By LORI A. CARTER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Austin Humble caught the acting wave early and he’s riding it all the way to college and, he hopes, a successful career on the big screen.
Since starting out as a bit player (a dancer and chorister) in “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” in the fifth grade, Humble, now 18, has performed in nearly 20 productions, including several leading roles.
After auditioning for both UCLA and University of Southern California theater schools, Humble won a prestigious full-ride Trustee Scholarship and will become a USC Trojan this fall in the university’s highly selective bachelor of fine arts program.
“It’s what I love to do,” he said of acting. “It’s an opportunity to be someone else.”
But as Humble’s former drama teacher at Santa Rosa High School’s renowned ArtQuest program, John Craven, advised him, it’s also an opportunity to stretch oneself.
“He said, ‘Always remember, bring some of yourself to each role.’ That’s helped me be honest and true to the characters and to bring my own emotion and imagination to roles,” Humble said.
Humble was able to do just that last summer in the Sixth Street Playhouse teen version of “Rent,” a musical based on Puccini’s “La Boheme” that tells the story of young New York artists struggling to survive within the backdrop of the AIDS epidemic.
“I don’t know much about AIDS, but I know what it’s like to have a disease,” Humble said.
In the sixth grade, he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, which requires him to wear an insulin pump and carefully regulate his diet. If his insulin isn’t controlled, Humble said his moods can swing from goofy to short-tempered.
While he may be able to use the emotional honesty of that, he knows he needs to stay on top of his insulin to be a reliable cast member for his fellow actors.
Carroll Charbonnier, a longtime family friend, said Humble’s growth as an actor has been “amazing.”
“He seems older than his years,” she said, saying he conveyed a believable Billy, a lawyer in his 30s, in “Chicago.”
“We think one of these days, we’re going to go to the theater and say, ‘That’s Austin Humble,’ ” Charbonnier said. “He’s that good.”
Humble would like to star in a historical epic film along the lines of Russell Crowe’s “Gladiator.” He also loves musicals and enjoys dancing, although he’s never taken lessons.
He admires the work of Hugh Jackman and Joaquin Phoenix, and he resembles both actors a bit.
Is he prepared for life as a struggling actor, with the rejection and disappointment?
“I think I’ll be all right with that,” he said, smiling, his striking blue eyes sparkling. “Emotions, bad breakups — for an actor, it’s all fuel to use in a performance.”
You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 762-7297 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aspiration: Professional actor
Favorite music: Motown, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles
Favorite movies: “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “Singin’ in the Rain”
Family: Parents Teresa and Scott, brothers Devin, 28, Liam, 26, and Tristan, 23
First acting role: Dancer and chorister in “Tom Sawyer” at Forestville School (2004)