In 2012, after graduating from Pace University in New York, best friends Matt Cullen and Troy LaPersonerie moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting careers. Seeking a creative outlet, they began filming short comedic videos under the moniker of The Webchat Boys. By August of 2014, however, the duo’s focus had shifted from creating short videos to scripting the first season of Raymond & Lane, a web series based on the offbeat lives of its creators. Having recently completed it’s second season, the series now boasts a strong following on YouTube and has featured guest stars such as Heather Matarazzo (Princess Diaries, Welcome to the Dollhouse), Danny Belrose (Portlandia) and Kelly Washington (Parks & Recreation, Jurassic World).
In April of 2015, Cullen and LaPersonerie were honored guests at the 2015 Los Angeles Webfest, an awards ceremony devoted to online series. Both were nominated in the Outstanding Lead Male Actor in a Comedy Series category, and cast member Samantha Purnell earned a nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.
To learn more about Cullen, LaPersonerie, and Raymond & Lane, visit www.raymondandlane.com.
What was your childhood like, and how did it shape who you are today?
I grew up in Sonoma County in a relatively small town called Santa Rosa. My childhood has always involved creating to some degree. I was obsessed with getting my neighbors and/or classmates together to put on productions in our backyards for our “fans” (our parents). I’ve always loved the creative process of putting a production together — from casting it, directing it, designing it, and acting in it. Being able to have a say in all the different aspects that goes into putting on a production is something that I’m extremely passionate about and always have been.
Growing up, who were your biggest creative influences?
I’ve always loved actors that direct as well, being that directing is such a huge passion of mine. Clint Eastwood obviously comes to mind. Woody Allen. Also I am so inspired everyday by the different people I’m able to work with and meet while doing Raymond & Lane.
What are your fondest memories of your time at Pace University?
I absolutely loved living in New York City. I think one of the biggest perks about Pace University is that not only is it so centrally-located in Manhattan, but they also allow you to audition outside of school. The summer between my junior and senior year in school, I auditioned and got cast in FAME the Musical that went to China, and Pace totally worked with me and made sure that I was able to continue my schooling while traveling. That experience not only got me my equity card, but also introduced me to tons of people in the industry that have continued to help me to this day.
How did you first meet Troy LaPersonerie?
Troy and I met while studying Musical Theatre at Pace University in New York City. The program is very selective and prestigious so there were only about 25 people in my entire Musical Theatre class. To say we all got very close is an understatement! Troy and I moved into our first apartment together with two friends of ours in the East Village of Manhattan when we were sophomores in college. The rest is history!
What inspired the creation of Raymond & Lane?
Troy and I were new to Los Angeles and had left all of our entertainment connections back in New York City. We were itching to create so with zero dollars to our name we began with our iPhones, just creating small videos to see what came out and if we were funny at all. To be honest, comedy was something I was never comfortable doing prior to Raymond & Lane, so we were able to use this time (pre-Raymond & Lane) to start to hone our voices. One thing led to the next and before we knew it we were on set shooting our very first official episode of Raymond & Lane.
How did your experience with The Webchat Boys help to shape your approach to writing and filming Raymond & Lane?
I think it gave us the confidence that we needed in order to start such a big project as Raymond & Lane. The whole journey of the show has been a slow progression, which has been super nice for Troy and I being that we are both so new to the process of creating a web series from the ground up.
What is your process for writing an episode of Raymond & Lane?
Our process for writing Raymond & Lane changes from episode to episode, but normally one of us thinks of the general idea of the episode, lays out a very rough first draft, and we work collaboratively from there. We find that once we are able to get down something, it is much easier for us to fine tune that and work off of that.
How do you generally go about getting big-name guest stars?
Obviously networking and living in Los Angeles has helped a ton but, to be honest, we get most of our big-name guest stars through emails and a never-ending perseverance. Emailing has definitely been our best friend throughout this entire process. You truly don’t realize how much works goes on behind the scenes to create a show like Raymond & Lane until you are doing it first hand.
What’s the best advice — acting or otherwise — you’ve received?
I think the best advice I’ve ever been given, and the advice I always give others when asked, is that your biggest strength and asset in this business is to be your authentic self. I went through so many years of auditioning in New York City where I tried to be someone that I’m not because I thought that’s what they were looking for. I realize now — especially after casting and working with new actors almost weekly with my show — that people will cast YOU off of YOU. Whatever makes you unique and different may be what makes you insecure but those unique traits are what is going to book you the job.
If you could guest star on any current TV series, which series would you choose?
This is such a hard question! There are so many great TV shows right now that I would absolutely love to guest star on – for comedy, I would love to guest star on Silicon Valley, Broad City, and The Comeback. For drama, I would love to guest star on House of Cards, Shameless (although I think that’s considered a comedy), and American Horror Story.
What’s the best meal you’ve had recently?
Chicken & waffles at Roscoes in L.A. (am I weird that I had never experienced the magic of chicken & waffles before?!)
What’s next for both you and for Raymond & Lane?
We just started a sub-series called Real Life with Raymond & Lane that is 100% improvisational. We realized through creating two seasons of our show that we both loved improvising, so we decided to hit the streets of Los Angeles, as Raymond & Lane, and started talking to real people. I’m super excited for the future and to see what amazing opportunities are just around the corner!