Ethan Wacker was 11 when he heard a radio spot announcing a Disney Channel casting call at a Waikiki hotel. He went, met people who liked what they saw, and began going to auditions in Los Angeles. Wacker started working almost immediately; after taking time off during his grandfather’s final illness, he was cast in the Disney Channel’s contemporary comedy, “Bizaardvark.”
When “Bizaardvark” premiered in 2016 Wacker was so much smaller than the other cast members that he looked like a child among teenagers. He’s grown considerably since then and the show’s writers have added a subplot where Wacker’s character, entrepreneurial would-be talent manager Bernard “Bernie” Schotz, has a crush on internet video star Amelia Duckworth, played by DeVore Ledridge.
With “Bizaardvark” in the middle of its third season Wacker, 16, divides his time between Los Angeles and Honolulu.
You have a career thousands of young actors would kill for, but do you feel you have enough time to be a kid?
I think I’m in the sweet spot where I’m not so famous or so recognizable that it impedes on my regular life, but I still get to do what I love and make a career out of it.
Tell me about the cast as seen from the inside.
It’s a good community. We have amazing singers in Olivia Rodrigo. We have amazing comedians in Madison Hu. We have DeVore, who is extremely talented all around — she’s a good singer, she’s really funny, she’s a good dancer, and when she turns it on as an actor, she’s exceptional. Elie Samouhi is insane on the guitar, and Maxwell Simkins is funny and a good rapper.
What has been some of your most memorable fan mail?
Most people write to me as if I’m Bernie, so they’ll write with tips on how I can convince people to become my clients, or they’ll say “I love you, Bernie.” I get mail from people in crazy countries — like Uzbekistan — who say they love watching “Bizaardvark.” I also get letters from people who say that seeing Bernie never give up inspires them to not give up either.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned as an actor?
Work ethic. There’s gonna be 10-1/2 hour days. There’s going to be droughts in your career where for four months straight you don’t book anything and all you hear is “no.” You have to keep hitting the pavement, keep trying, keep auditioning.
Can you watch yourself in “Bizaardvark?”
I can look at the first-season shows, maybe, but the more recent ones are hard because there’s always something I see and think, “You could have done this better.”
What do you like to do for fun?
I like to play basketball with my friends or go hiking, or go to the beach or go to the gym. And then sometimes I like to relax and just watch some Netflix and eat.
Where do you see yourself in five years — and 10 years?
In five years, in my junior year in college. Talking about 10 years — I’m definitely going to give this acting thing a shot. I had no idea that this could be my path and it happened, and I thank God every day.