Courtesy of MCT
Maurice Hall is familiar with the venomous stereotype that haunts athletes who have made a similar career choice.
It followed Hall across the country, from Columbus, Ohio, to Los Angeles.
“Initially you hear that ‘Oh, he’s just a football player that wants to get into acting’ kind of thing, and I wanted to really get rid of that stereotype,” Hall said. “So, I applied the work ethic and the practice methods I used playing football, and put it into acting.
“Eventually it got (to) the point where my growth as an actor was visible, and more people started to look at me as an actor, versus a football player who just wants to act.”
Hall was a running back on the Ohio State football team from 2001-04, winning a National Championship in 2002. The San Diego Chargers signed him in April 2005, but less than a month later he was unemployed.
Hall returned to Columbus to pursue his master’s in sports administration, while working as an assistant to OSU athletic director Gene Smith and doing sports television work for NBC.
“During football season, I would do sports analysis stuff pertaining to high school football, along with Ohio State football,” Hall said. “The more I did that, the more I got comfortable with being in front of the camera and having fun with it.”
His future in acting was starting to take shape. While working on the show “Football Friday Nights,” Hall had an opportunity to perform in skits.
“I liked the aspect of coming up with skits,” Hall said, “and performing them on TV really got me motivated to want to do more.”
So, Hall searched for an agent. Though there might not be any Ari Emanuels in Columbus, Hall found a commercial agent.
“She referred me to do some acting classes to help with my auditioning for things going on in Columbus,” Hall said. “Once I started taking acting classes, I kind of fell in love with it.”
Hall began to search Craigslist for acting classes and found an advertisement for an audition at MadLab Theatre, where he landed on the doorstep of acting instructor Kevin McClatchy.
McClatchy, who was aware that Hall was a former Buckeye, said Hall was disciplined and worked hard from the start.
“Maurice showed up and everybody knew who he was, but he was completely humble and he knew that he was just beginning,” McClatchy said. “He was a voracious learner — he was willing to try anything.”
Hall had taken a theatre class at OSU when he was fairly new to campus and really enjoyed it. But he was concerned that his demanding football schedule wouldn’t allow him to participate in theatre.
McClatchy, who’s currently teaching at OSU while pursuing his master’s in acting and performance, said Hall had a certain amount of poise that carried over from his football career.
“He had the confidence that comes from accomplishments. He was uncertain about how to go about doing things, but he was confident that he’d (be) able to figure it out,” McClatchy said. “That gave him a little bit of a leg up.”
Hall also believed his football career, particularly the season the Buckeyes won the National Championship, helped to ease his transition to acting.
“In 2002, the practice, the work ethic, the faith and development, all of the things I learned while playing at Ohio State, and understanding what it takes to dive in and start from scratch really helped me out,” Hall said.
Hall acted in a few plays and filmed the movie “Best Supporting Daddy” in Columbus. Still, Hall knew that, in order to pursue an acting career, he’d have to move to L.A.
Hall quickly recognized the stark contrast between the protective blanket of Buckeye Nation and the fame-driven L.A. society.
“Even though I did some independent films and some plays in Columbus, the reason I was picked for the roles was because I was a name that people knew,” Hall said. “People would come see the movie or the play because I was in it, not necessarily because I was a good actor. And that was one of the big differences in coming out to L.A.”
Suddenly, it no longer mattered what Hall had accomplished on the football field.
“Everybody in L.A. is some kind of actor, singer or other entertainer. It’s one of those things where you’re not going to get a role because you played football for Ohio State,” Hall said. “You have to actually be a good actor. So, from that aspect, it’s persuaded me to really pursue the craft and learn as much as I can and get better.”
Charley Boon, Hall’s acting teacher at the Joanne Baron / D.W. Brown Studio in Santa Monica, Calif., said Hall has improved by “leaps and bounds.”
“There are people who go out into the workforce and they have my name on them. Sometimes that can be a scary thing,” Boon said, “but the wonderful thing about Maurice is, I would not hesitate to recommend him for a job at all.”
Hall recently made appearances on “Grey’s Anatomy” and “House.”
“I had the opportunity to be on the show ‘House,’ where you get a chance to see Hugh Laurie, Omar Epps, you know, these great actors,” Hall said. “I see what they do as far as preparation, and being in that atmosphere drives you to want to be better.”
There’s an old saying that to be a successful actor, you have to be able to deal with rejection.
Hall admits he’s faced his fair share of it. He’s currently working at Lululemon Athletica, a company that sells exercise and yoga clothing. It’s a supplemental job, helping to pay the bills until the crapshoot that is the auditioning process leads to something more lucrative.
“Right now it’s pilot season,” Hall said. “I’m hoping to get some opportunities coming up.”