Cover Guy: Frank Mentier

A small-town Michigan boy who made good, Frank Mentier managed to launch Hollywood careers as an actor, model and celebrity fitness trainer. Perhaps most impressively, however, is that he managed to stay sweet and humble while doing so.

 

INSTINCT: Hey, Frank. What’s your coming-out story?
FRANK MENTIER: I was 16. Growing up, I had always been very close with my mother, but I got a job where I ended up socializing with kids from lots of other schools. I met a guy at a graduation party, and we started to hang out a lot. I began to get very secretive, and my mom kept asking what was wrong, like was I doing drugs or hanging with the wrong crowd.

What happened?
One night I just paced in front of her bedroom door. She asked me what was wrong, and I told her, “Nothing.” I came back about four times that night before I finally mustered up the courage to just say, “Mom, I’m gay.” Ever since that night, she’s embraced me for who I am. My father is another story, but I’m okay with that. I know who I am. I know I’m loved. I know I’m a good person.

Coming out can be a difficult decision for everyone, but especially for an aspiring actor. What inspired you to make the journey as an out man?
Knowing this is who I am, and knowing somebody needs to! It’s unfortunate the entertainment industry has the power to make so many men and women ashamed of who they were born as. If it weren’t for trailblazers standing up and following their dreams, a lot of doors would still be closed. There is nothing to fear but regret. I only have one life. I’m gonna live it doing what makes me happy. If people want to call that inspiring, okay. I’m just living the way I want while I try my hand at the things I love.

How’d you get started as an actor?
I moved out to Los Angeles on July 28, 2006, right after high school, and booked my first gig on Days Of Our Lives about six months later.

Some of our readers may remember that you played college cutie Jed Stark. Jed was the brother of the hard-luck Willow Stark, who also had a crush on good girl Abby Deveraux.
I had a lot of fun seeing myself in Soap Opera Digest and reading all the fan blogs and seeing their excitement for the new story line. [Laughs] Abby Deveraux was played by Ashley Benson, who is now on Pretty Little Liars. She’s a sweet, down-to-earth girl. When she ended up leaving Salem—the fictional town we all lived in—I did, too.

Our readers may also remember you as the brooding—and oft-shirtless—Roderick Usher on House Of Usher, an adaptation that was a little more “Edgar Allan Whoa!” than Edgar Allan Poe.
Hey, it ran on here! TV and Showtime and was a great experience. [Laughs] From all my experiences, I’ve learned a lot about acting, life and self-esteem. It’s important to keep a level head in the industry and to not take things personally. You can give the best audition in the world, but at the end of the day, it can come down to something as simple as you have blue eyes and blond hair and they’re looking for a green-eyed, dark-haired person to play the role.

What advice do you have for other aspiring actors?
Never get down on yourself. It took me a long time to learn that, and I can’t stress it enough. If you don’t take it lightly and keep your self-esteem intact, it can ruin you. I took a big hiatus from acting after getting very, very close to some roles on very popular TV shows that still currently run. I was 20 and didn’t quite understand that it was just the industry, so I took it too personally.

What made you decide to pursue acting again?
It’s something I’ve always been very passionate about. Acting classes were always a playground for me, so I always stayed in some form of class, whether it was improv, cold reading or intense scene study. It’s important to find classes and coaches you work well with and to avoid those you don’t. The key is to have fun and remember why acting and performing are important to you. With my new attitude, I’m having a blast giving it a try again.

Judging from how amazing your shoot turned out, it’s probably no surprise to our readers that you’re also a model. What’s that life like?

Amazing! [Laughs] Modeling is also something I am passionate about. It’s a lot of fun. You get to go places and wear things and do things that lots of other people dream of, even if it’s just for a short while. I’ve walked the runway for Armani, been on covers of international magazines and shot commercials in Korea and the U.S. I’ve worked with amazing people and had amazing opportunities, but even so, many times I have been told “no.” I just never let it stop me!

Where did your interest in modeling come from?

My mother. She has always been the most supportive parent anybody could wish for. She was a model, calendar girl and aerobics instructor. I remember having a poster of her hanging up in my room with her long hair blowing in the wind, in a sexy little one-piece with glasses and a big hat. My mom was hot! I remember wanting to start modeling because she did it. I thought she was the coolest. I still do.

What did she say when you told her your dream?
She asked me if I was sure, and then she got to it. She took me to get a little leather jacket for my first model’s card. I turned back and forth in the mirror in front of her and the salesgirl, saying, “I was made to wear leather.” [Laughs] Neither of us ever gets tired of telling that story. Modeling for me is a form of make-believe that has made a big difference in my life—when I was 6, I remember buying a PlayStation from doing a Kmart commercial!

For more on FRANK MENTIER, pick up the new June/July issue of Instinct—out now! Photography by Nate Jensen