In the age of social media, influencers, celebrities and artists (as a whole) have kicked the term, “traditional” to the wayside with the force of Leonidas I from “300.” Melvin Gregg is one such example, having begun the traditional route into acting, swerved into the social media sensation of Vine, then returned to the traditional acting industry with a refreshed aplomb.
Gregg current stars on Season 3 of Lifetime’s critically acclaimed drama series, UnREAL, a fictitious behind-the-scenes look at the production of a reality dating show called “Everlasting.” Gregg portrays the handsome and charming social influencer Zach, who competes against 9 other male suitors vying for the affections of Serena. Though Gregg describes Zach as “younger and a little childish,” he can relate to the general feeling of trying to gain the attention of a girl he’s interested in and facing the challenges that come with that.
Photo courtesy of Erik Umphery
Gregg initially moved to LA to pursue acting in the traditional sense, but received a rude awakening in terms of how competitive the market was. “It was a lot of competition so I asked myself, ‘How can I get some type of leverage and try to get a jump on the competition?’,” Gregg mused.
He jumped on the chance to start creating on Vine, which he say as an opportunity to build an audience on his own and “express (himself) creatively.” “I (also) started using other platforms such as Facebook and Instagram just to diversify my audience,” he said. Vine caused a rumble throughout social media’s content creators when it shut down 2 years ago, which is when Gregg decided to get flexible and focus on content creation.
“One thing I love about my journey and voyage is that everyone can see my path -- you can go back and see my first Vine where everything was shot in one take,” he said, adding that he later learned editing and developing character arcs.“I not only grew as an influencer, but as an artist as well.”
Since Gregg stars on a mock reality show, is he into the genre himself? “Not too much now, I know back in the day I used to watch Flavor of Love, For the Love of Ray J, I Love New York... the early throwback reality shows,” he said, noting that though he knows about the general successes of reality TV franchises such as Love & Hip Hop, he focuses more on work.
As for what’s next for Gregg, he will be starring in the second season of Netflix’s new true crime series, American Vandal. True crime is really hot right now thanks to long-form storytelling podcasts, so the timing is brilliant. Gregg will portray a star athlete who becomes a suspect.
“It’s really fun, I love the tone of the show and it’s been a blast since the first time they yelled ‘action!’,” said Gregg, who had actually just come from a 12-hour-day on set before our interview.
When he’s not creating his own content or portraying characters on-screen, Gregg loves to pay it forward to the youth, exposing them to opportunities both behind and in front of the camera.
His advice? “The main thing is just to create,” he noted. “There’s no excuses at all. Of course, I came to LA and tried the traditional route, but that wasn’t really working for me. I don’t know where I would’ve been if I kept going that route. The road would’ve been a lot longer.”
“With the social media platform, you can create what you want -- you can create the roles that you want,” he continued. “It doesn’t matter what level you’re at, you should put it out there to the audience to see what works and continue to grow from there.”
UNREAL airs Monday’s on Lifetime at 10/9c.