Imagine booking your first television role, only to be told the night before the shoot that your scene partners will be two Oscar-winning actors. This remarkable scenario actually happened to Georgia-based actor Kurt Yue in the spring of 2016. Yue, who hosts a YouTube channel called Acting Career Center, relayed what it was like to act beside Helen Hunt and Richard Dreyfuss on the Fox crime miniseries Shots Fired during his TV debut. 

“I was basically pooping my pants out of nervousness at this point,” Yue humorously admits. “The pressure to perform, and the pressure to do well, and the pressure to not screw up was almost overwhelming.”

Born in Beijing, Kurt and his family moved to the United States when he was just four years old. While growing up in the states, a career in acting never crossed his mind. In fact, young Kurt never joined a drama club or took theater classes up through college. But after graduating with a degree in computer science and engineering and working a nine-to-five job for several years as a software developer, he found himself looking for ways to spend his time after work. One fateful day, he noticed there was a premiere acting school located in his Cleveland neighborhood, the Houde School of Acting. The following week, Yue was attending his first acting class—a decision that eventually led to his Shots Fired shoot with Hunt and Dreyfuss. 

Yue recalls the three lessons he learned while on set working with his celebrated scene partners that nerve-wracking day.

First of all, not only were Hunt and Dreyfuss “incredibly nice” but they were “really, really easy to work with”—not the large, intimidating forces he’d imagined. Indeed, now that Yue has 15 years of acting under his belt, he can attest that the vast majority of celebrities he’s gone on to work with have likewise been friendly people who are eager to collaborate.

Secondly, Yue describes the tremendous honor he felt when he overheard the two Academy Award-winning actors breaking down their upcoming scene together. “As I sat there eavesdropping,” he remembers, “I heard them talking about things like what their characters wanted in the scene, what their conflict was, what their relationship was, what their motivations were.” All of this analysis sounded very familiar to Yue, who’d been studying the craft and had dissected scenes in a similar fashion many times in his scene-study class. He realized right then that famous actors didn’t have mysterious, secret techniques to achieve brilliant performances; rather, they studied and applied acting fundamentals that actually work. Thus, he encourages aspiring actors to “trust the process, trust your acting teachers, trust what you are learning. Keep taking classes, and keep working on your craft—because it works.”

And lastly, Yue made an amazingly freeing discovery that day on set with the two Hollywood greats. When it came time to shoot the trio’s individual close ups, he was initially terrified that he might make a mistake when delivering his lines. Fortunately, Hunt and Dreyfuss’ close ups were shot first, whereupon Yue witnessed firsthand the two flubbing up their lines. You mean you’re allowed to be human and make mistakes even when you’re a big star? “The weight of the universe had just been taken off my back!” Yue recalls. From that point on, he realized mistakes are simply part of the process, and not something to fear.

Kurt Yue’s acting resume has been growing each passing year. The busy working actor has worked on the Marvel movie Venom, Netflix’s Cobra Kai, The Vampire Diaries series, and he starred in the crime thriller 2020 film By Night’s End.

Yue’s Acting Career Center channel features all sorts of useful information for aspiring actors, including a free audition cheat sheet called 10 Steps to a Killer On-Camera Audition which covers audition techniques that have helped him book over 50 films and TV shows. Check it out!