Pop culture fans have binged Bailey Chase in “Longmire,” followed along with him in “Saving Grace” and most recently watched the clock tick down on him in “24: Legacy.” Now he’s hoping to turn all of those viewers into readers with his book “Spiritual Gangsta,” a memoir-meets-self-help journey that looks behind the curtain of his acting career as he searches for (and shares) spiritual truth.
We sat down with Chase to discuss the book and the lessons we all can take from it.
TrunkSpace: We read that you wrote “Spiritual Gangsta” as a way to help people get through similar emotional battles that you yourself had gone through. In taking the journey to write the book, did you learn anything about yourself that you hadn’t anticipated putting in there at the outset?
Chase: Yeah. Great question. There are some very personal details that I didn’t quite know if they would stay in the book and pretty much all of them did. Basically at the end of the day I decided, “Hey, if you’re going to do this, then put it all out there and don’t pull any punches.” And to be honest, the initial feedback anyway… those are the moments that people have sort of had the most response to and will share with me their personal stories that they were going through and about how my obstacles… how it’s really helped them transcend their own. At it’s core, that’s what the book is really about. When do we grow the most? When do we learn the most? In the times of struggle. When everything’s going great, life is pretty easy. When you get blindsided by some stuff and things don’t necessarily go your way, that’s when we’ve got to dig deep and channel our inner spiritual gangsta, if we’re going to use that terminology, and find the truth. What I discovered was that the biggest thing in the way a lot of the times was myself and my ego. I’m fortunate to now have the perspective and the tools to find a way to get around those self-defeating emotions and see situations for how they truly are.
TrunkSpace: In putting all of yourself into the book and not pulling any punches, did you feel exposed when you released it to the world? But at the same time, in the book you talk about human connection. Humans connect with other humans when they’re relating to their experiences, so by exposing yourself, you’ve probably opened the door to those connections.
Chase: There’s a huge audience for a show like “NCIS” and if that’s how you want to spend your hour on your couch watching TV… that show is great for what it is. At the end of the hour you’re going to feel good and they’re going to catch the bad guy. But, if you want to dig a little deeper and feel a little more, you might put on a show like “Breaking Bad” where Walter White is very flawed and you probably see things in him that you might see in yourself. And then the reward or the gratification just might be that much more. So, two very different examples. Both are good in their own way, it’s just a matter of what a reader wants in a book or what a viewer wants in a TV show. For me, as you can probably imagine, I’m a “Breaking Bad” fan. I want to find the truth. I want to feel more.
You did ask me something before that I didn’t quite answer. Yes. You put yourself out there when you write a book like that and yeah, not only was it very cathartic, but now I have to walk the walk. I have caught myself at times to be like, wow, you just went through some whatever… rejection in what we call pilot season out here… and I’m trying to get my own show and as you can imagine it’s a very competitive market with a lot of different things in play. It’s not just about your talent. It can be about how you look… if you’re White, Black, Latino. It could be your age. So a lot of things go into it and when we don’t get something we want, it hurts. In the past, I was definitely guilty of blaming it on something other than what it was and now, I have to check myself. I use what I call “witness consciousness” and I’m like, “Bailey, why are you so frustrated by this?” And then I bring it back to myself and I just have to trust that mine is coming. I just need to be patient and dig a little bit deeper.
TrunkSpace: The industry as a whole seems like a pretty difficult place in terms of nurturing personal growth because in a lot of ways, it’s all about putting you in boxes, living up to expectations and for a lot of people, maintaining a certain perception. So how does one rise above all of that inner noise to balance their inner acceptance with achieving their dream?
Chase: That’s the million dollar question. (Laughter) If it were easy, we’d all be doing it and we’d all be blissful and we wouldn’t get angry and upset and get into fights and yell at people. That’s not realistic and that’s not life and we do get upset. Deepak Chopra, somebody that I read when I was younger and I went to hear him recently, I quote him in the book. “In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.” He also said, “There’s no deeper love than the love of truth.” And I agree with both of those things. They’re incredibly invaluable. When do we learn most about ourselves? When we are in the midst of chaos. And the good news is, and it’s what I try to convey in the book, is that we are equipped and we can rise above it and we can figure this out. I’ve been doing this acting thing for 20 years and people assume stuff. They’re like, “Oh, he’s so successful and he’s famous and he’s rich.” I am successful and I am blessed and I need to be appreciative of all of that, but I still I want more. I want to tell the stories that I want to tell that can then impact people the way that I want to be impacted and then we can have that human connection. And that’s how you make a difference and have a fulfilling life. That’s my path and my journey.
There’s not a short, easy answer to what you’re saying. But, yeah, it would be a lot easier to do if I were, let’s say, a lawyer or a banker or something like that.
TrunkSpace: You sort of touched on it, but people often times assume stuff about other people. We’d imagine that’s even more difficult for someone in the public spotlight because it’s almost as if you’re not allowed to have rough patches. “You’re on TV shows… you should be completely happy!” It seems like people don’t allow those who have found success in a public setting to also just be human.
Chase: Yes. And so I did a couple of Facebook Lives and things like that to try to engage and interact with fans and talk with them because some people didn’t understand what I was trying to do. And I’m like, “Okay… I’m just going to talk to them directly and they can send me their questions and I’ll answer them.” Initially a lot of people were like, “Wow, you look really tired” or whatever. It was kind of right after when I came off “Longmire.” Well, we had just had twins… they’re ten months now and they’re sleeping better… but when you’re up all night and you’re not sleeping, yeah, you might get some bags under your eyes. That’s real life. That’s the difference between what I do and if I had a normal day job. But I know my fans don’t mean anything by it. I’m happy to sacrifice my sleep if it helps my wife and whatever I need to do for my kids I’m gonna do. Life is messy. It doesn’t mean it’s bad. If life were really easy, at the end of it I’d probably be like, “Well, okay.”
TrunkSpace: Life also has a way of changing your initial point of view on things. In the moment of those early sleepless nights with your twins, it’s no doubt hard. But, when they’re teenagers and getting ready to leave the nest, those are the moments you’ll look back fondly on.
Chase: Yeah. Right. You’re absolutely right. I took six months off to be home for their birth and to be around in the beginning and create that time and bond with them. We’ll always have that connection and I’m never going to regret… “Oh, maybe I would have gotten this job or that job or made a little more money.” I’m never going to regret spending this time with my children because it’s just a time you can’t get back.
TrunkSpace: We touched on the human connection aspect of the book, but we’re curious, is finding a human connection with yourself just as important as finding those connections with other people?
Chase: Absolutely. I think you need to find a connection with yourself first because if you don’t know who you are and you’re not connected then nobody else is going to be able to connect with you. And so, job one, figure yourself out and then you can be open and therefore walk the walk. And then people will gravitate to that and you’ll resonate with them as well if they are open and honest. Some people are and some people aren’t. Maybe they’re not there yet. There’s that quote of, “By letting your own light shine, you’ll allow others to do the same.”
TrunkSpace: Your job is to inhabit another individual and the space and mindset that they’re in. If you’re portraying somebody who is emotionally on the opposite end of the spiritual spectrum that you are on… does that rub off on you? Do you carry any of that into your real life?
Chase: You know, I think maybe earlier in my career and life where I took things probably a little too seriously, but at this point, no. When I get into creating a character it’s all play pretend and it’s my imagination. The more time I have to do it the more real it becomes. For example, like season 3 of “Longmire” where Branch literally loses his mind, it was fun to play but I certainly didn’t take it home with me. I didn’t act crazy to my wife. It was just a really deep, fun storyline to roll up my sleeves and get in there with and I had a blast doing it. So, to answer your question… it doesn’t stay with me. It feels good. It feels good to go to those places. That’s the part of why I have the job that I do, because I enjoy it.
TrunkSpace: Does the idea of letting your light shine and you’ll allow others to shine as well… does that work with helping to discover and find characters? If you know who you are, are you better able to find who your character is?
Chase: Yeah. I do talk about that a little bit in the book. When I was writing it I happened to catch this interview with Michael Fassbender and he had just played Steve Jobs. That’s the thing, as an actor, we’re not here to make judgments. You can’t go judging a character and then go play him because you’re not going to be open and honest and true to that character. So we need to be open first and find the positive in Steve Jobs or Branch or whoever it is that you’re playing. My guy on “24,” he happens to be gay. So I need to be open and honest and explore that in terms of the character. I don’t make any judgments on the fact that he’s gay.
TrunkSpace: The book also honors your dog Gauge and you discuss the loss of his passing in extremely honest detail that any animal lover will recognize. Animals, especially dogs, seem to have their spiritual groove down. In your opinion, are they spiritually enlightened or are they just not bogged down with all of the human BS that we carry around?
Chase: Yeah. I think they’re definitely not bogged down with all of the BS that we carry. For sure. It’s true unconditional love. Obviously Gauge had a huge impact on my life and I was crushed when he moved on. He continues to be a part of our lives. I named my son after him and it’s how my wife and I met and so Gauge lives on through us. We now have a Golden named Blue who is just terrific. Blue used to not leave my side and now he follows the babies crawling around the house. He just wants to watch over his little pack. So, to answer your question… I do believe it’s true love and that they’re just not bogged down with the things that we are.
TrunkSpace: Do you have another book in you?
Chase: Yes! Not right away, but as we stay on this path, it’s gotten really interesting the last couple of years with the babies. I think it will just continue to get better and I’ll have more to say. I had a great time writing the book and I’m really enjoying the interaction with the fans. Now we get to connect on a level that was unheard of ten years ago with all of the social media outlets and interaction. It’s been really rewarding for me to be able to engage with them on that level.
TrunkSpace: Can you tell us a little bit about “24: Legacy” and what we can expect moving forward?
Chase: Yeah. The last couple of weeks have been awesome because we’re in the thick of it and out in the field. The clock’s ticking and there’s bombs. There were missiles last night! (Laughter) An explosion on the bridge. We only got four to go, so here we are kind of on the tail end of the season a little bit. Hats off to the producers because I think they just kind of keep upping the bar every week and the show is actually getting better. I’m excited to see the last few. I haven’t seen them yet. And knock on wood for a season 2!
Purchase “Spiritual Gangsta” here.
“24” airs Mondays at 8 PM.