Fruit Heights actor follows dream to 'Go On' to Hollywood

Mar 8 2013 - 12:08am

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Frank Gerrish, of Fruit Heights, is acting in Hollywood. (Contributed photo)
Frank Gerrish, a familiar face in Utah, is seen on the set of “Go On,” featuring Matthew Perry. This is Gerrish's first speaking role on a network sitcom. (Contributed photo)
Frank Gerrish, of Fruit Heights, is acting in Hollywood. (Contributed photo)
Frank Gerrish, a familiar face in Utah, is seen on the set of “Go On,” featuring Matthew Perry. This is Gerrish's first speaking role on a network sitcom. (Contributed photo)

From college professor to "bingo caller" in a few short months.

Frank Gerrish, of Fruit Heights, could not be happier about where his career is taking him.

After his job teaching acting and film at Salt Lake Community College ended, Gerrish took a few months to consider what to do next. With the blessing of his wife and five children, he set out for Hollywood.

This week, he made his network sitcom debut with a small speaking part on NBC's "Go On." In the scene, which lasted about two minutes, Gerrish played a bingo caller at a Latino cultural center, supplying the final call, a winning G-47, that set star Matthew Perry's character reeling back into his gambling addiction.

"He was very nice," Gerrish said of Perry. "They always introduce actors new to the set, and people always applaud, so after they applauded for me, Matthew Perry joked, 'They never applaud for me.' "

Gerrish, 49, moved to Studio City in November. "I'm taking a break from teaching. My whole adult life I've been an actor and a teacher. Now I am 100 percent a sometimes-working actor."

In Utah, Gerrish has appeared in more than 70 feature films, documentaries, television series and made-for-TV movies. He has made more than 350 commercials and appeared in more than 90 stage productions, and was a vocal soloist for the Utah Symphony's Children's Concert Series.

"I did just about everything I could do in Salt Lake City," he said.

Gerrish still considers Fruit Heights his home and his current location just a satellite site, he said.

Gerrish is supporting himself and his family working for Blue Dog Business Services, a company started by Ron Eliot, a Utah actor from Park City. Gerrish also is pursuing a graduate degree in marketing and logic.

Gerrish got an agent within three weeks of arriving, when the average time for someone with a strong resume is more like three to six months, he said. He has been considered for multiple commercial and sitcom roles, and been a finalist several times. He has acted in student films, and starred in an independent film, "Nuts," about an iron-fisted mob boss whose hidden weakness was a peanut allergy.

"His son finds out and kills him by basically waterboarding him with peanuts," Gerrish said, laughing.

Gerrish doesn't interact with Perry's character in the "Go On" scene, but the casting still represents a victory, numerically speaking.

"For every two-line role on TV, the casting office receives 2,500 submissions, and that's just from agents and managers, not from people who aren't represented," Gerrish said. "They look at thumbnail pictures online and type people out by their particular look."

Gerrish, of Italian descent, said he mostly gets called for work as a mobster or working-class Latino.

Casting assistants select about 200 faces, then the casting agent narrows the list to 50. Directors call 15 or so to read the lines. Maybe seven people get called for a second read for the director, who chooses three actors. Network officials make the final call.

"I had to be approved by NBC to play that part," Gerrish said of his scene in "Go On." "Me, a little boy from Davis County. There are so many actors here, it's like flipping through a Sears catalog. And when you get to this level, everyone is at the top of their game."

Gerrish said he believes the actors who get cast are those who can walk into auditions and "inhabit the room," appearing to be filled with confidence in their ability.

"It feels like home to them, like, 'This is where I belong.' "

Gerrish misses his family and looks forward to when they'll live together again.

"But this is where the work is for professional actors. For what I do, this is home. And it only took Frank Gerrish 25 years to be the fresh new face in Hollywood."

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