Priyom Haider is an Actor who costars in the award-winning film "Dreams I Never Had" alongside Malcolm McDowell playing the role of Adam Sahal.

Priyom immigrated to America from South-East Asia. He graduated school very early with two Bachelor's degrees from the University of Georgia in Film Production and Finance in order to be able to pursue his acting career as early as he could in Hollywood. He focused on fitness and his physique which has helped him book acting and modeling gigs. Upon moving to Hollywood, Priyom secured a job as a personal trainer in Gold’s Gym which helped him pay for acting classes.

After honing his craft, Priyom joined the SAG-AFTRA actors union.

Priyom's first film was a comedy he created titled “Cheater's Relief.” He has since dove into the fields of writing, directing, producing, and photography. His second award-winning comedy, “Match.con,” is currently on Amazon and premiered at the 2016 IFS Festival Beverly Hills.

Priyom Haider discussed his career, projects, and goals via an exclusive interview on September 3, 2018.

Bodybuilding, Hollywood, and Amazon

Meagan Meehan (MM): You came to America from South-East Asia, so what were some of the biggest cultural differences you encountered?

Priyom Haider (PH): I have been in the U.S. for 14+ years now, and before that I've visited several times since I was young.

So, in that sense, along with growing up watching all Western Movies and knowing about the pop culture - the cultural differences for me weren't that severe as it would be for someone "fresh off the boat.” I went to an English school (British) so the language was never an issue. I guess you can say I was already somewhat Americanized than someone else moving and visiting here for the very first time.

Other than that, there are also some cultural differences. Back home, children are still very close to their parents even after being adults after the age of 18 and some continue to live with them even after marriage. It is not uncommon at all, where here in the US - once you are 18 you are expected to be on your own. In the U.S.

it is very common for strangers crossing paths in the street to say hi or smile at each other; where back home it is considered "weird". In the U.S. certain times people will tell a white lie about to not be rude, for example at a restaurant if an American didn't like the food that much, they will most likely not complain, but never come back after; back home they will honestly tell the manager they were not satisfied. In short, back home people are just more straight-up like a "New Yorker", and over here people like to stay vague and non-committal. Back home, even middle to lower middle-class people have "housekeeping service, maids etc." as it was part of the cultural system set up by the British Empire during that time (and it's totally possible because of the proportion of income, cost of living, etc.).

In America we have to do everything by ourselves and only the rich can truly afford to have a live-in chef, full time housekeeper, etc.

MM: How did you get into bodybuilding and how, if at all, did that influence your interest in acting?

PH: I would never call myself a bodybuilder in the true sense as most of bodybuilding honestly filled with drugs (steroids). To be precise, I am more of a fitness model type that trains with a body builder's discipline: completely naturally. Growing up all my heroes had great physiques and that had an impact on me, so that made me decide I should have one too! I never thought it influenced my "acting" because I have other heroes who are just true actors without the concept of having a great physique.

But it did influence the idea in me of being a larger than life personality on screen aka movie star. I always embraced the idea of not being the same as everyone else and truly standing out by separating myself from the rest of the pack - so this fitness/bodybuilding thing was one of the things that contributed towards that.

MM: How tough was it to break into the movie industry in Hollywood?

PH: I'm still waiting to TRULY break in! I'm one of those stories where I literally packed up my bags, and came here with nothing other than whatever money I had saved up and just some modeling pictures. I didn't even have any actor’s headshots, no prior knowledge about the business whatsoever - and not even any "day job" here lined up!

In that sense you can say it was pretty dangerous and risky - but guess what, I was a survivor! In situations like these most kids are not able to stick it out and have to go back home to wherever they came from. The reality is yes - to not just break into the scene in Hollywood, but it’s just really hard to survive in Los Angeles itself if you are not disciplined financially too. I managed to get my first job at a gym (of course) as a trainer, Gold's Hollywood matter of fact. I started taking classes and learning about the business. From then on, I got my first agent, set up auditions and the journey started. You have to stay focused and disciplined constantly and be ready. I learned that very fast which taught me to always be "hustling.

MM: You have made your own films, so what was that like from a budgeting, casting, and shooting perspective?

PH: Funny you ask that, I have made my own films from both a Roger Coreman style shoot and pump it out low budgets to slightly higher budgets in a longer process. The first film I had to make myself was purely out of necessity to get my SAG card, because I was not willing to chase union vouchers hoping to get lucky while doing non-union extra work for $64/day at the time. I did that one day of my life in the desert, and it motivated me to work smarter and harder. I produced a little comedy called “Cheater's Relief,” cast myself as the star in it and that helped me qualify for the Screen Actors Guild.

It was made practically on no budget other than for location and filming equipment rental, and the cast of people I knew. Flash forward a few years later and I was fortunate to direct a much higher budget comedy called "Match. con" which won an award and had festival premieres too. For this one we did a true traditional casting, more in depth location scouting, and used more expensive camera equipment. I guess it is time to do the next big one again too. It’s all a growing process.

MM: You have won awards for your work and have promoted your movies on Amazon, so what does it feel like to be established and recognized?

PH: I actually had my first two movies in which I acted in on Netflix around 2012-13 BEFORE Netflix was as HUGE as it is today.

In hindsight, I guess I should have felt really established and recognized there, but they were also low budget Indies. I have some work on Amazon now and the answer is – I’m hoping to strive for even more and bigger projects. I motivate myself to work even harder to achieve more and be able to inspire people worldwide.

Characters and the future

MM: How do you get “into” the characters you portray and what sorts of characters do you most enjoying playing?

PH: I study the script and try to understand what's going on in the scenes really well, and try to find a part of myself in that character. I enjoy playing all kinds of characters to show my diversity, but the ones I really enjoy are when the character is significantly odd/interesting that makes him memorable.

And of course, I like the roles that also showcase my physique and tend to have a larger than life personality. I’m a big fan of action and comedy.

MM: How did you get into “Compton’s Finest” and what can you tell us about Pablo?

PH: I got into this movie in the traditional auditioning and booking route. This is a very funny action/comedy which you can expect in LA theaters on November 2nd by the way. Pablo is the rich son of the drug lord villain in this movie. You can expect guns blazing here.

MM: I see you are in a movie with Johnny Depp, so how did that come about and did you get to meet him?

PH: Yes, "City of Lies”, in which I have a very small part as a boxer training at the gym. I guess I happened to get this part because of some of my combat skills and my athletic physique.

And yes, I did get to meet him! It was in that very scene at the boxing gym. He was cool and I missed my shot of getting our pic.

MM: What are your major hopes and plans for the future of your life as an actor, filmmaker, and body builder?

PH: I hope to have a career like my biggest heroes, to be able to inspire and motivate people worldwide and to be able to give back to the community in some way one day as a result of my success. I also plan to increase my entrepreneurship and get into more business ventures as well. As far as my fitness, I hope to stay natural without any drugs and be able to maintain the body I have for as long as possible.

MM: So, Priyom, is there anything else that you would like to add?

PH: “Dreams I Never Had” is a multiple award-winning movie I was part of. My billboard for HBO's “The Leftovers” when it first came out for promotion in 2014 was a big deal as it was all over LA and NYC. My parents were shocked! You can still find a few around here and there in LA. In the upcoming movie “Ice Box,” my scene is with Anthony Gonzalez who is the star of Coco. My AFI short titled “Terp” is the original of “Day One” which was Academy Award nominated! This year I was included in The Terminator Fans regarding the upcoming “Terminator” movie with my picture with Arnold Schwarzenegger and also my fan trailer for “Terminator 2,” the 25th anniversary (my favorite movie). One of my biggest TV parts is “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders” where I had scenes with Gary Sinise (who has an Academy Award nomination) and Danielle Henney. The episode takes place in Bangladesh, so that alone was surreal, recreating that here in LA!