One often hears about small town people who move to the city to make it big in acting. It’s rare that one does that from your town. Heber Springs, however, has an up and coming young man who is finding success as an actor in a Prime Time series. Paxton Singleton, son of Paxton and Cortney Singleton plays Young Steven in the Netflix series The Haunting of Hill House. When asked what drew him to the show, Paxton responds, “I knew it was a great script the first time my mom and I read through the sides for the audition. We both looked at each other and said, “We've got to watch this show.” We were immediately hooked on it. As far as my character goes, Young Steven and I are a lot alike. We're both older brothers. We're both close to our parents. We're both just good kids, at least I try to be. And, we're both at an age where we're trying to be seen more as adults. We're actually very similar”. Paxton has an 11 year old younger brother who he loves to play Fortnite with.
Paxton says, “I discovered that I liked acting when I was in a couple plays here in Heber.” His mom, Cortney noticed that he had a natural talent and said, “There were several signs along the way. His first baby trick was imitating a children’s book about emotions.” When she would read the book to him and say, “this is a sad face,” he would make the sad face. He loved doing all the faces and did them all perfectly she told The Sun Times. “We didn’t think that much of it, but I remember my Aunt Lynda saying he was going to be an actor someday.”
As he got older, Cortney says they had to be careful about which shows he was allowed to watch on TV because he would take on the attitude of the character he liked. If the character on the show was moody, he would be moody. If the character was funny, he would be funny. If the character was a smart-mouth, that show was off limits.
It was when he did a cold-read for his first local play here in Heber Springs that Cortney realized something was there. It seemed he just naturally knew how to deliver the lines. When Cortney arrived home that night she told her husband about it. Paxton was in another play about a year later. After that, Cortney asked Paxton if acting was something he wanted to pursue. He said, yes, but he didn’t want to do theater. He wanted to try film and TV. Paxton says he wasn’t actually bitten by the acting bug until he went to New York to film his first short film. It was a one day shoot, but that’s all it took. “I knew acting was for me,” he said.
When he is filming, they have two teachers on set that are responsible for keeping up with all the kids’ lessons from their regular schools. They did three intensive hours of class each day. On days they didn’t work, they would put in a few more hours for the days they were busy shooting. Paxton said it actually worked pretty well that way.
Although Paxton doesn’t like to watch horror films, he enjoys the challenge of acting in a horror series. “It gives you a chance to work with some pretty extreme emotions. Of course when you’re on set it isn’t really that scary.” Paxton said. There are usually people running around everywhere, working on things.
Paxton says he likes to stay true to himself and always thinks before he does something, which he says get easier as he gets older. He also thinks it is cool that he is learning how to run a business at this young age. While his parents do most of the work he has still had to learn about paying taxes and stuff like that. “I’ve learned that there is a small portion of what you make that is for spending. The rest goes for expenses and savings.” said Paxton. In his spare time he likes to play Fortnite with his little brother and friends.
When asked how they would help Paxton not succumb to the pitfalls of fame which have plagued other young stars, Cortney said, “His dad and I continue to give this a lot of thought. The way we see it, life's pitfalls are the same no matter where our kids are or what they're doing. The pitfalls that exist in Hollywood are the same ones that exist everywhere. The ways to avoid them are the same as well. Let God be your guide, surround yourself with good people who want what's best for you, and avoid things that lead you off the right track. It's that simple. Our job as parents is to teach them to recognize and avoid the pitfalls of life, but ultimately, the decisions are their own. There's no magic trick to parenting, and there are certainly no guarantees. My hope is that the odd balance of his two worlds, Hollywood and Heber Springs, will teach him just how universal everyone's problems are. There really is no “us” and “them”. We all have talents. We all have temptations. We all have successes, and we all have failures. The only difference is geography.”
When asked if he would like to continue acting as an adult, Paxton responded, “I would love to pursue acting as an adult. I think it's a great career choice for me because I get to travel, I get to meet new and awesome people, and I get to pursue a dream of mine. I don't think I will ever walk away from acting, but I can if I want to. This could just be something I did as a kid. I think it would be cool to direct some day.”
In talking about the meaner side that can happen in a field such as acting, Paxton said, “That's just part of competitiveness. No matter what you're doing that's there. It's just life. Everything can have a mean side to it.” A very mature answer from such a young man, who seems very grounded.