Where you are from?
You know, I grew up on Long Island, a place that made me infatuated with two entities: the city and the beach. The beach was simple. I recognized from an early age that a day spent sitting by the ocean was a gift from the universe. The older I became, the more I learned how hard my parents worked for what we had, and if sitting on the sand in the sun was an option, then life wasn’t too bad at all. The beach was a place for peace of mind, meditation, fun, rest, relaxation, socializing; it’s the island life; it’s paradise. The city called my name with the same lure but for completely contrasting reasons. The city represented a challenge and an opportunity; in my young mind I imagined it as both a place of danger and risk but also what I envisioned as a meeting of the minds; the greatest artists and scientists and workers collectively changing the world.
What you are into… studies, hobbies, special skills etc..?
I’d say what interests me most are some things that truly vary from each other. For example, I have a long history with grappling and kick-boxing, but I also am extremely dedicated to reading and writing poetry. I spent this past summer reconnecting with the surf and skate culture that was so important to me growing up. I’m extremely competitive and hate losing more than I like winning; my efforts as an amateur and semi-professional MMA fighter, which I ended up undefeated with all 1st round finishes, was a result of not accomplishing my goal to win the state qualifier as a high school wrestler in my senior year. However, surfing and skating are parts of my life that I’ve never been competitive about simply because they have always offered me solitude and tranquil time to think. Earlier this year I was a bit frustrated and confused with how I was expressing myself as an artist and floating on a surfboard alone in the ocean gave me the space I needed to rediscover why I have dedicated so much time to being a “creative-type.”
How did you get into modeling?
My first photo shoot was for a college magazine (Emerson College) just after I won my bout in the World Fight League. I was studying poetry, performance, and minoring in journalism at Emerson while I was giving most of my energy and time to kick-boxing and jiu-jitsu at a gym not too far from campus. My fighting abilities were unique to the Emerson student body and so I was asked to be a feature story in “Em Mag.” Around that same time, Emerson was producing its first year of “Emerson’s Next Top Male Model.” The photo shoot was experience enough for me to consider entering the competition. So I entered. I didn’t win. I hate not winning. It made me thirsty for more. Soon after, I discontinued my studies at Emerson and moved back home to Long Island. After a summer spent digging graves as a groundskeeper at the Long Island National Cemetery, I saved enough money to move into Manhattan with a friend and pursue all things acting and modeling. I dove in head first with no real connections or understanding of how it all worked but I was young and believed, as I do now, that I was smart enough to learn quickly.
Favorite experiences from the biz?
Very early experiences: When I first moved into Manhattan, I started doing a lot of background work for the tv shows shooting in the city and I nearly lost all of my enthusiasm within a short time. I was extremely excited and anxious to make a name for myself and when I found I was being treated like cattle on big shoots for shows like ‘Gossip Girl’ and ‘Blue Bloods,’ watching the principal actors perform right in front me was extremely tantalizing. However, after sharing an elevator with Blake Lively after shooting, and seeing her eat an orange and litter the peel on the floor, it made me realize that like everyone else, these actors were real people who must have put their time in when the camera was off. While I believed, perhaps, I could act on their level, I knew I didn’t have the knowledge about the business side that would be necessary to move forward. I also got to play hangman with Donnie Wahlberg on ‘Blue Bloods;’ he ended up stumping me, but he signed my notepad wishing me good luck. He thought it was noteworthy that I brought my own notepad prop to be a detective in the background of the show
Last year I worked as a principal actor and then a featured actor on a couple of commercial spots that aired on the ESPN networks. I’ll never forget when my cousin Zach texted my brother Jay a screenshot of me on tv with a note that said, “It’s my birthday and I’m drinking with my buddies and they don’t believe that Greg is my cousin!” It wasn’t a huge milestone but it was certainly encouraging when I heard how excited my family was for me about any success. I also got a taste of the “viral” world last year when a director I had worked with for an industrial ad, asked me if I was available to shoot for a sketch that Lorne Michael’s (SNL) digital content company (Above Average) was shooting – “If Sex Was Like Call of Duty.” The video, now viewed over 7 million times, was a satire for video game nerds fantasizing about hooking up in a world based on the “Call of Duty” video game. The shoot was absolutely hilarious to work on from start to finish and definitely made me appreciate the possibilities I could stumble upon in the commercial world. An additional personal highlight would be all of the Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway work I’ve done over the years; the camera world is amazing because “Hollywood Magic” allows you to do anything imaginable, but I’ll always have a special place in my heart for being in front of a live, engaged audience.
Dreams/goals any thing else of interest-feel free to tell the world about?
Six or seven years ago, just about when I was turning 21 and pursuing this lifestyle, I thought I was invincible. I thought that the partying from late into dawn would connect me with the eccentric artists I was supposed to meet. Granted, I had a lot of fun and did meet a lot of interesting people, but watching a lot of those people take it too far and lose their focus forced me to become more responsible and accountable for myself. My dream hasn’t changed in many years; I want to change the world. I don’t care if it sounds crazy. I think the people that change the world are the ones that believe they can change the world. I’m not science minded, so I won’t do anything as special as cure disease or perform life-saving surgery, but I do believe in the power of art. Art is a symbol or a message that expresses relative thoughts and there’s nothing more powerful than communication. I live by three principles: 1. Love your family unconditionally. 2. Treat your friends like your family. and 3. Know that anyone can be a friend. Acting and modeling has taught me as much about myself as it has the world around me. My future will not just be the life of an artist, but of an activist. The more work I book modeling and acting, the more time I have for writing and performing poetry and music. The more I write, the more I read, and the more I read, the more I see struggle and confusion for something so simple as getting along with the people beside us. I am very grateful for all that I am blessed with and I won’t stop sharing the love that the universe gives me.