Most junior high school students can only daydream about making a grand entrance on the red carpet at a big Hollywood premiere and being interviewed by the likes of Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood.
But, then again – Zach Cumer isn’t most people. The 15-year-old, who plays the ADHD karate aficionado Warren in Smokin’ Aces, is living out every teenager’s fantasy.
“I’m all over the Internet now, it’s kind of cool,” said Cumer, reflecting on his recent red carpet experience.
Cumer, who hails from Cheyenne, Wyoming, began acting as a hobby. He was taking acting classes in Denver, Colorado, when a manager from California offered to represent him. From there, Cumer came out to Hollywood and found an agent, and since then, he’s had an eclectic acting career – including a role as young Howard Stern in the independent film Little Howie and the Stern Gang and a small part in the in the critically-acclaimed film, The Laramie Project. But Smokin’ Aces, which features an all-star cast including Jeremy Piven, Ray Liotta, Andy Garcia, Ryan Reynolds and Alicia Keys, is Cumer’s most high profile film to date.
And it all started when Cumer skipped school.
“My mom gets a call from my agent saying, ‘We have an audition for Zach for a Universal movie called Smokin’ Aces,'” Cumer said. “So, my mom calls the school and says, ‘Zach has a doctor’s appointment.’ She pulls me out of school, we go to my garage at home, we get out a video camera, we get out 1980s glasses and some ice cream sandwiches she bought along the way and we just brought it to life in my garage.”
All of Cumer’s lines in the film were adlibbed, which he truly relished. “It’s what every actor dreams about to have the total freedom between the director and yourself.”
The role has earned him a lot of praise, including some from his co-star Andy Garcia, who made it a point to come up to him at the premiere to say, “Hey Zach, you stole the show kid.”
But Cumer is more than just an actor. He is also the co-host of a radio show, a stand-up comic and a drummer.
His radio show, “Speak Up,” is a weekly feature that he co-hosts with his friend Mikey on Clear Channel’s KGAB in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The two talk about teen issues and entertainment.
“My mom and his mom are radio people,” Cumer said. “My mom hosts a show on Clear Channel. Mikey’s mom is the news director. So we decided, ‘Hey, why don’t we do a kid’s show.'”
The two have interviewed Tyler James Williams, who plays a young Chris Rock on Everybody Hates Chris, Steven Christopher Parker and even Joe Carnahan, the director of Smokin’ Aces.
For his stand-up routine, Cumer writes all his own material. His jokes cover a wide range of topics – ranging from himself to Vice President Dick Cheney, who is from Wyoming. The budding comedian has performed at the Hollywood Improv several times.
Cumer actually got a chance to perform for Vice President Cheney as part of the Junior High School Jazz Band, which performed for Cheney when he visited the Wyoming State Legislature. Cumer also plays drums for the Blues Boys band and the Cheyenne Youth Symphony Orchestra. His drum teacher is Tony Brock, who has played with Rod Stewart.
If all of that wasn’t enough to keep your average teenager busy, Cumer is also working on getting his pilot’s license. He has been flying with his stepfather since he was four – he even grabbed a hold of the yolk when he was five in an attempt to help his stepfather land the plane.
Somehow, even with all of these extra-curricular events in his life, Cumer still finds time for his school work. When he is on the set of a movie, he is provided with a tutor. Although the arrangement is convenient, not everyone completely endorses it.
“Sometimes I have to lie and say that I’m sick so my teachers will give me work,” Cumer said.
Zach Cumer in Smokin’ Aces
Because of his hectic schedule, Cumer does miss many of the memorable moments a typical school year provides, such as school dances and football games, but you won’t hear him complain. And from the sound of it, given the chance, most of his classmates would gladly swap places with Cumer.
“Some of them are very happy for me,” Cumer revealed. “Some of them aren’t, because I guess they’re a little jealous. But what can you do about that?”
Just because he’s not in a classroom doesn’t mean Cumer isn’t learning valuable life lessons.
“Stand-up comedy helps thinking on your feet,” Cumer said. “Acting helps being in other people’s shoes, so when you meet a person you’ve never met before who is different from you, you can understand where they are coming from. And the radio show is just plain fun.”
Don’t look for Cumer to slow down any time soon. If all goes according to plan, acting, comedy and radio work will continue to be a big part of his life throughout the next few years. But Cumer’s not looking to stop there – after graduating from high school, he plans on attending law school to study political science and even has ambitions to one day reside on Pennsylvania Avenue in our nation’s capital. Maybe he could call Dick Cheney and ask for a few pointers.
Written by Joel Murphy, February 2007. For more information on Zach Cumer, visit his official website.