Welcome to Episode 2 of Meet the Artist! This week I have the pleasure to introduce to you someone I always enjoy having a conversation with: A great friend of mine who is also a great human being, with an even greater story; A living example that it is never too late to follow your dreams, and like he says, “It’s never too late to teach an ol’ dog new tricks”.
Please allow me to introduce to you, Tony Handley!
-TH– Hi, my name is Tony Handley, and I’m an actor. And welcome to ‘Meet the Artist’.
-DG– So, when did you start acting?
-TH- Um, my family owned a movie theater when I was very young… I believe I was in the first grade. The first you know, sort of experience of going to the movies or free, and all the popcorn and sodas I want. Then watch THE MOVIE, and pretend that was me up there. I knew then that I wanted to be an actor.
(DG– That’s great!)
Yeah! Um, when I was in the fourth grade, I had a teacher who, uh, was very much of a free spirit herself. And she allowed us, at a certain time of the day, to get up and tell stories. And for those of us that had any kind of imagination, we became the class clowns, the class favorites. And, uh, I ended up being one of those because I learned how to work the crowd. I loved the laughs.
(DG– That’s awesome!)
Yeah, I loved it, uh but I didn’t start doing any community theater until, like, until the 1970’s, yeah.
-DG- That’s great. …And what inspired you to begin your journey?
-TH- Um, I would say that, between my family having the movie theater and Saturday morning Westerns. You know Gene and Roy and all the guys. But being a character actor like I am, um, I have found it to be very rewarding not to have be me all the time.
Yeah, uh, when I was a kid, I would one week I’m watching this guy on the screen. This next week I’m watching this big guy on the, you know on the big screen. And so, that was always a drive, to try to be somebody different, other than myself. I mean I like me, but its fun not being me,(*wink) you know.
(DG- Always a fun thing.)
-DG- How has acting affected you spiritually?
-TH- Um, by far it has made me a lot more in tune with, not only myself, but the universe itself and how the universe operates.
(DG- Funny thing, huh?)
Yeah, it really is, it really is. It’s wonderful when we are fortunate enough to figure it out.
-DG- That’s true. Very, very true. Emotionally?
-TH- Well, I’m by far the most stable I’ve ever been in my life.
(DG- Ah, that’s good.)
It’s also made me extremely happy to be able to do, number one, do what I’ve always dreamed and wanted to do with my life. To be able, at my age, to go and do what I wanted to do, has made me a very very happy person.
(DG- That’s good. Not a lot of people could say that.)
No, and I’m very very blessed, very fortunate.
(DG- That’s awesome.)
-TH- Mentally, uh, you can teach an old dog new tricks.
(DG- Oh, Really?)
Yes, I found that out.
(DG- That’s awesome.)
Yeah, I, that was something that I was, I knew I was up against.
(DG- Okay *chuckles)
Because I hadn’t exercised this (points to head), in the ways I knew I needed to, as an actor….in a lot of years. I took like twenty years off, you know. And now I’ve come back and I’ve been at it for three years and I’ve been in more classrooms, workshops and so on, than I have in…
(DG- That makes a huge difference.)
Yeah. You can work that muscle, and it will… it’s amazing what it’ll do. Yeah.
-DG- What has been your biggest struggle?
-TH- Well, let me throw you for a loop here. But it was getting into the second grade.
My parents were like Gypsies, and we were just all over, at that time and period in my life. Went through a lot of schools, a lot of different cities and towns, and…
(DG- A lot of different people, huh?)
It’s happened so often that they put me back in the first grade.
And I had to take the first grade over.
So, my biggest setback in life was getting into the second grade.
-DG- So what are some projects you’ve worked on?
-TH- Um, did a Western last year, had a lot of fun doing that.
(DG- That’s fun)
Yeah, had a lot of fun. Played Sheriff Tony.
(DG- Oh great. And there again came the Cowboys and Indians, and you got to…)
Got to be right out there at Paramount Ranch, and play one of the bad guys. You know, the bad guy Sheriff, you know… yeah.
-DG- That’s fun. It was definitely fun watching you. How about currently?
-TH- I’ve got two other Westerns, that are in development for probably 18 and 19. 2018 and 2019
Um, I’ve got a pilot that we’re gonna shoot in May.
Yeah, it’s written, produced and directed by ladies, females.
–TH- Yeah, and it is a Western, and it is a pilot for TV and I’m very excited about that.
(DG- That’s exciting!)
-TH- Yeah, it really is, and I just, uh, I play just a… The most lovable, rotten dirty character you could ever play.
(DG- Lovable, rotten is great. Must be a fun character.)
-TH- Yeah, he will be remembered, yeah.
-DG- So I love ending with a quote. What is your quote of all time and why?
-TH- “Lay in the weeds, and wait. And when your chance comes for you to say something… say something good.” Quote, Merle Haggard.
Yeah, I had the good fortune to work for Merle, years ago, when I was in the music industry.
(DG- Oh, no way?)
Yeah, and one night over beers, uh, and probably a few other things… uh, he shared that with me, and ever since I have applied it to my life, and never so much as I have the last three plus years.
(DG- That’s awesome.)
I’ve based my entire career on those fine words. I figure, if it was good enough for Merle, it was good enough for me.
-DG- That is so awesome. And where can people find you online?
-TH- Uh, that’d be TonyHandleyActor.com, TonyHandleyActor, and Handley is like ‘hand’ (shows hand), ‘L’ (makes L with hand), E (makes E with hand), Y (makes Y with hand). Tony Handley.
-DG- Perfect! Thank you Tony.
-TH- Thank you, I’ve had a lot of fun. Thank you very much
-DG- It was a lot of fun.
-TH- Thanks for havin’ me.