100 Creatives 2013: Drake Simpson, Actor and Dad
The first time you meet Drake Simpson, he may be hanging out with his daughter Billie somewhere out in Houston, and while he looks slightly familiar, you are positive that you have never seen him act before. You are dead wrong. You have actually seen Simpson act numerous times; you've actually walked out of the theater and said to yourself, "Holy cow, that guy's good." Then you may have read multiple reviews of his work in which he has been called one of the "finest actors working onstage in our city." But Simpson the actor and Simpson the dad are two very different people. If you've seen a play in Houston over the past several years, you have no doubt seen Simpson doing what he does best. Whether or not you recognize him in his street clothes is another story.
Drake Simpson (left) and Jesse Montgomery in Horse Head Theatre's Among the Thugs
In addition to acting, Simpson is a founding member of Horse Head Theatre company, who in their short time together have taken the Houston theater scene by storm. The company has been known to put on provocative, audience-driven theater in very untraditional venues that match the tone of the performance. For their bar-fueled drama Among the Thugs, the company put on a production in the basement of a bar. Simpson performs for the company as well as produces, and his performance in Thugs was described by David Feil for this publication as "Drake Simpson, who leads the cast as the American journalist Bill (of course), was the linchpin for the audience, a sympathetic hero who seemed to be as disoriented by the myriad faces swirling around him as we were."
Additionally, Simpson teaches acting to the next generation of thespians.
What Do You Do:
I am an actor, director, founding member of Horse Head Theatre, and teacher, but really I'm a dad.
What Inspires You:
There's no holistic all encapsulating answer to that. Music, Inside the Actors Studio, money, laughter, my girl Ivy and my girl Billie. When I see great work, I am inspired. Partially out of wanting to tell great stories and partially out of envy. Sometimes I'm a total 5th grader.
If Not This, Then What?
If I wasn't a teaching artist I'd probably want to do something like be an SVU detective. As long as I didn't have to work my way up through the ranks. You know just straight from closing a show to solving crimes. So long as its like it is on TV. But seriously I think that would combine my love for problem solving with helping people. That or like a musician.
If Not Here, Then Where?
I don't know. My daughter is here and there's just no way I could be a long distance dad. But after she graduates in like 11 years I could maybe do NYC. I lived in LA for 6-1/2 years so I could potentially see myself checking out the East Coast. Or Amsterdam. They could totally use an American resident theater.
Next for me is Horse Head's production of Annie Baker's The Aliens. We open on the 15th of August and run through the 31st. I was lucky enough to do another of her shows, Body Awareness, last year with Phil (Lehl) and Kim (Tobin) over at Stark Naked so I knew how great of a writer she was, is. Anyway when I heard the treatment for this show, I knew that we'd love it. We read it as a company and knew immediately this was our next show.
More Creatives for 2013
(In order of most recently published; click here for the full page).
Shelby Carter, Playboy model turned photographer
David Matranga, actor
Crystal Belcher, pole dancer
Daniel Kramer, photographer
Blue 130, pin-up explosion art
Nina Godiwalla, author and TED speaker
David Wilhem, light painter
Tom Abrahams, author and newscaster
Browncoat, pin-up pop artist
Kris Becker, Nu-Classical composer and pianist
Vincent Fink, science fashion
Stephanie Saint Sanchez, Senorita Cinema founder
Ned Gayle, thrift store painting defacer
Sameera Faridi, fashion designer
Greg Ruhe, The Human Puppet
Sophia L. Torres, founder and co-artistic director of Psophonia Dance Company
Maggie Lasher, dance professor and artistic director
Jordan Jaffe, founder of Black Lab Theatre
Outspoken Bean, performance poet
Barry Moore, architect
Josh Montoute, mobile gaming specialist
Ty Doran, young actor
Gwen Zepeda, Houston's first Poet Laureate
Joseph Walsh, principal dancer at Houston Ballet
Justin Garcia, artist
Buck Ross, dilettante and director of Moores Opera Center
Patrick Renner, sculptor of the abstract and the esoteric
Tomas Glass, abstract artist and True Blood musician
Ashley Stoker, painter, photographer and Tumblr muse
Amy Llanes, artistic airector of Rednerrus Feil Dance Company
Bevin Bering Dubrowski, executive director at the Houston Center for Photography
Lydia Hance, founder and director of Frame Dance Productions
Piyali Sen Dasgupta, mixed media artist and nature lover
Dean James, New York Times bestselling mystery novelist
Nicola Parente, abstract painter and photographer
Cheryl Schulke, handmade leather pursemaker
Anthony Rathbun, Alternative Lifestyle Photographer
David Salinas, computer-less analog photographer
Danielle Burns, art curator
Alicia DiRago, Whimseybox founder
Katia Zavistovski, contemporary art curator
Ashley Horn, choreographer, filmmaker
Amanda Stevens, scary book author
Peter Lucas, film and video curator, music lover and self-described culture-slinger
Ana MarÃa Otamendi, collaborative pianist and vocal coach
Billy D. Washington, comedian
Michele Brangwen, choreographer and dancer
Kristin Warren, actress and choreographer
Kelly Sears, animator and film maker
Colton Berry, Bayou City Theatrics' artistic director
jhon r. stronks,dance-maker
Joe Grisaffi, actor, director, writer, cinematographer
Jordan "Monster Mac" McMahon, artist, designer