Inside Acting Podcast, and then started my own blog on inspiring people in the industry, I’ve always wanted to interview the phenomenal creator and co-host, Trevor Algatt.
Over a span of ten years, Trevor, Aj Meijer (the other fantastic co-host), and their incredible team of people, created 314 episodes dedicated to “demystifying the inner and outer game of success in the entertainment industry.” (It’s currently on pause, but if you haven’t yet checked out IAP, you can still listen to their podcast and see the episodes here.)
Beyond starting one of the most invaluable, helpful, and entertaining podcasts around, Trevor is an all around stand up human being. He’s one of those people who are always thirsty for knowledge, growing, and learning new things and ways of helping others become better versions of themselves. One of the reasons I loved listening to the podcast so much was listening to Trevor and AJ’s interactions. They were real people talking through relatable situations, presenting their viewpoints and learning all along the way. It gave me an insight into people’s careers higher up the rung from mine, and made me feel not so alone in this tremendously challenging career of acting. I felt like I was a friend listening in on their conversations, without even having met them.
When I finally did meet Trevor in person, from the beginning, it felt like meeting an old friend. He is as down to earth as he seems on the podcast, and someone you can chat with for hours without even knowing it. I had the honor of acting with him in a short film he wrote and created, and he is truly one of the most talented actors I’ve ever worked with.
Though he’s now stepped away from IAP, I know that wherever his career takes him, Trevor has, and will continue to have an everlasting impact on everyone he meets. It’s a privilege to be able to call him a friend, and I’m so grateful I got to finally interview the interviewer!
Tell us a little bit about yourself, where you grew up and how you got into acting/voice over?
I grew up just outside of Philly. I loved movies and video games growing up, but I blame the movie Ghostbusters for the acting thing. I was 3 years old when it came out, and my parents took me to see it in the theater. At a diner afterward — as the story goes — I crawled under the table, declared myself a gargoyle, froze in position, and wouldn’t move for the entire meal.
How and why did you start the Inside Acting Podcast, and what has its impact had on you?
I had been in LA for a few years and podcasts were just starting to become a thing. I was listening to a show called Everything Acting, hosted and produced by two women in New York. They had a few years on me and were in a totally different market and demographic, so while I loved the energy and content, I had a tough time relating to their experience and vantage point.
I was also terrible at managing my money, and despised being at the mercy of so many pay-to-play career resources and opportunities. I was working at Apple at the time, and meeting successful and well-known industry people every day… but felt I had no place to ask them to tell me about themselves and their journey.
Then it clicked: I work at Apple, I know how to do this stuff. A podcast would give me a great reason to reach out to people, and might give them a reason to talk to me. I could position myself as a sort of expert-in-the-trenches, and serve the larger community of actors in the same position as me.
Basically: I could copy what the Everything Acting women were doing in NYC.
I asked AJ to co-host and produce it with me. If he’d said no, I don’t know that I would’ve gone through with it.
This was over 10 years ago, so podcasts were still kind of novel. Most people didn’t know what they were. Now, everybody and their mother has their own show, and so many are producing amazing content brilliantly. I eventually decided to end my involvement with it, which was very bittersweet. But we had a great run, and I’m proud of what we made and eternally grateful for the people—listeners and guests—I now get to call friends.
I don’t know where I’d be without those years of producing IAP.
What were some of your favorite/memorable episodes and why?
So many—too many to list here.
I loved chatting with Craig Ballantyne about productivity and structure. Tony Horton is a guy whose work has changed my life for the better in every way. And being invited to Jenna Fischer’s place and into J.K. Simmons’ trailer for interviews were wonderful experiences.
What’s something surprising about you that people don’t know?
I’m a congenital anosmic—fancy-speak for being born without a sense of smell. It affects a tiny sliver of the population, but it’s common enough that I’ve met a handful of people over the years with the same condition. I’m even part of a support group on Facebook. We’re an interesting crew. Most people tell me 60% of smells are bad, so maybe I’m not missing much.
If you could work on your dream project, with no regard to budget, what would it entail/be about, and who would you work with?
Oh, man. The greatest challenge of my life has been choosing and sticking to a single pursuit. I’m never the same person for more than 3 days or so at a time. Fresh obsessions are a constant. The Internet is a terrible thing for curious minds.
I suppose a dream project would be some sort of interactive multi-media narrative: a book-music-live performance-game hybrid. Something messy and immersive and hilarious and weird and physical and tragic and fun. A meditation on the perfect mess of the human condition.
Can you tell us how you got into health and fitness and tell us about your daily routines/beliefs you follow in regards to that?
I more or less just kind of put up with sports as a kid. Little league baseball, soccer, wrestling, tennis, swimming—and for whatever reason, swimming stuck. I ended up being a pretty decent swimmer.
All sports are demanding, but swimming requires a specific flavor of intellectual commitment. Most swimmers I know are fitness junkies well after their competition years. My theory is that it’s a combination of the constant post-workout endorphin high, and the meditation-strength-dance philosophy that the sport requires. It becomes part of your identity.
After school, I struggled to keep a consistent workout routine. Then I saw a commercial for—yes—P90X, and a friend turned me on to a productivity program called Wake Up Productive. Both of these together were exactly the methodology and approach I needed to rebuild and maintain a fitness groove.
I think everyone should love living in their body every day. It’s not free to get there, but with the right tools it’s not as hard or scary as most people think.
There are a lot of ups and downs in this industry. Can you tell us one of your worst "down" times, and how you overcame it/are overcoming it?
When I first moved to LA, I began studying with an acting teacher who slowly and methodically manipulated me into some terrible situations. I blinded myself to what was actually happening because, a) he knew what to say to stoke a young actor’s enthusiasm, and b) I wanted to be the most authentic artist I could be—I was willing to be uncomfortable, to do weird shit to get better. He exploited that.
I eventually woke up and got myself out. It’s been almost 15 years, and I’m just now beginning to process everything with the help of a therapist. I’d be lying if I said that that experience hasn’t been a factor in my choice to back away from acting for a while. There’s a lot of shame, embarrassment, anger, sadness, and regret I’m working through.
Where would you like to ideally see yourself in five years?
I always find questions like this so intimidating—mostly because I’m so many different people from day to day, week to week, month to month. I’m great at being in the moment, not so great at declaring and creating specific long-term outcomes.
Right now, my strategy is this: follow joy, follow fascination, follow curiosity. Trust that I’m being led to a space where my blind spots and opportunities and interests all overlap.
Right now, joy is coming from things that I pushed to the background for so long—stuff like mindfulness study and music-making and playing video games. I’d previously written these things off because somewhere along the way, I made up a story that they were too juvenile or had no income potential or weren’t *assertive* enough.
In this moment, if I had to declare a 5-year vision: I’d enjoy making and playing music (solo, with a band, and for hire—scoring, maybe composing, licensing, etc.), and also traveling, and practicing living simply. I’ve never been one to be motivated by money or material things; authenticity, connection, creativity, and kindness are my driving values.
Learning how to express those is an ever-evolving journey.
In other words, it’ll be fun to look back at this interview in 5 years and see if I was either incredibly naive, or incredibly prescient.
What's the best advice you've heard and how do you apply it to your life?
Again, so many! Two that come to mind:
Darren Pettie, one of our early podcast guests, told us: “Wear life like a loose garment.”
And Michelle Jubilee Gonzalez, another podcast guest, said, “If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong.”
And Amir Talai (yet another podcast guest) told us his philosophy is to “be professionally invested, but emotionally unattached.”
On my good days, these are my touchstones. Stay flexible. Life should be fun. Do what you can, and let the Universe handle the rest.
What advice would you give to people aspiring to do what you do?
Cultivate curiosity. Follow the joy. Make the work only you can make. Be teachable. Always be learning. Work tirelessly to expand your circle of compassion. We only grow when we’re surprised.
How can people find more about you, or reach out to you?
I’m not active online much these days, but:
Thank you SO much to Trevor for doing this interview and shoot! If he has influenced you or your life in any way, please leave a comment!