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Sweet Sunshine Actor John Way

Sweet Sunshine is the recently released drama that follows a young superstar who suffers a tragedy that will change his life forever. Set in the familiar Arizona backdrop he grew up in, Actor John Way's portrayal of TJ Millhouse culminates in a lifetime of studying and delving into the arts, largely rooted right here in Scottsdale. 

"Scottsdale has so many great artists and teachers that mentored me. I attribute my pre-college training to the incredibly alive Scottsdale arts scene. From my high school (Saguaro) choir and musical director Gaylin Tutnick, to the incredibly talented dance instructor Daniel Baudendistel, to my biggest influences, voice coach Stephen Crawford and music coach Ren Anderton, who helped prepare me on how to be a professional, these Scottsdale mentors shaped not only the performer I am but also the person. I owe each of them more than I can repay."

An eclectic cultural background including a childhood in both England and Japan with a later move to the United States for upper grades, led Way to many formative experiences in a variety of places, and therfore, gave him a unique perspective of the world.

"Acting was a huge part of finding friends. I had great parents that wanted to expose me to different cultures. They loved to meet and share experiences with new and diverse groups and have passed that love along to me. By the time I was twelve I had visited over 20 countries in Europe and Asia."

Way recounts the challenge of new schools, new languages and new friends. He often dabbled in cartoon drawing, or playing out stories with the toys that came in a Happy Meal. 

"Looking back on it, that was theater. I could never shake the feeling I had as a kid after seeing a film or a local play. There was a magic the performers created that allowed not only them, but the audience, to see, hear, feel, and experience a life that was not their own. A world of imagination. I believe performance is the most comprehensive teaching tool we have. I knew from my early teens that if I could be one of those performers, on that stage or screen, telling stories, that it would be the greatest honor of my life."

With Sweet Sunshine, came an approach to a character that felt both familiar and had its learning curve. Way shares that his process begins with looking for the degrees of separation from the character’s personality to his own . Fortunately, for this project, his character was much like himself.

"Sweet Sunshine is a story about a young Arizona man TJ Millhouse who dreams of becoming a country singer. I was a young Arizona boy who had dreams of becoming an actor, so sliding into this character's skin was fun and natural."

Although choir and musicals were all encompassing to Way as a High Schooler, he had drifted from his vocal abilities and focused on acting, now realizing the irony that he is a singing actor, not just an actor who can sing. He had also never worked with a band, however, found the Sweet Sunshine band to be full of amazing professionals who he meshed wonderfully with. 

Way has much advice for young local actors who aspire to be on stage or in the arts. First and foremost -- you can't lose what you don't have.

"It can feel like we are trying to prove that we are good enough or worthy enough for a role. But that is not what casting is about. It isn’t a place where we must prove we can do a role. If they didn’t think you could do it, they wouldn’t have called you in. The point of a casting session is to see if you would be a good fit. Finally understanding this shifted my paradigm. Instead of thinking that I had everything to lose in an audition, I thought about how I had nothing to lose. I then focused on doing my best instead of being 'good enough for the role'. To be honest, you can’t lose what you don’t have."     

Way says above all else, have a passion for your craft and stay inspired. Whether it's a great show or a museum piece, a comedy set or a ballet -- experiencing art, even if it’s not acting, keeps the mind active and engaged.

"Arizona is a state with magic in its soil. Frankly, there is no reason we shouldn’t be a bigger part of the film scene! I was happy that at least one of my first five professional films was in my home state and would love for it not to be the last one."