Mr. Dan Coleman, NHS Science Teacher, Chats about His Acting Career

By: Julia Sanders

Mr. Dan Coleman, a Biology and Zoology teacher at Newnan High School, wanted to be a mortician when he was a freshman in high school.

“No matter what you want to be now,” Mr. Coleman tells his students about their future job ambitions, “It is going to change.”

Coleman said if he was a mortician then he “would never be out of a job.”

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Mr. Coleman has ventured through many career options. He once thought about being a librairian, zookeeper, veterinarian, or a band director. He always knew that he wanted to do something “with nature”.

When Coleman joined the military, he was a med lab technician. Finally, he became a teacher at Newnan High School, where he has been teaching for the past thirty seven years.

Teaching, however, is not Coleman’s only profession. He also has acted in four movies. He says acting “pays well.”

His acting profession started when he was in high school. He was a crowd extra in a Paul Newman movie called “Winning”. Coleman has watched the movie many times, but he can not find himself in it, so he does not “really claim that one”.

Another movie that Mr. Coleman has acted in was in “The Fat Boy Chronocles”, which is a movie about a high school kid being bullied. The movie was filmed at Newnan High School in 2010.

Mr. Coleman said he was moving his teaching things into his room, and he ended up talking to the movie set people. The movie producer was a former student at Newnan High School, and Coleman let the producer know that if they needed anyone to “stand-in” for the movie, he would be available to do so. The producer let him know later on that he could be an extra in the movie.

Mr. Coleman’s acting career continued to expand when he got a speaking part in “Mean Girls 2”. He said that this experience “was kind of interesting”. He found out about the movie, when he saw that the movie producers were looking for “teacher types”, and his wife and a friend convinced him to try out as an extra.

After standing in line for three hours, the casting director spotted him, and asked him if he “had done any acting”. Mr. Coleman replied that he had done community theater in Downtown Newnan for about twenty years.

The casting director insisted that Mr. Coleman should audition for a speaking part so he did. The evening after the audition, he got a phone call from the casting director telling him that he got the part as Mr. Winkle, Meaghan Martin’s neighbor.

During the two days that Mr. Coleman was on the set acting for Mean Girls, the producer came up to him and asked if he could be an extra in “Drop Dead Diva”. They were filming over at Georgia Tech, and “they needed someone who looked like a professor”. Mr. Coleman got to be a background extra in one of the episodes of “Drop Dead Diva”.

In the spring of 2014, Mr. Coleman acted as a homeless person in the movie “Sick People”, which has not yet been released. When he asked what kind of costume he needed, the movie producer told him to bring whatever he could.

“Oh, shoot, I don’t have any homeless clothes, but I have teacher clothes, though. Well, it turned out that they worked.” Mr. Coleman laughed, as he talked about his costume for the part as the homeless man in the “Sick People” movie.

“Sick People” was his favorite movie to act in, but Coleman does not know why.

Mr. Coleman said he started acting because he enjoyed it. After doing a little bit of acting in high school, he had “the bug” for acting.

“Acting is just a lot of fun.” He added.

Coleman says his favorite memory from acting was seeing how all the actors, who had lines, got pampered.

“If you are an extra, you sit around for hours not doing anything, until they call you. But, where as, if you have a line, you will sit in air conditioning and got all kinds of snacks and food.” He commented.

He mentioned that he was the one to be pampered when he had a part in Mean Girls 2. In fact, he had a star on the door of his own personal dressing room. “That was pretty cool.” He added.

When asked if acting is like teaching, Mr. Coleman said, “Absolutely. To me, a good teacher performs everyday. If a teacher is enthusiastic about what they do, then hopefully that will come across to the students.”

He said teaching requires a lot of acting, but not by “playing a character that you aren’t, but more of using different techniques to reach as many students that you can.” Apparantly, acting and teaching have a lot in common because performance is the key in both jobs.

Mr. Coleman enjoys teaching because “everyday there are memorable things that happen”.

“In general, what really makes teaching satisfying is when you have that student who maybe is not too, I’ll say, academically oriented, and sometimes one day the light bulb comes on,” Coleman commented about teaching. He loves when students realize that learning can be fun.

In the future, Mr. Coleman hopes to be in more movies. Until then, he is going to focus on teaching and his hobbies such as coin collecting, landscaping, and helping out with his wife’s soap business.