Robert Hayes, Actor and Communication Junior

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You’ve had roles in a couple of major Hollywood films.

My last movie was American Reunion. I played Bo, who is kind of an antagonist to the main characters. My big break, though, was The Lucky One. I played Victor, who is Zac Efron’s character’s best friend.

What was it like when you found out you got a part in The Lucky One?

I had just gotten back to my room in Arlington Hall after a workout at the MAC. My mom called and told me the news, and I just picked up my roommate and twirled him around the room for, like, a minute. Then I was yelling, running down the halls. I couldn’t believe it.

What sparked your interest in acting?

When I was 8, I was involved in my church youth ministry. The youth director asked me to recite Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech for Black History Month. My mother, being the encouraging woman she is, convinced me I could actually memorize the entire thing rather than read it. And I did. It was interesting because I couldn’t even see the audience, really. I got caught up in the words, in how to enunciate and deliver them well. And when I was done, people ran up to me, crying and emotional. It amazed me that I could provoke such a strong reaction in people.

How remarkable to find your calling at such a young age.

Absolutely. And honestly, I never looked into the future and pictured myself on the big screen. At that age, I could only think of being in local plays or something.

Tell us about your first paid acting job.

It was a G.I. Joe commercial. I was 12, and it’s hard to explain what that felt like. I was even at a loss for words on the set. There are a whole bunch of lights on you, cameras, and people everywhere. I loved it.

Most people in your shoes might have already packed their bags and headed to Hollywood. Why are you still at UT Arlington?

Acting isn’t a guarantee. Something could happen at any moment that would keep me from acting, but nobody can take my education away. With a degree in communication, I could still pursue any number of career opportunities that would allow me to do what I love best—connecting with people.

Where does your belief in the value of a good education come from?

It comes from my mom. I could never bring home less than an A. She was very strict, and like a typical kid, I didn’t like it then. But now I see the purpose in it. She has taught me so much that not only matured me as an actor but as the young man I am today.

What does the future hold?

I see me finishing my degree. That’s first and foremost. Then I see me going to Hollywood, pursuing my career full-throttle. I’m focused on my education right now. But once that’s done and over with, I will be successful in acting. That’s a promise.

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