From Orcas to LA: actor Zack Silva makes it big

Orcas island-born Hollywood actor Zack Silva.  - Contributed photo.
Orcas island-born Hollywood actor Zack Silva.
— image credit: Contributed photo.

Orcas-born actor rises to Hollywood fame

Hollywood actor Zack Silva made his debut at age 11 on the Orcas Center stage, in a play called Godspell.

“I played a little guardsman. I did my karate up on stage,” said Silva, who grew up on the island, the son of Chuck and Ronni Silva.

“Godspell had an incredible run,” said Silva.

These days, he has traded in his little black tights and sash for a role on FX network’s television show, “Terriers.” While there isn’t any karate scripted for his character, a veterinary student named Gavin, Silva enjoys the job.

“The show has this edginess, something like a familiar kind of distant cousin that you've never met but you just love him; that's how the show feels,” said Silva, who appreciates “the exceptional writing and the talent behind it.”

The producers behind “Terriers” include Shawn Ryan, who wrote shows “The Shield” and “The Unit,” and Ted Griffin, whose past titles include Ocean’s Eleven.

“The show has just taken off in the sense that if you look on the internet, the NY Times, People magazine reviews, everyone who reviews it really loves it. The show is doing fantastically, with one exception,” he said. “It's not necessarily bringing in the ratings.”

While Terriers won’t be heading into a second season, fans are openly mourning on the FX Web site, and it’s not the only show going for Silva. Past gigs include Days of our Lives, Watch Over Me in 2007, the 2006 prime-time series novella, Desire, a short 2009 thriller called “One Degree,” and a recent comedy named Herpes Boy that won a Comedy Vanguard Award. He has a fan club at

“I am a student of this industry and this entertainment business,” he said. “It's always changing, especially with the different mediums out there, in hugely drastic ways; you just have to be ready to change.”

With his latest role on Terriers, Silva has been featured in Variety and Backstage West, two major Los Angeles magazines.

Currently involved in writing and producing, Silva says he would love to get involved in directing someday.

“I can't call myself a producer or writer until I see my credit on the IMDB (Internet Movie Database)," he said.

And then?

“Orcas Center is something I'd really like to get back to, after I do what it is I am down here to do,” said Silva. “It’s very important to me to return. It's always the goal for me to settle back down on Orcas. I was born there, and I will return there to give back.”

Silva said there was no drama program when he was at Orcas Island High.

“That's been a wonderful change that’s happened since I left,” he said of the new drama opportunities for kids in recent years. “If you wanted to audition for a role in an Orcas Center play you could have, but I kept my time pretty full with martial arts. Silva, whose father is martial arts instructor Chuck Silva, devoted most of his free time to daily karate practices, competing in regional, national and international tournaments. After attending Menlo College in Atherton, Calif., and Seattle Central Community College, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting full time.

“As long as I can remember I've always been an ambitious child,” said Silva. “I had big dreams and many big aspirations. At one point I wanted to be a marine biologist or a fireman. My mom tells me the first time I said I wanted to be an actor, I was four years old. I'll take her word for it. I remember also being involved in lots of different arts; I loved to draw.” But at about 11, Silva realized, “I had this thing inside of me, that sparkle; maybe no one else could really see it, but it sparkled to me, and I just wanted to show it. Then it leads you to, how can I express this?”

Photos of Zack at the Hollywood Premiere of Terriers are available here:

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