Originally published in the Spring 2021 issue of CFA magazine. By Taylor Mendoza | Photo by Michael Tullberg/Getty Images
Camaron Engels (CFA’17) was 10—and watching a stage production of The Lion King with his grandmother—when he realized he wanted to be an actor. “I saw a little Black boy dancing and having fun on the stage that looked exactly like me,” he says. “I almost got kicked out because I was literally jumping up and down in my seat saying, ‘I can do that.’” Since graduating from CFA, he has been making his way in Hollywood, appearing in television shows and films like Malibu Rescue: The Next Wave and American Pie Presents: Girls’ Rules. He will appear in the upcoming Netflix thriller miniseries, Clickbait, about the dark side of social media, and starred as Romeo in the modern-day adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, R#J, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.
How did you train prior to coming to BU?
I started training at the age of 10. I attended the Lee Strasberg Institute for five years and learned about method acting while there, and I went to the Stella Adler Studio of Acting for about a year. I also did some acting programs at NYU for a couple of months. Once I got to BU, we learned every single technique. Their ideology was, “We’ll give you everything you need, and then you decide what works best for you.” My training at BU gave me more tools to put on my tool belt of techniques, and helped me dig deeper and be one with my character. CFA also taught me how to work with an ensemble, and how to handle high-stakes situations and still give a strong performance.
You really immerse yourself in your roles.
I like to dip into several techniques, but for the most part, I use method acting, specifically, substitution work. That’s when you put someone that you know personally in the position of the character that you’re playing with and do the scene with them in your head.
What’s the most interesting character you’ve played?
I was actually thinking the other day that I want to play some weirder roles. I’m really interested in playing something that completely transforms me. I tend to get typecast as the boy next door. However, I think the most interesting role that I’ve played was this nerd named Kurt for a one-episode role for Family Reunion on Netflix. I got to wear glasses, a fedora, and a little sweater vest. He was so much fun to play.
What’s your dream role?
I’d love to play Miles Morales, [the new Spider-Man]. We need more representation of color in superhero movies.
R#J was an official selection at Sundance.
It still doesn’t feel real. Of course, I’d have loved to be there physically, but I’m just honored to have been a part of it. I was very grateful and very nervous at the same time.
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