“Good Will Hunting” is the film that started it all for Cherokee Nation citizen Brooks Ryan Pollard at just 12 years old. He didn’t know how or when he was going to start acting, but he knew in that moment that his place in film was in front of the camera. Instead of waiting for others to show him the path, he forged his own. Now you can catch him acting in feature films like “Treasure Lies” and “The Adventures of Jurassic Pet: Chapter 1” and in commercials for Chevy and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Brooks Ryan Pollard on set of “Robot Riot”

Pollard went from small-town living to the red carpet, with no theater or acting experience before getting into the industry. He grew up in Poteau, Oklahoma, where he was an avid athlete and involved in all things sports as a middle child of three boys. After high school, he received his bachelor’s degree in business management from Cameron University and his master’s degree from East Central University.

After finishing school, he decided to take a chance on himself when he heard an acting commercial on the radio. He started auditioning for any small acting gig, taking acting classes and expanding his network. He heard no a lot, just as many people in the industry do, but he’s never let that deter him from accomplishing his dreams. Now he is ready to go when an opportunity arises and a casting call is looking for actors or extras.

Pollard knows that diligence and grit can get you a long way in the industry, and he’s a prime example of never giving up. You do NOT need to have a film degree to be in the industry. And, if you’re Native American, the tools to get started are right at your fingertips! The first thing you can do is fill out our careers form HERE to let us know what your interests are.

We chatted with Pollard about his journey, experiences and any advice he would give to those just starting out. He hopes to plant the seed for future generations of Native Americans, like YOU, who come after him. Read his Q&A below for major inspiration and how to get started in the acting business.

CNFO: How did you get started in the film industry? 

Brooks Ryan Pollard: Despite all my sports background, any time I watched a show as a kid or any play that schoolmates were in, I felt like I belonged on that side of the screen or stage – hard to describe, just felt it. Then I watched the film Good Will Hunting at age 12 and was so moved and inspired by the story and how much it moved me emotionally, and I knew from that moment that it was definitely where I belonged and something I was going to be a part of somehow. I had no idea at that point with no background or experience or thinking a kid from Poteau could even get into it, but I heard a radio spot for Chris Freihofer’s The Actor Factory in Norman one day on the way home for Thanksgiving break several years ago. I went to their website and signed up for the newsletter they offer and later booked a Gatorade commercial on a self-submit. I went to the shoot and never got used for the role, but I met others who helped give me info about their agency and classes they took at The Factory and with Michelle DeLong of ACTS Studio in OKC, and it all just started from there. I got an agent, got into some classes, started booking regularly, and it’s just grown from that day

Behind the scenes with Pollard

What is your role in the film industry?

I am an actor predominantly. I have “writing” muscles that I want to flex more but just have not committed to the time and effort yet it requires to really hone that craft.

What advice would you give to those looking to get into the film industry?

No person’s shoes or path can be emulated to match them perfectly, but if you are in Oklahoma and want to get in and start, I 100% endorse both Chris Freihofer and his studio, The Actor Factory in Norman, and Michelle DeLong of ACTS Studio in OKC. Both have websites with information to get started either in classes or getting casting breakdowns or headshot info, and they are both fantastic at what they do – true professionals who will make you feel like you belong in your pursuit and help you get better.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your career?

Work hard and be nice to people. You never know what one person as this role or job on one production may have in terms of connections or another role or position on another job that may be able to give you a future opportunity to be a part of. See yourself as a professional and be a professional. And no matter how many noes or rejections you get, because they are inevitable in this business, if you truly feel like you belong and want to be a part of this industry as a career, then never give up. Never ever give up.

Production still of Pollard’s role in “Robot Riot”

What’s your career highlight?

Walking the red carpet in L.A. with a huge throng of people and media around taking pictures and doing interviews and then going in to see the film on the big screen in front of a very live audience that gave a standing ovation after was a very cool moment. Because I got to do the red carpet and watch the film with my wife next to me and share that moment with her made it so, so special and truly unforgettable. 

What is your highest career goal?

I’m not much of a goal person from a standpoint of there are so many things outside of my control or that are dependent on others that I don’t want to set goals, but instead I want to instill and operate personal systems in my life. These systems are a mindset, a belief set mentally, an approach to the business and life that incorporates faith and family and staying ready, both physically with health and mental well-being and physical functional ability. They create a toolbox for roles I can confidently submit on and be considered for, staying ready digitally and professionally, keeping resume and materials and photos updated and ready to send at the drop of a hat, a good home set up to film on the spot, especially during COVID, and discerning what to say yes and no to based on my principles and values. All these things are part of the systems I’ve built and established that ultimately will help me achieve more and more opportunities in the industry. Ultimately, I hope my system gets me to be a full-time working actor –  no day job, mailbox money coming in with residuals, always able to be a part of something. Personally, I would love to have a big role in a big-time sports movie. Since I have such a rich background in sports and am still a fan today and able to make it look or perform well still on camera, that would be awesome. I would love to do a really cool and new Western theme film – action-packed and guns and horses and Native Americans involved. Oh, that would be sweet. And then a regular on a sitcom that lands in homes that families can watch together would be cool. Being a father to a 3-year-old and 2-year-old now, something we can take in together would be special.

What is your vision for Native Americans in the film industry?

I believe Native Americans are set to thrive in the film industry, with so much talent and so many creative Native Americans that are ready and able to tell incredible stories both from within their origins and heritage, as well as secular and modern – no different than what we would see being greenlit today on networks and major streaming services. I believe there will be signs popping up in Cherokee Nation and in the different tribal nations across the state of Oklahoma that say, “Welcome to this town, home of Cherokee Academy Award-winning director or actor or actress,” and certain towns and places will become tourist stops because of the house or set locations shot for this major show or this major film. Native Americans will be recognized by industry execs with promotions to direct or star in the next wave of comic book films or live-action stories being retold, landing on all the major platforms and streaming services. There will be parades in their honor where they are able to come home and speak to the young Native American boys and girls and tell them their roots, their story, their path, their ups and downs, and inspire those youth to know that they, too, can dream and envision themselves being a part of the film industry as a Native American and can do things that inspire others across the country and globe the same way a young man like me was inspired by a film at the age of 12. The seeds were planted a long time ago, the roots are spreading and strengthening, the water is being poured out, and now is the time to produce a harvest as Native Americans in this industry that will produce for many generations to come!

You can keep up with Brook Ryans’ work by following his IMDB page

Do you or does someone you know want to be featured for your work? Let us know at hello@cherokee.film. 

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