Russell County native Weston Loy moved to Dallas this summer to pursue his dream of becoming a professional actor.
Acting wasn’t always his dream job, though.
Loy points to two specific events in his life that helped him develop his love of the profession.
The first occurred when he was “around 14 or 15.”
He and his mother were able to see three formative plays during a summer trip to London, England: War Horse, Matilda, and — “most importantly,” Loy said — Les Miserables.
“It opened my eyes up to what acting was and what it could be,” he said. “Before I’d seen Les Miserables, I thought it was just that thing girls like. When I got there, I heard the music, and I realized there was so much more to this.”
This experience helped plant the seed, but Loy didn’t yet see himself becoming an actor.
Music was still his first love.
The second major event that led to Loy’s love of acting happened just a couple of years later, when Russell County High School teacher Tyler Flatt brought back the drama club.
A few of Loy’s friends asked if he wanted to join.
“I thought, ‘That sounds like an experience,’” Loy said. “I got involved in that, and through Tyler, I got involved in The Star (Theater). Then it was like, ‘Wait. This is what I want to do.’”
Loy was surprised at how naturally acting came to him.
He considered himself “very introverted,” but when he was on stage, he felt himself fully engrossed in whatever role he was playing.
“We were doing a very condensed children’s play version of Alice in Wonderland, and I was the Mad Hatter,” Loy said. “I felt like, all things considered — I didn’t consider myself hot stuff — but under the circumstances, I was doing a good job without having to try that hard.
“It does, in hindsight, surprise me how easy it came. It wasn’t such an instant thing, but it was kind of a slower burn.”
After graduating from RCHS, Loy went in with the intention of majoring in theater at Lindsey Wilson College.
At first, Loy wanted to go to a bigger university, but he couldn’t pass up the offer of a “full ride” at LWC.
“The perception in my circle was, ‘It’s too close. It’s too hometown. Nobody who does anything big comes out of there,’” Loy said.
His perceptions were proven wrong, though.
At LWC, he quickly found a mentor in Robert Brock, the associate professor of theatre.
“I consider myself blessed to have Robert as a resource,” Loy said. “As soon as I got in there and started working with him, I said, ‘Wait a minute. He’s something else.’ He impressed upon us, here’s what education is like, and here’s what the actual profession is like. It felt very professional. He was caring for us and looked out for us. He wanted the best for us instead of saying, ‘I’m the director so I pick and choose who is in this production.’
“He got us doing real nitty-gritty type work, focusing on the body and the voice, focusing on what you’re doing with the face. We had classes devoted to tearing the walls down and going through a personal metamorphosis as part of the curriculum. That can’t be something you can just get anywhere.”
Under Brock’s tutelage, Loy felt prepared for the professional acting world when he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in theatre in December of last year.
But in another sense, his start as an actor also started out intimidating.
Loy said he sent out résumé after résumé to companies in and around the state but wasn’t getting any responses.
This past spring, Loy was still performing at The Star Theater — including a rousing performance as Wadsworth the butler in Clue — and had his first professional acting job at the University of Louisville, where he was part of a workshop that did an interactive scene that was meant to highlight unfair selection processes among university professors.
But Loy knew that he needed to branch out.
“At some point, I just said, ‘OK. There aren’t enough opportunities for me here. We’ve got to look at going where they are,’” he said. “I sat down with my partner, and we started looking. Atlanta’s got a good grad school for acting. Chicago is a big revolving theater scene. Dallas is becoming a TV voiceover hub.”
Dallas was the area they zeroed in on because they had family in and around Texas and Oklahoma, as well as some other factors they liked about the area.
“Getting into late spring/early summer, we decided that’s where we’re going to move, so I was sending in virtual auditions. As it just so happened, one of the auditions that I’d sent in had callbacks on this one weekend. This other place was auditioning for two shows that same weekend. We could go out there for these potentially two shows and potentially get this callback.
“That was enough to justify a trip out there in person.”
Loy ended up not getting the role from the initial callback, but he did secure a callback for another show he auditioned for during the trip, Legally Blonde.
He was offered the role, which “fast tracked” his move to Texas.
With the way the schedules worked out, Loy had to make the drive to Texas the same night Clue was closing at The Star Theater.
“As soon as we closed the show, I got in my car and started driving,” he said. “I got in my hotel, slept a little bit, and made it [to Legally Blonde rehearsals] that night.”
Legally Blonde had a relatively short turnaround, Loy said, especially “for a musical with the scope and breadth that it was.”
All things considered, though, he added that the entire experience ran as smoothly as he could have anticipated and had a successful run with “good crowds.”
“It was interesting to experience, just sort of being in a different, more serious kind of environment,” Loy said about his time working on Legally Blonde. “Just working on the music with some of the singers was wonderful. If we did that show a cappella, it still would have pulled some crowds.”
“I didn’t know what I was getting into, with people from a new area. The cultural miasma is a little bit different, but I felt comfortable and at home doing it.”
After Legally Blonde, Loy started rehearsing for a new play, The Underpants.
He started rehearsing around a month ago and will begin a three-weekend run that starts the first weekend in August.
“That’s been an even faster turnaround,” Loy said.
The Underpants is an adaptation by Steve Martin of the 1910 German farce, Die Hose, by the playwright Carl Sternheim.
“While the turnaround has been shorter,” he said, “the atmosphere has been very chilled and relaxed. It’s a good, funny show, and it’s been really laid back and fun.”
While Loy has played humorous roles like Wadsworth in Clue or Versati in The Underpants in recent productions, he said he doesn’t have a preference between comedic and dramatic performances.
“I’m a really big Shakespeare guy, and one of my first roles as a freshman (at LWC) was Macbeth,” he said. “Not to brag, but I did get a lot of praise in my role as Macbeth. I like doing the serious, gritty, drama stuff, too, although there’s something to be said for making people laugh.
“What I’ll say is, I feel as good making people laugh uproariously as I do bringing them to tears. Heights in emotion are what I like to bring out people.”
Loy said after The Underpants wraps, he doesn’t yet know what his next production or acting job will be.
He is currently on the roster for a company called Lagniappe that has a few different aspects in entertainment: a traveling wild west comedy stunt show, some dinner theater opportunities, and gigs for corporate events. Loy said he might be a part of their touring show later this year.
He said his mindset after his current role would be “on to the next show, as it were.”
“I’m not picky about what roles I get,” he said. “I’m just in it to act, to be on stage. I’m trained for the stage, love the stage, but would also love to find an agent and start getting into voice acting work, especially.
“I’m up for whatever opportunities I find or come to me.”