On the verge of one of the biggest anticipated production years for the Atlanta movie industry, one actor is working to stand out heads and shoulders above his counterparts; he is Travis Young, a Marietta professional who carries a chip on his shoulder for the reputation he has developed as a bad boy.
“I think I’m the Johnny Cash of actors…I somehow have gotten this bad boy persona, but I think it works,” Young says of how he is perceived around the local community.
But it didn’t start out that way by any means.
Young grew up in rural Mississippi where he was a playful and curious kid making jokes around the dinner table. His mother enrolled him in afterschool creative arts programs putting his imagination, creativity and energy to use.
“I still tell the same jokes I told at the age of three, it’s just today I’m validated,” Young says of his early childhood experience.
He moved to Marietta in the seventh grade when his mother expanded his exposure to the artistic community by enrolling him into summer camps for theater which led him to taking acting more seriously.
“I always had a sort of knack for it, but didn’t take it seriously until then,” Young says. It was then he met his original mentor Tim Habeger, now artistic director of Push Push Theater in Decatur, who was the no-nonsense director of a youth ensemble called the Curtain Call Youth Players–now in its 20th year of production.
Young attributes the Curtain Call Youth Players to inspiring his interest in acting or "catching the acting bug" as it’s known in the industry. He still recalls his very first show in which he played the Sheriff of Nottingham in the play Robin Hood. He says he brought unique humor to the character.
While attending Pebblebrook Performing Arts High School, Young further developed his talents participating in school plays and eventually becoming involved in local community theaters. Young graduated from Lassiter High in 1995.
Throughout the mid to late 1990s, Young explored his creative interests in music as he played, sang and participated with local bands. Channel 19 was one such band, of which he says was part of the last of the pre-Internet kids.
“It was a time of DIY [do-it-yourself] promotion and distribution which was the real deal before it became easy and simplified by the Internet where anyone can do it now,” Young says with disdain toward newcomers who neglect learning the craft.
Yet the years of exploring punk rock and dabbling in bands led him to attend Kennesaw State University in 2001 for acting classes. It was there which prompted his return to acting with an absurdist play penned by Samuel Beckett, most famous for Waiting for Godot. For Endgame, Young played an 85-year-old vagabond living out of a trash can.
In 2002, he landed his first paying gig with Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie performed at the Canton Theater. From there he became an ensemble member of the Theatre Gale, which was an Irish- and Scottish-based company in Atlanta, where he honed his skills further under the tutelage of John Stephens.
Over the next few years, Young continued his trek into independent films often playing difficult roles with emotionally challenged characters. Though he admits it can be difficult to get into the minds of these characters Young says: “It’s my passion and it’s really the only thing I know how to do well.”
In 2010, Young received a professional accolade establishing his success as an actor in the community. He received the Best Actor Award from the Metropolitan Atlanta Theatre (MAT) Awards for a project called The Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash Housewife, which was a step up from his 2005 nomination for a Suzi Bass Award. Both the Suzi Bass and MAT Awards are similar to the Tony Awards for community actors.
Additionally, in 2010 he joined the production of his younger twin brothers, Matthew and Jared, of their comedy spoof Galactic Perry’s Learning Ship. Young plays the clever-witted Perry and says he is glad he could be such a positive inspiration for his brothers who have taken the craft to another level with their business savvy.