“Do it for the love. Do it for the art. Put yourself out there and then let it go.”

Michael Tourek, 46, actor

He had dreams of making it big on Broadway.

But Michael Tourek’s acting career didn’t really take off until he moved to Greensboro.

Now he’s an UNC Greensboro MFA graduate with an IMDB page full of television and movie credits and teaches students at colleges across the Triad.

“I really love what I do. Part of what keeps me going is the next big thing, the next opportunity.” he says.

Michael got into acting as a kid in Nebraska. After high school and a short-lived college career, he started picking up professional local and regional theater gigs in between bartending shifts.

An ill-fated showmance with a fellow cast member in the Nebraska Theater Caravan’s regional tour of A Christmas Carol lead him to New York City. The relationship didn’t last, but it did prompt him to try his luck on a bigger stage.

“I had dreams of the bright lights of Broadway,” he says. “I started to chase my dreams of being an actor in New York. It was awful. It’s a brutal city, but I loved every minute of it.  I wouldn’t change that part of my life for anything.”

For the next ten years, Michael traveled around the country performing musical theater classics in medium-sized cities and living in New York City or Nebraska – depending on how flush with cash he was. His love life with fellow performer Sara Ruth was blossoming, however. (They met in an Indiana production of the Sound of Music. He was Herr Zeller. She was Nun No. 3.)

He followed Sara to Greensboro, where she attended graduate school at UNC Greensboro and he finished a bachelor’s and performed locally at Triad Stage. A friend from Triad Stage introduced him to his agent in Summerfield who would prove important to launching his transition from stage to screen.

When Sara made it clear their growing family was going to stay in Greensboro, Michael decided he needed to take the time to study acting. He went to UNC Greensboro for his masters.

“I needed a vocabulary to go along with what I had been going instinctually,” Michael says.

His career took off. He had co-star roles in One Tree Hill, Sleep Holly, Under the Dome and recurring role in the Cinemax show Banshee.

Then he got to play Alexei, a tough guy role in the holiday comedy Office Christmas Party, starring Jason Bateman, Olive Munn, and Jennifer Aniston. Michael was on the losing end of a fight scene with Munn and Aniston (Spoiler: Michael says Aniston “smells nice.”)

But his short time with Bateman would prove more fruitful for his career. Bateman is an executive producer and star of the crime drama Ozark, which also stars Laura Linney. Michael landed the recurring role of the enforcer Ash.

Bateman welcomed him warmly his first day on the set.

“It was one of the first times when I really felt like I deserved to be there,” Michael says.

Now Michael gets noticed by fans around town. And last year he had a bunch of movie roles, which, depending on how the editing comes together, could be great for Michael.

And he keeps working at it, recording himself in a home studio for auditions and traveling to Atlanta or other parts of the south for roles in between teaching gigs, bartending shifts, raising his two children, and rehearsing for his next role at Triad Stage in Man of La Mancha, opening this week.

Being a successful actor is like winning the lottery, Michael tells his students at UNC Greensboro, High Point University, GTCC, Guilford College, and Elon. Sometimes you end up on the cutting room floor. Sometimes you don’t get the part because the costume doesn’t fit you (true story.)

“It is beyond your control getting the part. Do it for the love. Do it for the art. Put yourself out there and then let it go,” Michael says.

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