The journey from child actor to well-adjusted adult can be an arduous one. In Hollywood, when you live a life of grandiose access that many actors become accustomed to, the line between reality and La La Land can become a bit blurred – a notion that’s only exacerbated when you’re underage. The tragic lives of stars like Corey Haim and Gary Coleman are visceral reminders of what a life in Hollywood can do to young artists.
Thankfully, Tommy Hobson did not succumb to the pitfalls of childhood stardom.
Though he did grow up in front of the camera, he has prevailed as one of the rare childhood actors that have been able to turn his childhood job into his adulthood career. He has appeared in over fifty film and television projects, most notably on the Nickelodeon hit show, “The Fresh Beat Band” where he played Shout, one of the show’s four main characters.
And when “The Fresh Beat Band” ended in 2015, Tommy was ready for a change. In fact, even more than a change, he was ready to be scared. He was aching to find a project that pushed his boundaries and what he thought he could do as an actor.
The fear came in the form of two special projects; “Be the Light” and “Ghosts of the Ozarks.”
In the former, Tommy played a flamboyant, larger than life character – a role he originally turned down four times before accepting.
“It scared me,” Tommy admitted. “I freaked out [when I got the role and] forgot that I had asked to be so scared.”
However, he also discussed the catharsis that acting brings. After going into therapy, Tommy realized that one of the reasons he felt such a strong reaction to the character was because of the internalized homophobia he didn’t know he was harboring. It was only through playing the character that he could understand the complexities of the role, and also the layered complexities of himself. Only in a rarefied career like acting can your work inform the person you are, while also having your own personality imbue your work with so much richness.
Tommy scored his first starring role in a feature film this past summer in the aforementioned “Ghosts of the Ozarks” which boasted a supporting cast of actors like David Arquette, Tim Blake Nelson, and Phil Morris. The film, which was shot entirely during the pandemic, was a challenge for Tommy because the COVID-19 restrictions erected technical obstacles to the production – he had to rehearse with the other actors while wearing face masks and was never able to see their full range of emotion until they were on set shooting the scene.
The film also brought upon an onset of imposter syndrome. Though Tommy is an expert in acting and has been performing the majority of his life, on the first day of shooting he still was unsure if he belonged there, despite his past cinematic successes. It was only after Tim Blake Nelson gave him a reassuring pat on the shoulder after an intense scene was Tommy able to sigh a breath of relief. And why would a seasoned actor feel that way? He expressed that while growing up as an actor, he experienced a lot of rejection which in turn made him somewhat ignorant to how remarkable his achievements actually were. He admitted that it’s even tricky for him to do interviews sometimes because he doesn’t want it to come across that he is speaking in a self-congratulatory or braggadocious manner.
However, a friend recently told him that “Your blessings are your own. You can’t take someone else’s blessings. In fact, your blessings could be used to inspire someone else.”
It was the perspective shift that made him realize that it’s perfectly fine to embrace exactly who he is. And even at first, if it seems like he may be coming across as boastful, it’s those exact words of positivity, achievement, and honesty that could light a fire under someone else so they can go out and pursue their own goals.
Acting is an art form that runs through Tommy Hobson’s veins. It’s an integral part of who he is. While the career can present challenges (like a worldwide pandemic) or causes him to face some inconvenient truths about himself, there is absolutely nothing else he would rather be doing. And that’s the beauty of authenticity, isn’t it? No matter how difficult or painstaking, when you’re living from a place of integrity, doing exactly what you know you should be doing, no challenge seems too insurmountable and every day is an adventure you’re excited to embark upon.
Ryan Miller/Captureimaging @captureimaging