By Kim Brooks, Express Editor
At the budding age of 14, most teenage boys are playing sports, enjoying the start of high school and maybe planning for the future after school. For John Randolph Duffy, 14, he has movie and television auditions on his mind.
Duffy, the son of Angela Randolph (a 1982 graduate of Monticello High School) and Daniel Duffy, has lots of family back here in Monticello, Iowa. During a recent summer trip back to Iowa, Duffy received word about auditioning for the movie “Calloused Hands.” Thanks to the prompt help of his cousins (Lindsay and Colin Ryan), Duffy taped an audition here and sent it off to his manager and agent in Los Angeles where it was sent to London where the film’s producers were.
“Our family in Iowa is so proud of him!” said Duffy’s mom Angela. “The audition process (for “Calloused Hands”) would not have been possible without the help of family in Iowa.”
Unfortunately, Duffy did not get the role in the movie, but Angela said he took the news really well and is looking forward to starting his freshman year of high school.
Duffy’s career started at a young age, when he was just a baby. A family friend, with connections to the modeling industry, thought Duffy was quite photogenic. Angela said she was encouraged to send his photo to numerous modeling agencies. They received calls back for a pharmaceutical ad. At just 18 months, Duffy landed his first gig, as they say in the entertainment business. He has also appeared in ads for K-Mart and Dillards.
When Duffy was just 3 years old, he was signed to a manager in Los Angeles. After that, Duffy auditioned for the feature family movie “Daddy Daycare” starring Eddie Murphy, but did not get a role.
“We eventually moved to L.A. (from Arizona) when John was 9 years old so that he would have more opportunities,” stated Angela.
Duffy said having his parents pack up and move just for him “means a lot.
“It feels great being supported, not only by my mom and dad, but also by my family in Iowa,” he said.
Duffy’s career entails bits on TV shows, webisodes, a movie, a documentary, modeling and improv. As for modeling and acting, Duffy said, “It was something out of the ordinary that I really enjoy doing.”
He’s appeared in shows on Comedy Central and Nickelodeon. In the TV show “Workaholics,” he was in the episode “Heist School.” He was in the documentary “Colored My Mind,” about autism and African Americans, Duffy starred alongside famed actors Blair Underwood and Nicole Ari Parker. He was also cast in the feature film “Bad Ass,” starring Danny Trejo.
“I get the chance to work with a lot of different actors, writers and directors,” said Duffy.
He was also in a production at the L.A. Musical Theatre Guild. Being on stage is something Duffy rather enjoys. He’s taken his improv skills and acting to the Hollywood Improv and even Las Vegas. After taking acting classes, Duffy said a casting director told him he had great comedic timing.
“I now perform with Standing Tall Comedy Kids and Teens,” boasted Duffy. He performs with about 25 others kids in three- to five-minute sets in front of 200 people.
With so much on his plate, Duffy also has to balance schoolwork. If he misses a day of school, he finds out what assignments he missed and makes them up. He said he is required to attend school for three hours a day during a TV or movie shoot.
“There is always a teacher on set,” explained Duffy. He also has to follow child labor laws as far as how long he can be on set.
Duffy and his parents all said that the “acting business is unpredictable and often times spur of the moment.” With call-backs and auditions, the family may receive a call and have to literally run out of the house. Duffy said his sometimes-hectic schedule “does not leave time for sports and other activities.”
His young career has given Duffy so many memorable and invaluable opportunities. He’s met actors Will Smith and Cedric the Entertainer. He’s also worked with Hollywood writers that have written for late night TV.
Above all else, though, Duffy said these opportunities have given him self-confidence. His parents agree, saying, “We felt he would become more articulate and be able to navigate life experiences more successfully.” Angela said when her son was much younger, they saw this as a way to expand his reading abilities. She said he’s become more patient when it comes to waiting on call-backs and how to bounce back from getting rejected.
With both parents working full-time jobs, they balance their schedules to get their son to auditions and such. Angela said everyone’s main goal, though, is his education.
As for what Duffy’s plans are down the road, his parents said, “It all depends on what John decides. He has the talent to continue in the entertainment business.”
Duffy said, “I feel I might get a normal job and do stand-up and acting on the side.” He said there are no new projects in works right now.
When back in Iowa, Duffy said he enjoyed spending time with his cousins, driving a tractor and ATV, attending the Great Jones County Fair and visiting the Field of Dreams.
To see more of Duffy’s work, visit his page on imdb.com at “John Duffy,” on Facebook at “John Michael Randolph Duffy” or on youtube.com at “John Duffy Hollywood Improv.”
PHOTO: John Michael Randolph Duffy, son of Angela Randolph (MHS Class of 1982) and Daniel Duffy, has had a busy career up to the age of 14. Duffy has appeared in a short film, a feature film, several TV series and in a documentary about autism and African Americans. He is also an aspiring improvisationalist. (Photo submitted)