For Waxahachie native Donny Boaz, life has been a journey of finding open doors and making the best of situations through faith and athletic ability.
Boaz, who stars as Texas football legend Bill Bradley in the just released movie “My All American” looks back on his school years in Waxahachie and will tell you he’s been very blessed.
“My All American,” set in the late ‘60s at college football powerhouse University of Texas, held premiere openings in Los Angeles and Dallas last week, and is showing in local theaters this week. The movie opened Nov. 13.
Boaz graduated from Cornerstone Christian School in Waxahachie in 1998, where he was a standout athlete in football, basketball, cross country and baseball.
“That was my life,” said Boaz. “The good Lord blessed me with a gift, and if God gives you a talent and ability, you should use it to make a positive impact.”
Boaz started his career as a model when he was 19. He did work with clients that ranged from Mothers Against Drunk Driving to Abercrombie, Calvin Klein and even to runway work in Milan, Italy. He also attended Waxahachie’s Southwestern Assemblies of God University, where he continued his athletic career as an All-conference and All-American football player.
“Football was my life,” said Boaz. “It’s what I loved to do, but SAGU and I had a parting of the ways my junior year because they didn’t think modeling Calvin Klein underwear was very Christ-like. I was crushed when my football scholarship was revoked, because that’s all I had ever known, but looking back, it just opened a different door for me and sent my life in a new direction.”
Though current SAGU sports information staff recalled the issue, none were there in 2001 and couldn’t comment on it in detail.
Between the ages of 19 and 25, Boaz modeled in 27 different countries. He saw the world at a young age, he said. Those are the years he became a man.
“I didn’t have Mom or coaches around to help me, so I had to quickly learn how to survive in countries half way around the world,” Boaz said. “But the transition from athlete to model and actor was great, because I’m all about competition. It’s a different kind of competition when you compare the two, but it’s equally challenging, if not more.”
Boaz moved from Paris back to the Dallas-Fort Worth area at 23, and was discovered by an acting agent with the Kim Dawson Agency.
“She asked me if I had ever done any acting, and I laughed and said I played a robot in a school play once. She said that really didn’t count, but said I had the look for a part in a movie called ‘Saving Jessica Lynch,’” said Boaz. “So I go to the audition, having never had an acting class in my life. I said my two lines, got my head shaved and I was in.”
Since then, Boaz has expanded his resume to include more than 90 film and television appearances, but called working with “My All American” director Angelo Pizzo very humbling. Pizzo was the screenwriter behind what are arguably two of the most well-known sports movies ever made, “Hoosiers” and “Rudy.”
“He’s such a proficient story teller,” said Boaz. “He just had a vision in his head of how he wanted the movie to look, and to his credit, this is the first movie he’s ever directed, and I think he did a fantastic job.”
Boaz had to go through two months of two-a-day workouts to prepare for his role as Bill Bradley.
“I wish more people knew Bill Bradley’s story,” said Boaz. “He led Palestine high school to a state championship in 1964, played quarterback and defensive back at the University of Texas, and went on to play nine years in the NFL.”
Boaz was unwavering in acknowledging that his faith has helped bring him this far.
“I’m a big Jesus fan, and if God has blessed you with a talent, you should definitely use it for a good purpose,” said Boaz.
As for what’s next, Boaz has a new faith-based movie scheduled for release in December called “Beyond the Darkness.”
“One of the great things about acting is that you actually get paid to learn skills that you never would have experienced otherwise. For ‘My All American,’ it was two months of on-field training. For ‘Beyond the Darkness,’ I play the angel Gabriel, and had to go through eight weeks of sword training,” said Boaz.
Boaz stopped in Waxahachie last week between promotional interviews in Los Angeles, Austin and Dallas, and walked around the track at Lumpkins Stadium.
“The doors that have opened for me have provided me with such a blessed and humbling life, but this-this is home to me. This field is where I played football and I can remember running the 400 on this track,” said Boaz.