The Ebb and Flow of AP Christopher. From his southern roots to Los Angeles, Christopher is making waves in the fast-paced world of entertainment.
article by April S Kelley
photographs by Popio Stumpf Photography and Bradley Wentzel Photography.
With roots in the bayou, Anthony Pierre Christopher, commonly called ‘APC,’ has diligently perfected his craft and paved his way into the world of professional acting. From stages to television screens, he has seized every opportunity with open arms, getting himself one step closer to that almighty dream.
For the Seattle native, it all started in fourth grade with his first performance. “I can remember my first school play in the fourth grade. That’s probably the first time I can recall ever being on stage, being in front of an audience. It was a random class performance. From there, growing up, that’s what I was thinking about gearing my life towards,” Christopher said.
Christopher went on to attend The Northwest School in Seattle to fine-tune his performance skills. “I went to a Performing Arts school and learned acting and singing and dance, things of that nature,” Christopher said.
Christopher’s first professional performance was in The Nutcracker when he was a teenager. “My first true, professional gig was at The Seattle Opera House, where I was the prince in The Nutcracker. It was ballet, and I did that for two years,” Christopher said.
Even though Christopher’s heart was on the stage, his family wanted him to further his education. “Having a southern, conservative family, they were like, ‘That’s cute, but you need to go to school and you need to get a job.’ So, I went to college at Jackson State and stayed with my grandparents in Monroe,” Christopher said.
At Jackson State, Christopher majored in chemistry. He had fallen in love with chemistry in high school and over time realized how similar it was to acting. “You kind of have to use the same creative mindset to solve a chemical problem or a chemical equation. You still have to create a world. It is a much different kind of world, but you still have to create that world. It takes a lot of creativity. Chemistry also requires analysis, and in theater, there is also some analysis. You have to breakdown the scene, the script, a character’s intentions. There are some similarities in both disciplines, even though they are perceived as being vastly different,” Christopher said.
While in college, Christopher still performed. He sang in the Jackson State Chorus, as well as performed at the local Opera house. Christopher recalled an experience that taught him about going the extra mile to do research for a role. “You always have to do research for a character or a part, but for this one role, I was playing the part of a deaf-mute. So, I had to learn sign language. I went to a School for the Deaf for three-four weeks. I didn’t just learn basic sing language either. I learned many gestures and phrases, and I had to learn also to convey emotion via sign language. I really had to research how a deaf-mute would communicate,” Christopher said.
One of the hardest roles Christopher ever played was for a play called Jumpin’ the Broom. In this play, he portrayed a man who was a step-father and husband. The stepdaughter’s biological father shows up after being gone for years to try and push his own beliefs upon her as she plans her wedding. “I played a gentleman that was twenty years my senior, and I had to research what an older man would be like. It was also very difficult because of the conflict of that relationship with the young woman, the character he had raised He had to fight for what he believed. He was justified for having that opinion because he had raised this young woman and would essentially be giving her away. That was hard just from an emotional standpoint,” Christopher said.
Another element of the play that would become a defining moment for Christopher was a love triangle between his character, the wife and the biological father. He had to channel the emotions of a man who knew all along that his wife’s heart always belonged to another man. “I will never forget it, I was in rehearsal, and there was a point when I just lost it. I completely brokedown. It was really interesting because my director, who was also my mentor, kept saying, ‘Alright, somebody’s working here!’ And I kept thinking, ‘I need a break, I’m having an emotional breakdown.’ And the woman playing the wife kept saying, ‘Stay with it.’ I thought they were crazy,” Christopher said.
It was in this moment that Christopher had an epiphany about what it really meant to act. “It was one of those moments where you have to realize that it’s not about the surface but about what’s going on beneath the surface, all that kind of extra that really affects a person and a performance. That was the hardest role I’ve ever played, because I had to repeat that every night for six shows a week, and it became emotionally draining,” Christopher said.
Being a triple-threat, i.e. an actor, singer and dancer, Christopher also performed in many musicals. The most physically demanding show in which Christopher ever performed was in Five Guys Named Moe. “You learn how to pace yourself. Some shows you might go all out. Some shows you might hold back a little bit. There was a lot of twirling and kicking and sliding, intertwined with singing at the top of our ranges, eight times a week. I lost twelve pounds by the end of the run, because it was a two hour show, and it’s constant, and you have to keep up your energy. Sometimes you have to try to eat. Other times, you have to try not to eat, not to stay slim or anything, but because you don’t want to catch a cramp when you are doing a pirouette,” Christopher said.
Performing is something Christopher has always loved. For him, it isn’t about fame or money. Instead, it is about telling a story. “In theatre as well as television and film, all people that are involved in it in some way, form or fashion are telling a story—be it the director, be it the writer, be it the actor—and that’s what I love about it. I love being able to take people on a journey, and I know I’ve done my job when I can take people for an hour and a half or two hours and let them get away from whatever it is they want to get away from, or to entertain them for a short period of time. That’s why I enjoy it,” Christopher said.
It is at the end of the show when Christopher truly feels the effects of his work. “It’s something that I can recall as far back as that fourth grade class play that we did. There was just something about it, about being on stage. And then when I was thirteen and I did The Nutcracker, it was for a 3000 person audience. There’s the applause and the hoping, and you’re moving a person and entertaining them. You’re touching them in some way. Some people want the fame, some people want the money. I just like knowing that my performance touched someone,” Christopher said.
Show business is no picnic, but Christopher explained how he stays motivated in the fast-paced world of entertainment on the streets of Los Angeles. “You have to be passionate about it. You have to know the reason why you’re in it. You have to not worry so much about how much money you are going to make or how famous you are going to be. What’s kept me going all these years is the adrenaline rush. You’re always auditioning. You’re always looking for your next job. It’s a rare thing. You just have to know that this is what you want to do. I know that this is what I’m meant to do. I’m not Tom Cruise or Will Smith yet. I’m not on that level, but you know it’s possible,” Christopher said.
Christopher went on to explain that it is not always simply about your skills when it comes to making it in show business. “It’s a combination of luck—being in the right place, at the right time—, perseverance, persistence and networking,” Christopher said.
Christopher has worked on dozens of projects throughout his career- theater, both musical and otherwise, television work and even some voice overs and short films. He wrote, produced and filmed one short film called “Rain”— A Love Story, which also featured KTVE/KARD’s former evening anchor Rudy Williams prior to his stint at the station.
When it comes to theater and television, Christopher has a difficult time choosing which performance outlet he prefers. “I love theatre, because that’s where I started. I will always love theatre, because it’s one fluid motion from beginning to end. Sometimes you put on a great performance. Sometimes you have an off day. Sometimes you put on a bad performance. With television and film, you can edit out a bad performance. However, you have to act out the same scene over and over. It’s repetitive. I like theatre, because that’s where I got my sense of character. The tenets are the same, the ebb and flow of energy. Television and film is more intimate whereas theatre is more communal. Television can also touch a lot more people than theater can,” Christopher said.
Most recently, Christopher has filmed a pilot episode for Hand of God, starring actor Ron Perlman and Dana Delaney, which has been picked up by Amazon Prime. In this drama series, Perlman plays a corrupt, vigilante judge who believes God is speaking directly to him. Dana Delaney plays Perlman’s wife. “It is a dark, thriller, mystery kind of thing. We’ve only shot the pilot so far, but the show has been picked up by Amazon Prime. My character is the mayor of the city. He is a recurring character. He’s basically trying to make sure the judge is going to keep it together for his own personal, political gain,” Christopher said.
Christopher also hopes to return to Monroe to do a performance at Strauss Theatre. “I’d like to do a small theatre production out there in Monroe in the future,” Christopher said.
He has also written a script for a project he would like to film in Monroe. “I have written a script and want to bring the project to Monroe and utilize the uniquely diverse backdrop the city provides. I had an initial meeting with the NE Louisiana Film Commission, which was great in terms of the support offered as it relates to infrastructure and access to services. I’ve been diligently pitching to production companies and investors, which is difficult in this ‘franchise’ landscape that is L.A. Keeping a lid on the concept, but I will say it’s a family drama that focuses on the lives of three brothers,” Christopher said.
If you have any questions or would like to keep up with what’s happening with Christopher, visit his facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/APChristopher.
“I respond to all questions and love to help aspiring entertainment professionals,” Christopher said.