Quick Chats: Ethan Miles Perry

Posted August 1, 2022 By Erin Milleville

Ethan Miles Perry Quick Chat

It's time for another Quick Chat and this time we're delighted to talk with Ethan Miles Perry. You might have already seen Ethan in Hamlet or in Sense and Sensibility this summer, and with the first preview of A Raisin in the Sun coming up this Friday, we thought now would be the perfect time to get to know Ethan a little bit more before we see him back onstage for his third show this summer.

Ethan Miles Perry is a part of the APT Acting Apprentice Company and is celebrating his first summer here in Spring Green! Ethan is a graduate of University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and is a Chicago-based actor.

American Players Theatre: Hi, Ethan! This is your first season at APT! How has this summer been going?
Ethan Miles Perry:
It's one of the biggest learning curves I've ever experienced! You first get here, you know nobody. And then you have to get used to where all the rehearsals are. And then you start going into tech once you start knowing some people, and then you figure out that beast, and you find out how long it goes. And you're just amazed that they have a whole month of tech. It throws you. It throws you a lot. And I found myself not really having time for myself, to cook, to clean. The days off were precious.

But here on the other side, a little bit easier right now. It's nice. I get to enjoy what Spring Green has to offer. The other day I was just sitting on the beach with a friend. She was like, "Let's go on the beach." And I was like, "What? What are you talking about?” We just went on the sandbar on the river and just chilled. It reminded me why I don't like just sitting on beaches, but it was nice. It was good. I understand: there's a moment every day where I'm reminded of why people stay. Little snippets every day. “Oh, this is why.” You just keep coming back for a long time.

American Players Theatre: That's awesome! You are an Acting Apprentice! Can you share a little about your experience?
Ethan Miles Perry
: At the moment, it's nice! Having classes with my roommates who also turn out to be my best friends here, it's really nice. We can debrief about class. We can shoot it at two in the morning, and we can have a serious talk about something that's weighing on us all in the same boat. That's refreshing. That's nice.

In the project that's coming up soon, we'll see how we really get this thing going and start meshing artistically and creatively by ourselves because all this entire time it's been everything given to us. It's the job. It's the rehearsals. We'll see how it goes! I am caught in between things because I don't know exactly where I am at artistically, but it’ll be great.

American Players Theatre: Got it. So speaking of moving artistically and everything, can you tell us a little bit about your acting journey? How'd you get started?
Ethan Miles Perry:
I think all of us at some point have performed as kids. I remember doing Michael Jackson for my mom all the time. Dancing. I was killing it, with the leg and everything - don’t sleep on me now!

I guess the performance shifted into sports. I started playing football. I thought I wanted to do that for the rest of my life. I was also in band, and I had to stop band because of football. I moved states, and my family went through hardship. I stayed with football, but I lost the love of that. I couldn't do band anymore. Then somehow found my way into an acapella group at my new high school.

And that gave me some sense of belonging. Right before I'd go play a game or something, I'd be singing with these guys. And then some more hardship fell on my family. Had to cut off some things. And then I came back one day in the spring, the acapella director was like, "Hey, we need more strong-voiced guys. Would you like to come to a musical?" And I was like, "I don't know what that is, but yeah. Sure."

So I was in Guys and Dolls. That's how I met my best friends that I still have and talk to, to this day. Then I decided: I stopped playing football. I switched to theater. I told my mom, "I think that I want to do that for the rest of my life.” I didn't know what it was, but I would like that joy and that feeling and that escapism and that transformation. I've always loved history because of my mom, and I got to be in the fifties and dance and sing with my friends. That's awesome.

I decided to try and pursue it for college. And I did! I went to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Found out that was actually quite a good program with some pretty excellent training. So I am thankful for that, but it was a real learning curve. I struggled my freshman year. Was trying to make friends, to be with people. I wasn't really liked well in my class, and it just took time to build relationships. Also, I had, I guess in a sense I had to prove to my classmates why I was there. I felt like I had to say, "I'm here for a reason." And slowly but surely that would happen, until I ended up graduating and got out in the world as a U of I actor. As Ethan, as myself.

And then the pandemic hit! I got some auditions and was on Empire, but I really didn’t have anything. I was trying to get a job. Little did I know I was cast later that fall in the Montana Shakes tour.

Luckily, I just kept showing my face to places and continued sending out videos. Then Montana Shakespeare did happen. They remembered me and said, "Oh, you're still interested?" And I'm like, "Yeah. I want to come out there." I think that's the same thing that happened for APT. I auditioned right before 2020, right before the pandemic, and they said no. But Carey [Cannon] said, "I really want you to come out and see shows." I had no idea what APT was. No idea what it looked like. And I was like, "Okay, sure. Yeah, I'll figure out a way this summer. I'll come see." And then, of course, pandemic. I didn't hear anything, and then I was told about the apprenticeship by a couple of teachers, and I showed my face to Carey again. I sent an email. She responded saying, "yes." Then I came down, and here we are.

And that's that so far, but currently, I'm still figuring out what I want to do next and what drives me.

American Players Theatre: That's great! What and who inspires you as an artist?
Ethan Miles Perry:
That's hard! For theater, everyone here every day inspires me. My mentors, shout out to my homegirl, Missy Sturges. Shout out to my homegirl, Lisa Gay Dixon. Shout out to my homeboy, Anderson Zev Steinrock. Those are my mentors and they guided me. My friends, like Vincent Williams, who was just here assistant directing. Ron Streaker, Alexandra James - all excellent artists and listeners. They inspire me.

For film, Jeffery Wright and Gary Oldman. I think in terms of career and utilizing their image to do cool, unique work, people like Jonathan Majors and Anya Taylor-Joy.

I have to thank Jimmy [DeVita]. I feel like when I first came in, I was learning from everybody, and of course, I’m still learning. That’s the thing. But now, I feel like I can play to a certain level, and I’ve gained that just through being in the fire and hearing Jimmy say these things that give me little tips and tidbits, which is so cool.

American Players Theatre: That’s a really solid list! When you’re not working on the next project or on stage, what do you like to do?
Ethan Miles Perry:
Honestly, this! Talking to cool people. Trying to get out and get around and enjoy nature. Going on walks, going on hikes, playing sports. I’m playing basketball today! Playing my bass guitar.

I love playing video games. I love sports games. I just had to give Nathan [Barlow] the work last night in FIFA. I’m replaying Uncharted. I love RPGs (Role-Playing Games), like Witcher, and, I mean, I grew up on Skyrim! Gotta pay homage to the originals.

American Players Theatre: Here's your Wild Card Question: You have to go skydiving with one character from this season - who are you bringing?
Ethan Miles Perry:
I feel like I can’t answer this question fully because I don’t know all the characters yet! But I guess thus far…I think if I wanted the wittiest possible time with a little hit of danger because I know what happens, I would choose Hamlet. I would choose Hamlet to go skydiving with. I think he would make some incredibly funny jokes and just comment on the world as we’re descending upon it. We’ll see if he pulls the parachute, I guess.

If I’m going safe though, just for a fun time, and to hear her chop it up: Mrs. Jennings. I would take her. I would never hear the end of it! She wouldn’t stop screaming, but I would love it!

American Players Theatre: Great choices. Do you have anything else you’d like to add?
Ethan Miles Perry:
I don’t have anything to follow except follow your heart. Trust your gut. It’s led me thus far. You know which way to go.