A dad who self-medicated his depression with drink and drugs has set his sights on Hollywood after a chat with movie star Mark Wahlberg inspired him to unlock an acting talent that has seen him film alongside Samuel L Jackson.
Jamie Humphrey, 33, was working as a security guard on the set of the movie Infinite in 2019 when a chance encounter with Wahlberg became pivotal to him rebuilding his life and pursuing his acting dreams.
Jamie, of Sittingbourne, Kent, whose wife, Lisa, 27, is a stay-at-home mum to their five children, said: “I was working on a film set, guarding Mark Wahlberg’s trailer. I didn’t expect to actually meet him, but he stopped one day to talk to me.”
He added: “It was just a two-minute conversation but it ended up changing my life.
“He stopped and asked me about myself and what my dreams were. I told him I wanted to be like him and to make money like him, that my dream since childhood was to be an actor.
“He said to me, ‘Well what are you doing standing here?’”
He added: “I didn’t expect Mark to stop and speak to me but he was such a friendly guy.”
The pep talk came at the end of four difficult years, starting with the death of his beloved grandmother on December 1, 2015, who passed away in her sleep of natural causes.
He said: “She was 80 and it was a very traumatic experience for me, because I was with her when she died and it sent me into a spiral of depression.”
For Jamie, who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) which means people have differences in brain activity and development that affect attention, the next few years were a dark time.
He said: “I was just trying to survive, to put food on the table for my family, but it was rock bottom for me in terms of mental health.
“I admit I turned to drugs and alcohol and I didn’t know how I was going to get out of the rut I was in.”
Astonishingly, it was Mark Wahlberg’s frank words that were his catalyst for change.
He said: “It was like a light switch had been flicked. Suddenly a spark had ignited.
“I began looking for acting roles as an extra, or small parts that I could audition for.”
He added: “I made a post on Facebook explaining about my mental health and how I really wanted to be an actor.
“By chance, it reached a Bengali casting director who messaged and offered me a day on set as an extra.”
The filming was taking place in Windsor, Berkshire, but with a large family to provide for, Jamie did not know how he would afford to attend.
He said: “My dad was always my biggest supporter and he was as determined as me to make this happen.
“I spoke to him about the opportunity and he offered to pay for my train ticket.
“It was an incredible day. I had no idea what to expect but I loved the atmosphere and, even though I was supposed to be an extra, I ended up having a small speaking role too.”
This first taste of acting had Jamie hooked and he started searching for more opportunities.
He said: “After that, I starred in a Nazi film, Swastik Sanket, playing a main role.
“The movie was a number one hit in Tollywood, which is Indian cinema filmed in the Telugu language.”
Since then, Jamie’s career has been climbing, with two films due to be released this year – Gangs of London and Victor.
He said: “I’m not going to pretend I’m making thousands of pounds from the movies, but everyone has to start somewhere and the bigger roles and movies I get cast in, the more money I can make.”
And this time when tragedy struck and he lost his dad Kevin, 59, to complications from Covid in December 2020, despite his immense grief, he honoured the memory of the father he loved so much by staying on course.
He said: “My dad has always been my rock, so to lose him was just devastating, as we were so close, but I was determined to keep going for him.”
Just over a year on from his dad’s death, Jamie attended his first red carpet event for the National Social Media Awards at which he made a point of commemorating his late father.
He said: “I wouldn’t have been on that carpet if it wasn’t for my dad’s unwavering support, so it felt wrong to go there and not do something special for him.”
He added: “I brought a shirt with me that had my dad’s face on with the words, ‘We made it’ printed on it, too. It was very special to me, because I do feel that me and my dad were in this together.
“I’ll always be grateful for what he did for me.”
Now, Jamie has his sights set on the bright lights of Hollywood.
He said: “I’m working on sorting out my visas and immigration documents, so I can move permanently out to LA with my family.
“I want to make a real go of being an actor and what better place to do it in than Hollywood?”
Until Jamie makes the big move, he is taking regular trips to Los Angeles, USA, as he looks for work.
He said: “Part of the immigration process means that I need three years of work in America, so I’ve been going over to audition and make connections.
“Even my kids have taken to joining me on film sets and have had a couple of cameos in the movies I’ve done.”
Still struggling to accept how much his life has changed since the chance conversation with Mark Wahlberg, Jamie really is starting to achieve his dreams.
He said: “I recently filmed for a TV show with Samuel L. Jackson which I can’t say too much about but it’s still so surreal.
“Mark inspired me to follow my dreams and I’m determined to make it a reality.”
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