“Only when you step outside of your comfort zone can you grow and see your full potential.”
– Donny Boaz
There’s a lot more to modeling than meets the eye. We ogle the runways and glance through the glossies, but what goes on behind the scenes? Welcome to Face Time. DFW Style Daily’s exclusive series gets up close and personal with Dallas’ top models.
We’ve taken a risky trip to the country with Cameron Phan, and relived with Carlotta Lennox the unparalleled experience of Yves Saint Laurent sketching his haute couture collection from her very form. Today, we’re turning up the excitement to a whole new level with dapper double-threat Donny Boaz.
You know him as Bo McCabe on Dallas, but did you know that this former Abercrombie hottie now has dozens of diverse acting credits to his name? He also possesses a number of outspoken opinions, in addition to on-set stories. Read on for what may be our most fascinating Face Time yet!
DFW Style Daily: At what age did you begin modeling?
Donny Boaz: “I was a 19-year-old sophomore playing football at Southwestern Assembly of God University in Waxahachie when I started modeling. I was a personal trainer part time, and most of my clients were women between the ages of 30 and 40. I asked all of my clients to set goals, and if they achieved their goals, to reward themselves. One client easily met her goals in two weeks, and I asked her how she wanted to reward herself. She said she wanted to take me to a modeling agency. I said, ‘No, modeling is for the birds. Nobody wants to do that.’ I told her to do something for herself instead. She said that this would be for her, so I agreed to go. I went to Kim Dawson Agency in Dallas, and they said I had a good look, but they wanted me to grow my hair to hide the perception of my ears sticking out. I grew out my hair, and they signed me five months later.”
Tell us about your first job.
“My first job was for M.A.D.D. (Mothers Against Drunk Driving). I sat on a couch with another male model and we laughed, showing that we can have a good time without having to drink. They took our photos, and I got a paycheck in the mail two weeks later. I made more money in an afternoon than I made in a week as a personal trainer. I said, ‘Ok, maybe I will like this modeling thing.’
“My second job was for Abercrombie & Fitch. I was flown to San Francisco for the week to shoot their catalogue. My third job, I booked a runway show in Milan and was flown to the other side of the world. I can say, without a shadow of doubt, that being given the opportunity to model definitely changed my life – and I believe it to have been changed for the better. I am thankful, and consider myself blessed to have been given these opportunities.”
How does the job of a male model differ from that a female model? Or are the requirements much the same?
“Let’s be honest. The modeling industry is a female-driven industry. It’s the only business in the world women automatically make more money than men. Women, in my opinion, are the most beautiful beings that God ever made, and they’re definitely more in demand in the industry than any male model.
“When I started modeling, it was a perception that a female model’s career seemed to start winding down at age 26. It’s definitely changed since then. I see women modeling well into their late 30’s and 40’s, proving beauty to be timeless. I think we can all thank Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell for never aging. On the other hand, some men can model just as long. Clients like it when men start to get a little salt-and-pepper in their hair. George Clooney and Anthony Hopkins will probably be doing print ads their whole lives.
“To be a model, there are industry standards in height and sizes for both men and women. Besides being 5’8” – 6′ for women, or 6′ – 6’2” for men, being attractive doesn’t hurt you either. But, when it comes to playing in front of a camera, I don’t think that can be taught. I believe you either have it or you don’t.”
You are a double-threat, successful as both a model and an actor. Tell us about how you prepare for a new acting role.
“Acting is easily my greatest passion. I enjoy my job very much, and consider myself blessed to be able to do it for a living. When I am reading a script for the first time, I let my imagination run with the story. I’m picturing myself in this role, this situation. Preparation comes with a willingness to play, and each new role has its own requirements. With each role, I love the training and knowledge that comes with the opportunity.”
Was there pressure (or should we ask how much?) acting alongside the legendary original cast members of the iconic television drama Dallas on the new return of the show?
“For me, the only time I may feel pressure in acting is in the casting room when I’m trying to get the job – and even there, it’s best not to show the nerves. Once you’ve been given the job, it’s your job to own the character. There’s no room for doubt.
“Modeling allowed me travel all over the world at a young age. In traveling, people would often ask me where I was from. I’d tell them I’m from Dallas, and they would say, ‘Oh, J.R. Ewing! Who shot J.R.?’ People worldwide associate Dallas, Texas, with the television show Dallas. I feel blessed and honored to be a part of this show. I got to move home to do the job I love to do. It’s definitely the greatest experience of my career.”
Do you have a favorite story from the set?
“I think that one of the coolest things I’ve seen on this set – or on any set, for that matter – is the reverence for Larry Hagman. Even after his passing, everyday, every episode, he is still number one on the call sheet and it lists that his character is on Hold. I get a little choked up every time I tell that story.”
What is the most unusual thing you have done on assignment?
“It’s difficult to identify the most unusual thing I’ve done as an actor – that’s what this job is made up of! Being an actor has allowed me to learn and do a lot of fun and amazing things. I’ve been trained as a skydiver, scuba diver, and a rock climber, and in fencing, military weapons, and special vehicles. The list goes on.
“But, I would have to say the craziest thing I’ve ever had to do for my job was to be buried alive. There was no coffin. My character was smacked in the head with a shovel and it knocked him out. When my character woke up, the only thing that was not buried was his face. After begging and pleading not to be buried (as the character), my face was then covered with dirt. The craziest sensation took over my body. I could not only feel my pulse all over my body, but I could hear it as well. I was probably underground for no more than 15 seconds, but it felt like an eternity.”
Are there any “deal breakers” for you when it comes to job requirements?
“I don’t believe I have any deal breakers in the requirements of my job. I like to live my life outside the box. Only when you step outside of your comfort zone can you grow and see your full potential.”
Do you have a personal role model? What have you learned from his example?
“I consider myself a student of film. I like watching the actors that came before me, and those who are currently working, to see what they are doing right and what I can do to learn, grow, and succeed from their example. There is a local Dallas actor, Drew Waters, who started in the business before me. I’ve watched him over the years, and I really admire his drive and work ethic. Also, in certain roles I ask myself what other great actors would do in a similar situation. I admire Hugh Jackman and Ewan MacGregor, and I sometimes ask myself, ‘WWCBD?’ What would Christian Bale do?”
If you had a free afternoon or evening in Dallas, how would you spend it?
“Dallas is where I grew up, and where a lot of my friends and family live today. I like to make the time to see them. I also like doing active things, whether it’s playing basketball, throwing a football around, or going bowling. If I have free time by myself, I’ve been known to catch two or three movies at a time. As I said, I love being a student of film.”
Finally, many actors and those in the public eye use their influence to draw attention to meaningful causes. Are there any issues of special significance to you?
“One of the things that I enjoy the most about my job is that it gives me a voice to be heard. Something I am very passionate about, and want to bring to the attention of others, is how broken this country is in many ways. From our massive debt, to food and water being poisoned with chemicals, to our broken health care and educational systems, I want our country to unite. We must stop talking about the problems and do something about them. I want to believe that it is possible to start doing what is right for the betterment of mankind.”
All photos, courtesy of Donny Boaz.