MEET: Nathaniel Potvin
words Svetlomir Tsvetanov
photography Storm Santos
grooming Dion Xu
styling Veronica Graye
You may have not heard of Nathaniel Potvin but you will not forget him after today. Nathaniel was born in Van Nuys, Los Angeles in a family directly involved with the film industry. Since a young age, Nathaniel has been actively performing as a dancer, which eventually led him to start drama classes and pursue an acting career at the age of 11. His screen debut followed in 2012 with the independent film ‘Palms’, where he played Solomon Dorsey, a foster child moving between homes. Nevertheless, his first professional appearance was with his involvement in Target’s Back-to-School campaign. He is mostly known for his roles in Disney XD’s live-action series “Mech-X4”, Netflix’s own “Alexa and Katie” and the second season of “American Vandal”. Nathan is currently starring as Wallace Marks in the drama “Five Points” produced by Facebook with Kerry Washington as an Executive Producer, returning for its second season on August, the 5th. With such a busy and promising schedule ahead, Stark Magazine wanted to drill in a bit more and find out what drives this multifaced talent to create, learn and aspire peers and younger people to choose creativity over violence and growth over poverty.
Nathaniel, this is probably something you get asked very often but we cannot ignore the question. How did dancing and acting help you grow in a creative and personal plan?
I originally started out dancing and that gave me a way to express myself through movement. It allowed me to really understand what the human body can achieve artistically without using the voice. That transitioned seamlessly into acting where all I had to do is add an element of dialogue and emotional expression through another character. Both of these art forms helped me grow as a person because they allowed me to express myself in a healthy way towards and with other people. These two creative art forms give me more experience and understanding of my own personal life.
Your very first role in the ‘Palms’ was of the foster child Solomon Dorsey. How did this role change your perception of acting and has it affected you on a personal level?
I was very young when I took on the role of Solomon in “Palms,” and because of that, I didn’t fully grasp the idea of how important the story really was. As I have grown as a person and as an actor, I see this role as a glimpse into what it can be like for a child in the foster care system. For Solomon, it was scary and uncomfortable moving from house to house not knowing what to expect and, not knowing if people would either hurt him or love him. In my maturity, I really empathize with this story more because it is a real problem that kids in foster care battle every day.
Why is it important for people to get involved more in Arts programs? Isn’t the industry too competitive and saturated with talent that struggles to rise to the top?
It is super important to get involved in art programs whether it is at school or outside of school. Finding these programs allow people of all ages to find their voices. Just like the Cameron Boyce Foundation is doing with their campaign for Wielding Peace. They are showing people that art is a way of communication in life instead of acting out in violence. I truly believe that art programs should be pursued and supported. Not just for personal gain to rise to the top of the competition but to really use your voice in society.
It is a known fact that you are a jack of all trades. From dancing and acting on screen to co-writing and starring in the self-produced film ‘LIP’. How does your experience in front of the camera translate to directing, producing and screenwriting? Could you share with us more about what the film is about and how did it come around?
I feel that my time in front of the camera is a constant education on being behind the camera. I’m always learning something new, from how to talk to actors, finding your shots, talking with the crew, to set the overall tone on the set.
L.I.P. is about an Apocalyptic event and the lives surrounding three characters. All three are struggling with their morals and ideals as people dealing with a nuclear threat and what it means to survive. It really came about from Raymond Cham’s (co-writer & co-director) concern for our nation aggravating another nation and in their retaliation--bombing us. Making us think, “What would you save?”
I remember being 19 myself and I was just starting to explore digital cameras and you have already created a solid career for yourself. Why do you think it’s important for arts education programs to be offered in schools?
I went to public school and was in the Arts Programs and they made a big difference in my life. I think that arts education programs should be in schools because kids need that confidence that art can give them. Kids are so involved in what is going on in the world through technology and their social media. Art allows them to speak and touch on those important topics through creativity. With art programs in schools, kids can find something that really shows who they are. For all, we know there could be the next Mozart in school right now, but without art programs in schools that talented kid can’t harness their abilities.
You were previously involved with The Literacy Initiative. Why is this cause so important to you?
The Literacy Initiative is super important to me because even the thought of school kids in the U.S. without BOOKS is baffling. Schools and students should have an overabundance of books to read because books and school supplies are essential items for learning. This next generation is growing up with fewer and fewer paper books which means fewer and fewer stories to discover because some schools just don’t have the “funding” to pay for them. So through the literacy initiative books and school supplies can be accessible anywhere.
Where does inspiration come from for you when working on different projects?
It really depends on the project. For some characters I use people in my life, or I use a piece of myself as the base for the character.
Apart from your acting career, is there anything else that you are working on now or in the near future that we should be aware of?
Well I do have a few things in the works. I’m really excited about LIP going to festivals and being seen all around the U.S. I’m also, excited to be starting some more passion projects in the works.