Andrew tells us about acting in a Hugh Hefner project for Amazon, how damn cool New Zealand is and the magical, tear-filled moment he knew he’d fallen in love with a semi-racist Chihuahua.
InViolet: You have been an InViolet member for 5-ish years. How did you find your way into this crazy crew? What’s the journey been like so far?
Andrew: First, I’m a very skilled at Long-Winded Story Telling, so apologies in advance for anyone who labors through my explanations.
Troy Lococo is guilty for bringing me in. He and I were working together and discovered that we both took class from Maggie Flanigan. He told me all about InViolet, the wonderful people that I eventually met and that they were in desperate need of male actors, because the majority of the guys in the company at that time had shifted to writing. I started healthily stalking the company and their whereabouts and eventually they realized I wasn’t going away and embraced me.
My journey with InViolet so far, in short, has been rewarding. We all work very hard, from fundraising, to set construction, monthly meetings, organizing, and the million other things that we do to accomplish our goal of putting out new work that’s By Us. With You [our community and supporters]. And at the end of a retreat, a strong creative meeting, a One Night Stand, a benefit, or another InViolet World Premiere, all of that hard work pays off. It’s a unique experience and reward. It’s one that artists move to New York to find, and we’re lucky enough to found each other to experience it.
InViolet: Have a favorite InViolet memory you can share?
Andrew: It’s hard to pick. Being a part of Branched, so many wild One Night Stands (the shows), and retreats have been real blessings in my life. But, I think if I have to choose just one, my favorite memory is when I was able to usher at Cherry Lane for Megan Hart’s This Is Fiction when the New York Times was there to review the show. Cherry Lane was electric that night. The next day I went and bought 5 copies of the NYT at a coffee shop and someone asked why I was buying so many papers and when I told them it was to see InViolet’s review for the show, the person got our companies info and bought tickets to come see it.
InViolet: Please explain why people call you Andrew Quality Blair.
Andrew: It’s because you’re not going to get quantity out of me. Haha, no, it’s from my days on Facebook. I made my middle name Quality as a joke for, what I intended to be, a week and it stuck. So where we are.
InViolet: Alright, we want to hear all about New Zealand. You were in New Zealand doing acting things with New Zealanders. Tell us the entire scoop immediately and don’t hold anything back.
Andrew: I was! New Zealand is incredible. I was doing a mini-series for Amazon about Hugh Hefner and Playboy; I was cast as an ad trainee who eventually becomes the VP of Playboy Enterprises. It was an amazing group of people on this project. The producers, the directors, cast and crew were the nicest, professional and friendliest group I’ve had the pleasure of being on set with. The majority of them are Kiwis. Kiwis are very VERY nice people as a culture. I made so many new friends on the shoot. And a new best friend, named Dave Van Horn.
Dave was in the cast and became the unofficial Kiwi Ambassador to me and a few of the other foreigners who were on the project. He took us all over the North Island on our days off and we got to see, eat, drink and experience a lot of the unique qualities New Zealand has to offer that we otherwise never would have known were right under our noses. I could write a book about those experiences, but I’ll just give you one.
We went to explore the Waitomo Caves via blackwater rafting. In a wetsuit and inner tube, we walked down into these caves that have a very calm underground river. You walk through the water at some points and at others you just float down; it’s very serene, and very dark except for the lights on your miner’s cap. Well, we’re floating down the river and the tour guide says “everyone turn off your headlamps and look up” and when we did, we saw thousands and thousands of glowworms illuminating the cave ceiling. And at that point, I knew I couldn’t experience that anywhere else in the world. We also saw limestones that grow a fingernail every ten years that were 15+ feet long. And fossil imprints that were thousands of years old.
And that is just a small taste of the beauty that New Zealand has to offer. If you go, look up Dave!
InViolet: Alright, you gotta tell us more about the Hugh Hefner project!
Andrew: Like I mentioned before, it’s for Amazon and it was an incredible shoot with world class people. It chronicles Hugh Hefner’s early life and the first 30 years or so of Playboy. Everyone recognizes Hugh Hefner and Playboy, but I didn’t realize until doing this show just how much social impact he’s had with his articles. Yes, his articles. From printing unedited interviews with MLK, Malcolm X, to being monitored by the FBI, suing the U.S. Government and sticking up and further defining freedom of speech. To going against resistance of southern television stations that refused to air the premiere of his first show because he wanted Nat King Cole and Ella Fitzgerald to host and the stations refused. It’s easy to look back now and think “of course he succeeded, he’s Hugh Hefner”, but he continually risked everything for not only success, but for what was right. I think the series is going to be great and I feel very fortunate to have been a part of it.
InViolet: Company member Bernardo Cubria has mentioned that you have a mildly racist instagram account devoted to your dog. Do tell.
Andrew: I’m glad you brought this up! My girlfriend, JoJo Kissy Poo, fosters dogs for an organization called UnleashedNY that rescues dogs and partners with a sister organization that empowers adolescent females. She’s fostered 19 of them. She has a big heart, she takes care of these dogs from awful situations, she loves them, spends time with them and finds them loving homes, Once they’re gone, she has a good cry and moves on. I, on the other hand, do not detach easily. About a year ago she wanted to foster and she picked a very weird, freaky looking 4lbs puppy that was 3lbs of ears. We were told she was a corgi-mix and that her name is Cinnamon. The dog wouldn’t let us hold her, she was stand off-ish and not that cute. I was thankful, because I knew there was no way I was going to get attached to her.
Well, 4 days went by and I spent a lot of time with this little girl. One night, I had to go to work and while I’m at work, someone was coming to meet/adopt her, so when I left, I was going to have to say goodbye. I’m in the shower and the puppy pushed the door open with her little nose and sat down to be in the same room with me. I scooted her out of the bathroom to finish getting ready. I go into the bedroom to get dressed and she’s laying on my work jeans. I move her off my work jeans. I go to put on my work shoes and she’s sitting in them. I go to play with her so she gets some energy out, but she won’t play. She just climbed into my lap, got on her hind legs and pushed her tiny forelegs into my chest and started crying while she licked my face.
I burst into tears. While I’m uncontrollably sobbing, I’m blubbering out the words: “I love you, Cinnamon.” Long story short, we adopted her. We thought about renaming her, but ultimately kept Cinnamon. The names I came up with included fun, play on words that underlined her adorably gigantic ears! They included Amelia EARhart, Elle McEarson or Paola Earscobar. Since I had not won the REAL name battle, I chose one of those names for her Instagram account that I created for her and since I was fresh off of watching Netflix’s show Narcos, I went with Paola Earscobar (which her account says: “Hi, I’m Cinnamon, star of the new show Barkos on Petflix). Anyway, we did a DNA test to find out what her mutt breed consisted of, because she didn’t look like a corgi. Our suspicions were right and we discovered that she is, in fact, a Chihuahua.
Which leads Bernardo (one of Cinnamon’s first follower on IG) to joke about that. But, in reality, it could have just as easily been Amelia Earhart or super model-dog Elle McEarson. I have a lot of fun running her account, and for my friends in social media land, I’m not stuffing their feeds with a million photos of her from my account. Speaking of, if anyone reading this would like to follow her, her handle is @PaolaEarscobar.
InViolet: You were in our World Premiere production of Branched, the only guy in a show full of talented beautiful women, with Tara Westwood playing your wife, Marguerite Stimpson playing your mistress and Michelle David playing your son. Not a bad gig! What was that whole process like for you?
Andrew: It was the best gig. Erin Mallon writes with an incredibly unique, rewarding style, that’s all her own. My first retreat was her first retreat and Branched was the last piece we read and I remember watching it and being blown away with how weird and awesome it was.
I volunteered to read stage directions for it on Theater Row just to be a part of what I knew was destined to be produced. I auditioned for the only part I had a shot at and really was so lucky to be chosen. Surrounded by Tara, Marguerite and Michelle really inspired me to make sure I was prepared. Robert Ross Parker was the perfect director for the show.
It was this time 3 years ago we were rehearsing, Snowmegedons and Polar Vortex’s were swirling all around us during rehearsals and the run. And I remember thinking, “if this play and these people weren’t so damn fun, walking through 18 feet of sidewalk snow/soup would be brutal” but instead it was invigorating.
Recently, Erin and Branched were published and she generous enough to have the cast get together for a reunion reading at The Drama Book Shop for the launch. She signed a copy to my mother. And when my mom opened it on Christmas, read the note and saw her son’s name in the book, she started to tear up. So, I have to thank Erin for creating and including me on that very rewarding journey.
InViolet: It’s a new year. Do you do the whole resolution thing?
Andrew: I use it as a time to reflect about how quickly time passes by, like, “Wow. I can’t believe it’s been a year since I didn’t become a better person.”
InViolet: What’s next for you?
Andrew: This past week I met with and started freelancing with a new legit agent, Irene. And this woman is a badass boss. She’s dedicated her career to diversifying the industry and fighting for the things she believes in. She has a fierce artist’s heart. I’m hoping she and I accomplish great things in 2017 and beyond. Also, the Hugh Hefner show is suppose to come out in February, so I’m looking forward to seeing what the final product looks like.
Links: AndrewBlairActor.com, UnleashedNY.org,