Kilgore actor pursues screen dreams in Atlanta

Kilgore ex-pat Bucky VanDoren appears in Kia’s Telluride Super Bowl commercial, steadily gaining roles in Georgia’s film industry.
Kilgore ex-pat Bucky VanDoren appears in Kia’s Telluride Super Bowl commercial, steadily gaining roles in Georgia’s film industry.
2019 COMMERCIAL screenshot from KIA

Bucky VanDoren is living his dream of appearing on the silver screen and didn’t have to go to Hollywood to do it.

VanDoren, son of Alan and Debbie VanDoren, owners of Downtown D’Lites, found his footing in Georgia’s burgeoning TV and film industry. A theatrical education at Kilgore College was a springboard for the young actor, who made the move in order to seek real-world experience.

“I was there (KC) for about a year,” VanDoren said Thursday in a call from the set of a television show. “I was enjoying college but I really wanted to actually do something and not just learn bout it for awhile. I had been doing quite a bit of reading about how Atlanta is the main spot for film right now. There’s more stuff filming here than in L.A. right now.”

After studying theater and performing in plays directed by KC instructor Micah Goodding, VanDoren earned an internship as a carpenter with the Texas Shakespeare Festival in summer 2018. Shortly after, he made the move to Atlanta.

“Kilgore is actually the biggest town I’ve ever lived in,” VanDoren said, noting the difference between East Texas and Atlanta, which has a population of 6 million. “I moved here without any connections or anything. I found a place to stay with a couch-surfing host for the first couple nights.”

He’s been working full-time as an extra on television productions and has already appeared onscreen several times. He appeared in a Kia commercial which aired during the Super Bowl and in the Fox medical drama series “The Resident.”

“Right now I’m focused on getting settled in Atlanta and making connections.”

Adjusting to the sometimes challenging schedules of TV and film production has been a learning experience, he said.

“Yesterday I was working on a movie. The call time was 1 in afternoon we were there until 4 a.m. It’s pretty irregular. Some sets will start at 8 a.m., some start at 4 in afternoon. The longest I’ve been on set was 17 hours for ‘Kevin Probably Saves the World.’ I did that while still in Texas.”

VanDoren’s interest in theater began in childhood and he pursued it for years, appearing in local East Texas productions. While many students develop an interest in dramatic performance in UIL One Act Play competitions or school plays, he had a different experience.

“I was home schooled so didn’t have school theater,” he said. “I got my start in acting at Artsview Children’s Theater, I was about 9. That’s really what got me interested in acting. I did about 10 shows with them.”

He’s already gotten a start in the acting business and the sky is the limit, though he says he’d be content to perform roles in TV and film as a full-time job.

“My long term goal would be to star in a Marvel movie. As long as I could make a decent living through just acting, I would be happy. That’s pretty much what I’m aiming for.”

He answered questions during a break on the job as a television production proceeded around him.

“It’s a TV show called ‘Legacies.’ It’s a CW show. We’re actually working on the season finale right now. There’s a lot of stunt work going on that’s fun to watch.”


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