Photos by Kalika Sarasin
The award-winning actor and director behind “Switched at Birth” and “Friday Night Lights,” D.W. Moffet, was moved to tears during his lecture at the SCAD Museum of Art.
During a question and answer session, after being asked about his favorite acting role of his career, Moffett reminisced on his time playing Felix Turner in the first play production of “The Normal Heart,” a story about a gay activist attempting to raise HIV awareness in the ’80s.
“That was an amazing experience,” said Moffett.
He described how, the first time he read the script, he thought it was “very long and very preachy,” but also “a profoundly moving play.”
Yet he didn’t expect it to be so “shapesifting.” Moffett described it as something that became a “societal earthshaking event.”
Then Moffett’s voice began to crack. Soon, he had to put the microphone down and speak in a low voice.
“It made me so grateful,” Moffett said, fighting tears. “To be a part of something like that…I felt so blessed.”
He then had to take a minute, wiping his face with the fleece of his suit. People started clapping but he gestured for them to stop.
“Wow,” he sighed, catching his breath. “That was like a mule kicked me in the head. I’m so sorry.”
Moffett described how, by the time lights came up after the first preview of the play, all five audience members were weeping.
“That is what theater can be. That is what film can be. An earth-shattering moment in your life.”
Soon after, a performing arts student in the audience asked him if he ever gets fed up with acting.
“In my opinion, if you’re an actor and you’ve never been fed up with acting, you’re unstable,” he humorously replied.
Moffett’s path towards acting wasn’t an easy one. He graduated from Stanford with a political science degree. He often doubted himself, thinking there was no way he could go into acting or theater.
“Do not listen to that voice!” said Moffett. “Everyone will think you are insane. Do not listen to those people!”
Moffett also spoke of the advantages of playing both the role of an actor and director and how one has improved his ability in the other.
“It’s very easy in our business to think of what you do as ‘the most important thing,’” he said. “Actors are kind of the magical animals of the set because they speak.”
But after handling casting himself, getting to see both perspectives helped him gain confidence as an actor.
“They [casting directors] really want people [actors] walking in that door to be good. They’re not just there to judge you. They really hope you’ll be good because they need you.”
Before leaving, he imparted a few words of advice to students hoping to make it in the business of film and television.
“Selfish is okay,” he explained. “All I thought about was everyone around me. That’s great; it’s great to be collaborative. But it’s essential to listen to what you want, and what you as an artist need.”
“Look for mentors. I wish I would’ve had more mentors in my life. It would’ve helped me make wiser decisions.”
“Stay grateful. If you approach each work opportunity with the right amount of gratitude… more work will come your way.”
For more information about Moffett’s career in theatre, film and television, checkout his IMDB.