A few weeks ago, we were fortunate to connect with Atlanta Actor Ned Garnier.
Atlanta Film and TV: Could you tell us about who you are, and what you do in the Atlanta Film and TV community?
Ned Garnier: I am an actor and have been acting for about four years. I graduated from Georgia State University with a Theater and Film Production degree with an African-American Studies minor. I have been having a great time creating stories within the Atlanta Film Industry.
Ned takes us on his journey about how he found his love of the arts, to where he is now.
"While I was in College, my first major was Computer Science. I found out quickly that I did not have the skills for it. I then went into Computer Information Systems, which was more on the business side of Computer Science. I wasn’t too bad at it. But, I realized that it wasn’t a degree that would make me happy. I knew the money was out there, and it wasn’t until I sat down and went through the things that I knew would make me happy. The one thing that I kept coming back to was film and acting! The next day, I decided to change my major and start the journey of storytelling."
- Ned Garnier
Atlanta Film and TV: What was it about majoring in theater and performance that made you happy?
Ned Garnier: If you ever saw the Disney movie Soul, you will notice that they hit on getting into the zone, which spoke to me. Getting into the zone is liberating. Playing different characters with different morals and ideas when you’re reading a script. With me, it’s something that is freeing. It resonates with me as an actor on the stage and in film when I can step out of my shoes and enter into a character that a writer has passionately written.
Atlanta Film and TV: Can you share with us about some of the projects you have worked on as an actor?
Ned Garnier: The first two projects I worked on were while I was in college. Both projects were short films for a competition called Movie Fest, where people within the school would make films within five minutes, and you would compete against everyone else who submitted. The top three submissions would go to the Con-Film Festival. My group won back-to-back both years, and I was able to experience the Con Film Festival, and where I got the passion for short film?
I got the opportunity to work on Black Panther and cast in Coming 2 America. With that experience, I studied under Arsenio Hall and Eddie Murphy. Currently, I am producing and casting a film called Lions and Lambs that will shoot, and we will be cast throughout Atlanta.
Atlanta Film and TV: You were both Chadwick Boseman’s stand-in for Black Panther, and Eddie Murphy’s for Coming 2 America. Can you share about those experiences?
Ned Garnier: At the time, it was only less than a year that I had switched into majoring in acting. I received a text message asking if I was interested in going to a fitting. At first, I entertained the thought. I didn’t know much about the industry, and I don’t know how they got my number. But, I thought - if it doesn’t work out then I’ll think of it as just a text message! The conversation continued, and I was asked if I could come in for a fitting on Thursday. I responded by saying, 'Sure. Where’s it at?' I was then told it would be at Tyler Perry Studios. To which I said, 'Oh. This might be real!' As I messaged them back, they called me, and asked if they could get me to come in that day. To which I responded, 'yes! One-hundred percent yes!' I sprint to my class, and tell my professor, 'hey! I just got this gig –I think!' My professor tells me to go. When I get to Tyler Perry Studios, and I’m being fitted, one of the costume designers asks if I’m ready to be put in a suit?
"At first, I didn’t know what they meant! And, I thought - there’s no way! The next day, I got there at 5 am. I get to the trailer, and they say, “well. Here’s the suit.” I was like - oh. OH! OKAY! Then they tell me that’s the last one, so don’t rip it! I was like OH! I was there during most of the reshoots, and I briefly got to meet Chadwick Boseman, and exchange words. But, nothing too deep. He was a very nice gentleman. This was one of the biggest experiences I got to be a part of and witness phenomenal actors and actresses do what they do! And, at the time, I knew that was what I was working for and working towards which was the art and was when I knew I was where I was supposed to be as an actor. "
- Ned Garnier
Atlanta Film and TV: You shared that you studied under Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall in Coming 2 America. Were you one of their stand-ins? What did you do while you were on set?
Ned Garnier: I started off as a stand-in for Mr. Murphy, but they got to the point where they started trusting me with other characters. Whenever they would run rehearsals, I would be in the room playing whichever characters they needed. I remember one day when I came in to do stand-in work, they came in, and I already had my script for the day. The AD comes to me and says, ‘hey! Here are four more scripts with four more characters that you need to get. As he’s talking, I look at the scripts and say, 'Okay.' Then the AD asks, ‘how soon can you get this?' And I tell him, 'give me five minutes!'
Watching both Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall, their professionalism, being in the room, interacting, and being in rehearsal with them was like I was taking a Masterclass – and getting paid for it! After that point, they trusted me so much that they offered me a role. Unfortunately the final cuts came, and my scenes were removed. But, I still was able to be credited and had another experience to be in that space.
Atlanta Film and TV: The original Coming to America is one of my favorite films. Were you anywhere near when the old men filmed?
Ned Garnier: Interestingly enough, I was, and their scene was shot on one of my days off! I just so happened to get a call from the AD who asked if I would come in, to which I told him I could. The more days I’m on set, the better. When I get to set, one of the set designers said, ‘yeah! We don’t know who gave you that day off. We need you here for this scene.'That’s when they tell me they are filming the barber shop scene. I couldn’t believe it as I am a fan of the original Coming to America. I was able to be in the barber shop scene rehearsals, and the one who plays off of some of those iconic roles, and was able to read Eddie Murphy his lines.
Atlanta Film and TV: What keeps you going?
Ned Garnier: I know that acting for me is a topic that consistently brings a smile to my face. Growing up, I watched films with my dad, especially ones on VHS. For me, watching a lot of those characters was something that was extremely powerful. The most iconic character I remember is Danny Glover in Raisin in the Sun. The film set and the characters instilled in me the passion to become a storyteller. Giving back to the viewer in a positive way is something that pushes me.
Click here for our full Conversation.
Atlanta Film and TV: You recently attended our last networking event. What are your thoughts on networking, and why would you say it’s important for someone looking to break-into the industry?
Ned Garnier: Networking is the bread and butter and backbone of the industry. When the pandemic happened, we saw how much the lack of human interaction hurt. Not ourselves personally. But the entire industry. I sometimes say, the best way to sell yourself is not selling yourself because everybody should have a natural and pure sense of communication and authenticity. Getting yourself out there is important. But it’s the connections we make as writers, filmmakers, producers, actors. That sense of friendship and partnership is how collaboration works. When people hear the word collaboration, they think it’s either one side or the other, but collaboration is where everyone comes together and works together. Networking is a part of collaborating. Everybody won't be the right fit. But, you'll find somebody who is the right fit for you. The last networking event I attended was great because I met so many different people, and it reminded me of the importance of human interaction. Our artistry works by being able to tell a story through a form of realism. Not being able to communicate with other people we lose a part of that artistry, and then becomes synthetic. We all can see when something isn’t as real as it should be. Networking is that balance, and understanding that nobody should put on any type of front.
Atlanta Film and TV: What would be a piece of advice for a graduating high school student, looking to pursue a career in film and tv?
Ned Garnier: First, I would say get on a professional set. No matter if it’s as an extra or a helping hand. Being on set gives you experience and allows you to see how filmmaking works. Secondly, start creating your own content. I will say going to school is not necessarily needed. However, it can be helpful. You can take classes at places like Atlanta Hollywood Studios or any other acting classes in Atlanta, and be sure to network. What makes Atlanta a great hub for film is that everyone is willing to work with anyone at any level. But we also take it very seriously. Lastly, if you’re an actor, always place yourself as an actor. People often say I am an aspiring actor. No! It’s either you’re an actor or you’re not! Be an actor if you say you’re an actor. It’s the same thing if you say you’re an aspiring producer or filmmaker - say you’re a producer or filmmaker. Not aspiring to be one. You have to set yourself in that state that you are. Now, it’s just perfecting the craft.
Atlanta Film and TV: Do you have any G.E.M.S. would you like to share with our viewers?
Ned Garnier: As an actor, watch films and notice how the actors engage in their dialogue. For instance, Ryan Reynolds uses his eyebrows. Whenever he’s speaking with another character. As you watch tv or films, be sure to take whatever you need from it.
Another thing that I personally enjoy is reading and analyzing scripts and watching the show afterwards to see what you did differently. It’s okay to do things differently. I encourage people to do things differently and make it their own. Stay on top of being able to memorize and analyze a script within a timeframe. I used to take two to three pages of a script and would give myself 20 minutes to memorize my lines. I would flush out the character and see how much I could do. Then, I gave myself 15 minutes, down to five to memorize my lines. Being able to let go of the script and know the story is something that is extremely important. But, to be honest people don’t necessarily care about the wording of the script. Training yourself to know the story will free up a lot of your skills.
Atlanta Film and TV: What tools and tips would you have for memorization would you have for someone who is a newer actor?
Ned Garnier: A technique I use is being able to put the words with movement. Our bodies like to communicate with our brains. When memorizing a script, be sure to include movement, and you will learn your lines easier. For instance, each time I say the line 'where are you going every Tuesday,’ and I place the head scratch for ‘every Tuesday.’ Then, that’s my cue to know that my body is signaling my brain that that line is a Tuesday! I learned this technique in class and that movement is much easier with scripts.
Atlanta Film and TV: Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years?
Ned Garnier: It’s very simplistic, and I am someone who has goals that are straight forward. But, I see myself getting consistent work, and I would love to start working on bigger sets with up and coming filmmakers as well.
Be sure to follow Ned Garnier on Instagram @ned.garnier