How American actors’ union strike impacting a Webster native

WATERTOWN, S.D.(KXLG)- The current strike by the American actors’ union is affecting Webster, South Dakota-area native Tommy Lentsch. Lentsch dived into acting about a decade ago and has landed numerous roles in TV, movies, and commercials.

But these days, the Tampa, Fla., resident isn’t working as an actor. He’s still going on auditions, but he won’t accept any jobs he’s offered that would conflict with the strike.

The striking actors hope for higher pay for actors who aren’t big stars, but a more significant issue is the use of artificial intelligence to “create” actors for roles in movies and television shows.

In the early 1990s, Lentsch lived in Apple Valley, Minnesota, and heard a radio news story that changed his life.

Famed horror movie director Dario Argento was preparing to shoot a movie in the Minneapolis area, and the production company was seeking extras to appear in the film. Lentsch sent in his photo and was cast as an ambulance driver.

The movie, titled “Trauma,” was released in 1993, and even though Lentsch’s role was small and uncredited, it had a lasting impact on his life.

Lentsch married three years later and was a stay-at-home day in Orlando, raising his children while his wife, Anita, worked in the corporate world. Once his kids were grown, Lentsch decided in 2012 to get back into acting.

He began by taking some acting classes in Orlando and Miami. He learned auditioning techniques, how to get amazing headshots, how to hire an agent and the importance of starting small to build credibility. He worked as a background extra, as a stand-in, and in commercials.

Since getting into the acting world, the 52-year-old has appeared in about 20 commercials and has 20 other acting credits, in addition to producer credits, on his Independent Movie Database page. He currently stars in a humorous ad for Rentyl Resorts, where he plays Bud, a strange neighbor using the swimming pool at a vacationing family’s rental property.

When Comedy Central of the United Kingdom landed syndication rights to the popular TV show “Friends” in England in 2015, the network scoured the world for actors who looked like original cast members to do publicity appearances and photo shoots. Lentsch strongly resembles “Friends” actor Matthew Perry, who played Chandler Bing in the long-running series. Comedy Central chose Lentsch to play the part of Chandler for its extensive promotional campaign.

He said that the roles he has landed are the results of thousands of auditions, but that’s normal for most actors. He’s fine with the multitude of rejections an actor must deal with, but he doesn’t share them with friends and family.

Lentsch recently became a member of the Screen Actors Guild, which he said is a big deal and will allow him to audition for more and better roles. He is not, however, hell-bent on becoming a world-famous actor.

See some of Lentsch’s work on his website at