Sony Pictures Television

Did you ever register for a theater course in college? Clarence Gilyard did and it was a life-changing experience. The actor is mostly known for his roles as Conrad McMasters on Matlock and Ranger James Trivette on Walker, Texas Ranger. Yet, years before the massive success of those roles consumed his life, Gilyard was a California State (Long Beach) college student who decided to add a theater course as an elective.

One course turned into an entire semester schedule full of theater courses. He even found a job at a restaurant that served as a common hang-out spot for actors and kept his ears open for opportunities.

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"One afternoon, one of the gals said she was going to Hollywood to audition for a children's theater program, " Gilyard told the St. Anthony Messenger. It was an open audition for a newer version of Aesop's Fables that played on Saturdays for Hollywood children's birthdays. Gilyard decided to audition as well and got the part of Aesop. "I didn't get it for the acting. I got it for the energy and animation, and the fact that I could play the guitar and sing."

That role led to another theater part in Bleacher Bums, and around this time, Gilyard thought it was time to take the following steps to secure a spot in the industry.

"I started taking an acting class in Hollywood. Other people would go to university conservatory training, then come to Hollywood. I came in off the streets," the actor added.

Gilyard would snag minor roles by networking, auditioning and waiting tables (with his ears open). He then obtained an agent that took his career to the next level, getting him roles in shows and movies like Diff'rent Strokes, CHiPs, The Duck Show, Top Gun, and Die Hard.

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