Kyle T. Cowan is an actor, author, director, and producer. Whether it is thrilling viewers with performances in Preacher and other roles, or using his writing talent to tackle a issue like depression with compassion and sensitivity in his upcoming book Sunshine is Forever, the multi-faceted Cowan has so much to offer. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Kyle T. Cowan. Read what he had to say below.
When did you first realize that you wanted to become an actor?
I didn’t realize I wanted to pursue acting professionally until college, but I have wanted to work in film since I was in preschool, and I’ve been acting since the fifth grade. My parents wouldn’t let my brother and me watch a lot of TV when we were kids, so I always joke that the lack of TV in my youth spurred my obsession with being a part of the film industry. My mom loves to tell the story about how I used to direct the kids in my preschool class to act out scenes from 101 Dalmatians; she says that I’ve always had the film bug. I got my first agent in high school, and had the opportunity to act in a number of commercials in college. After college, I had a job in casting. I worked as a casting assistant on Odd Thomas and my friend Anton Yelchin was the lead in the movie. I asked him to talk to Stephen Sommers to see if he could pull a few strings to help me get a small part in the film, and he did. I became a Union actor, and ever since then, I’ve taken my acting career very seriously. I studied the Warner Loughlin technique with my acting coach Jackie Seiden, and fashioned a modified version of the technique that works for me. I can honestly say that I would not be where I am without these people, and I think they both helped me get a better grasp on how to be a professional in this very tough industry.
You have appeared in both film and television. Which medium do you prefer?
Both offer so many different learning opportunities. With film, you get a lot more takes or “do overs,” but TV is extremely fast paced. With TV, the director usually only allows about three takes of every shot and then moves on. I think acting in television is very important, because it forces an actor to learn to be on point in every take. The pace of TV has really assisted me in honing my craft. Being cast in Manhattan propelled me as an actor. Working closely with John Benjamin Hickey (Frank Winter) and Paris Barclay (Director) taught me a ton. I’ve remained in contact with both of them, and I appreciate the fact that they are both always willing to give me advice about the industry. With feature films, actors get the chance to explore their characters a bit more. In War On Everyone, I got to do some improvisation with David Wilmot. Director John Michael McDonagh allows his actors to explore their characters extensively. I also thought it was cool that every small character in the movie has a significant plotline of their own. He’s a very good director and I learned a great deal from him. I don’t prefer one medium to the other, and I think I have gained a ton of knowledge on every set.
Can you share with us your experiences working on Camouflage?
Camouflage was the most educational experience of my life so far. I learned more from making that movie than in all of college. I especially loved working with Lew Temple. He taught me so much about characterization, and I am glad to call him a friend. Getting “name actors” in my film was both a blessing and a curse. The entire movie was shot in thirteen days on a shoestring budget. We cut about fifteen pages out of the film after it was shot, and had to reconstruct the plot in postproduction. I was just out of college when I made this movie, and I suddenly had hundreds of people constantly asking when Camouflage would be released. I felt a ton of pressure after the film was complete, and an obligation to the actors, the fans, and the Kickstarter backers to get the movie out to the public. I ended up splitting from the executive producers for personal reasons, and decided to release the movie on Vimeo. This decision was not easy, but I am very happy with the outcome. For me, Camouflage was about exposure.
Watch Camouflage NOW: https://vimeo.com/106148855
You are also known for your work on Preacher. Tell us about the character that you play on Preacher.
Preacher is an amazing show, and it is extremely unique. I play “Pa” in episodes 105 and 109. My family in the show represents the loss of innocence in the Killer of Saint’s world. We are only on screen for a short period of time, and I am proud to be a part of such a memorable moment. I also became good friends with the actress who played my wife, Beverly Sartain. I love shows like Preacher because you get to fully step out of our world. The costumes, gore effects, and set design truly made the pages come to life. It’s hard not to be present as an actor when you step on to a set that is so well crafted.
You wear so many hats: actor, author, director, and producer. How has your work in the entertainment industry assisted you as an author?
I’ve written many screenplays at this point, most have sat on my computer for years. I want my stories to reach people, and I realized that the best way to do that is by turning my screenplays into novels. I think working on Camouflage really assisted me in gaining a grasp on what does, and does not work in storytelling. I personally enjoy bleak worlds and stories, but I now understand that there has to be some balance between happy and sad moments. Otherwise, the sad moments don’t hit home with the audience. I think acting has helped me craft dynamic characters because I realize that every character in my story has a life beyond what is happening on the written page.
Your book, Sunshine is Forever, tackles the weighty topic of depression. What inspired you to write this book?
I read an interview with John Green where he stated that every book he writes teaches some sort of life lesson to young people. I really took that to heart. A few of my friends suffer from clinical depression, so ultimately it is inspired by my experiences with them. Acting is a roller coaster. There are tons of very high highs in my life and really low lows. I can’t help but get depressed sometimes. I decided to take on this topic because there haven’t been a lot of stories told about depression in this way. I researched the subject matter, and decided that I wanted to write a life lessons story centered on depression. I truly believe that no one can help you, unless you are willing to help yourself, and I think that is the main message I am trying to convey with this story.
Why should people read Sunshine is Forever?
I wrote this book for everyone, but if you like any of John Green’s books, you will love this one. I think most people can relate to at least one of the characters in Sunshine is Forever. If you suffer from depression, you will definitely get something out of this story. Each character at Camp Sunshine suffers from depression for a specific and unique reason, but the whys can’t be expressed in a few simple words. Depression is one of the villains in my story, and in a lot of ways, it is a villain in real life. It can constantly bring someone down, making the victim feel worthless. Depression is a huge obstacle for any person to overcome, and it can’t be conquered alone. Hopefully Sunshine is Forever will help people feel less alone, and enable them to talk about their depression without feeling guilty. The stigma that comes with any sort of mental illness needs to be lifted from society so that people aren’t afraid to seek the help that they need.
BIG ANNOUNCEMENT: Sunshine is Forever will tentatively be released in September 2017. Right now the book is only available to preorder on the publisher’s website, but soon it will be available to buy from most stores and online platforms.
PREORDER NOW: https://www.inkshares.com/books/sunshine-is-forever
Are there any other projects that you’re working on that you’re able to share with our readers?
I’m always auditioning. I’m optimistic that I will book something new before the end of the year. In 2016, I’ve had more auditions than I’ve ever had, which is cool. I am anticipating that the momentum will continue to build.
I’m hoping that people enjoy Sunshine is Forever enough for me to continue writing novels. The next book I plan to release is entitled KARID and it is already written. I am currently writing a new book to release after KARID.