Careers in the Arts | Artist Spotlight: Will Miles (New York, NY)
When it comes to careers in the arts, success comes in many forms. Here at Acceptd, it’s our goal to not only introduce you to viable career options in the arts, but to also help expose some strategies you can use to position yourself successfully. We’ve put together a Career Guide with lots of great insight, but, we know how important it is for you to hear real stories from real people, doing real art. To help facilitate this, we’re excited to share an interview with full-time Writer, Actor, and Comedian, Will Miles.
Based out of Brooklyn, New York, Will writes for The Chris Gethard Show on truTV, and is an actor in roles on Hulu, HBO, and Comedy Central, as well as a handful of other networks. He performs stand-up comedy around the country delivering his own material, co-hosts a regular podcast with fellow comedian and girlfriend Giulia Rozzi, and co-hosts a wildly popular weekly comedy show with his two best friends called “Comedy at The Knit” on Sunday nights at Brooklyn’s world-renowned entertainment venue, The Knitting Factory. To top it off, Will released Good Year, his debut, 40-minute stand-up album just last year. To say the least, Will is not bored.
Acceptd: Thanks for talking with us today! You stay incredibly busy doing lots of different projects. How would you describe what you do?
Will: I mainly tell jokes to people who want to hear them. But a lot of times -I tell jokes for people who don’t think they want to hear them (laughing). I travel the country doing random clubs and shows that pay me to be there, but I love it because I get to write and perform original material that I think might help someone in the audience relate, or feel better about something going on in their life.
I also write for a television show on truTV, where I can have input and develop things that I hope someone younger than me, or occasionally older than me, will see and be inspired by. It’s also just fun to watch something you came up with on television.
Acceptd: What a great feeling to inspire and see that unfold on TV. What was your path to get to this point? Would you say it was the traditional path to success comedy and television?
Will: I don’t think my path was necessarily traditional, and I’ve certainly been lucky in a lot of ways. I started in Chicago doing improv. One of my teachers there felt like I wasn’t embracing the “general vibe of improv,” and told me it seemed like I wanted to be a stand up comedian instead, but maybe I just didn’t know it yet. When I told him I thought improv was going to lead to stand up comedy, he said, “Well, then go do stand up comedy.” So I did, and I never looked back. I opened for Bill Bellamy, Felipe Esparza, and Hannibal Buress all in the same year at clubs around Chicago very early on, and discovered the possibilities of a career in stand up through that.
This was right after Hannibal‘s first album (2010). He hand-picked me to open for him, so I started to gain a lot of confidence in myself after learning that. That belief in my own stand up led to me moving to New York, where I met and become friends with Chris Gethard, which then led to my first writing job, where I work today. The writing job, along with the fact that I had been all around town doing stand up at that point, led to interest in me from agents and managers, which led to me acting. I was also open to that, which was important, too. So, these different things all involved chance-meetings, with different situations all leading to the next. So, I may not call it traditional, but I also don’t know if there is a traditional way to get into the comedy world.
Acceptd: Did you ever expect this would be your job?
Will: I always knew I’d be involved in the arts, but I never knew how. My brother is an actor, so growing up, I would write things for him to act in. But we were just playing around at home, so I never thought that would be a job.
Acceptd: That’s hilarious. Is that what you wanted to do as a kid? Be a writer? Or if not, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Will: I wanted to be an animator and make a show like The Simpsons. Matt Groening (Simpsons creator) was huge in my early influences. I wanted to draw characters that looked like me, and have endless possibilities for their interactions.
Acceptd: In a way, you do that. Just with your words instead of drawings. So- congrats! Of all you’ve accomplished, what is your proudest achievement?
Will: Putting out my first comedy album the way I wanted to was big to me. I didn’t want professional promotion, but I just wanted the album to kind of be passed around. This was a conscious choice, because I didn’t want it to feel forced on people, and I’m not famous so there wasn’t any palpable reason for anyone to listen. It’s mainly just an album where if people come across it and like it, it’s up to them to share, and I appreciate anyone who’s done that. Comedy Dynamics was great in helping me put it out. They took a chance on me and my comedy in the first place.
When I see that people hear it on Sirius XM, or things like that, I love it, because I’m a very under-the-radar comedian and that means someone liked it enough to put it on their Sirius show. Also, it was a lot of fun to put all of that album’s material to rest.
I’m a big believer in the octopus theory of cutting off an arm because you know a stronger one will grow back. That’s how I feel about my material. My album was just one of my arms I cut off, and I’ve never felt more confident on stage.
Acceptd: Very interesting, and a cool approach. Do you have a favorite quote?
Will: I do, actually. My dad told me this, but I think it’s an old saying: “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” I believe that.
Acceptd: Do you feel like that quote that describes your current situation?
Will: I do. I work hard, but the work is fun and I love it. My job is to make people laugh!
Acceptd: Best job ever. Who would you say has been the most influential person on your career?
Will: My family, hands down. I’m lucky for that. My Dad, Mom, and brother have always pushed me to be the best- no matter what. Their backing of my career choices is the key to my success.
Acceptd: Very beautiful answer. Can you speak to risk vs. reward when it comes to pursuing a career in the arts?
Will: I used to work in education, but while I enjoyed interacting with my students and watching and helping them grow, I knew I was never meant to be a teacher. So, I took a risk in leaving a steady job and moving to New York, but I believed in myself enough to know the risk was worth it.
As long as I believe, I know I will be fine. The reward of doing what I want to do is worth every risk.
Follow along with Will Miles on Instagram and Twitter @MrWillMiles.
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