That’s actually a very great, poignant answer. That kind of ties into my other question too. You’d just mentioned that once you get the acting bug that it’s hard to see anything else. Was there ever a time where you wanted to do something else outside of the entertainment industry like your family?
Until I was about 15 or 16, I wanted to be in the NBA. When I stopped growing at 5’10”, that pretty much went out the window. (laughs)
That’s still a good height! Don’t let people tell you otherwise.
It’s a good height for general but for the NBA? Not particularly great… But besides that, no. I really had my mind set…
I just remember watching my dad type at night and thinking it was such a badass lifestyle. Then I started doing it and boy, is putting your butt in a chair and writing the hardest part of it. Getting yourself to do it. I just didn’t have the same stick to it-ness and immediate love and affection for writing that my brother, dad and uncle have.
But I felt that with acting. So really ever since then, there’s been no other route. I can honestly just not picture myself doing anything else anymore.
You can like aspects of something but if you can’t commit, sit down and do it for a full day then — it’s probably not for you.
Exactly. I hope everyone gets to do a career that they’re passionate about and not just living for the weekend. That means, if you’re living for the weekend that only two or three of your days are good ones and the rest, you’re just trying to get through them.
Sort of tying back to having a family working in the entertainment business, I was reading an interview of yours from a few years ago where you mentioned doing volunteer work. I’ve seen a lot of fans on social media connect to that aspect of your life. A lot of people in the soap opera community either work in the charitable world and some are the ones who benefit from charity work. How do you give back?
When I was younger — and I want to get back involved, but it’s harder now with my career and this specific group because of the timing of their camps — but there’s an amazing organization called United In Harmony. They have a bunch of events, the most famous of which are their summer and winter camps. They provide an escape for inner city children who may not have the financial means to experience certain things.
We had kids from Los Angeles who had never seen the ocean before! We take them to the beach, let them see the ocean for the first time. It was really amazing what this organization does. I was involved probably from 9th grade to junior year of college but I’ve kind of fallen out of it. I recommend anyone who reads this article to look up this organization.
Yeah! Now what’s become very important to me is mental health. Not only just my own mental health but people I’ve had romantic relationships with, family members of mine have dealt with mental health issues, depression and anxiety. I think it’s something that’s been swept under the rug for very long because it’s kind of taboo to talk about.
There’s an organization called Wellbeing Trust which is all about mental and social health which I think is super great. For me, in general I try to spread out my charity and not just focus on one. That’s what I felt like I was doing with Camp Harmony. There’s just so many issues to tend to, it’s almost depressing at times to think about the many things we have to tackle in this world. But right now I think mental health is such a pressing issue in this country and it’s really starting to be understood more. That’s where a lot of my focus has been lately.
That’s actually so true, Zach! I hope you can find some more time to give back again, you seem so passionate about it.
It was a very long-winded answer. (laughs)
Any bit of help is super appreciated! I think a lot of people definitely get overwhelmed because there’s a lot we can be doing and different ways we can be doing it. Finding that focus is paramount!
I think what’s very important about charity is that, especially with social media, we live in a very… I don’t want to say ego-fueled world. But it’s nice to take the focus off yourself. It’s a lot more fulfilling to focus on other people and not boost yourself. To not post a selfie. To shift your attention to benefiting others.
Because of that, you’ll be able to easily connect to people in a way that not a lot of people get anymore. I wholeheartedly agree with your thoughts on giving back. But in a bad tie-in since we just mentioned ego… The reactions from people are so big! A lot of people are clamoring for this, so I do hope we get some sort of iteration of that. On the flip side of that coin though, a lot of people enjoyed the Fen and Kyle scenes. Would you want to explore that rivalry too?
Between Fen and Kyle?
They have some similar points with their backgrounds but also very different too.
Oh yeah! I think — and again, this is me speaking for Fen, not the writers. I think Fen has a respect for Kyle, but I think he’s a little intimidated by him. Kyle and Michael Mealor himself are handsome, charismatic dudes. I think Fen has always been… I don’t want to use the word runt, but he’s always felt a little out of place. Maybe sometimes he wished he was Kyle, in a sense.
I think he might carry that around and think he has to outdo Kyle. But I think he does respect Kyle and the way he’s kind of developed as a character and a man with a moral compass that’s pretty north, I think Fen has admiration for him. But I think it’s covered up with a lot of forms of jealousy. But when does get to one up Kyle, it makes it even sweeter! (laughs)
I think with current storylines of Kyle cheating and not really being a moral center, it would actually be a good time for Fen to come in to bust that up.
Yeah, I think so too!
Again, speaking for you… Is there any storyline that you’d love to explore with Fen?
Oh man. I’d really love to start interacting with a lot of characters that I haven’t had the chance to work with yet. Fen and Mariah communicating more, Fen and Tessa with their music connection, even Fen, Ana and Tessa doing music together. I think there’s a lot of routes that could be taken.
I really do like the relationship with my parents on the show. Any opportunity to do a scene with them or a storyline with them makes my heart sing. Not only the characters but Christian [Leblanc] and Tracey [E. Bregman] are two of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. I’m all gungho for any plot with the three of us!
That answers my next question! You three seem super close, have they become like mentors to you?
Tracey is one of the strongest, most incredible women I’ve ever met. Not only how she handles herself on set and taken me under wing but the way she handled when her house burned down. She still came to set every day with a smile on her face. With Christian, he’s not only become a work friend but a mentor. He’s an incredibly talented human being. He knows how to talk to people; make you feel special and how to make you smile. He’s become like a second father to me!
I’m so blessed and thankful that I got two of the most wonderful people to play my parents on the show.