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Brett Dalton’s advice for students

by Scott Hokkanen

You may know Brett Dalton from his starring role on Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., what you may not know is that he is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and a recipient of a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts from Yale University, so he knows what it’s like to be an aspiring actor and student striving to make it big in the entertainment industry.

Brett was kind enough to sit down for an interview with us and provided some words of advice for the theatre students, and inspiration for students in all fields of study. Here are his words of wisdom:

If you missed out on part 1 of our interview with Brett, make sure to check it out!

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“Acting is not an easy business. If you love it you don’t work a day in your life, but there’s so much stuff that you’re going to have to put up with, you are told no hundreds of times. It is not easy by any stretch, but when you’re in school and you’re training in class everyday it’s fun because you always have something to work on and you have teachers to help you.

Out there in the real world, it is really tough, you’re swimming alone, and you’re told “no” a lot. It’s easy to get disillusioned. A lot of people will tell you that they’re a ten-year over-night success, meaning that they’ve always been able to do it but they are just now getting the opportunity to succeed after trying for years.

There are a lot of benefits of working in this industry. It can be a lot of fun if it’s something you truly love, thankfully I’ve found something I love and I get paid to do it. I truly believe that hard work beats raw talent. If you have the raw talent but can’t repeat it, you can encounter problems when needing to do multiple takes. That’s why I think that a mixture of technique and hard work can help you replicate things. Sometimes on-set, there are a million things working against you but you have to hit your mark.

Brett Dalton acting with a wind machine blowing at him

Smarter people have said quotes about inspiration and perspiration and the proportions of the two; there’s a hell of a lot more perspiration. Perfectionism will break you but obsessiveness can make you. UFC Champion Conor McGregor says that he is not talented but he is obsessed. I think if reigned in properly, obsession can give you the results your looking for, I think there are healthy forms of obsession. Perfectionism is obsession turned evil, because there is no such thing as perfect, you must stay focused without searching for perfection.

Brett Dalton turning a corner and walking down the hallway in all black suit

A speaker at Yale once told me that there is room for everyone in this business, it doesn’t matter if someone looks like you or is the same as you, there is room for everyone. If you work hard and stay at it long enough you will get to where you want to be. If you’ve made up your mind, the rest is details.

Arnold Schwarzenegger in Pumping Iron said that he had already decided he was going to be Mr. Universe, everything else, the working out and all, was just something to get him there; he already had it mentally figured out. I’ve had a Muhammad Ali quote on my email signature for years that says: ‘Whatever you are thinking about, you are becoming.’ If you’ve already visualized it, the rest is just details.

Brett Dalton smiles

A professor at Yale told me that champions adjust, there are a lot of small things that can change plans on-set, and you can take time to complain about it and you can spend time fighting against it, or you can adjust and be a champion. That wisdom has gotten me out of so much unproductive thinking. I’m lucky to be where i’m at, the chances weren’t great, but I decided that this was the place I wanted to be, and that it would come into place.

I used to worry about being typecast but now I realize that you shouldn’t worry about being typecast, just worry about being cast. Okay maybe if you’ve done the exact same thing 10 times in a row make a change. But if you’re really good at something, go out and be good at. I wouldn’t worry about being typecast, you can adjust later. If you keep putting out good work then maybe someone will bring you something different. I mean that’s a master’s class in inspiration right there [laughs].”


Thank you so much to Brett Dalton for participating in the IGNITE Comic Expo and for taking the time to talk to us. If you haven’t read it yet, check out part one of our interview with Brett, where he tells us about his love for comics and talks all things Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.LD.

Did you enjoy meeting Brett or did you have a fantastic time at the expo? We want to hear about it! Let us know on one of our social media platforms!

*This interview has been edited for length and clarity