The Quintessential Hollywood Dream Come True: Interview with Matt DeBoer
By Carin Chea
Matt DeBoer and his family's story is the stuff of Hollywood fantasy.
In what can only be described as kismet meets really, really, really good luck, DeBoer, his wife, and his two young children ventured from North Carolina to Los Angeles to pursue the dream every person from another state pursues whenever they move to LA: To "make it" in the entertainment industry.
The difference between the DeBoer's and every other Midwest/East Coast/Southern transplant is that the DeBoer's experienced monumental success.
In his book, Until Tomorrow...Little People, DeBoer chronicles how a dream turned into a successful reality seemingly overnight, proving once again that reality is more fascinating than fiction.
Tell us about your background. Are you an actor and writer by trade?
I have never been either. I've written for the majority of my life; I've just never shared my writing with anyone. It's what I call my silent dream. It's one of those dreams that's so fragile you don't want to share with anyone. I've used it in my own space and it was always mine.
When DeBoer and his family came out to California, life was so crazy and unbelievable. I wrote to make it through the day and survive because it was so wild. It's something I've always done, but this is the first time I've done it publicly.
As for the acting - we were out there for a few months. I did it as a joke but ended up booking a few things.
With the pandemic, things have shifted so much. Everything's remote. At the end of April, my son just finished filming a Warner Brothers movie with Neil Patrick Harris and Steve Zahn called 8-Bit Christmas. We were doing different auditions from home, but now we're trying to see if we can stick it out in North Carolina.
How did your children get into the acting industry? When did they decide they wanted that?
I had been to California a few times for my work, and I wanted to show my
family California. So, we thought we'd come out for spring break. One of the things the kids wanted to do because they've always been into film and TV and iCarly, they wanted to see a show get made.
We went to America's Funniest Home Videos. The next day, we were walking on Hollywood Blvd, and the kids were asked to be interviewed on Jimmy Kimmel. It turned out both kids were picked to be on the show.
Our son was 9, and he came back and created a PowerPoint presentation for why we needed to move to LA. He even found us some 15 to 20 million-dollar homes in Malibu we could pop into.
We told him to start local [to North Carolina] because we thought this might be a fad. So, they did. And they actually had a lot of success locally. They ended up going to a showcase in Orlando, and our daughter won the silver in the 13 to 18 year-old age range for modeling, and my son won the gold in the 12 & under group.
After that, we were invited out to pilot season. We decided to give this a shot and that's where the book begins.
Is Until Tomorrow...Little People your first book? How would you describe your book?
Yes. It's Beverly Hillbillies meets Modern Family. We were coming from Carolina and had no clue what we were getting into. We had no expectations and the things we came across for the first week were crazy. The stuff I'm sure you're used to, but for us, it was completely different. Like traffic. The price of food. And the fact that everyone you ran into was an actor.
In North Carolina, you listen to people talk about sports. In LA, you're talking about what show you're going to be on tomorrow. It was surreal. My parents and everyone wanted to keep tabs on what we were doing.
The book started there, from day one. I wasn't planning on getting into the industry. I wanted the kids to maybe get this out of their system. I wrote this book as more of a journal to give the kids at Christmas as a chronicle of the 3 months we spent out here.
But, then I posted some of these things on Facebook that turned into a blog, which then turned into a daily event that gained a larger following.
By the end of those 3 months, when things had taken off, I had over 100,000 words written. It wasn't for mass publication; I didn't set out to write a book for the public, but that's what it turned into. And it's been a lot of fun.
We had friends who said this was the thing they looked forward to reading every day.
I am a huge fan of You [a hit show on Netflix]. Could you tell me about your daughter's experience playing the young version of one of the protagonists?
She played the younger version of Love in Season 2 and she got to go on set, slice somebody's throat and call it a day. My wife took her out for filming, and they had a fantastic time. Tammy said everyone was extremely nice and that was the thing I was the most worried about because you want to protect your children, but they had a great experience.
In fact, our daughter was recognized on the plane by a flight attendant. She got her picture taken and that was pretty cool. It gave her that first feeling and sense of being recognized. The kids understand that they're putting time stamps on their lives. When 8-Bit Christmas comes out, our son will be able to watch this movie with his kids and grandkids.
For both of them, the success they've seen has been life-changing. They see what goes on behind the scenes. When they watch TV now, they've developed quite an appreciation for what actors do.
Was this how you thought it'd all turn out? With both your kids achieving great success in Hollywood?
Honestly, I was imagining a kind of a meltdown at around 3 to 4 weeks, thinking, "What were we thinking? Waiting around for the phone to ring? Let's just wait for normal life to come back. We'll have stories to tell, but then we can get back to our lives."
But, the phone calls did come, and so did the auditions, and the callbacks, and the bookings. They worked their tails off. They worked hard at their craft and soaked it up like sponges.
The fact that they had no idea how hard it was worked in their favor because they went in and just went with it. They've learned that they can go into a room of strangers and hold a conversation or make a presentation. That's a skill that'll make dividends down the road no matter what their career.
Our son is very inquisitive. Even when he wasn't on camera, he was always talking to the crew. He wanted to know how everything worked. It was nice to see a passion come to life.
And, at the height of it all, the pandemic came and Hollywood came to a halt.
Do you have any upcoming writing or acting projects you'd like our readers to know about?
The big one is the one with Chandler, 8-Bit Christmas, a WB HBO Max Christmas show coming out around Thanksgiving time.
I'm working on a follow-up book that extends into where the first story ends. The second book is really about all the bookings because the first book is about the beginnings.
The whole purpose of my book is to make people laugh. I think everyone out there, at one point in time, thinks, "Boy, how fun would it be to do that [pursue a big dream]." This was a behind-the-scenes look at how it was to just take a shot.
The biggest thing for us is that we became closer as a family. You leave everything you know behind and you're in this little apartment with an eighth of your belongings and you realize, "Why do we need all this stuff? All we need are these people right here."
For more information, please visit www.UntilTomorrowLP.com.
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