A Thirst for More Than Just Victory With Blake Cooper Griffin
Blake Cooper Griffin was born with an active imagination and penchant for storytelling. Evident in his performances on the silver screen, everyone from his family members to his kindergarten teacher were able to see his abilities at such a young age. “My mom recently reminded me that in kindergarten, on my report card, the teacher wrote, Blake is our little actor.”
Despite being born with the love of acting and the strong will to do it, not everything was smooth sailing for the South Carolinian. Graduating from North Carolina School of the Arts, School of Drama, Cooper Griffin made the actor’s pilgrimage to Los Angeles. Facing huge changes in lifestyle, Blake managed to take everything in his stride. “I grew up in small towns where there was no such thing as traffic. Traffic in South Carolina is when you have to wait for the light to change twice before you go through it.”
It was a turning point for him, reaching an age where decisions had to be made, and one thing was steadfast in Cooper Griffin's mind – he was always going to be an actor. “Coming to Los Angeles was also paired with graduating college, so I had a lot to figure out. That’s a time in everyone’s life where you’re just trying to get on your feet. The added challenge for me was that I didn’t know anyone and I was entering such a competitive business. Those early days were simultaneously rough and very simple.” Taking each day as it came, Blake made the best out of those initial days in LA. “I ate a lot of Ramen! I was lucky to meet a group of friends that really took me in.”
When Blake first entered the industry his expectations were placed on other people making the decisions. Then his thought process changed and things began to click. “I thought everyone else had all the answers. I was looking outside of myself for a stamp of approval. It’s true that other people make decisions about casting and who gets what job. And most of the time, that has nothing to do with you. But, you don’t need to look outside to find the answers that you are most seeking. Those answers— as an actor, artist, or a person — those answers lie within you.”
Preparing for each role takes a different path. Creatively Cooper Griffin likes to keep himself open to whatever inspires him most. “I’m a big believer that you use whatever helps. Sometimes I listen to music that takes me on a journey. Often, I go on long walks and imagine the story of the person I’m playing. I think about things in my own life that mirror what the character is going through.” Its these processes that make his characters shine on screen. “I also have conversations with friends that I admire, about the character; talking it through with someone helps me evolve my ideas, my outlook.”
Once he has prepared the role, the hardest part is letting go of all the work and preparation. “When you get to set— you let it go. You collaborate with the director and the other actors, and you trust.” Says Blake. “Trust can be a tough one — in life and art — so I guess you can add ‘cultivating trust’ to the things I do to prepare for my work as well.”
Behind the good looking exterior lies a deep and thoughtful actor who is motivated by diversity, transforming; and keeping an open mind. Blake's recent role of Scott in CW's Beerfest: Thirst for Victory was a cheerful change from other heavier roles that he's played in the past.
Filming a movie that already has a loyal fanbase is sometimes harder than starting afresh, however Blake felt little of that pressure, placing his confidence in the director and other cast members to create a new take on an old classic. “90210 and Beerfest: Thirst for Victory are reboots of sorts. But in both cases, the director gave us a bunch of freedom. We didn’t set out to remake Beerfest or 90210, but the world of the originals certainly informed what we did. It’s a really cool thing to be a part of— it’s fun to revisit the worlds of these stories through a present-day lens.”
Delving into the character of Scott in “Beerfest”, Cooper Griffin found the similarities in himself and the character. “Our version of Beerfest is all about reclaiming the fun of college. When we meet Scott he’s in a rut and he’s trying to get his mojo back. I definitely relate to Scott’s goofiness and love for his friends. He’s a really fun loving, social, competitive guy. I relate to that. I’ve been known to get pretty serious about winning game night at friends’ houses. One way we’re different: I’m a tequila guy. Scott is all beer.”
It's not all sunshine and beer competitions though, Blake has a thoughtfulness to him that belies his age and career. “Transformation is often the most fun part. Sometimes that means transforming physically. I was on the USA Network show Necessary Roughness for a while and I got to have purple hair and piercings”
The process for Cooper Griffin is all about collaboration and empathy. “I love the art of acting. There’s a present moment, collaborative, creative high that it gives me. I also think the stories we tell, the stories we highlight, move us along personally and as a society.”
His insight into humanity goes beyond portraying different people on screen. “Movies, shows, and plays remind us that we all feel the same emotions no matter our differences. Man, do we need that reminder now more than ever.”
Blake publicly supported Hillary Clinton during her campaign, and has written several impassioned opinion pieces on her crusade, which appear online at medium.com “Hillary Clinton has fought battles that no other politician has had to face— from First Lady to Senator, to popular vote winner in a Presidential election without assuming that office. She fought sexism, double standards, insane and illogical attacks and she just kept going. How could I not be inspired by her?”
His fervor for kindness and equality in the world, is admirable in the way he speaks about being tolerant of others. “I owe it to her [Hillary Clinton], to my country, and to myself to keep going, keep standing up for what I believe, to keep listening to others even if they have different views from my own and to keep believing that fighting for what is right is worth it.”
Apart from his fight for equality, Blake Cooper Griffin also has hopes of playing unique characters on screen. “Exploring different time periods or altering your speech opens up a lot of opportunities for accessing different characters, different points of view too. So, moving forward, I’d love to do a period piece or get a chance to use an accent. I do several!”
Let's hope that Cooper Griffin continues to be the kind of person that the world needs, while playing the roles of his dreams.
You can catch Blake on CW's Beerfest: Thirst for Victory and as Milo Stolz in The Strivers.