The first time you meet Drake Simpson, he may be hanging out with his daughter Billie somewhere out in Houston, and while he looks slightly familiar, you are positive that you have never seen him act before. You are dead wrong. You have actually seen Simpson act numerous times; you've actually walked out of the theater and said to yourself, "Holy cow, that guy's good." Then you may have read multiple reviews of his work in which he has been called one of the "finest actors working onstage in our city." But Simpson the actor and Simpson the dad are two very different people. If you've seen a play in Houston over the past several years, you have no doubt seen Simpson doing what he does best. Whether or not you recognize him in his street clothes is another story.
In addition to acting, Simpson is a founding member of Horse Head Theatre company, who in their short time together have taken the Houston theater scene by storm. The company has been known to put on provocative, audience-driven theater in very untraditional venues that match the tone of the performance. For their bar-fueled drama Among the Thugs, the company put on a production in the basement of a bar. Simpson performs for the company as well as produces, and his performance in Thugs was described by David Feil for this publication as "Drake Simpson, who leads the cast as the American journalist Bill (of course), was the linchpin for the audience, a sympathetic hero who seemed to be as disoriented by the myriad faces swirling around him as we were."
Additionally, Simpson teaches acting to the next generation of thespians.
What Do You Do: I am an actor, director, founding member of Horse Head Theatre, and teacher, but really I'm a dad.
Why Do You Like It:
I like making art because I like solving problems. One of my favorite reasons to do a project is because I don't know how to do it.
What Inspires You: There's no holistic all encapsulating answer to that. Music, Inside the Actors Studio, money, laughter, my girl Ivy and my girl Billie. When I see great work, I am inspired. Partially out of wanting to tell great stories and partially out of envy. Sometimes I'm a total 5th grader.
If Not This, Then What? If I wasn't a teaching artist I'd probably want to do something like be an SVU detective. As long as I didn't have to work my way up through the ranks. You know just straight from closing a show to solving crimes. So long as its like it is on TV. But seriously I think that would combine my love for problem solving with helping people. That or like a musician.
If Not Here, Then Where? I don't know. My daughter is here and there's just no way I could be a long distance dad. But after she graduates in like 11 years I could maybe do NYC. I lived in LA for 6-1/2 years so I could potentially see myself checking out the East Coast. Or Amsterdam. They could totally use an American resident theater.
What's Next? Next for me is Horse Head's production of Annie Baker's The Aliens. We open on the 15th of August and run through the 31st. I was lucky enough to do another of her shows, Body Awareness, last year with Phil (Lehl) and Kim (Tobin) over at Stark Naked so I knew how great of a writer she was, is. Anyway when I heard the treatment for this show, I knew that we'd love it. We read it as a company and knew immediately this was our next show.
More Creatives for 2013 (In order of most recently published; click here for the full page).
Shelby Carter, Playboy model turned photographer David Matranga, actor Crystal Belcher, pole dancer Daniel Kramer, photographer Blue 130, pin-up explosion art Nina Godiwalla, author and TED speaker David Wilhem, light painter Tom Abrahams, author and newscaster Browncoat, pin-up pop artist Kris Becker, Nu-Classical composer and pianist Vincent Fink, science fashion Stephanie Saint Sanchez, Senorita Cinema founder Ned Gayle, thrift store painting defacer Sameera Faridi, fashion designer Greg Ruhe, The Human Puppet Sophia L. Torres, founder and co-artistic director of Psophonia Dance Company Maggie Lasher, dance professor and artistic director Jordan Jaffe, founder of Black Lab Theatre Outspoken Bean, performance poet Barry Moore, architect Josh Montoute, mobile gaming specialist Ty Doran, young actor Gwen Zepeda, Houston's first Poet Laureate Joseph Walsh, principal dancer at Houston Ballet Justin Garcia, artist Buck Ross, dilettante and director of Moores Opera Center Patrick Renner, sculptor of the abstract and the esoteric Tomas Glass, abstract artist and True Blood musician Ashley Stoker, painter, photographer and Tumblr muse Amy Llanes, artistic airector of Rednerrus Feil Dance Company Bevin Bering Dubrowski, executive director at the Houston Center for Photography Lydia Hance, founder and director of Frame Dance Productions Piyali Sen Dasgupta, mixed media artist and nature lover Dean James, New York Times bestselling mystery novelist Nicola Parente, abstract painter and photographer Cheryl Schulke, handmade leather pursemaker Anthony Rathbun, Alternative Lifestyle Photographer David Salinas, computer-less analog photographer Danielle Burns, art curator Alicia DiRago, Whimseybox founder Katia Zavistovski, contemporary art curator Ashley Horn, choreographer, filmmaker Amanda Stevens, scary book author Peter Lucas, film and video curator, music lover and self-described culture-slinger Ana MarÃa Otamendi, collaborative pianist and vocal coach Billy D. Washington, comedian Michele Brangwen, choreographer and dancer Kristin Warren, actress and choreographer Kelly Sears, animator and film maker Colton Berry, Bayou City Theatrics' artistic director jhon r. stronks,dance-maker Joe Grisaffi, actor, director, writer, cinematographer Jordan "Monster Mac" McMahon, artist, designer