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Hometown to Hollywood: Q&A with West Chester teen Netflix star
Local teenager Lance Mathis is making his hometown proud in Hollywood at the tender age of 14.
The child actor, who goes by the stage name Lance Alexander, moved with his family from their West Chester Township home to Los Angeles earlier this year when Lance landed his first major acting role in the new Netflix TV show, Family Reunion.
“We are forever grateful for the encouragement, love and support from our hometown,” said Lance’s mother Angela Mathis. “West Chester is our home no matter where this journey takes our family.”
Lance and his sister, Gabrielle, 15, attended Lakota Local Schools while growing up in the Butler County, Ohio, suburb located between Cincinnati and Dayton. His family made their home in West Chester for a decade and a half before deciding to make the big move to the west coast for Lance’s career.
“I attended Liberty Early Childhood School and Union Elementary. We left for California on what would have been my first day of 7th grade at Hopewell Junior School. After I was part of the annual back-to-school festivities that day, I headed to the airport to LA,” Lance said.
In Family Reunion, Lance plays the recurring role of “Elvis” alongside famous Hollywood stars like Tia Mowry (Sister, Sister; Instant Mom) and Loretta Devine (Grey’s Anatomy; The Carmichael Show). The 20-episode Netflix series is available to stream starting July 10.
On Saturday, Aug. 3, the Mathis family will host a watch party celebration at Union Elementary, 7672 Lesourdsville West Chester Road. Friends, well-wishers and supporters are invited to join Lance for a meet-and-greet and to watch highlights from his TV shows and commercials. Lance has played roles in the TV series Teachers (2016) and Raven’s Home (2017), according to this IMDB page.
Continue reading to learn more about Lance’s story, and be sure to follow his journey on Instagram at @thelancealexander.
How long did your family live in West Chester before moving to Hollywood? What do you miss about the community?
We moved to West Chester in 2004 and lived there for 15 years. We traveled back and forth from West Chester to Hollywood until last month when we finally decided after flying 100,000 air miles in less than two years it was time to make the change! My family has always been very involved in the community so I think each of us miss the familiar faces and our community service projects most. West Chester is a great community! Everyone is friends with each other and we knew who to call or where to go for everything we needed.
What has moving to Hollywood been like for your family?
It has been exciting and tough at the same time because our family was separated for nearly two years. The first year my sister and my dad stayed in Ohio. Most weeks they flew to Los Angeles because it’s very difficult for me to travel while on set and nearly impossible during the Pilot or Episodic Season when I’m auditioning. Now that we are finally back under one roof, we are getting back in the family groove. We are enjoying doing activities together again, dinner at least three times a week, and family game nights which are my favorite. The entertainment industry can be very stressful and having my family with me is very important.
How did Lance get started in acting?
I started acting in April 2017. My mom submitted my photos to Wings Model Management, Inc. as I wanted “to be on TV.” So I tried some print and modeling first and Jake Lang (owner of Wings) believed that I had a personality that belonged on TV. I started to take classes and participate in a Model & Talent Expo in Dallas, Texas. Before I left for Texas, Jake suggested I should join in a workshop being given by a Talent Manager and Talent Agent who both worked for many years in Los Angeles. The workshop was a success and with no prior acting experience and only five months of training we headed to Hollywood at their requests. So, we credit Wings, MC Talent and AKA Talent Agency with helping me on this journey!
Has acting always been a passion/dream for Lance?
Acting was an interest but I wouldn’t say a dream. I have actually always loved music. I was a member of the Cincinnati Boy Choir for three years. I auditioned and was selected to be a member of the Hopewell Junior Vocal Chamber Ensemble before coming to California. In fact, Jennifer Akers, music teacher at Hopewell, worked with us to choose the music selection I performed at the Dallas Model & Talent Expo. The West Chester community has been so helpful and a big part of this journey.
When Lance is not acting, what does he like to do?
I love to play volleyball, one of the first things I joined when we arrived in California! I like hitting the bike trails with my dad on the weekends too! I am also a serious chess player. My sister and I once played each other for first and second place on a championship team – I won first place.
How did Lance get the gig on the Family Reunion Netflix series?
I went through the traditional audition process to land the role on Family Reunion. I auditioned for two different roles on the show and each required multiple auditions and producer sessions. The process took several months before we received the awesome news that I landed the recurring role of Elvis.
What is Family Reunion about?
The show is about a Seattle family that comes to Columbus, Ga. where I live, for a family reunion and decide to stay. We live in a small town and the McKellan family is used to their big city. Their parents are not very firm so the kids have a hard time adjusting to all the rules of their grandparents’ home. The parents and grandparents don’t always agree either and sometimes this causes problems. Meanwhile the kids are trying to adjust to school, make friends and find their way in the new town. It’s a very comical situation.
What are some of the best things about working on the Family Reunion set? What are some challenges?
The cast, crew, directors and writers are all fun to work with. The creator Meg Deloatch sets an example of excellence for each of us to follow. Everyone is encouraging and as a young actor, support means everything to me as I am trying to build my confidence on-screen. I know it’s a blessing to have the fabulous directors we have for Family Reunion. The only challenges I deal with are trying to find ways to balance work, school and play. Sometimes it's difficult to participate in social activities because work and school are very demanding.
Who does Lance play on Family Reunion? What are some similarities and difference between Lance in real life and the character he plays on TV?
My character’s name is Elvis. Elvis is fun loving and carefree – just like me! Elvis is also an entrepreneur and I would like to consider myself one as well. I tried to corner the market on fidget spinners once at school! Elvis is very active in his church and loves vacation bible school! I too never like to miss church or the teen group sessions during the week. Elvis is a little scary but I can be timid when it comes to breaking the rules. Elvis is always up for a good time which is cool because I have always been the life of the party! We are both well-mannered with big hearts and funny personalities.
Find ‘Family Reunion’ on Netflix in summer 2019: https://www.netflix.com/title/80234451