Sparta grad undeterred on rocky road to the top
By eighth grade, Skyler Ray Erickson knew what he was destined to do. But that hasn’t made his journey to becoming an actor easy.
Even after being rejected for countless roles, working less than appealing jobs to make ends meet, and having had hi Las Vegas apartment broken into and robbed, Erickson is still passionate about spending his life creating art.
On his professional resume, Erickson, a 2009 Sparta High School graduate, first considers himself an actor, then singer and finally, a dancer. After earning his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Musical Theatre from Viterbo in 2013, he packed his bags and headed to Sin City.
“It never seemed out of reach because I was always told that’s what I was meant to do,” he said. “And I guess when you get in that mindset, then you realize you better go and do it. So when I did it, I understood, and I found my place. That’s where I’m happy.”
While attending Sparta schools, he landed roles in musicals Beauty and the Beast, The Music Man, and Hello, Dolly!. He also took band and choir, and was a standout dancer in show choir.
Since moving, to Vegas, Erickson has been in dozens of shows, both on and off the Strip. He has been in a nationwide Johnny Appleseed beer commercial, and most recently landed a role as a bartender in a major movie, Showdogs, starring Will Arnett, Ludacris, Shaquille O’Neal and Natasha Lyonne, which comes out in theatres Nov. 10.
He also choreographed and designed costumes for a Motown Tribute show, and was one of the four lead singer/dancers. Each show had been sold out, and they have been asked to return to Phoenix for the next season.
Though his momentum in the entertainment industry is inspiring, Erickson is the first to admit that it’s been a long, hard road to get there.
From constantly being conscious of his image, to being passed over for roles, he says anyone who wants to be in the industry needs to keep a positive attitude.
“With the heartache, sometimes you fall into a depression of like ‘am I not good enough?’, and it can be very taxing on you,” he said. “I think as actors, we’ve all hit that spot. But it’s also like a good breakthrough for us.”
Erickson says his four years as a Vegas actor has helped him understand and embrace himself and his sexuality as well.
“Coming from where I am, I hide behind masks, and I think a lot of homosexuals do that as well,” he said. “It’s based a lot on society – especially now, in this world – it’s getting scarier and people don’t feel like they can be themselves anymore. Now with so much discrimination and hate, and there’s not enough love, we judge too much.
“Sometimes it’s harder to be that person in society when you can be someone else who is accepted – that funny person or that evil character – because that’s accepted, because it’s acting. Our lives sometimes aren’t accepted because of who we are.”
He says that being able to come back to Wisconsin to a strong, supportive family and community is equally as important as having internal confidence.
“I definitely appreciate the hometown life,” he said. “Especially when you move out to a bigger city, you realize that the Midwest really is the heart of America.”
Skyler has his sights set on becoming a Los Angeles actor and cruise ship entertainer, which he says could soon become a reality.
“Like they say, this business isn’t about what you know, it’s all about who you know.”