Western Carolina University has its share of celebrity alumni. One such alum is the incredibly deep baritone Geno Segers, an actor in Disney’s television show “Pair of Kings”
Segers graduated from WCU in 1992 with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering. He first came to WCU in 1985 and after taking some time off came back to finish his degree. Segers decided to major in industrial engineering because it was an accredited hybrid degree only offered at one other university that not only taught an engineering aspect but also a marketing aspect. While at WCU, Segers was involved in the football team and during his sophomore year the Catamounts went 6-5.
After graduation, Segers relocated to become an international rugby player. He was always athletic and competitive so becoming a rugby player was natural. As he got older he decided to move away from athletics and went to work in the industrial engineering field working with fluid systems.
While working, one of Segers’s coworkers came up to his cubicle to tell him about another coworker who had recently bought a new house on top of the two that he already owned. His coworker said, “And he is just a regular Joe Pump like me and you.”
This sparked Segers’s desire for something greater because he did not see himself as a Joe Pump.
Segers said about that moment, “There went the desire and determination to not be average. I didn’t want to be Joe Pump. I didn’t want to live a normal life and accept what was given to me and what was right before me.”
Segers traveled back to New Zealand to play rugby again because he was not certain what he wanted to do. He then went to work for a large pipe manufacture, and he decided to strike up his own business after realizing he wanted and needed to create something. He realized this after helping to create an instrument for the pipe manufacture, and his name remains on the patent to this day.
Segers had three businesses, and one of his employees came up to him one day saying that he had an incredible voice. His employee told him that he should do something with that voice and informed him about a radio station that was looking for actors to do voice-overs. Segers went in one day and auditioned. The station and eventually other businesses wanted him to do commercials, but they wanted him to take a few lessons before.
Segers offered them to teach him what he needed to know and he would do the work for free. After some time, he became a very popular voice on the radio which caused him to finally ask for compensation. From this popularity, Segers decided to get an agent.
After getting the agent, Segers was sent to an audition for Disney. He was unaware of what the audition was for or what he needed to do during the audition. He simply showed up, walked up the stairs, and went into the rehearsal room to wait with the other men auditioning. He soon noticed that many of the men were not lasting very long in the audition room, and he began to clock them with 43 seconds being the longest time anyone stayed in the room. He decided to try and beat the 43 seconds.
When it was his name that was called, Segers walked into the room and he was handed a piece of sheet music that had Mufasa written at the top. He was asked to sing the first page, but because he could not read music the pianist helped him with the melody. The man leading the audition asked him to sing it several times, each time changing the emotion he wanted to hear.
At the end he handed Segers the music and asked him to learn the whole song and come back later to sing it. Segers asked when, and the man asked him if he could come back later that night. Segers replied saying he could come back in fifteen minutes, and he promptly walked out to his car to learn the music before walking back in. While walking down the stairs, the stop-watch Segers had set to see if he could beat the 43 seconds was still running and was at 48 minutes.
After coming back with the song, Segers landed a job with Disney working in an ensemble for two years in Sydney, Australia. After the two years, they offered him the job to play Mufasa from the “The Lion King” in a stage production. Segers was nervous about accepting, but he took the job.
On Segers’s first night playing Mufasa, he ran into Thomas Schumacher, President of Disney Theatrical. Schumacher asked him if he had heard the story of how he had been hired by Disney and began to tell Segers the story of how the man giving the audition had heard this wonderful voice in the hallway before the auditions started. The reason that all the men before Segers hadn’t spent more than 43 seconds in the audition room is because the man giving the audition was rushing through them to find the voice, Segers.
Segers went on to play Mufasa in Australia for one year, China for three months, and one and a half years in America. He originated the role in Mexico and in China.
“I learned a lot from that role and I learned a lot from ‘The Lion King’ itself. It’s a very communal experience because the show is 52 cast members,” Segers said about the differences that arise with so many coworkers. “But at the end of the day we all come together to put this product on. And there is very little to none in respect to animosity while on stage, and I owe ‘The Lion King’ a huge debt of gratitude.”
Segers is now playing the role of Mason in Disney’s “Pair of Kings” on television. It took him a while to finally commit to acting, and he went through an off time in New York City while trying to decide what it was that he wanted to do. While visiting in New Zealand his old agent told him about a role that Segers would have been perfect for, and he told Segers to go ahead and send in a tape to Disney. Segers did the tape, sent it off, and when he arrived back in New York; he had over twenty messages from Disney. Segers went out to Los Angeles and landed the job.
On his incredible experiences, Segers said, “It’s all in an effort to not be Joe Pump. To not just settle for anything.”
To learn more about Geno Segers, you can visit his website www.genosegers.com or follow him on Twitter @genosegers.