Reflections and Insights from John C. Neyland
A good friend of mine contacted me and asked if I was up for some swimming, barbecue, and volleyball while enjoying the company of some good friends. To be quite frank, he had me when he said barbecue. While making the drive from Thibodaux to Baton Rouge I knew I would enjoy this Sunday fun day, what I didn’t know was that this one split decision would change my life in the coming months and soon to be years.
I arrived at the home and I’m taken away at the mere sight of it. As I get out of my car my good friend Zack West who had invited me to come along greets me. He walks me around the back and I begin to notice some familiar faces. After I met everyone outside he told me I had to be Big John, the man that invites friends over every day Sunday to enjoy the company of one another. When I first saw John I immediately knew why Zack referred to him as Big John. I introduced myself to him as Smooth, which to this day he still confuses it with Slim, Sticks, or anything else that starts with an ‘S.’
After playing a few games of volleyball I can tell that John was an intense and passionate man. Not just in a competitive manner with volleyball but even when he talked to others about business decisions, life choices, and loving others. The burgers were done cooking and while everyone was eating John came over to me and just started talking to me wanting to know more about me. I told him that I had recently graduated from Nicholls State University and was working as a technician for Cox Communications. He then asked me a very specific question, “What do you want to do?” I then went on to tell him how I had received a scholarship to attend the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles, California. I told him I could not attend due to the fact that I could not afford room and board and I had no one to cosign on any loans to help me out. When he heard about my circumstances he immediately wanted to lend a helping hand.
Coming from where I’m from it’s not all the time that people want to help you without getting something in return. In the weeks and months to follow, John continued to keep in touch with me by inviting to over for UFC fights and just taking me out to lunch getting to know each other better. He continued to drill into me that he was 100% invested in me and was just waiting for me to believe him and do what was necessary to make this thing happen. I contacted the school and they had informed me that in order to lock down my position for the upcoming semester I had to make a $500 deposit. I informed John and he sent me a picture with a check made out to the academy with my name on it.
December 15, 2016, my best friend and I loaded up my mustang with my belongings and began our trek across the U.S. for my new home in California. Upon reaching my destination and having been there for a few weeks, anxiety, fear, and other things started to set in. I had to push past all of those things if I wanted to do something that was once only a dream for myself. Here I am at the end of my first semester loving the whole process and the things that I have planned for the future. I have learned the foundation of acting, been casted in short film, and I have also been casted for a pilot and trailer for an HBO show entitled Cat and Mouse. The future is bright and I have no intentions on going backwards. If I were on my deathbed I know this is one thing I would not regret ever doing. How to live the life I have yet to dream has become a statement I question myself every day. This is what I want to achieve. This is what I will achieve. This is what I will help others achieve.
By Christopher Johnson “Smooth”
Los Angeles, California
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