The Working Actor EDITOR'S INTRO
This is the thirty fifth in a continuing feature at IndustryCentral profiling "The Working Actor". (See Archives below)
William Shakespeare said "There are no small parts--.". William Shatner may have said it too, but the longhair with the tights was first, or so the reports go. In this feature we will explore what it really means to be an actor working in Motion Pictures and Television.
Broad public acknowledgment may have eluded some who find their way to these pages, or perhaps they may have brushed against what is referred to as stardom by virtue of one or more remarkable performances. However for many, the rewards of plying their craft in a field which has allowed them to earn a living may exceed the burdens of public acclaim. Given the chance, some in this clan might prefer the longevity offered by anonymity over the potential for short lived fame.
These individuals, either by design or fate, have managed to sustain a career by crafting performances which rendered them a good casting choice. They are usually thought of as a face you recognize, but you just can't get the name past the tip of your tongue.
Most of these folks have spent countless hours on stage in theaters ranging from 20 seats to 2000, building characters from the works of Ibsen, to Eliot, to Williams, to yes even Shakespeare, and so many of the modern Playwrights. They have rounded their skills doing drama, comedy, & musicals. Their work is a serious venture.
These people have given us screen performances which quite often were the catalyst that brought an Oscar or Emmy to another and yet they continue to work as "Characters" or "Co-Stars" without the trophies and plaques adorning their mantle.
James Reynolds
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James Reynolds, it is believed, may have logged more hours on television than any other African-American actor in the U.S. (since 1981). With over 19 years on "Days" and another year as an Emmy nominated lead of NBC-TV's "Generations", he has averaged over 100 hours of airtime each year.

It's not many acting hopefuls who get the chance to personally quiz the likes of Jack Nicholson, Michael Douglas and Peter Fonda on how to make it "big" in Hollywood, so when a young James Reynolds got the opportunity, he grabbed it. Having studied journalism in college, Reynolds spent time as a film reviewer for the Topeka Daily Capitol and, as a part of his duties, interviewed a number of filmdom's brightest talents. Reynolds' research has paid off as viewers who have seen him regularly on NBC-TV's "Days of Our Lives" and "Generations" will attest.

After serving as stalwart police captain Abe Carver on "Days of Our Lives" for nine years, Reynolds moved to the new series, "Generations," in 1990 to play powerful business tycoon Henry Marshall. He was rewarded for his powerful portrayal with an Emmy nomination as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. With the subsequent demise of that series, Reynolds was invited to return to "Days" in 1990 where he has been upped in rank to Commander and named the top law enforcement official in Salem, the mythical community which is home to "Days."

Despite his heavy schedule on the series, Reynolds still finds time to head Free State # Films, a film and TV production company, and to make occasional appearances on stage in Los Angeles. He starred in "Buffalo Soldier" at Theatre/Theater in a taut drama about black U.S. Army troops in the American West following the Civil War for which he was nominated for an NAACP Theatre Award. He also starred with other Vietnam veterans in "Tracers," the acclaimed drama which was conceived by John DiFusco and created by a group of actor/veterans in 1980. When time permits, Reynolds tours colleges in his one-man show, "I, Too, Am America". The show, written and performed by Reynolds, is a commentary on the African-American experience from the time the first slaves were brought to this country up to the present.

With his wife, actress Lissa, Reynolds owns and operates Classes Unlimited, a learning center in South Pasadena where one can enroll for such classes as "How to Write Romance Novel," "Rapid Spanish," "Basic Bookeeping," "Gold Prospecting" and scores of others. Reynolds and his wife were named Business Persons of the Year by the South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce.

Reynolds was raised in the small farming community of Oskaloosa Kansas. "It was great growing up in a small town," he recalls. "The town's entire population came to only eight hundred and our lifestyle was generally one of peace and quiet, disturbed only rarely by an unexpected event. My grandparents told me of the time they were held hostage overnight by several escaped convicts from the nearby Leavenworth Federal Prison. That, of course, was the exception to the rule and it was the biggest news event to occur in OskaIoosa within anyone's memory."

In high school, the subjects Reynolds enjoyed most were English and History. With a small student body, there was never any shortage of extra-curricular activities and, in addition to performing in many school plays, he became very active in sports, playing football, basketball and track.

Following graduation from high school, Reynolds joined the Marines. After boot camp he was assigned to the Information Service Office where, first stationed in Hawaii, he became a reporter for the service newspaper, The Windward Marine. Later he was sent to Vietnam and served for almost a year with a variety of units in and around Chu Lai, adding battlefield reporting to his combat duties, until a wound resulted in his discharge.

Returning to the States, Reynolds enrolled in Topeka's Washburn University, majoring in pre-law and journalism. Advised that the best place on campus to meet girls was the theatre department, he began auditioning and performing in plays. In addition to his improved social life, Reynolds reaped another unexpected benefit -- he discovered a passion for acting. He went an to appear not only in regular campus productions of musicals and dramatic plays, but with local theatre groups as well.

Reynolds enjoyed campus life but, after all the travel he did in the service, he often became restless and took periodic breaks from his studies in order to travel the country. Working the docks of Houston, the orange groves of southern California or hopping freight trains in between, he got a unique look at the U.S. before deciding to leave school permanently and heading to San Francisco where he worked as an actor for a time.

A few months after landing in San Francisco, Reynolds' life took another turn. Finding it necessary for family reasons to return to Kansas, he used his experiences and background in journalism to land a post with the Topeka Daily Capitol for which he wrote on theatre, film and music. It was here, over a period of almost two years, that he met and interviewed many film and TV stars on tour with stage plays and it was here that he resolved to pursue a professional career in acting. When he learned a few years later that a new repertory was being organized in Colorado Springs, Colorado, he auditioned and was accepted. Reynolds played major roles in a number of productions until, barely through its inaugural season, the company went broke. Undaunted, Reynolds simply walked into the offices of the Colorado Springs Sun and landed another newspaper job as entertainment reviewer and feature writer, a job which still allowed him time to investigate other acting jobs in the area. Soon, he landed his first television commercial as well as a featured role in "Mr. Majestyk," which starred Charles Bronson and was filmed in Colorado.

Finally moving to Los Angeles, Reynolds soon amassed an impressive list of prime time television and motion picture credits as well as becoming one of the foundation blocks of " Days of Our Lives." In addition to guest spots on such series as "Seinfeld," "Highway to Heaven," "Room 227" and "Hart to Hart," he co-starred with Vincent Price in CBS's "Time Express" and appeared in such films as "The Magic of Lassie," "The Foundation" and "Hotline." Continuing his interest in theatre, he organized and ran the Los Angeles Repertory Theatre for seven years.

Deeply committed to his charitable work, Reynolds has been involved in more that 300 fund-raising events in the last ten years. He annually hosts a celebrity basketball game that raises money for South Pasadena's High School basketball team.

Reynolds, wife Lissa, and son Jed also own and operate Big Man Apparel, a line of clothing that takes a stand against domestic abuse (tee-shirts bear slogans such as "Big Men Don't Hit, They Hug"). They devote a portion of the proceeds to various children's charities.

Reynolds is still an active sportsman, enjoying basketball and racquetball on his days off. He, his wife and 22-year-old son Jed make their home in suburban Los Angeles.

Find out more about James Reynolds at his website

Public Relations:
Lori De Waal
Lori De Waal & Associates
7080 Hollywood Blvd., Ste. 515
Los Angeles, CA 90028


James Reynolds's advice to the aspiring actor:


James Reynolds's Credits (partial)
"The Magic Of Lassie"
"Mr. Maiestyk"
"Little Vic"
"A Family Talks About Sex"
"What's Good To Eat?"
"The Environment And You"
"Bunching Up"
Wrather Prods,
The Mirisch Corp.
ABC/Daniel Wilson Prods.
Wexler Prods.
Wexler Prods,
Environmental Protection Agency
Taurus Prods.

"Days Of Our Lives"
"Highway To Heaven"
"Hot Line"
"Time Express"
"The Incredible Hulk"
"Deeper Of The Wild"
"Diff'rent Strokes"
Contract Role
Guest Star
Contract Role
Guest Star
Series Go-Star
Guest Star
Guest Star (2 eps.)
NBC Prods. NBC/Columbia Television
NBC/Corday Prods,
NBC/Michrtel Landon Prods.
CBS/Warner Bras.
CBS/Warner Ems.
NBC/Tandcm Prods.
NBC/Tandem Prods.

"Final Reunion"
"Journey To Day"
"Paul Robeson: An American Tragedy"
"I, Too, An America"
"A Thousand Clowns"
"H,M.S. Pinafore"
"Julius Caesar"
"The Odd Couple"
"Billy Budd"

Harry Bales
Dr, Louis Gutera
Alexander Pushkin
Paul Robeson
One-Man Show
Leo Herman
Sir Joseph
John Claggart
Whitefire Theatre
L.A. Rep Theatre
L.A. Rep Theatre
New Playrights Foundation
L.A. Cultural Arts Center
Toff-Rey Prods,, L,A,
Toff-Rey Prods., L.A.
Vassar Playhouse
Vassar Playhouse
Vassar Playhouse
Company Rep Group
Company Rep Group
Company Rep Group

For more info and credits see IMDb

-- End ---

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