Jeramy Blackford ’04 was about to receive a call he’d been waiting for since he’d been at NC State studying business at the Poole College of Management in the early 2000s.
Back then, he had felt something had been missing in his life, so he auditioned for several plays and rekindled his love for acting, which he had first felt in high school.
A job at the Alumni Association running student programs followed graduation, but Blackford still felt that longing. So he released an album with his band, Kennebec, in 2007 and hired an agent. He started acting in some shorts and independent films. He left his job to pursue acting full time.
And then on a Monday last November, the phone rang offering him his first high-profile acting job.
The casting directors of ABC’s Nashville wanted Blackford for a part playing guitar in the band for one of show’s main characters. “I actually heard back from them on a Monday at 5:30 p.m.,” he says. “They were telling me I needed to be in Nashville at 6:30 [p.m.] the next day.”
And so Blackford was on his way to Nashville and to pursue his Hollywood dream.
It’s a 540-mile drive from Blackford’s home in Raleigh, and as soon as he hung up the phone, he was in his 2007 Mini Cooper, embarking on his nine-hour trip on I-40 West to Nashville. But it was valuable time considering the homework assignment the directors had given him. “That was one of the scariest things when I found out I got the role,” he says. “They tell me, ‘By the way, you need to learn these three songs. The role was for a lead guitar player, and I’m more of a rhythm guitar player. So for nine hours, I’m trying to learn these mp3s of my guitar parts turned up.”
Blackford made it to the set in Nashville, schooled in his parts. He found the show’s stars, like Hayden Panettiere, to be gracious and welcoming. He got his first taste of Hollywood, as he got a different hair and makeup artist than the rest of the backing band for Panettiere’s character because Blackford had a speaking part. And his scene went off without a hitch.
The episode aired January 16, and Blackford hopes it’s just the start. “Kind of the way that show has worked is that guitar players have jumped around from band to band,” he says. “I’m holding out hope that it will turn into more.”
But he can at least cross one goal off of his list for now. “That was a goal of mine, to land a large profile role, like on an episodic,” he says. “Just to experience it on a bigger stage, just to see how the bigger machine works.”