Since his graduation from Waxahachie High School five years ago, Sam Chance’s acting career has been transforming, taking him across the country and international borders. His latest project was for the National Geographic show “Locked Up Abroad,” which involved a 10-day shoot in Tunisia.
“Locked Up Abroad” tells the stories of visitors to foreign countries being arrested and what they went through.
Chance, who works in between roles as a personal trainer, said his involvement in the project came about quickly and began with a call from his agent Linda McAlister.
“I woke up to a phone call mid-afternoon because I had early clients that day and had clients that night too,” Chance said. “She said I needed an audition tape in two hours for this show.
“So, I opened the email – and there was not a whole lot of information in there of what the show is about, what is going on and its synopsis. They gave me like three options of scenes to improv.”
Chance said he picked a scene and filmed it with his phone propped up against a protein bottle and an oatmeal box. After one take, he sent the audition in to be reviewed. A few days later, Chance had a Skype phone call with the director.
“I talked with the director Crispin Reese and we chatted on Skype for a little while,” Chance said. “By Thursday, I was on a plane to Africa. They must have been looking for that role for a while and could not find it.
“I had to go get my immunizations, reschedule my clients at the gym, go pack and study a full script,” he said. “It was such a fast turnaround but, when it hit me, it was so cool.”
At the time, Chance was living in Los Angles so he first flew to Rome where he had to make his connection to Tunisia. The shoot allowed him to form a friendship with his co-star, Max Croes, whom he got to know over the 15-hour working days.
“David Kunkle is the role that I am playing,” Chance said. “David and his best friend Tom (Croes), they decided to smuggle marijuana into Hawaii on an airplane. They were successful and made a good chunk of cash.
“Tom had had the bright idea of going bigger,” Chance said. “He had some connections out in Afghanistan where they could buy some hash for cheap money and store it up in a Land Rover. They went across several borders in the Middle East but, as they went across the Greek border, they got busted.”
Chance said the experience tested the friendship between David and Tom through the severe treatments and beatings they received but, ultimately, brought them closer together. He said Kunkle provided narration during the episode to provide additional insight.
In high school, Chance worked mostly behind the scenes constructing and building sets and running the soundboard but wasn’t successful in securing roles on stage. He said he had thought about pursuing it as a career but, after graduation, he put the thought out of his mind. Acting was brought up again, however, after he met with some friends.
“They started telling me they were going to acting class and this is what they were doing, and I said, ‘This sounds so cool,’ ” Chance said. “I was going to Navarro College at the time and I started taking some acting classes, getting my feet wet to see what it was like. I ended up signing with Linda McAlister here in town in early 2014. I have gotten to do some amazing projects.”
Since making a choice to pursue acting full-time, Chance has been involved in several projects, including the films “Sleeping in Plastic” and “Overexposed,” the television series “Vindication” and the Netflix film “Hurricane Bianca.” He has also secured representation from an agent in Los Angeles and is working to secure representation in London.
“Overall, I think the experience has been crazy,” Chance said. “It has not even taken off yet. Some people will see you on this TV show and think that you have made it but it is not even close. You see so many TV shows that are out there and the actors that are needed to make those shows happen.
“This is a step of many and I am not going to stop until I get there,” he said. “Having my family, friends and support system behind me helps tremendously because it is a very tough business.”
Chance encourages people to bet on themselves when pursuing a dream but to remember that with each dream a lot of hard work is involved. It sometimes means a change of direction, as well.
“If people who are wanting to do this, acting, it is fun and it is a blast – but it is hard work,” he said. “Do it because you have a love for the craft and the art itself. Don’t do it for the money or the attention because ultimately you will not be happy.
“I don’t want anybody to think that my moving back from LA was a step back because it was not,” he said. “Being out there I did accomplish things. You may feel like you’re stepping back at times but you’re just taking a step to the side. You are still moving forward – you are just taking a little step to the side to find another path forward.”
Chance’s episode on “Locked Up Abroad” is called the “Greek Border Bust.” It appears Feb. 13 on the National Geographic Channel.