This is Us actor Logan Shroyer humbly rides the wave of celebrity and success
He’s one of us.
- Interviewed byMichele Garber
- Photographed byJalen Turner
Logan Shroyer is living what many consider the quintessential Hollywood dream. A few years ago the local teen was a high school student who spent his free time reading, taking acting classes, hanging with friends and surfing.
Fortuitously, the acting classes that Logan originally took just for fun began to take on a life of their own. He discovered he had both a natural talent and great enthusiasm for acting. He got an agent and booked a few roles. Then he read for NBC’s This Is Us and landed the teen role of Kevin Pearson, one of the show’s central characters.
This Is Us was an immediate hit and a ratings juggernaut. Now in its third season, the show has received multiple Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG nominations and awards, while catapulting its young cast into instant stardom. Yet true to his South Bay roots, Logan remains grounded even in the wake of overnight success. Fresh off the show’s latest SAG win, we caught up with the surfer-turned-actor to hear what his journey from Hermosa to Hollywood has been like.
Congratulations on your recent SAG award for Ensemble in a Drama Series. How did you and your castmates celebrate your big win?
Those events usually have an after-party, but we also have a 6 a.m. call time the next morning. So it’s more about getting back to work—though winning was cool and humbling as well. We were just so excited to be back on that stage. We didn’t expect that … winning two years in a row is amazing. Those are the moments you really remember with your castmates.
When This Is Us first began filming, you were in high school, right?
I went to Redondo Union, but my freshman year I started working so much as an actor, it was taking away from school. I was missing too many tests. It wasn’t possible to make up my work. So I switched to Fusion Academy in Hermosa, and I graduated from there.
Fusion Academy is really cool. It’s one-on-one with you and the teacher. You can set your schedule how you like it. As an actor, I did all my classwork in the morning, and I could go to auditions in the afternoon. You can move through the material quicker since you’re the only one in the class. If you understand it, then you move on. It was a great experience.
How did you get your start in acting?
It’s not the typical idealized story. I didn’t grow up looking at the big screen dreaming of being an actor. I found acting because my parents were in the industry. My dad is a prop master and art director, and my mom is a music coordinator. They had a hunch that I would like it. So when I was about 12 they suggested I try acting class as something fun to do.
As a kid I was really shy. I wore big glasses and read books. Acting brought me out of my shell. It was fun, and I realized I was good at it. After a while I thought I should try to get an agent. Throughout school I balanced auditioning with schoolwork. Then I auditioned for This Is Us and got it. I did a bunch of projects along the way, but This Is Us was really the one that hooked my heart.
On This is Us you play Kevin Pearson as a teen. Do you and the other actors who play Kevin collaborate on how the character should be played at different ages?
We don’t, actually, which is kind of cool because they trust me enough to really go with the character. In season one I talked with Justin [Hartley, who plays adult Kevin] about Kevin’s identity in the family. Early on in the series, Kevin is portrayed as a bit mean. Over time there is a revealing process of more things about him. So I had conversations with Justin about that and how to go about certain things.
But for the most part they just let you swing at it yourself. I paid attention to Justin’s mannerisms in the first season, which is a part of it. I attempt to portray the character within the continuous nature of the writing, the way they cut back and forth with the stories and Kevin’s attachment in different time periods.
And the makeup and hair department make me look so much more like Justin. I wear brown contacts, and they add a mole on the side of my nose where he has one.
What is it like to play Kevin at different ages? Does that require adjustments for you as an actor?
Yeah, there are little adjustments. I’ve spoken with my acting teacher about it. What’s nice is that I’m aging as it goes. It’s not that I had to play 15 at 19. I had to do that at 17, so it’s a lot easier. When you’re playing someone younger, there is an innocence … a naiveté.
When you’re playing a character, you want to empathize with them and try not to judge them. I wouldn’t say it’s difficult per se, but it takes thought. Kevin has been through a lot in his life. I get to play him at his top and bottom. It’s been a real journey as an actor, although sometimes it’s been painful.
Being able to do this with such great actors around me as well— not just my siblings on the show but Mandy [Moore] and Milo [Ventimiglia] being there—they are amazing. Milo has been there a lot for me during scenes. He’s someone to look up to.
On the show, your character is guilt-ridden after he has a fight with his father and is not there when the family home burns down and his father dies. These traumas that shape Kevin as an adult happen during the years of his life that you play him. How do you tap into that depth of emotion without having personally experienced similar painful events?
It’s tough, and luckily I haven’t experienced something that devastating. I think what is so interesting about him not being in the fire is that it maintains the idea of Kevin feeling isolated from everybody else in his family.
That was one of the toughest things for him. He had just had a big fight with his dad before he passed and didn’t get to talk to him. He wasn’t that tight with his mom. So it reflects the undercurrent of Kevin’s estrangement. Him not being there… he missed the last moments. He missed the whole thing. He was just told it in words. House is gone. Dad is gone. That’s it.
Because the show jumps between different time periods, your character isn’t featured in every episode. Do you have to be on set daily?
Not daily, which allows me to have some freedom. I’m not in every episode. You get notified whether you’re in the episode or not. You get the script and see the days you’re shooting. It’s like being on call. I’m on the job for eight months, and in between I’m studying to be a filmmaker.
While on set I’ve been shadowing directors on the show, which is kind of like apprenticing. I get to peek over their shoulder and see the whole process. I’ve been sitting in on the writing room. And I’ve been self-producing some projects.
This weekend I’m working on a spec music video. It’s a three-day shoot that I’m directing, and I wrote up the script. I’m really excited.
That was my next question: What are your future aspirations? Do you want to go to college? Continue acting? It sounds like you already have a plan…you want to be a filmmaker.
Yeah, I think I want to go back to school sometime and learn more about literature and how it relates to theology and philosophy—literature in the sense that it carries over to film language and writing screenplays. I loved that in high school. It will be in support of my filmmaking/acting career. I’m really blessed and lucky to find the industry that I want to be in—let alone to have a job—this young.
In spite of all this success, you seem extremely grounded. How do you maintain a level of normalcy within all the hype?
I’ve been able to keep a good crew around me. I don’t really have a big friend group, I just have my tight friends. Even as a kid, for my birthday instead of having a party I preferred using the money to do a trip with my closest friends … go to Big Bear or something. So I have my best friends, and we do our stuff.
And you’re close to your family. Is it true your grandmother was your date to SAG awards?
Yes, I took my grandma to the SAG awards. She had a great time. It was really special.
You’re a South Bay native. Do you still live here?
I had to move closer to Paramount because of work, though I didn’t want to leave. I would way rather live by the beach. I was on the surf team at Redondo Union. I started surfing when I was 11, and I went through Junior Lifeguard. My parents encouraged me to do it so that I could surf by myself and know how to survive in the ocean.
Flashback to four years ago, you would see me at Hermosa Pier just about every other day surfing. I’m a huge South Bay lover. I’m very sad to not be in the bubble anymore. But it’s pretty cool over here (near Hollywood). It’s much closer to work.
Sounds like you miss the beach. Do you want to move back someday?
We call the South Bay “the bubble.” I love that it’s kind of its own thing separate from L.A. It has its own people and vibe. There is such a different atmosphere about it that I definitely miss. I’m proud to be a part of the South Bay and have my time there. My family is still there. I definitely plan on living there again someday.
The P.S. I Love You Foundation celebrated 20 years of programs and mentoring throughout Southern California with an evening of entertainment, special performances, fine spirits and boutique wines on Saturday April 14th.
Hosted by Mario Lopez, the event raised awareness and support for social emotional learning program, Love4Life.