Shortly after senior media and communication major A.J. Cabbagestalk made a decision earlier this year to pursue a career in acting, he earned an appearance on an HBO drama.
Taking a chance
DiFranco suggested contacting the Virginia Film Office, and keeping an eye out for industry events. Cabbagestalk did the latter, and without any acting experience under his belt, he headed to a Washington, D.C., networking event that he saw advertised on Instagram. “I knew I wasn’t going to accomplish anything by just letting time go by,” he said. A former basketball player, who learned the power of perseverance through sports, said he was sure he’d eventually connect with someone in the industry, believing that when it came to landing roles, “the worst they can say is, ‘No.’”
His instinct to attend was a good one. At the event, he met casting directors from networks like BET, HBO and Starz, and the streaming service Netflix. He also met Nick Pelecanos, son of George Pelecanos, who is one of the co-creators of the HBO drama, “The Deuce.”
Time on the set
With that connection, Cabbagestalk eventually got a call, in August, to work on the New York City set of “The Deuce,” which is primarily set in the seedy Times Square of 1970s New York. “I play a corner boy, a young hustler,” said Cabbagestalk, who only uttered one line as the character: “I got what you need.”
He said he had the opportunity, while on the set, to speak a bit with series stars James Franco, who plays twins in the period drama, and actor/musician Method Man. He said he was interested to learn that Franco also started his career with the intention of being a filmmaker, rather than an actor.
Cabbagestalk said Franco also said that actors who are consistent are taken more seriously by people in the industry. Cabbagestalk said his own work ethic led to to him being asked to appear on set twice. He stayed, each time, for 12 hours, after receiving calls at 11:45 p.m. to be on set by 10 a.m. the next day. That meant that Cabbagestalk had to get a ticket for a bus departing from D.C. at 3:30 a.m., to make his call time in New York. Once, when he returned home, he had been awake for almost a full day.
In August, he also filmed a public service announcement for the University of Maryland, and he landed a commercial job that he couldn’t take because it conflicted with his internship as a digital engagement and events intern for Goodwill Industries International.
Pursuing an entertainment career
Now, Cabbagestalk is pursuing acting at Shenandoah while continuing his media and communication studies, and he has performed as one of the leads in the film studies program’s fall film, a horror movie currently called “Getaway.” He’s also making connections with managers, in hopes of hitting the ground running with a film and television acting career when he graduates. He said he’s interested in pursuing digital media work, as well.
DiFranco said Cabbagestalk is a talented filmmaker, who crafted an excellent documentary about the D.C. neighborhood in which he was raised. DiFranco said that while Cabbagestalk is a quiet, mellow person, almost like Superman’s alter ego, Clark Kent, he is propelled by a real fire – a “big-time desire to do this.”