By Jackie Nelson
Scott Welsh, former Golf Pro at the Hesston Golf Course has made a radical career change. Welsh is now a full-time actor and soon-to-be member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG).
Welsh has made appearances on major television shows including Parks and Recreation, CSI New York, Glee, Pretty Little Liars, NCIS, Men at Work and True Blood.
He has appeared in several films and is now the star in an untitled work which will earn him his Screen Actors Guild membership.
The film that is earning Welsh his SAG card was filmed just outside of Hesston.
“This is the kind of film that is reminisce of the old-school Sundance Film Fest. It has a kind of guerilla feel,” said Director and Producer Jonathan Pope.
Welsh’s first film will be show first at film festivals across the nation and possibly internationally.
Welsh said his character, a Midwestern father of a gay young adult, turns many stereotypes on their ear.
“Hank is a lover to the max. Hank can love until it hurts. He wants the best for those closest to him, but part of him needs those closest to him to be near him. That was the tug and pull of this film,” said Welsh.
Welsh said he was ready for a career change after nearly 30 years of working in the golf industry.
“I had been in the golf industry since I was 15. I left Hesston Golf Park when I was 42. That’s about 27 years in the golf business. I love to play and teach, but I found those were things I was spending the least amount of time doing,” he said.
As Welsh was taking time to explore career options, he began contacting friends.
“Knowing Jodi [Julian] from California, she said, with some work, I could be an actor,” said Welsh.
He confessed, at first he was not interested in the field.
“I said ‘No.’ about as stern as a man can say no, followed by, ‘You’re crazy,’” he said.
Julian was not one to give up on Welsh.
“It was just intuitive. In working with students, you know when a person has that kind of gift. I just knew with him. At first, I thought it would be just one or two lines in a show. I never knew it would become my life-project, but I’m happy it is,” she said.
As an collegiate acting coach and professor with Broadway experience, Julian felt Welsh had a unique quality.
“He doesn’t have that southern California look. He has this very Midwestern look. It makes him unique. Out there, it’s almost cookie-cutter. He has something different,” she said.
Welsh said Julian made contact with agents unbeknownst to him.
“She submitted my photo and we got a callback. I was shocked,” he said.
After a very positive introduction to the industry, Welsh decided to dive in.
“I did a lot of scripted monologues. She coached me from nothing. What I had was 42 years of life experience to draw from. We kept working with monologues and headshots to scene work to show casting agents and directors,” said Welsh.
Welsh’s work paid off when he landed his first major role.
“Last October, I auditioned for a student film, Liberman’s Paradox, and landed the role. It was my first time in front of a real camera with lighting and hearing ‘action.’ It went well and I got a lot of nice comments,” he said.
His career as an actor has continued to thrive, as he lands spots on major network television shows.
“I have been on about 40 television shows, seven or eight movies. They have been non-speaking roles, but I am getting experience being on-set and building experience,” he said.
While Welsh has been uniquely successful, he said one major stumbling block has been hold his career from its full potential.
“Jodi has shown me to agents and, consistently, I have been in the final five but not getting roles – because I’m not a member of the union, the Screen Actor’s Guild. You need union status to start getting bigger roles,” he said.
The film, now in post-production, set just outside Hesston, Welsh hopes, will earn him the coveted SAG membership.
“I got in touch with the director, Jonathan Pope, and he said he would like me to play the role of Hank. From leaving Hesston Golf Park to, hopefully, earning my SAG membership, it will have been two years. So much credit goes to Jodi, who has been my acting coach and fast-tracked me,” he said.
Welsh said while he has spent two years between Hesston and Hollywood, his heart is still in the Midwest.
“I have two children here in Hesston. I have the greatest support system with friends and family. There is nothing at all about me that is “too cool” for Hesston, Kansas,” he said.
Julian, a Los Angeles native, said while Hesston is an enjoyable community, the city holds its own unique appeal as well.
“There are lots of parts of LA that are beautiful. Ninety percent of the population is from ‘somewhere else.’ There are a lot of transplants, a lot of people from the Midwest and east coast,” she said.
Welsh said he continues to dream big and work toward film success.
“I would love, if I had my pick, to be in film making movies. I still have some experience to gain – do some television shows starting out and, if I get fortunate, land something in film. I feel like film would be the most fun for me,” he said.