In a room filled with prospective directors, a director giving a seminar at the Cal State University Media Arts Festival needed an actor to direct. Only one person volunteered.
Since then, David Castaneda Jr., that sole volunteer, has shifted his focus from working behind the camera, to working in front of the camera.
“Ever since (the seminar) I literally took acting as number one and film production as number two,” Castaneda said.
Castaneda, a 24-year-old film production and international business double major, divides his time between campus and the set. Last month, Castaneda landed a job portraying Jorge, a nurse practitioner, on ABC Family’s Switched at Birth series.
Castaneda has been attending Cal State Fullerton since fall 2007. As a freshman, Castaneda started off full time for the first three semesters then as his acting started to pick up, he continued his education part-time. After he took a semester off, he came back part-time, and is currently enrolled full-time again.
“I’m full-time right now, which is kind of weird because now is when everything is going crazy, so it’s a good sign but it’s a little hectic,” Castaneda said.
The experiences that Castaneda has been through in high school and life in general have made him the person he is. He has learned from balancing acting with his studies.
“You have to set your priorities straight,” Castaneda said.
In his experience, professors can be very understanding as long as you talk to them when working and getting an education simultaneously.
“CSUF has been great to me,” Castaneda said.
Castaneda said he aspires to graduate in May 2014, but because his acting career has been going so well, he may have to delay graduation to the fall semester of 2014.
After seeing peers that he started college with begin to graduate, he pushes himself to finish his education. On the other hand, he said, “I know that acting comes first; that makes me ease myself to try and rush to graduate.”
“David’s focus is working on being the best man and artist that he can possibly be—that’s his primary focus,” said James Reese, an actor and Castaneda’s acting coach.
Castaneda started his career at the age of 17. Since then he has had many roles in films and television. One of his short-films, Maddoggin’, won the audience award at the NBC Universal Short Cut Film Festival.
For his role in that short film, Castaneda was nominated and won the best actor award on his birthday.
“He is driven and talented. He’s got a bright future and I’m lucky to have him as a true friend,” said Carlos Pratts, a former colleague of Castaneda who is also an up-and-coming actor.
Castaneda has only been recognized on campus once. As a student, he enjoys the advantages of not being known on campus.
“It’s nice to come here with no name. It gives me the opportunity to voice my opinion and get criticized like a normal college student,” Castaneda said.
Castaneda said attending CSUF is the best decision he has made so far.
Reese said Castaneda is a man on a mission, and anyone can achieve the success he has through making the right decisions.