If given the opportunity to remake a classic, which one would you choose?
Ben Giroux: Ha! I’m already doing it, I think! It’s been really amazing to discover the existing global fanbase that Big Nate has amassed over the last two decades— from the wildly popular comic strip and book series. I know I’ve got a responsibility as the title character of the TV show to honor the source material while also inviting in a whole new generation of Big Nate fans with our upcoming Paramount+ series. The new animated series allows us to expand the Big Nate universe and tell new stories while staying true to the P.S. 38 characters so many people already know and love. If I were to remake another NickToon classic, though… I would love to bring back Doug!
You voice the lead character Nate on the cartoon series Big Nate which is set to premiere on Paramount+ next month. Can you tell us what you enjoyed most about doing the series?
Every aspect of recording Big Nate has been a blast—the scripts are hysterical, the cast is composed of brilliant improvisers, and the source material is stellar. That said, the thing I love most about playing Nate: is his confidence. He thinks he and his friends are the coolest (whether they actually are or not!) I absolutely love the hijinks and misadventures Nate leads his group of friends into in every episode, fearlessly.
Can you tell us more about your upcoming projects?
Things have been busy! In addition to voicing the title character of Big Nate on Paramount+, I’m recurring on Nickelodeon’s Danger Force as The Toddler—a character I’ve been playing for almost ten years since the first episode of Henry Danger. I also appear in the upcoming Season 6 of Rick & Morty on Adult Swim and the 2022 film Bromates produced by Snoop Dogg. Behind the camera, I’m directing an upcoming crime docu-series & a variety of commercials and music videos through my production company, Small Red Cape.
On TikTok, my social media audience continues to expand. I create comedy videos daily for nearly 4.5 million fans. In addition, expanding on the momentum of my “Back to the 90s” music video (a project that hit 100 million views, charted on Billboard, and landed my team in Las Vegas with The Backstreet Boys), I’ve begun working on my next comedy music video, “Back to the 2000s”.
Any advice for the youth who want to break into the entertainment industry?
Make stuff. Be proactive. Every career “win” I’ve experienced in entertainment can be traced back to being creative with my friends. Ultimately, do good work and be a good person. The rest will fall into place!
What do you love about what you do? What don't you like?
Zooming out from my career at a birds-eye-view, I love making people laugh. Everything I do is rooted in comedy. Whether that’s achieved in front of a microphone, in front of, or behind a camera, I just want to make cool stuff with my friends. It certainly gets stressful when you’re working under deadlines, so I’d probably like to decrease the “frenzied” nature of the industry. But otherwise, I love it.
You launched your production company, Small Red Cape, in 2012. What plans do you have for the company in the years to come?
Small Red Cape was started ten years ago! We’re an ever-expanding boutique production company that creates TV pilots, commercials, and music videos. I absolutely love our team of brilliant filmmakers, and it’s such a blast collaborating with my friends. We recently produced a Vanilla Ice music video and a CW sketch comedy pilot. Moving forward, my goal is to sell a TV show. My writing partner and Big Nate co-star, Arnie Pantoja, and I are developing various optioned TV properties that we’re pitching around town.
What has been your biggest challenge in this industry, and how did you overcome it?
There are always people who are going to tell you that you’re not “enough” of something—not talented enough, not experienced enough, not good-looking enough, blah blah blah. Don’t listen to them. Believe in your talent and hustle harder than anyone else. I trust in my work ethic, and I lead with positivity and kindness. That’s been working so far!
Would you say it’s essential to attend a film school to become a successful filmmaker?
No. I went to USC and studied theatre. While I enjoyed my time in college and learned a lot, I booked a Farrelly Brothers TV pilot during my final semester. The filming schedule conflicted with a school musical I was already cast in. I ultimately chose to film the pilot, so the theatre department kicked me out and failed me. I was a straight-A kid my entire life, and I ended college with a big fat “F.” And it’s the grade I’m proudest of. That job started my career in television. Moral of the story: theatre and film school can be great, but it’s by no means a requirement for success in the entertainment industry. Also: if you’re cast in a college play… make sure you have an understudy.
Amber S. Hawkins is a Lifestyle & Entertainment blogger hailing from The Bronx, NYC. A few of her goals are to learn to play at least one instrument and have a cozy home away from city life. Stay connected with Amber on Instagram @Ambbamm__