Actor Charley Koontz is widely known for his roles on both NBC’s hit series Community, and CBS’ CSI:CYBER. And while his characters will forever be memorable, Mr. Koontz hopes that he can also work towards changing the perspectives people have of “larger actors”, while helping to guide others who may be dealing with the same situations as himself.
To do this, he is changing his current life style by adding in fitness and yoga, being a new spokesperson or the world renowned organization, Be Real Campaign, and also playing roles on-screen that break the typical molds for individuals of his size.
Charley made his character named “Fat Neil” on Community into “REAL Neil”, and now he got REAL real exclusively with Asana Journal about what’s next…
How important is fitness and a living a healthy lifestyle to you?
Living a healthy lifestyle is absolutely important to me. I must confess that I have my wonderful girlfriend to thank for jump starting my healthy lifestyle. I had always tried to monitor my health and especially weight but it was in more of a maintenance capacity. Now I work out 5 times a week, I love my fruit and vegetable juices and I absolutely love my cheat days. At this point I’ve lost about 60lbs in the last few months, all thanks to my wonderful partner in fitness!
Before landing your major leading role on CSI:CYBER you played the supporting character of “Fat/Real Neil” on the series, Community. What about this character did you enjoy and/or dislike?
I will always have a deep love for Neil. I always have to thank Dan Harmon and the writers for writing a wonderfully real character that was dealing with things that so many people deal with every day. The film and television industry has so much to do with appearance that it is practically in its fiber. I got to connect with so many fans over the portrayal of weight and depression through Neil that I am absolutely grateful to have been a vessel for that.
What recent changes in your day-to-day lifestyle have you taken to work towards a more complete healthy lifestyle routine?
I have been shocked at the results I’ve seen from just making small changes to my life style! I traded in a fried egg sandwich breakfast for a fruit/vegetable blended juice with some protein powder. I try to limit my grain intake to one meal a day, so maybe a rice and vegetable bowl for dinner. And finally just getting up and getting active has provided great results to my waistline and my metabolism. I get out to the gym about 5 days a week and hit the treadmill for an hour with a goal of burning 600 calories per day and limiting my caloric intake. I’m more energetic, I have less aches and pains and I’m feeling absolutely great about myself. Although I’m going to need some new clothes soon, my shirts are too big!
Do you feel ‘larger’ individuals such as yourself sometimes get typecast in Hollywood role wise?
I do think there is a lot of typecasting in Hollywood across all different types. Race, weight, gender, all bring with them certain attitudes within the industry. I try to be aware of the roles that I am taking and the message I am putting out there with my work. I’m honored to represent Neil on Community and also am so thankful that our writers on CSI:Cyber never resorted to weight related storylines and let my character Krumitz kick butt just like the rest of the cast. I try to do my part in the fight for body confidence and I do hope that our writers and producers join the fight as well and start creating some great characters for people of all shape and size starting on the page.
What type of roles would you like to play moving forward in your career?
I love acting. I just love it. So if there is a set or a stage with creative people working together to make something great for the people out there then I will be there! Not much of an answer, but I don’t want to limit myself!
We heard that you have slowly started practicing yoga… How has this experience been so far?
YOGA IS FANTASTIC! It’s difficult especially for my upper body strength but I am already experiencing increased flexibility and strength. I’m just beginning so I may not be the best spokesperson but I am enjoying it so far and excited to keep getting better!
What types of yoga are you testing out?
I don’t even know, I just do what my instructor tells me to do! Downward Facing Dog! My favorite part is that we are absolutely encouraged to go at our own pace and to learn about our bodies and to really feel ourselves in the moment. It’s difficult but incredibly relaxing.
What is your advice to others looking at getting into yoga and/or changing up their fitness routines?
Just start! That is truly all it took for me. I haven’t gone on some crazy crash diet or Hollywood cleanse or anything. I am just trying to get more active and be more mindful of what I put into my body. Anyone can do it, all it takes is that first step! 30 minutes to an hour of walking every day have changed my life.
What motivates you in general to be the best version of yourself each day?
My friends and my family and being able to participate in life to the fullest extent. That has been an incredible motivator for me. And also my career is a wonderful motivator. I am absolutely not changing my physique or lifestyle with a goal to get “better” parts in the industry or to be more “attractive”. The is absolutely a personal life decision that I am so thankful for. HOWEVER, I am excited at the possibility of getting to release my inner Jason Bourne!
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
It’s cheesy but I would give everyone the gift of body confidence. Self-love is so important and incredibly lacking the days. I feel like people are gradually being conditioned to believe that they are not as valuable as the people they see in television shows or on billboards because of their size, color, or orientation. I am incredibly lucky to work with an incredible organization called the Be Real Campaign. They are so inspiring in their mission to get the word out about self love and body confidence. absolutely check out http://www.berealcampaign.co.uk to find out more!
Is there anything further you wish to add?
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