Here at NDH, we are thrilled to honor and recognize Happening People – those native North Delawareans(& South) who have achieved Celebrity status and who are making their mark on this great nation. Going above and beyond to push the limits – personal & professional – positively influencing our communities near and far, all while honoring their local DELAWARE roots.
Ed Lavelle | Making Waves from Coast 2 Coast
Ed is making waves coast to coast from Wilmington to Dewey Beach via NYC and on to LA and Venice Beach,CA – he’s done and is doing it all from waiting tables to acting and now Producing! He’s a graduate of Cape Henlopen High School, University of Delaware and the American Film Institute. He’s down-to-earth, with a mix of high energy, genuine motivation and progressive inspiration — a true Delaware Idol. He defines the “2 degrees of separation” we claim in Delaware and our motto that “Everything happens for a reason”. The essence of the expression “Life is a great BIG canvas…throw all the paint on it YOU can”. Read on…
Ed was born in Wilmington…the day before New Year’s Eve. His parents raised he and his three siblings, Peggy, Nora and Jimmy, in Rehoboth Beach during the school year and in Dewey Beach during the summer. For the first ten summers of his life, he lived on top of his parent’s rock and roll bar, The Bottle & Cork. A graduate of Cape Henlopen High School and the University of Delaware. Upon graduating from undergrad business school at UofD, he moved to NYC where he managed a nightclub called the Grolier Mansion, all while focusing on breaking into the entertainment industry as an actor. One year later in 1994 (two days after the infamous Northridge earthquake), he made his way to the West Coast… moving to Los Angeles to continue his quest to become a STAR. He worked on several commercials, tv shows and feature films along the way – Ed’s first speaking role was on UNSOLVED MYSTERIES where he played a hero who saved a few lucky people during the Oklahoma City bombing. He began creating work for himself as an actor by producing, as well. In 2000, he applied to the prestigious American Film Institute (AFI) Conservatory – and was accepted into the program(only 100. Two years later, he graduated with a Masters degree in Producing. He has worked his way up through the ranks – Production Managing and Line Producing on shows such as Big Brother, America’s Next Top Model, The Apprentice and Homeland Security USA. He currently is the Executive in Charge of production at Goodbye Pictures.
ED: I’ve always loved acting since I was five years old. I used to perform in plays when I was in elementary and junior high school… through high school where I performed in an entertainment group that traveled all over the country. In college, I also was an actor in campus theater productions – and I got my first taste of celebrity when I performed in GREASE as Vince Fontaine. I never imagined that I would do anything other than act – I only studied business at UofD as a backup (mainly for my parents). I remember my Dad telling me that acting will eventually take me to where I’ll end up with regard to my profession. That’s the last thing I ever wanted to hear. In my early to mid 20’s, I didn’t even know what a producer was and had no desire to find out. It wasn’t until my late 20’s when I realized that I didn’t want to be a waiter any longer – it was time to put control back into my own hands.
NDH: Reality, Comedy, Drama, Game Shows, OR Scripted or Unscripted?
ED: With regard to tv, my main love has always been scripted television…especially nowadays – there’s so much great programming out there. Years ago, I never used to enjoy unscripted reality shows, but I’m really proud of the projects I help produce. I’ve learned that there is just as much work and creativity that goes into these shows as you’ll find in the scripted world.
NDH: When you are channel surfing – what show(s) do YOU pause to view?
ED: I’m a huge fan of sci-fi programming… like Ancient Aliens, Fringe, anything that focuses on apocalyptic and supernatural shows. These are my guilty pleasure! I find these topics to be really fascinating, and help me think outside of the box. No one fully has the answers to these life questions… I’m a firm believer in “What If?”. I believe that it is really important to keep your mind open… especially as a storyteller, working in the entertainment business.
NDH: Your quote is one of our favorites too — Everything DOES happen for a reason!
ED: I believe everything DOES happen for a reason… you may not know these reasons right away – but when you look back on your life, you can see how one thing leads to the next… and that there is some sort of life plan for each of us.
ED: My everyday starts with going to the gym (Gold’s Gym is right down the street), walking my 10 year old black lab to the beach, and then heading to work. Tough, right? Work can be pretty grueling – a normal day is 10-12 hours long… and can be much longer when in production on some shows. My main job is to oversee all of the nuts and bolts of the company, and as we continue to grow, I’m now able to do more of what I love: help with the creative side of things. I’m responsible for creating budgets and schedules of potential/upcoming shows, I help develop ideas for new projects, I oversee the company financials and I meet with department heads on a constant basis to make sure everything is flowing properly on each show.
ED: Funny story… I was contacted on Facebook by a fraternity brother of mine from the University of Delaware back in February 2009 – we hadn’t spoken in over 16 years at the time. He was asking what I was up to, what I was doing – I mentioned that I was living in Los Angeles, working in the entertainment biz. He immediately told me that a good friend of his, Rich Bye (who I met a few times at UofD), was living in LA, and was about to start up a new production company. He put us in touch with each other. Rich and I met and talked about the possibility of working together. Rich mentioned that he already had someone else in mind to run the company but would keep me in mind for future projects. I gave him my resume and references, and thought that would be it. A week later, I received a call from Rich – asking if we could meet for lunch. One thing led to another… Rich ended up offering me the position instead. We built the production company from the ground up. I remember having to work out of the back of my car for the first few months – that was our office. In the past three years, we’ve produced five television shows – one of which has been picked up for a second season… along with a ton of sizzles, presentations and pilots. Our main focus has been unscripted reality television… but we’re now actively working on getting things moving forward with scripted projects, as well. It’s been a blast seeing the company grow as it has – I’ve learned so much along the way. It’s a real gift to be a part of something that has evolved and grown so much in such a short period of time. Takes a TON of team work, and we have amazing people working with us – that’s the best part… I actually enjoy going to work on a daily basis.
Our shows to date have been ON THE ROAD WITH AUSTIN AND SANTINO (Lifetime), MILLION DOLLAR DECORATORS (Bravo), NED BRUHA: SKUNK WHISPERER (Animal Planet), PROJECT ACCESSORY (Lifetime), and MILLION DOLLAR CLOSETS (HGTV). We’ve produced projects with The Weinstein Company, Scott Free Productions (Ridley Scott’s production company) and Sony Pictures Entertainment. We have two projects in production right now, and quite a few others in development – some really fun, cool projects… it feels like a really exciting time for the company.
NDH: What is your craziest or most memorable moment in showbiz?
ED: Years ago when I was an actor, I used to wait tables on the lot at the Rita Hayworth executive dining room at Sony Pictures Entertainment. During the six and a half years I was there, I met everyone you can think of – from Robert De Niro and Sharon Stone, to Sydney Pollack, Steven Speilberg and Diane Keaton. The list goes on and on. It was an amazing experience for me – especially since it prepared me on how to behave around celebrities. Definitely trained me to not be so nervous around them. When I was 28 years old, I realized that I needed to make a life change – and put control back in my hands. Although I was meeting heavy hitters within the entertainment industry, there weren’t any opportunities thrown my way… I had to make it happen myself. I began producing projects that I could act in. I started with theater, and then made my way to television. I produced and acted in a tv pilot with the help of some friends that wrote for MadTV. After we finished, I realized that if I was going to continue producing, I should get proper training. I began looking into different avenues – going back to school seemed too far fetched… especially since I didn’t know where to look, not to mention that I had virtually no money. Someone that I waited tables with mentioned that I should check out the American Film Institute (AFI)… so I did. As soon as I visited campus and met some of the students there, I was sold. Although I would have to take out student loans, my biggest obstacle was to have them notice me well enough so that I would be taken seriously as a possible candidate. With thousands of people applying every year, and only 100 people being accepted into the program – the odds were stacked up against me. Especially since I was only a waiter with a few projects under my belt as a producer. First thing first, I completed the application and submitted it along with one of my projects for review. I also had to submit two letters of recommendation from industry professionals. My acting teacher wrote one letter – he was on the show ALIEN NATION back in the 80’s… maybe that would help. After submitting all but one letter of recommendation, I waited a couple of weeks to hear a response… nothing. Then it came to me: I wait tables on all of these well known industry people… I should ask one of them to help me out with a letter. Without knowing much about them, I approached the one person who I felt would be an easy “yes”. His name is Doug Wick. Long story short, he said that he would do it – I’d have to compose it, and he would sign it. I sent the letter and literally days later, I received the call from AFI – they wanted to set up a meeting with me. It just so happened to be the same week when Mr. Wick’s movie, GLADIATOR, was released. Damn… can you say lucky?? I ended up getting accepted into the AFI program… and the summer after my first year in graduate film school, I interned at Doug Wick’s production company, Red Wagon Entertainment.
ED: That would definitely be my parents, Jim and Linda. They have shaped me into the person I am today. I always tell people that I’m half of my Dad who is very grounded and realistic, and half of my Mom who is one of the biggest optimists and dreamers I know… I’m a realistic dreamer… always thinking big, but always make sure to keep one foot on the ground.
NDH: Where will we find you when you’re not working?
ED: I love hanging out with my friends, my dog and my family that lives out West. I live about a block from the beach – and I’m right by the Venice Canals, so I spend a ton of time enjoying what life out here has to offer, and try to get out of town once in a while to Las Vegas, Joshua Tree, Ojai or Palm Springs.
ED: My biggest accomplishment was getting into the American Film Institute (AFI)… hands down. I had no idea at the time that it was going to shape and jumpstart my new career choice of being a producer. The people I met and the things I accomplished within the program are still a big part of creating a solid foundation for success within the entertainment industry. While I was in grad school, I produced five short films, won several awards along the way, and one of my films was accepted into nearly a dozen film festivals worldwide, such as the Tribeca Film Festival in NYC and the Raindance Film Festival in London.
NDH: What are your best memories about UofD, North Delaware?
ED: I had so many great memories at UofD… feels like a lifetime ago when I was there, but I still remember my years at the Sig Ep fraternity house, tailgating at football games, hanging out at the Down Under, Klondike Kate’s, the Deer Park and the Stone Balloon, going to Wilmington for events like Point-to-Point… such an awesome time.
NDH: Have you met many Delawareans in California?
ED: I’ve met a few here and there… Not as many as you would think. I actually hear all the time from people out here, “You’re the first person I’ve ever met from Delaware!”… If only I had a nickel for every time I heard that!
NDH: Any other detail or advice you wish to share?
ED: I really do believe in the importance of having a dream, and doing whatever you can to see it through. Along the way, life may decide to take you in a completely different direction than you had originally planned – remember to enjoy the ride, have fun and as best you can, let life take you where you need to be.