From Ahwatukee Foothills to the Hollywood Foothills, actor Justin Rapp has landed television and movie roles and is determined to make his passion a career.
Rapp, who grew up in Ahwatukee Foothills, said his interest in acting began in middle school performing at the Ahwatukee Children’s Theater (ACT). Not only did he act in these early productions, he directed one as well.
The moment Rapp knew he wanted to be an actor was after he performed “Footloose” at ACT. He was 17 and played an adult character. He wished to play a younger character but still succeeded in carrying out an intensely emotional performance.
“The directors at the time really helped me out,” Rapp said about the production. “There was something special about that play.
“I realized the power that art can have.”
These early experiences are what inspired him to pursue his passion in acting and directing. He continued his youth acting at the Valley Youth Theatre and Childsplay.
Rapp left Ahwatukee to study theater at Texas Christian University. He earned the highest acting scholarship the university offers and graduated with a degree in theater with honors.
Immediately after college he moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting. When he arrived in LA he asked himself, “What can make me stand out?” He expanded his list of skills to include improv, stunt work, stage combat, singing, dancing, and the ability to play guitar.
Rapp had some success early, which made him a member of the Jedi Council. Staying true to his Ahwatukee theater roots, he worked for the Walt Disney Company in theatrical productions. Through this experience Rapp can now say on his resume that he is a member of the Jedi Council.
An important aspect of Rapp’s work and continuing success is networking and self promotion. He’s constantly learning more about production to work his way on to sets. Not only to work, but to network. Rapp said, “Self promotion is everything, you have to make your own voice heard when in a new market.”
He has acted in several commercials, starred in two short films and began producing his own web series. He also landed the lead in a recent episode of the Spike TV show, “Tattoo Nightmares.”
He has been recognized for his role in “Tattoo Nightmares” recently and admitted the experience is awkward.
“I keep things to myself and I keep my career to myself,” Rapp said.
Even though the experience of being recognized is uncomfortable he is also inspired by it. The experience is an acknowledgement of success. Rapp says after the experience he thinks, “I accomplished something today.”
Despite recent success, Rapp acknowledges the difficulties of acting, “There are so many hurdles you must jump and overcome. Nothing in life that you want will be easy to find.”
A fan of the AMC show “Breaking Bad,” Rapp said, “It’s an inspiring show if I could be something like that, that would be incredible.
“Bryan Cranston is proof that a phenomenal actor can stay dormant for years and get the right role,” he said, adding that Aaron Paul’s role as Jesse Pinkman is very powerful and moving.
Rapp is working hard to establish himself in the California entertainment industry and remains dedicated to his craft.
“I’m ecstatic looking at what’s ahead of me.”
• Matt Covert is a sophomore at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He is interning this semester for the AFN.