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After Hours: Hollywood meets the Downtown Phoenix campus

ASU freshman, Cullen McCarthy, discusses his career in acting before coming to ASU


Illustration published on Tuesday, March 19, 2019.

Cullen McCarthy packed up his Georgia life at a young age to pursue acting in LA. After working on multiple popular shows like "Shameless" and "Modern Family" and even starring in the lead role in a Disney Junior show, Cullen hopes to continue his acting career during his years as a medical studies major at Arizona State University.

Jessica Walter: Each year a large freshman class comes into ASU with a diverse set of backgrounds and experiences. Students come from every corner of the United States and around the globe, each with a different reason for being here. For one student, falling in love with acting, moving to LA to pursue acting at just 10-years-old and loving ASU's vibrant atmosphere was all a part of his journey to becoming a freshman here at Arizona State University this fall. I recently met with Cullen McCarthy, who told me his story about his career in acting. 

What led you into acting and at what age did you know it was something you wanted to do? 

Cullen McCarthy: Ever since I was a little kid I've always loved to entertain people. I just love to put a smile on someone's face, make someone laugh. Entertainment has always been a huge part of who I am, and I just would go to the extreme to make someone laugh. The enjoyment on someone's face, brings me joy. 

I would always play piano and I would do the school play, and then there was this camp that took me out to Los Angeles. We did an audition and these trials for all these agents and managers and I got my agent and my manager and it just took off from there. 

And it really just stems from me from just seeing joy on someone else's face, and that's really why I love to do it. 

Jessica Walter: I know you moved from Atlanta to LA to pursue acting. Was this big move from one major city to another worth it to you?

Cullen McCarthy: I would definitely say the move was worth it. It was really tough at first because I had to give up a lot, moving from across the country, just me and my mom moved, so my dad stayed back home.

I had no family no friends out in Los Angeles. It was very tough at first adjusting and getting used to being in a whole new environment and having to make new friends. I would definitely say it was worth it. It was great. Led me to all these different experiences, and meeting all these new people and experience a whole different lifestyle and different culture in Los Angeles. It was life-changing. 

When I first moved out to Los Angeles I was 10, so it was around 2010, 2011 I moved out to Los Angeles and then I was there until a month ago when we came here to college. 

Jessica Walter: Preparing for college. Did you always know you wanted to come to ASU and what was it that really sold you on the university? 

Cullen McCarthy: I wouldn't say I always knew I wanted to come to ASU. I definitely wanted to stay on the West Coast and then last summer, the summer of 2018, I did a sports journalism camp at Cronkite. So we got to stay here for two weeks, live on campus, just experience what it would be like to be a sports journalism major at Arizona State. And while I was here, I fell in love with the campus. It was great. It's really nice. Everything's so close. Downtown is great. You can take the light rail down to Tempe. 

The school spirit is great, and it just seemed like a place I would want to call home. And I really wanted to stay near Los Angeles and I thought Arizona State was a great fit for me. It's a six-hour drive. It's pretty close to Los Angeles and it's on the West Coast, which is someplace I would want to be for the rest of my life. 

Jessica Walter: What was your favorite role you've had so far in your career?

Cullen McCarthy: My most notable roles—I was on "Shameless" and that was an amazing experience. I got to work with Joan Cusack. If you don't know, she plays Sheila on the show, so she's just a blast to be with. She's really fun. I got to meet a lot of the cast, like William H. Macy. He's a great person. It was a bunch of kids on set, so it was just great. Everyone was really real. It's awesome. And then I had my own TV series for a while on Disney Junior. It was called "Miles from Tomorrowland," and that one was probably an unforgettable experience. I got to work with Mark Hamill who played Luke Skywalker, the guy who played my dad was Tom Kenny aka SpongeBob, so that was amazing. Dee Bradley Baker who is Perry the Platypus. Just all those different actors and all their different experiences, it was just so fun to come to work every Monday and just record the show. It was it was a blast, so great to be a part of that and start that show off. 

I was on an episode of "Modern Family." I played a soccer ref. I did my scene with Jay, Ed O'Neill, and Gloria, Sofía Vergara, and they are hilarious and Ed O'Neill is just so cool. He's just so down to earth, like we talked about football and barbecue. 

And then I did an episode of "The Fosters" as well, that was amazing because it's like a big family over there. I walked in on the table read and they were like "Hey man how you doing? What's your name?" and I was like, "Oh I'm Cullen. Nice to meet you guys" and they were like "welcome to the family!" and I was like, "wow, this is so cool." It was just a great way to, I guess be like introduced into the show. Like everyone was just so nice and friendly there and honestly, every single experience is unforgettable and I would never change what I got to experience for the world. 

Jessica Walter: With your background and both on-screen acting and voice acting, can you give a little insight on what makes each unique?

Cullen McCarthy: Voice acting is so different from on-screen acting. Voice acting like it's shorter, some sessions can be a little bit longer. The longest session I think I'd ever done was six hours I think. So you just come in, you just go in the booth, you do what you gotta do and then you can leave. On camera acting, sometimes that's a little bit longer depending on how old you are. You do your scene and then you have to wait for your next scene and then you go to school and it's a lot more. I love them both but I would say voice acting is so much more fun just because you just, you just talk into a mic. It's like this. It's great. 

Jessica Walter: And do you hope to continue your career acting throughout college and after you graduate?

Cullen McCarthy: Yeah I would definitely want to continue my career during college, after college. I just love acting. It's a good way to express myself as well as like I said, I just love putting joy and entertaining people. Acting, as well as music and stuff like that, are all passions of mine that I would love to pursue, and I'm still pursuing them right now. So, whatever happens, happens and that'd be great. 

Jessica Walter: For the State Press, I'm Jessica Walter. 

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