Stars in His Eyes
Brunswick County teenager Wyatt Walter is making his mark in Hollywood.
For 15-year-old Wyatt Walter, life in Bolivia looks like it would for any other Brunswick County boy: fishing in the backyard pond he and his grandfather dug together, skateboarding with friends, an hour (or few!) of Fortnite. But then, there’s his other life. When Wyatt isn’t taking a breather in Bolivia, he’s on the other side of the United States, leaping from role to role as an aspiring actor in Los Angeles, California. Currently, he is juggling four different roles on three different networks: Hulu, Showtime and Disney. And, of course, he’s always looking for more.
Like most young stars, Wyatt wasn’t expecting this. Six years ago, he showed up to an open casting call in Wilmington for a low-budget independent film called The Rack Pack, based on local writer Daryl Rackley’s adventurous childhood. “I went, and I didn’t really think anything of it,” Wyatt says. “But the writer was right there, and he looked at me and said, ‘You look just like this part.’”
That spark of connection led to a slow-moving, four-year film production, but by day five of shooting, Wyatt had caught the director’s eye, too. “He said he had another film he’d like me to be in,” Wyatt remembers. “He said, ‘Okay, cool. We’ll fly you out to L.A. and we can go ahead and do it.’ I was shocked. California?!” One flight later, Walter took on the role of Thomas in the motorcycle gang film Nation’s Fire, which is in post-production now.
Hollywood brought even more opportunity for Wyatt, though it took two years of “pushing the rock up the hill,” as he and his mom, Stacie Walter, like to say. After more than 80 auditions and countless hours of training, Wyatt snagged four roles within three months.
In June 2018 Walter took on a small role in the second season of Future Man, a futuristic comedy series on Hulu; it follows an underachieving janitor-turned-world savior. “They dressed me up in this outfit from the year 2169 and ended up putting as much product as they could in my hair, and it stood straight up!” Wyatt remembers with a laugh. “I looked like one of the troll dolls!”
The next month he earned a role in the middle school comedy pilot PEN15, which airs in February on Hulu. Next, he snagged the role of Chet, a new character on Shameless, Showtime’s award-winning and longest-running comedy-drama series. Walter will enter the show in Season 9 as one of Liam (Christian Isaiah)’s friends.
If that wasn’t enough, Wyatt then won a role on Sydney to the Max, a pilot that will air on Disney next year. He plays Riccoli, the leader of a clique that rules the skateboarding park the main character frequents. Wyatt admits his character is “kind of a jerk” who refuses to let the girls skate there “because there’s one girl I know would kick my butt.”
Wyatt is excited for Sydney to the Max as it “breaks out of the Disney box” and appeals to the whole family, kids and adults alike. This shift is reflected in the show’s ratings, which teeter back and forth between PG and PG-13.
For Wyatt, the wonder of his young acting career struck him the moment he entered Disney’s soundstage — the first he’d ever seen. “I was like, ‘Whoa! This is legit!’ You could look to your right, and there would be a bedroom. Look to your left, a football field. Look to your other left, and you see a different house, and a house from the ’80s. It was just crazy!” he raves. Stacie jokes, “I don’t know what they’re going to do to him in Hollywood. His heart’s just so Brunswick County sweet!”
Life in California is a little different from back home. On a typical California day, Walter wakes up at 5:30 am for online schooling (based in North Carolina) until 9 or 11 am. After a quick lunch break and walk around the neighborhood, he then goes to auditions, callbacks or scheduled dance, vocal and acting classes. And then there’s the three-hour improv class on Sundays.
While this may sound like a lot for a teenager to balance, Wyatt is surrounded by support. Thanks to Katrina Herlong, Danita Florance and JoCinda Benjamin, his manager, theatrical agent and commercial agent, he is able to juggle an ever-shifting schedule. “He’s got a dream team of women behind him! And his daddy!” Stacie says. “As long as he’s willing to work hard for it, his dad and I are very supportive parents. And we’re artistic, artsy-fartsy parents anyway!”
Wyatt comes from a family of artists. His parents are professional photographers (his father, Frank, grows out his beard all year long to play Santa for custom portraits) and his sister, Madi, has a budding music career and her first album on the way as almostmadi.
While Wyatt oozes enthusiasm for every bit of life in L.A., he’s also full of thanks for those in Brunswick County who helped him get where he is today. He provides a long list of mentors, including Jenna Hinson, his seventh and eighth grade music teacher who helped him sharpen his singing transitions, and CC Martin, a country music singer and songwriter who taught him “literally everything on guitar.”
“I am so grateful for all of this, for everything that’s happened,” Wyatt says. “I’m just so happy. Hopefully one day I can bring it back and help Brunswick County.”
Beyond the silver screen, Wyatt hopes to someday join the Air Force, get his pilot’s license, go to college for a mechanical engineering degree and join the International Space Station team. Then again, he wouldn’t mind winning an Oscar someday. No matter the path he chooses, one thing is clear: This boy’s got stars in his eyes.