Elena Gharbigi

Parker Queenan takes more than just one bite out of show business. At 19 years old, not only is he on the popular Nickelodeon show Are You Afraid of the Dark: Curse of the Shadows but, he’s written, produced, and directed several shorts.

Being on both sides of the camera has its advantages as Parker can see different views, which ultimately help him with character development.

But you know what? If you ask Parker Queenan, or anyone really, this business isn’t easy. Lots of hours, rejections, and patience are needed to make it work.


You play Connor Stevens in Nickelodeon’s Are You Afraid of the Dark: Curse of the Shadows. Connor is the leader of the Midnight Society and goes missing. Tell us about your audition.


My first audition and callback were both self tapes since it was during quarantine. There were a couple of scenes from the show.In fact, one of my scenes where I do this long rhyme in an attempt to scare my victim out of his hiding place was written just for auditioning purposes and ended up making it into the show! Once I got past the callback stage, I Zoomed with the director to go over notes before the Zoom screen test, where I did a read in front of the writer, director, casting, and producers.


What were your immediate thoughts on the character Connor Stevens? Did you have any conversations on how to play Connor or where you see him going in the future? Or past?


I pretty quickly identified with the character, Connor, and enjoyed his bold and sincere dynamic with his group of younger friends. I spoke to our two directors about playing Connor mostly during table reads and while shooting but I would regularly ask questions and talk with our writer in preparation. And I only normally work on a character’s backstory or future trajectory insofar as it relates to the story we’re telling. Sometimes it’s necessary, other times it can get in your head.


How does an actor’s contract work regarding an anthology series? Do you have something in your contract that states the production has first rights to you for another season? 


No, because the AYAOTD anthology spotlights different Midnight societies from the same world, so we can’t “recycle” actors into different roles. The contract was only for principal photography for this season’s shoot. If we came back, it would be as cameos.


Approximately how many auditions have you been to during pilot season this year? Are you able to pick and choose what you’d like to try out for? How do you figure out scheduling or do you just have to pick one job and turn down the rest?


As streaming services become more and more prevalent, I find that pilot season becomes slightly less relevant. So many of the auditions I’ve had this year are for preexisting shows, indie films, bigger studio films, etc. A good week would be anywhere from 1-4 auditions, but it’s inconsistent. Sometimes it’s none. I only turn down opportunities that offend me personally or make me uncomfortable, but I’m in no position to pick and choose roles as of yet.


Do your abilities to see characters/the show itself in different lights negatively or positively affect how you perform as an actor?


I try my best to separate my cinematic lens from my acting. I think a lot of actors get caught up in style, mood, and tonality too often. They also judge the material based on their subjective views on film and TV — neither of which help an actor. That said, if you know a wink about fleshing out characters on paper (dimensional, etc.) and have some idea of what the director is looking for, that is always an advantage when I’m acting.


You’ve written, directed, and even worked as the cinematographer for a bunch of shorts. Tell us the process you go through when working on shorts.


IMDb requires that there are numerous positions for it to be a legitimate short film, so I’m “producer, composer, etc.” on them for that reason. I’m a control freak, so I just prefer to write, direct, shoot, and cut what I can. Those shorts I made were when I was much younger. However, even still I would mostly fill out composition books with notes and ideas on them until I felt confident enough to shoot them.


Do you have any downtime or are you a workaholic? What do you like to do in whatever spare time you might have?


I love what I do so I work quite often, but I feel like the more you exert yourself into what you need to get done, the more free time you have. In my free time I’ll study, read, spend time with friends, or travel if I have the availability to.


What’s it like being a teen in the year of social media? Have you ever been recognized in the street? How’d that go?


I’m not huge on social accounts but I notice it can be a bit overwhelming at times with all of the information circulating today, even though it’s a great thing given that we’re able to share social/political views to a much wider audience. I enjoy interacting with fans from time to time on Instagram but I’ve never had fan mail because I don’t think anyone knows where I live. And I’ve only so far been recognized by people from news stories I’ve done. Hopefully soon!


You’re 19 years old, but an 80s kind of guy, due to the way you were brought up. If you were to hitch a ride with Marty McFly, what decade would you go back (or forward) to?


The 1950s would be a lot of fun!


What advice do you have for young people looking to break into the acting business?


Don’t focus on booking roles. Focus on giving your best interpretation of the story each time — which is tough because it requires an insane amount of patience, especially when everyone around you keeps asking what you’ve booked or gotten a callback on recently. Just tell those people “nothing at all,” even if you have. If you treat it like work rather than art, you’ll probably get much further much quicker.

Written by Ilana Rapp

Ilana Rapp is a media-savvy Generation Xer with instinctive wit, quick humor and a taste for deep human emotions. As a former (child) actress with Broadway, film and television credits, she is adept at, well, lots of things. She blogged on The Huffington Post and writes entertainment pieces for Casting Networks, Casting Frontier, NYCastings, Mupo Entertainment and New Jersey Stage. She is a huge fan of the television show V. Ask her why her favorite number is 22. Follow Ilana on Twitter @IlanaSpeaks22