Student actor balances school, life, career pursuits


Whether he’s reading textbooks or television scripts, Serrell Rollins strives to be the best.

Rollins, a junior studying broadcast journalism at Florida A&M, is a full-time student and professional actor. Appearing in “The Rickey Smiley Show,” BET’s “Let the Church Say Amen” and multiple episodes of MTV’s “Teen Wolf,” Rollins said this is only the beginning and he still has a long way to go in his career.

He began his acting career while attending the Pinellas County Center for the Arts, a performing arts high school in St. Petersburg, Fla. There, he took an acting class and discovered his passion for the industry.

Though his first role was small, he is still appreciative of the opportunity to appear on a hit television show.

“I believe MTV’s ‘Teen Wolf’ was one of my first on-screen roles, and I only had like one line,” Rollins said.

At 15, Rollins reached out to the owner of Nu Blood Entertainment, Terrell Jones, through Myspace. After extended correspondence with Jones’ assistant, a meeting was arranged between Jones, Rollins and his mother. From there, Rollins was signed to Nu Blood Entertainment and has been with the company since.

“I’ve been with them since the beginning,” Rollins said. “They know everything I’ve been through.”

Nu Blood Entertainment is home to many young talents, so Jones said he encourages them all to stay diligent when it comes to their education. However, he added that he does not have to worry about Rollins because he is already concerned with his studies.

“If he has something that comes up like an audition, he always makes it a point to be there,”Jones said. “But he always makes school his first priority.”

According to Jones, Nu Blood Entertainment is home to many young, talented individuals such as Rollins, who after five years with the agency took on the role of general manager for the company’s acting/modeling division, NBE Act1.

Jones said Rollins’ persistence and drive are qualities that will elevate him to the next level of his career, which he believes will take off in the near future.

“His future will be very bright,” Jones said. “He’s smart, talented and dedicated to what he does. He has a very bright future. Within the next two years, I see him getting some big roles.”

Though he has dedicated his life to acting and the entertainment industry, Rollins insists that school is his main priority.

“During the middle of the fall semester, I was offered a reoccurring role on a television show, but I had to turn it down because I needed to be in school, so I had to make a decision,” Rollins said.

He added that he regrets not making the choice to appear on the show and said that balancing school and acting has been difficult.

“That’s probably one of the hardest things I deal with day to day,” Rollins said. “How can you be in two places at one time?”

In addition to actively auditioning for roles and taking a full course load, Rollins is also a member of The Collegiate 100 of FAMU. Because the organization was the first one he joined on campus, it is important to him that he contributes.

Jaronn Goodman, a fourth-year business administration student from Lakeland, Fla., and fellow member of The Collegiate 100, said Rollins is an active member in the group and contributes his videography skills to shoot and edit the group’s videos.

Knowing Rollins for three years, Goodman said he has observed Rollins’ perseverance and willingness to keep pursuing his goals.

“He takes his acting career very seriously,” Goodman said. “I can’t count the number of times he’s told me he’s going out of town for an audition. It doesn’t matter whether it’s in Atlanta, New Orleans or Tampa, he’s always ready.”

Goodman believes in Rollins’ talent and said he sees him making it far in his acting pursuits.

“He has the talent,” Goodman said. “It’s just about him getting the right opportunity to showcase it.”

Rollins plans on venturing into the production side of the entertainment industry, where he hopes to demonstrate his many talents in acting, modeling, directing and producing.

After he graduates, he hopes to develop programs for aspiring actors and actresses at the university, as well as African-American youth in general. Rollins advises others hoping to break into the entertainment industry to just stay the course.

“Never be afraid to follow your dreams,” Rollins said. “Always go for it. They told me, ‘You’re never going to make it,’ but I still went after it. I’m still pursuing it, and I’ve gotten farther than a lot of people.”

Rollins said he wants to leave a lasting legacy of excellence at FAMU and hopes to represent the university as a successful entertainer and media professional.

“I want to be known as someone who stepped out on fate and conquered it,” Rollins said.