Dylan O’Brien discusses career, social media presence at Berkeley Forum event

Photo of Dylan O'Brien
Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons
Dylan O’Brien, an actor known for his roles on the MTV television show “Teen Wolf” and the “Maze Runner” movie series, discussed his acting experiences at a virtual Berkeley Forum event. O’Brien, who posted comedy videos on YouTube in the late 2000s prior to pursuing a professional acting career, also shared advice for those interested in the entertainment industry. (Photo by Gage Skidmore under CC BY-SA 2.0)

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Actor Dylan O’Brien sat down virtually with the Berkeley Forum on Tuesday to speak about his experiences in the entertainment industry.

The event was livestreamed on the Berkeley Forum’s Facebook page, drawing about 1,000 viewers and more than 1,700 social media engagements. During the event, O’Brien discussed his growing career and experiences with maintaining a social media presence, in addition to giving advice for those interested in pursuing a career in entertainment.

While known for his roles on MTV’s television show “Teen Wolf” and the “Maze Runner” film series, O’Brien started out by producing a series of short comedic videos on his YouTube channel in the late 2000s before deciding to pursue acting professionally.

“I didn’t grow up acting as a kid. I wasn’t on sets,” O’Brien said during the event. “I wasn’t a child actor, and nor was I even in school, so it was something that I totally kind of just, like, picked up and was launching myself into.”

O’Brien said “Teen Wolf” became his “school” for acting. He discussed following his instincts when performing in different roles and using his background of technical skills, such as camera work and composition, to guide him through the unfamiliarity of acting on set.

According to O’Brien, the process for choosing roles changes over time, and as a new actor, it is about breaking into the industry and continuing to audition for any open role. O’Brien said he now tries to choose projects that are original and interesting, as some aspects of the industry have become a “regurgitation generation” of making sequels.

O’Brien also opened up about how his online presence has evolved. According to O’Brien, it is important for him to promote his work but also to continue to learn and understand topics outside of his work through social media. He added that he is now comfortable with using his online influence to discuss civic engagement and be more politically active.

“At some point, the bigger-than-me thing, that’s what made me get over myself,” O’Brien said during the event. “It’s about the conversation, and it’s about listening. … When I have a space to amplify a voice that has taught me so much, like in this moment, then I should do that.”

While the event was open to the public for viewing, questions were taken from UC Berkeley students, staff and faculty.

In response to a question about remaining motivated throughout his career, O’Brien said to keep believing in oneself and to understand that every career comes with moments of uncertainty.

“Never let yourself stop believing in yourself because that is what has gotten you to that point,” O’Brien said during the event.

Contact Thao Nguyen at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @tnguyen_dc.