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Trojans in Business: Mazio Royster

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Written by Andie Hagemann, USC blog contributor

mazio-royster.jpgName: Mazio Royster

Resume: Founder and C.E.O. of 3rd and 1, Inc.

Sport at USC: Football

What is your role at 3rd and 1, Inc.?

I am a sports coordinator. I coordinate sports action sequences and other aspects of a sports production. To make my job easier, I always love to get former athletes. If you leave it up to the production people, they'll give you people that look like athletes but have no athletic background, making my job a little more difficult. It is always good to have a person that understands the sport in an authentic way. Of course being a former USC athlete, I'm always partial to working with USC athletes. I'm always looking for athletes that are skilled but maybe didn't have the opportunity to go pro in their respective sport.

How did you initially become involved as a sports coordinator?

After I finished in the pros, I came back to USC to get my degree in 1998. As I was going to class, someone in the equipment room said, "Hey, Oliver Stone is auditioning people for a football movie." There were a lot of young actors like Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, Taye Diggs, Cuba Gooding Jr. working out at Howard Jones Field. I got in there and before I knew it, I was running around doing different things. The actor I ended up doubling, Bill Bellamy, was there as well. I made a good impression on Oliver Stone and the stunt coordinator Allan Graf. I had a rapport with Graf already because we were both USC guys. He invited me to try out for Any Given Sunday and I booked the role as Bill Bellamy's stunt double. Even though I played running back at USC, it was not difficult for me to play wide receiver for the role. That was my first introduction into the entertainment business and I have been in it ever since.

What have been some memorable moments while working in commercials and films?

I have always been a little leery of the acting side of the business. I was not in full on actor mode. I took some classes to have a foundation but for the most part I loved doing athletic commercials. I found the greatest experiences in working with people like Warren Moon, Al Pacino, Michael Clarke Duncan, and Ricky Watters - who I played against at Notre Dame. That really was rewarding and a cool experience. After that, I worked with Michael Vick in his first commercial with Powerade. I also worked with LeBron James in his first commercial with Powerade and another commercial with him for Nike. All of those were influential experiences for me and fueled my desire to be in the entertainment industry.

Being a former athlete, you have that inside experience. Do you give any particular advice to the athlete you're working with in order to get them ready for a scene?

Royster-USC.jpgIt is cool to meet these players and have them lean on my experiences. I always try to establish a rapport with each of them and let them know that I'm not just someone that Nike contracted. I tell them that this is my lineage. I played at USC and I played professionally. Once they know that, there is a level of trust. Ultimately, I need those guys to relax, especially because I need them to relax in an environment that they are not familiar with. Athletes are used to a hundred thousand people in the stands, bright lights and TV camera. However, when we put them in a surreal setting like a fake locker room, they shut down because it is not something they really know or are comfortable in. I usually establish the rapport with them and say something to get them in the right space.

What advice do you have for anyone that wants to venture into the entertainment industry?

For people that are trying to get into commercials, I would suggest that they do their homework and understand about the business that they are getting into. It is an incredibly hard business to break into. It is very much a clique of who you know. Once you do get in the door, in order to have staying power, you have to hone your craft and have that skill set. As an athlete, you have to use that same dedication, perseverance, intensity and hard work that you had to have to win the National Championship or the Pac-12 Championship. I love working with athletes that didn't quite make it to the NFL. Usually, those athletes have a thirst to them. They will relish the opportunity. These guys are awesome to work with and hang on to every word. They possess a hard work ethic that I definitely appreciate. In the entertainment business, it is easy to get a little jaded so I love working with the young, thirsty guys. There is no substitute for hard work.

What's next?

Every year I am involved in the Madden franchise. We just finished the 2014 version, which is the 25th anniversary of Madden, last month. That should be released in August. Immediately after the previous years' work is released, we are usually starting on the next game after that. In the meantime, I usually work with NFL Network. We just did a Target C9 campaign and that should be in stores this summer. With that campaign, I worked with young football players one of which was my nephew. Nothing is definitive but I know that work with NFL Network, Nike, Electronic Arts will be coming up this summer.

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