(Photo: The Huntington)
You began your acting career from performing in theatres, but you became popular after the role of Phil Diffy, 22th century teenager, in Disney's show "Phil of the Future". What was the best thing about playing in such a futuristic TV series with a lot of special effects?
“Phil of the Future” was an incredible experience for me. I had been living with my family in Connecticut, going to high school and working on theater with my friends until all of a sudden I found myself in Los Angeles working for Disney. The futuristic aspect of the show was wild and fun to explore, with lots of stunts and special effects. It was definitely a big learning experience across the board.
Talking about the future, you are now an activist for a better world for the next generations. You have a kickstarter project "Standing Ground" about The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, who are fighting against the building of a pipeline near their homes. How did you become inspired to help them and make a documentary about their lives and problems?
I had been following the Standing Rock story for some time through Amy Goodman and “Democracy Now”, an incredible news program. As soon as I saw women and children getting attacked by private security dogs, I knew I had to do something. The movement at Standing Rock is representative of many issues facing Americans today, and I realized that if I could help connect people through their stories, we might be able to do some good.
There are a lot of political changes in America now and you strongly supported Women's March on your Twitter account. Have you ever been thinking about getting more involved in politics? What is your opinion about the situation in your country?
I'm currently very ashamed of my country. While I don't think I'd make a very good politician, I do believe that our way out of this mess is through local government. The Women's March was a powerful moment for not only Americans but the world at large - we have to remember that we're not alone and that when we join together our voices will be heard. At the moment that I type this there are thousands of people protesting at airports around the country in support of refugees. Trump does not represent the majority of Americans, so it's time to get loud.
As far as I know, "Standing Ground" is your debut as a director and a documentarian, standing on the other side of the camera. Would you like to do more documentary films in the future or to focus mainly on acting?
I want to be a storyteller. Whatever form that comes in is ok with me. I have a huge place in my heart for theater, it's where I like to engage most as an artist. But wherever there's an exciting story to tell, you can count me in.
Apart from being a part of the world of film, you played drums in a couple of bands, for example His Orchestra and Reputante. What style of music do you like most and what are your favourite artists?
Music has always been a big part of my life. I grew up with my father playing guitar and banjo and dancing around the house to Paul Simon albums. That being said, I'll listen to anything. I'm grateful for a group of friends that have exceptional taste in music, so we are always trading notes. My current happy place is Gabriel Garzón-Montano's album “Jardin”.
Your kickstarter project received a great support and I hope it will "call more people to action", as its description says. What are your other plans for the near future? Is there a chance to see you on the TV screen soon?
I've learned that documentaries take an extraordinary amount of work. We're traveling all over the country and talking to people everywhere. There's a lot to be done both on the film and in our country right now, but we are also starting to see television react to the political climate. My friend Jen Robinson created a show “Sweet/Vicious” about female empowerment, my girlfriend Sarah Steele is on “The Good Fight” which talks about fighting for civil justice. As artists we have both the opportunity and the responsibility to connect and empower through storytelling, and as long as we're fighting for what's right - count me in.
If you want to learn more about the kickstarter project of Raviv Ullman, please visit the official website of "Standing Ground":