Guy Whitney III working toward acting career

Wednesday, August 3, 2005
Guy Whitney III visits his grandmother Willie Whitney in Manila. Mrs. Whitney shows a postcard featuring Guy and other actors performing in "Maiden's Prayer." (Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)

It is a long way from the Razorback basketball court to a New York stage, but Guy Whitney III has made his way to both by using his patience and discipline.

He took time from his busy schedule in New York to return to Arkansas to visit family and friends. He spent a few days in Manila visiting his grandmother, Willie Whitney.

Whitney said he spent most of his life in sports. He graduated from Bentonville High School and received a basketball scholarship to attend college at Batesville. He played there one year before transferring to the University of Arkansas to play for the Razorbacks. He walked on his first two seasons but received a scholarship his last two seasons.

"When I walked on for the Razorbacks they had just won the national championship," he said. "When I was 19 playing for the Razorbacks was like a dream come true. I gave up a scholarship for a chance to walk on with the Hogs but that was a risk I was willing to take."

Having the opportunity to fulfill a dream of playing for the Razorbacks made Whitney realize anything is possible and gave him the courage to pursue an acting career.

Following his college basketball career, he traveled overseas to play basketball in Europe.

"I kept on playing in spite of a knee injury," he said. "I turned a small injury into a career ending injury."

For the first time in his life, Whitney did not have basketball.

"I went back to Fayetteville for a time and worked odd jobs," he said. "All I had ever wanted or trained for was basketball and I wanted time to explore my options. I had the freedom to explore on my own terms and at my own pace."

He spent one summer in Europe with his sister and traveled to Puerto Rico working and looking for his alternative plan without basketball.

"I did not want to fill expectations of what others thought I should do, I wanted it to be something I really wanted," he said.

He said he is fortunate to have family that encouraged him to do what he wanted to do.

"They also encouraged me to work hard at what I want," he said.

Whitney said he had never thought outwardly about an acting career because he was always thinking sports.

Secretly he had always thought acting might be something he wanted to do if he had not been so busy training for basketball.

Two years ago he chose a path, moved to New York and began training to be an actor.

Whitney thinks his basketball training has been helpful in his preparations for the stage.

To do anything well if it is basketball or acting, it takes training, dedication, patience, desire and discipline.

"I've learned a lot and learning more on what it means to be an actor," he said. "More than anything you have to have the courage to fail and get back up again. If you are afraid to fail, acting is not for you. You also have to be able to take criticism and not let it defeat you. Like in sports, you have to take risks and be coachable."

Whitney stays busy working during the day, taking classes at night and is looking forward to more auditions.

"To make it in New York for any extended time, you have to know what you want," he said. "It can be a difficult place but I really like it. It is cold in the winter, really hot in the summer, and you have to work hard. I have met a lot of nice people. I have enjoyed meeting the people from all different cultures. People will surprise you. I can see why so many people think New York is worth it."

Whitney has appeared in two plays and in a short film. His first time on stage, in what is called a black box theatre, was in October when he performed in "Portland." His second stage performance was in May in an off Broadway showcase performance called "Maiden's Prayer." He recently was in a short film before coming to Arkansas for a visit.

"There are so many people in New York studying to be directors and actors there are many opportunities to be in short films," he said.

When he returns to New York he plans to continue his training, appear in short films, do more auditions and try to move to the next phase of becoming an actor. His ultimate goal down the road is film acting.

Whitney said so far his Southern accent has been a problem.

He said his dad, Guy Whitney Jr., and his former basketball coach, Boyd Shelton, visited him in New York last year. They all went to Yankee Stadium for a baseball game.

"Dad and Coach Shelton started calling the Hogs and I joined them," he said. "I bet that was the first time the Hogs had been called at Yankee Stadium."

Whitney said his grandmother sends him The Town Crier and he enjoys reading the paper.

"When I get bogged down, it is nice to come home and read The Town Crier, especially the sports section," he said.

He may not have chosen the easiest career to pursue, but he is in it for the "long haul."

"An acting career takes luck and the right timing," he said. "All I can control is my approach to the work."

As his grandmother, Mrs. Whitney said, "Luck is what happens when preparations meet opportunities."

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