Mike Heslin





EP 60: Mike Heslin (autogenerated)

[00:00:00] Dane Reis: [00:00:00] you booked it, episode 60. All right. I am excited to introduce my guest today, Mike Heselin. Are you ready for this mic? 

[00:00:11]Mike Heslin: [00:00:11] Yeah, let’s do it.

[00:00:12] Dane Reis: [00:00:12] All right. Mike is an actor writer, producer, and the cofounder of the production company. Well versed entertainment. He also is the creator and director of the upcoming mini series. The influencers, a comedy about six social media stars who are selected to live and compete in a big brother style house for a dream brand deal. 

[00:00:34] Mike has appeared on screen in younger on TV land. I love you, but I lied on lifetime and I dream too much with South by Southwest executive producer, Richard Linklater. And onstage in war horse, a mamma Mia and Diane Paulus is the donkey show. Mike, that is a quick intro of who you are in what you’ve done, but why don’t you tell us a little bit more about yourself? Fill in the gaps. 

[00:01:00] Who you are, where you’re from, where you’re currently calling home and a little bit more about what you do as a professional in the entertainment industry. 

[00:01:09]Mike Heslin: [00:01:09] Yeah, sure. Thanks for having me. Well, I was born in LA, grew up in Arizona, went to college in Boston, at the Boston conservatory for musical theater, with an emphasis in directing. And I’ve spent the last decade going back and forth between LA and New York. But, um, during this quarantine and COVID year, I’m currently calling Toronto my home and, uh, 

[00:01:30] I’m living here for awhile. 

[00:01:32]Um, but I’m an actor I’ve done TV, movies, theater commercials. Voice-overs um, but as of the past few years, I also branch into, um, the writing, directing and producing, which I actually found. I love JS as much as acting me B if not more. So that’s been an exciting evolution, I guess.

[00:01:49] Dane Reis: [00:01:49] Yeah, that’s fantastic. And I love that you said,  it’s a great evolution because I love that. 

[00:01:54]We discover how big this industry is, how many different things we can do in this industry, because when we first jumped into it and we’re like, Oh yeah, I’m an actor. I’m going to do musical theater for the rest of my life. And. We don’t really know about all the different parts of this industry. And it’s so great to talk to people like you who have done a lot of different things. And then you start finding your niche. You start finding that real passion that you have within this industry.

[00:02:21]Mike Heslin: [00:02:21] Yeah, I think it’s about being adaptable and also, you know, Allegedly. I hear like back in the day, like you could only be an actor, you know, it’s really hard to kind of like, yeah. If you were an active, you’re going to be a musician and vice versa. Um, so nowadays it’s, everyone has their hands in, , five different pots and it’s doing a million things. And I think that’s a much more exciting way to live and, and more creatively fulfilling, frankly.

[00:02:47] Dane Reis: [00:02:47] Absolutely. I mean, it’s fair to say that technology is absolutely being a big driver of that. I mean, we’ve got these amazing just in our, our phones. Right. We can film in 4k. Right. And that everything can look pretty good. You know, it’s not as the pro quality. Right. But . It’s so accessible now for us to dive into different things and just give it a go.

[00:03:06]Mike Heslin: [00:03:06] Yeah, for sure. I mean, there’s really, , there’s no excuse. It’s like everyone is capable of creating something. I kind of was laughing at. Um, tick tock, you know, which is huge right now. But, but when it first started, it was like, what is this thing? But when I checked it out, he was like, Oh, it literally is like the most basic version of like final cut or like, um, You can basically edit and create your own thing. Like literally anyone can create stuff now, , so there’s no excuse not to, not to be creating and putting yourself out there. If that’s what you want to do.

[00:03:36] Dane Reis: [00:03:36] Absolutely. Couldn’t agree more. Well, let’s move on to this section and Mike, look, I am a sucker for a good quote. What is your favorite quote? You’d like to share with everyone.

[00:03:48]Mike Heslin: [00:03:48] Um, my favorite quote, I’m pretty sure it was by Judy Garland. Um, but it’s, um, be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of somebody else. And I think someone told me that in college once or something, but that’s. That’s stuck with me and resonated, uh, since I was really young.

[00:04:05] Dane Reis: [00:04:05] Absolutely. I love that. Quote. I’ve heard that before. Um, I believe someone on the show is actually said that before, and it’s so good. It’s so true. And it’s one of those things that. It is it’s easy to emulate and be someone else because that’s how we kind of start. Isn’t it. That’s how we. Figure out kind of where our talents lie. we see people on screen. We see people on stage and we’re like, Oh, how can I want to do that? But eventually you have to make that switch and be you and bring your uniqueness to the table.

[00:04:34]Mike Heslin: [00:04:34] Yeah, I totally agree. I think, you know, and look, there’s something to be said for, it’s important to know yourself in kind of to know, all right. I kind of can fit into like these sort of like buckets or whatever, but like you said, there comes a point where I think you’re going to hit a wall if you can’t break past that and be like, okay, well what makes me unique? And like what makes me tick and like, You know, there’s a thousand other guys maybe who look very similar to me, but like, what is  my essence or unique little thing that I do that they don’t, or that makes me special and to lead with that.

[00:05:07] Dane Reis: [00:05:07] Absolutely. Well, let’s move on to this section here. And Mike, of course you are an entertainer. I’m an entertainer. And I think that you’d agree that this industry is one of the most subjective, brutally, honest, personally emotional industries in existence. And you know, as well as I, that in order to create and to have a successful career in this industry, like your having now takes a lot of dedication and hard work. And while of course, yeah, there is no rages amount of fun and fulfillment and excitement doing what we do. There are also our fair share of challenges and obstacles and failures. We are going to inevitably experience and we’re going to have to move forward. If we want to continue doing this professionally. So tell us what is one key challenge, obstacle or failure you’ve experienced in your career and how did you come out the other side better because of it.

[00:06:07]Mike Heslin: [00:06:07] , yes, this industry is a constant grind. Like you cannot be in it or be doing this unless you truly love it. And it is passion and there’s really like nothing else said. Um, fulfills you in that way, because it is  daily rejection and challenges and obstacles. I found, you know, there’s been so many times I could go on. A whole separate podcast or like a long list of, you know, like, um, people promising over role or a project you’re like aligning with someone really exciting and forming like a partnership or like, you know, something gets picked up, then it gets dropped or, you know, There’s a million things like that. And, um, there’s, there’s been so many times I’ve just been so disappointed and, you know, people will disappoint you like that’s inevitable. Um, But I kind of used it to  fuel my fire and I think it’s made me a much more confident and better person and artists the past several years. Because I think it would be easy to be very like what was me and get kind of defeated when that continually happens and it will continue to, but I actually learned too. You know, you said to be like, well, no, one’s gonna work harder than me for me then I am, you know, so that kind of fueled my fire to like work for myself into start creating my own things and to just like start putting stuff out there and make stuff until people take notice instead of waiting for permission. Um, because if you’re just  waiting around for people to hand you things it might happen here and there, but , you’re not definitely not gonna have as fruitful or creative as a Life as you could be.

[00:07:41] Dane Reis: [00:07:41] Absolutely. Yeah, we have to be our own best advocate, especially in this crazy time with quarantine and Corona virus and things like this. Because so much has just. Stopped. Right. And we haven’t stopped being creative people and artists. So it’s so important to create art for you as well.

[00:08:05]Mike Heslin: [00:08:05] Yeah. And when you’re doing that, it tends to be better. Right. You know, I think it’s just about, I think it’s about, you know, just there’s a million people in this industry. Everyone is working really hard, so you gotta work harder, you know, and you gotta just kind of stay focused and  do the thing. And, and eventually it kind of falls into place. You know, I think we’ve both seen after being in this business for so long, like things do work out as they’re meant to, you know, at the time you might be frustrated by that rejection or that obstacle, but. In a few years, you look back and you’re like, Oh, well, yeah, like, of course that didn’t happen because this happened, you know? And you, you can connect the dots. . I mean, there’s something. To be said for perseverance and endurance, especially in this industry. You know, I love that. That’s another quote. Um, someone said it’s really a, this industry is like a Testament. Durance, it’s not about who’s the most talented cause everyone’s  talented to some degree. It’s really like, can you stick it out? Like, how big is your skin and how badly do you want it? Like, is it enough to keep going?

[00:09:04] Dane Reis: [00:09:04] Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, let’s move on to a time that I like to call your spotlight moment. That one moment in time you realized, yes, I am going to be an entertainer for all living or maybe it was, yes, this is what I need to be doing as an entertainer. Tell us about that.

[00:09:28]Mike Heslin: [00:09:28] Sure. Yeah. I’ll give you two, I’ll give you my first one. And then the most recent one, but I was, I was one of those kids, , since I was five years old, like, Oh, I love . Playing make believe being in other worlds. Like this is what I want to do.  I gravitated towards movies, like the wizard of Oz or Jurassic park where it’s like these big fictional worlds. , um, so when I was five years old, my family took me to  the local children’s theater to see, I don’t, I think it was like Rumpelstiltskin or something, but I F. Five years old. I was obsessed with it. And like I came home and I was like, well, that, that’s what I want to do. And so, like, we, we looked it up and you couldn’t audition. So you were like six or something. So he literally practiced  my audition song and like, wait until I was six to audition for, um, the wizard of Oz, which I got in munchkin, like number 23.

[00:10:15] Thank you. Um, yeah, so I kinda just knew it my whole life. I mean, it’s just kind of always been there since I was like five or six, but then the most recent one, um, was I wrote directed, produced, and also appear in this, uh, new mini series called the influencers. , um, that was the first time I had fully been on other side of the table, especially, uh, in terms of the producing and the writing. And that was by far the most creatively fulfilling experience I’ve ever had today in my life. It, I mean, it’s consumed the past year and a half of my life. The writing process was  a huge thing. Um, but I’ll never forget. And then we pitched it to a bunch of people, which was really exciting and. We got to shoot it. And when we were shooting, I’ll never forget just being like, it was like, it was like a Lorne warm jacket or something. It just felt so good. And I was like, Oh yeah, this is a, this is what I meant to do. Like nothing satisfies me or gives me that, that bus as much as  just creating stuff, you know? No matter what. No matter what type in, what type of way I do that. Just like. I was like, Oh yeah, this is it. This is really it.

[00:11:23]Dane Reis: [00:11:23] Oh, I love that. That’s fantastic. And I want to piggyback on that quickly and talk about your number one. Booked it moment. Walk us through that day, the auditions and call backs. If they happen to be a part of it. What was going on in your life. And what about that moment? Makes it your favorite book? Did moment.

[00:11:47] Mike Heslin: [00:11:47] My favorite booked it moment. Well, actually two come to mind and it, they both are kind of that cliche of like, you know, when you really want a job or a role, or do you want something so bad? Like you usually don’t get it. And then the ones that you kind of like, you know, you just walk into and you’re, you’re pretty chill. And just like, you know, grounded and like, ah, it’s all good. Like I’m just gonna do my best and whatever, then it happens. But, um, so my friend and roommate at the time was  going to the EPA and he was like, Hey, I’m at the war, horse, EPA. War horse had just opened on Broadway at the Lincoln center and they were casting the tour and I was meeting him to go get lunch. And so like, I picked him up and he was like, no, one’s here and there just healing. Outside’s like, why don’t you go audition too? It was like, Oh, okay. Um, so it did and then cuts you nine callbacks and then I ended up getting it. Um, and that whole process was insane. Like truly there was like eight or nine callbacks. At least it was so crazy, like two months of it. And then I was on hold for two months before even finding out that I officially booked it, but that was crazy. And the same thing happened with my first  big, um,  TV appearance on younger on TV land. And it was one of those auditions were like, felt great about it, but you. Kind of just like truly let it go. I was like, Oh, whatever, probably not going to get that onto the next one.  I love just throwing my sides away after that addition and focusing on the next one. And then sure enough, the one you totally forget about, I got the call and they were like, yeah, you got it. They loved you. I was like, what? That’s awesome. But I don’t know. I liked, I liked that, you know, cause I mean it’s easier said than done, but if you can get into, if you can get into that space, you know, where you’re kind of just like grounded and like it’s all good. Just do the best you can then, you know, the results tend to be better apparently.

[00:13:32] Dane Reis: [00:13:32] Absolutely. I 100% agree. I can literally test every single. Job that I’ve ever booked to that feeling where you just walk in, you’re like myth, whatever I’ve even had times when I’ve flown across the country to go to an audition and be seen. And then. For whatever reason, you know, I’ve already spent all this money getting there and the stakes are,  quote unquote, very high, right.  and. I still had this weird feeling of all right, let’s just go, let’s go show him what I got and it’s whatever. So calm. So whatever about it. And that’s the one you book. Every single 

[00:14:08] job.

[00:14:09] Mike Heslin: [00:14:09] yeah.

[00:14:10] Yeah, for sure. 

[00:14:11] Dane Reis: [00:14:11] so glad you brought that up because that is. You really know that you’re kind of in that flow state, right?

[00:14:16]Mike Heslin: [00:14:16] Yeah. Yeah. That’s, that’s the, that’s the goal to be in that all the time. And then of course, the ones where I’m like, Oh God, I want that so bad. That’d be amazing. It’d be life changing. It’s like you, do you do the scene that you were  so hard on it. They’re like, okay, thank you so much. And you’re like, Oh,

[00:14:30] Dane Reis: [00:14:30] Oh man. Yeah, 

[00:14:31] Mike Heslin: [00:14:31] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. But chasing that flow, always chasing that flow.

[00:14:35] Dane Reis: [00:14:35] That’s right. Well, let’s take a moment to talk about the present. What projects are you working on now? What are you looking forward to? And. Like we mentioned earlier, it’s a weird time. We’re amidst this global pandemic. How do you see the entertainment industry moving forward in the next couple of years?

[00:14:54]Mike Heslin: [00:14:54] Yeah. So the big thing I’ve been working on this year, which I kind of mentioned was that this show I created called the influencers. Um, it’s about six  social media, star, six influencers who. Um, are competing for a dream brand deal. And these six are invited to go live in this big brother style house. And there’s  cameras watching their every move and they compete in this creative challenges. And basically, you know, for people who kind of  curate their online lives all the time, like, it’s kind of about what happens when you can’t escape the cameras and your real life catches up to that persona. Um, so that’s been really exciting. We wrapped post-production on that in January, February. Um, So. I mean, fortunately for us,  the show, it was completely done. And we had already started our meetings, um, for distribution and securing,  what platform it’s going to be on and what territories and stuff like right as COBIT hit. So while, you know, it’s like there’s no more input or in person meetings. Um, we’ve actually seed kind of busy, but that’s what I’m the most excited about. It was a labor of love or super proud of it. It’s a mockumentary. It’s kind of like, um, Uh, what’s a good example, like the comeback or best in show or American Vandal, it’s like very like, uh, kind of satire. And, uh, the, the characters and actors are these big personalities. So we’re really excited for that. And in the next few months, , I think we’re almost, I can’t really say anything, but we’re almost done, uh, negotiating the distribution deal. So hopefully in the next few months, we’ll be able to say  the official air dates and reveal the platform it’s going to be on. Um, but that’s been really exciting and because of that, the past year and a half, , um, a good friend of mine, but now turned business partner. My friend, Noah mash. We started a production company together and we’re also working on three other features, have really exciting actor attached to one of them. And, um, two other TV pilots that we’re currently taking around and pitching and stuff. But, you know, it’s a, it’s a weird year, like we were talking about, but I’ve been pretty fortunate. And I also think it comes as a result of  trying to stay busy and creative and just forcing myself to write a lot and keep. Trying to take meetings. Um, but it knock on wood. It hasn’t been too bad, but I think it’s cause , we’ve been trying to just do what we can, despite the circumstances, , as we all are.

[00:17:06] Dane Reis: [00:17:06] Absolutely. Well, when the influencers is officially live and able to be watched by people, let me know, and I will update the description of this episode so we can make sure that people can just easily click on through to it.

[00:17:20]Mike Heslin: [00:17:20] Yeah, that’d be amazing for sure. 

[00:17:22] Dane Reis: [00:17:22] Absolutely. Great. Well, let’s move on to one of my favorite sections in the interview. I call it the grease lightening round. I am going to ask you a handful of questions. I want you to answer them as quickly and concisely as possible. One after another, are you ready?

[00:17:43] All right. First question. What was the one thing holding you back from committing to a career as an entertainer?

[00:17:50]Mike Heslin: [00:17:50] initially, I mean, they’ve come around, but initially it kind of was my parents’ support and,  pursuing a life as an actor was just really not an option. My dad said he would. You know, love him, but he said he wasn’t going to pay for college if I chose to pursue that. So I made a deal with him and I was like, okay, well, here’s how it works. There’s  these different conservatories. These are  the top programs in the country. Thousands of people audition and the chances of getting in are slim. So let’s make a deal. Like if I get in, I get to go and he’s like, okay. And then I got in. So 

[00:18:18] it 

[00:18:18] worked out. Yeah. My mom loves this story. She’s like, that’s the best bet you’ve ever made with him.

[00:18:24] Dane Reis: [00:18:24] That’s so good. I love it. 

[00:18:25] And the second question. What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

[00:18:32]Mike Heslin: [00:18:32] I think it is you’ll have a much more successful life and career. If you learn how to swerve with the universe versus resisting kind of where it takes you, you know, if you resist kind of what we’re talking about, you know, there’s so many facets to this industry. So if you’re like I’m only an actor and you kind of close yourself off from opportunities, you’re missing out on  so many possible,  successes, experiences like even money. Um, and yeah, it had some opportunities to start producing directing, and I kind. Follow that voice being like, Oh, you need to start writing and creating your own stuff. And it’s truly been the most fulfilling creative chapter in my life. And, , I think I’d be a lot more depressed or bored if I hadn’t. Um, kind of swerved with a universe if you will, and kind of,  followed other callings as well.

[00:19:16] Dane Reis: [00:19:16] Yeah, absolutely. I love, I love that image of swerving with the universe. It’s so good. And it’s so true. And the third question. What is something that is working for you right now? Or if you’d like to go pre COVID, what was working for you before our industry went on? Pause.

[00:19:35]Mike Heslin: [00:19:35] My big thing just, um, before I, if I’m writing something or just say happy and same saying, and creative is I basically just do whatever it takes you to get inspired. , I’ll watch ’em. Uh, Hollywood reporter round table discussions or theater panels, or, you know, listened to  amazing music or  binge a show. I’ve been meaning to check out just in whatever it takes. You kind of like, you know, get that buzz going and get you excited and get you inspired and thinking and , to get that part of your brain to kind of open up.

[00:20:06] Dane Reis: [00:20:06] Totally. And the fourth question, what is your best resource? Whether that is a book, a movie, a YouTube video, a podcast, maybe a piece of technology that you found is helping your career right now.

[00:20:20] Mike Heslin: [00:20:20] I I’d say anything or any medium where you can learn from your mentors or your other peers. Like I said, I watched the Hollywood reporter, like round tables or any, any sort of industry round table. I watched tons of those, especially during . COVID there’s so many, um,  quarantine webinars, whether for TV film, or for theater, Broadway, whatever. Um, so I’ve been  watching a ton of those, you know, I think it’s just  networking and learning from the people who are doing it and 

[00:20:45] who it seems to be working for. 

[00:20:47]Dane Reis: [00:20:47] Yeah, for sure. And the fifth question. If you had to start your career from scratch. But you still had all the knowledge and experience you’ve collected from your career in this industry. What would you do or not do, would you do anything differently or would you keep it the same?

[00:21:06]Mike Heslin: [00:21:06] Ah, you know, I, I don’t have any regrets. I think it’s wise not to live that way, but I do always wonder and kind of say like, Oh, you know, I wish  everything I’ve learned. The past seven or eight years,  how great would it have been if I had known all of that or had that skill set at like 22 when I was right out of college. Um, do you know, but no regrets, but I do wish I kind of would have started making my own stuff at a much younger age,  right out of the gate, instead of, you know, I think I had this. This thing in my head of, you know, we were kind of taught like, this is the track that you should go down and these are the steps you should be taking, but there’s  so many outside of that little path that I wish I would have considered or known about, or just pursued much earlier. 

[00:21:50] But better, late than never, I guess. 

[00:21:52] Dane Reis: [00:21:52] Absolutely. And the last question. What is the golden nugget knowledge drop that you have learned from your successful career in this industry that you’d like to leave with our listeners?

[00:22:04]Mike Heslin: [00:22:04] I truly think and stand by, like, no one is going to work harder for you than you, you know? Um, so again, make your own work until other people take notice instead of waiting for people to notice you or for opportunities to just fall into your lap.  I think there’s so much out of our control in this life and in this career. So  anything that is in your control or that you can do that’s tangibly,  within, , your control,  you should be doing it. Because, , again,  there’s so many variables, so control what you can control, make your own work and just  grind harder.

[00:22:37] Dane Reis: [00:22:37] Yeah, I love it. And to wrap up this interview, Mike, it is time to give yourself a plug. Where can we find you? How do our listeners connect with you? Is there anything you want to promote?

[00:22:50]Mike Heslin: [00:22:50] Yeah, you can follow me on all the social things at, at my Teslin and my website is my teslin.com. Um, and yeah. I’m really excited about the influencers, which will be coming out by the end of the year, I believe. Um, but for any updates regarding that, or for the official air day, following me on social is probably the best way to do that because once we can officially announce it, I will be announcing it from, from the rafters. 

[00:23:13] Dane Reis: [00:23:13] Yeah, absolutely. All right. And for everyone listening out there, I have put the links to everything he just talked about into the description, with the exception of the influence wizard, which will be coming shortly. Mike. It has been so wonderful to have you want so great to catch up and thank you so much for being here.

[00:23:30]Mike Heslin: [00:23:30] Yeah, dude. Thanks for having me. This was great.