Student Voices – From Stockton to Shanghai, COP Alum Inspires Students

Guest Post by Hsinyun Shen, MLL – Chinese Studies

One of the biggest challenges to us as college students is to decide what we want to pursue now in order to prepare for the future. While some know right away what they wish to do and who they wish to become, others float around in the galaxy of confusion for perhaps a good half of their college careers, unsure of how to take the next step forward. We look at successful businessmen and women, scientists, artists, and wonder how they have gone from the college to being where they are now. Nathaniel C. Boyd, a rising actor and scriptwriter, has given us a broader perspective of how he has moved from college to the working world.

Boyd graduated from the University of the Pacific in 2007 with two separate Bachelor degrees: International Relations and Asian Studies with a Chinese concentration. However after graduation, he encountered the struggle many recent college graduates now seem to face—no advancement in his professional career. Seeing this, in 2008, Boyd decided to move to Beijing, China to take his chances.

RS47894_Nathaniel Boyd 1In China, Boyd joined the Central Academy of Drama, where he pursued his hobby for half a year. Soon after this, he landed a stable job with Shouji Mobile Entertainment as the Account Manager in charge of the Chinese engineers and European clients. During this time he reached out to an advertisement and acquired a small part-time role in a Chinese sit-com. However, due to time and obligation conflicts, Boyd eventually chose to drop his steady accounting job and take the riskier road of acting and film.

Boyd explained that he was unsure of the decision he had made, and increasingly more so when he found no jobs for six months. However, after that period of time, he was hired to be the Artistic Director of the children’s subdivision of the Beijing Playhouse in early 2011. The spring of his career began to blossom, and since then, Boyd has acted in over 30 Chinese TV shows, commercials, and films. Some of his most notable acts are in “Golden Marriage 2” by the #1 TV director in Beijing, Xialong Zheng; “Back to 1942” by the #2 director in Mainland China, Xiaogang Feng; and “Chinese Zodiac,” directed by the globally-famous Jackie Chan.

In 2012, Boyd became the English dialogue coach and interpreter for the Chinese celebrity Xiaoming Huang for his filming of the movie “American Dream in China.” As much as Boyd loved this job and enjoyed working with Huang, Boyd chose to drop this job in order to accept the role of a Second Assistant Director for the TV show “Wind Yung.” This was his true passion: screenwriting and film production. Boyd said that during these demanding four months of non-stop filming, with no weekend breaks and 12-18 hours of work per day, he lost 33 pounds and almost never went home. (In comparison, American shows tend to only film 22-26 episodes in six months compared to the 30 episodes in four months of this series.) However, he connected with numerous people through this experience and is still in contact with them even now.

When Boyd first began to share of his experiences and successes to our film classes, many perhaps were thinking about the sparkling world of glamorous celebrities and superstars on the red carpet. But as he continued, we soon realized that his career was not as smooth sailing as we originally assumed. Boyd took risks, choosing his real passions over jobs with steady incomes. However, through it all, we saw traces of his college education infused within his professional career. Had he not chosen International Relations and the study of the Chinese language, he would not have had the chance he had in China. His studies, though not directly related to his current profession, opened the doors to his hobbies and passion in places he had never dreamed of. Even his acting is just another stepping stone into his real passion: screenwriting.

“I’m not saying my method is the best, it was a little scattershot,” Boyd said. “A lot of people say in Hollywood you should just focus on one thing that you’re good at. But I think it doesn’t hurt to try other jobs because you can meet people. I met so many people through acting even though acting’s not the end game for me.”

Even now he is taking a gamble. Boyd is currently enrolled in the Masters Program in Screenwriting of UCLA’s Film School, expecting to graduate next year. Though he is still in contact with people in China, he has also met people in LA who have an interest in co-producing films with China and is able to help other aspiring screenwriters forge a connection with the country he is now so familiar with.

We can all learn from Boyd’s experiences: don’t limit ourselves to only one pathway to our future, because the knowledge and training we are gaining now can open so many unexpected doors to us later on. The only thing we have to do is initiate and take that first step forward, whatever it looks like. And Boyd leaves us with these words: “Remember that it all starts with you…don’t think ‘it’ is out there, ‘it’ is right here, with you. You can make ‘it.’”

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