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From the Field to the Stage

Alumnus Frank Cole’s passion for connecting people has led him from soccer to an acting career

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Academy of Art University Schools of Communications & Media Technologies and Acting alumnus Frank Cole. Photo by Bob Toy.

Frank Cole’s mother always told him he was born kicking. The School of Communications & Media Technologies and School of Acting alumnus from Academy of Art University said he and his siblings grew up performing in talent shows and musicals, but he always believed soccer was going to be his center stage.

And who could blame him: Cole (who was born Frank Diaz) showcased a bright future in soccer as a teenager. He was a four-year letterwinner in soccer, earned All-League and All-Section Forward of 2006, led state D1 high schools in goals (25) and assists (14) and took Tracy High to its first ever sectional final in the school’s history. 

He has trained with the Cal-North Olympic Development Program, played for the San Jose Earthquakes and the Stockton Cougars reserve teams and even committed to play professionally for Tecos Fútbol Club in Mexico. When he cut his pro career short, he said he came home to over 30 soccer scholarship offers from top schools throughout the United States. Out of those 30 offers, Cole said he chose the Academy because the opportunity to pursue both passions—soccer and performing—presented itself.

“I played at the highest level throughout my whole life,” he explained. “I ended up choosing the Academy because at the time, I was focusing on my degree and considering a fall back plan; I was looking for a school that had both communications and acting because I know how tough the industry is.” 

Playing for the Academy, Cole started in nine out of 13 matches and finished second for most goals, with just playing less than half the season, due to being sidelined with a knee injury in his junior year in 2009. For an athlete of his talent and caliber, a setback like that would be a devastating end to a promising sports career, but Cole redirected his energy toward his schooling, especially in acting. 

“I let out a lot of my emotions through acting,” he said. “I really started to fall in love with it more and get really deep into it.”

He committed himself to a newfound career in the front of the camera. When he wasn’t on Academy sets, he worked at the American Conservatory Theater and MDT Agency in San Francisco. He hosted Academy Idol and the Media Awards, and eventually found himself landing a role in a small-budget feature film, Without Men, playing Eva Longoria’s brother. 

But he learned the hard way that show business is a tough business. 

His part in the film was cut, and he decided to try his hand at working in Los Angeles in the film industry before completing his degree. A few years passed, and he decided to move back to the Bay Area and complete his degree. “It’s important to finish something you started, I think,” he said.

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Academy of Art University Schools of Communications & Media Technologies and Acting alumnus Frank Cole. Photo by Bob Toy.

Fast forward to this year, and Cole can proudly say he’s been in seven short films, one web-series, five industrial and commercial videos, one Netflix series, one video game, two theater productions and two editorial campaigns as a model. During his time away from being in front of the camera, he worked in casting for San Francisco’s top CSA Casting agency. He is currently represented and praised by top agencies across the United States in cities like Los Angeles, N.Y.C., Atlanta, Dallas, Miami and San Francisco. He even had his photo displayed on the NASDAQ tower in New York City’s Times Square this past July, the result of his recent partnership with Global News Wire, a press release distributing company.

“[This job] is more than just being talented, it’s about being able to build relationships,” he emphasized. “A lot of talented people don’t get seen throughout their lives, but being able to network and keep good relationships helps build your career.” 

He said he owes a lot of his abilities to his time at the Academy, especially with the instructors that took the extra time to mentor him. For now, Cole is looking to expand his team and network in preparation for L.A. Episodic Season, when television shows are being cast and filmed.

“The school was such a perfect preview to the real world,” he continued. “It has everything that you need to make something out of your career while you’re there. I gained a lot from the school in regards to building a good foundation and learning how to get yourself out there. You can start your career right there if you want to.”

Cole may have switched platforms from the field to the stage, but despite art and sports often being viewed as polar opposites, he says at the heart of both, is a love for performance. Cole reveals that his greatest passion is connecting people through performing no matter which avenue he ultimately chose, whether it was chasing a ball into a net or playing a character on screen. 

“I always [knew] soccer was such a big way to reach out to the whole world—it’s the biggest global sport and it has the World Cup—but film reaches the ends of the world,” he mused. “I felt like if I could connect with every single person on this planet, film would be such a good thing to do that with. That’s my dream, to someday make a film that’ll touch people all across the world.”