It’s a common story in Hollywood: the difficulties a performer faces in establishing himself in his chosen career. The lucky few, however, defy these daunting odds to carve out a name for themselves in entertainment. An even smaller selection of artists successfully branch out to other pursuits. Gary Sturgis, in-demand actor and voice-over talent, is part of this elite group. In addition to appearing in movies (Tyler Perry’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman and Daddy’s Little Girls) and on television shows (The District, NYPD Blue, Malcolm & Eddie, and Port Charles), Gary’s distinctive voice was adopted by UPN in its on-air promotions, and he lent his golden tones to numerous commercials, video games, and cartoons. Gary may very well be one of the voices you hear every day, without even realizing it.
He credits his upbringing in New Orleans for providing the values and culture that have motivated him to keep moving. As befits a native of the Crescent City, Gary first caught the entertainment bug not in acting, but in music. After playing for a couple of years with the school band, he advanced to the position of drum major, thus marking one of his first public displays of leadership. It was a sign of things to come.
High school marked another important discovery for Gary: He began acting and, in the process, found his path in the world. His hometown provided opportunities for Gary to get his start, with appearances in films such as The Big Easy and Blaze, but it was in Los Angeles where his career gained steam. In addition to getting cast for TV series, he could be seen in commercials for Mountain Dew alongside rapper Busta Rhymes, as well as spots both on the air and in print for Dodge Neon.
Gary’s already burgeoning portfolio blew up when he branched out into voice-over work. On top of his work for UPN, he lent his sonorous tones to ads for feature films such as The Others, Torque, Bones, The Brother, The Wood, Blue Streak, and Crossroads (starring Britney Spears). Gary’s golden vocals have found another avenue as well; he’s given voice to cartoon characters such as the Phantom Virus in Scooby Doo and the Cyberchase and Ebon in Static Shock. Video game makers came calling too, casting Gary in True Crime New York City and Shout About Music.
The silver screen beckoned, and Gary responded. Tyler Perry has featured Gary in two of his features, including the smash hit Diary of a Mad Black Woman, in the role of the villainous Jamison, and Daddy’s Little Girls, as Joe Woods, the local drug dealer. Gary has also acted opposite Terrence Howard in Lion’s Gate Pride, in which he played another baddie. Gary has also turned his artistic sights behind the scenes, exercising his screenwriting muscles. He’s penned several feature-length scripts, covering comedy, drama, and the emotions in between; his works are currently being shopped around.
In 2005, Gary’s career came full circle, as he returned to his musical roots to release his debut CD Fahrenheit under his rap name Illuminati. While building GEMSound Recording studio and putting down some rap tracks, he met producer and fellow neo-soul artist Simfani. Together, the duo created Predator Records, which aims to bring film practices to the music industry and to take care of the artists on their label.
There’s more to Gary’s career than entertaining the masses, however. As a busy voice actor, he’s breaking the mold of traditional vocal talent as part of a new wave representing women and minorities. His undeniable success serves as proof of mainstream audiences’ acceptance and appetite for different voices. He also teaches classes in the art of voice-over for those hoping to follow in his footsteps.
Actor, musician, writer, teacher, entrepreneur: Gary Sturgis has succeeded in all of these pursuits. Whether he’s lighting up the big screen, giving voice to words or characters on a page, creating his own stories, or dreaming up another avenue to express his creative urges, Gary has followed his muse to great acclaim. Whichever hat Gary is wearing, only one question remains: Where will he show up next?
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Written by Staff Writer