Leland Mergillano is the Actor of the Month

I had the pleasure to interview Leland Mergillano. Leland Mergillano from Clermont, Florida is a driven and compassionate individual with a passion for acting and music. He enjoys spending time with family, traveling, and gaming. Leland has showcased his talents at venues like Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. With over 15 film projects in the last 2 1⁄2 years, he has worked alongside actors such as Dean Cain and Eddie McClintock.

Hello Leland, welcome to BranEducation! How did you discover your passion for acting, and when did you decide to pursue it seriously? 

I am very thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this magazine! Thank you for having me. My acting journey started when I was seven years old. My mom asked my sister and I if we were interested in doing a theatre summer camp. For the summer musical, we performed Sound of Music, and I was casted as Kurt Von Trapp. The following summer, I played the White Rabbit in Alice In Wonderland Jr. at Caponi’s Cannolis School of the Arts. It was then when I truly fell in love with acting. I continued on with musical theater through the years and still do today. Watching a lot of shows/movies, it inspired me to take acting to the next level. After being enrolled and graduating from advanced teen acting school in 2021, signed with an agent,  and got my first taste of the on-screen acting experience. From then on, I was hooked and decided to pursue acting in films seriously.

Balancing school and acting can be challenging. How do you manage your time effectively to handle both responsibilities? 

Being homeschooled makes my schedule more flexible, and I am also a dual enrollment college student. I balance my schedule by setting priorities and having a student planner to help manage my time. I find it beneficial to create a schedule, and to work around plans that may conflict with my school schedule.  

Are there any actors or actresses who inspire you, and if so, what aspects of their work do you find most compelling? 

I’ve looked up to many actors in my life, but if I could pick two, they would be Keanu Reeves and Dwayne Johnson. Keanu has always been one of my favorite actors because of how good he is at portraying different types of characters. I also really admire how he stays humble and kind despite his status. While I was in New York, I got to meet his girlfriend, Alexandra Grant. She was delightful throughout our conversation and is a very talented artist. Dwayne Johnson has always been my favorite comfort actor because of his family-oriented personality, which is something I can relate to. Growing up, my dad would watch WWE, so I kind of grew up with Dwayne Johnson’s presence, in a way. I got to play Maui in a theatrical production of Moana in 2022, so I would always study how he performed the character vocally.  

What has been your favorite role or project so far, and why did it resonate with you? 

Working as an on-screen actor is exciting, and I’ve enjoyed every experience I’ve had with it, so having a favorite is difficult. Two projects that I have in mind though are “She is 17 Again” and “Film Camp”. I got to work with my sister and very close friends. It was great to meet new people who were amazing to work with. The part of the film took place in the 1960s, so having to do different style changes was enjoyable, and the atmosphere felt as if we were in that era. “Film Camp” was awesome to work on because of the unique environment. Staying at an awesome faith-based camp while shooting a movie is not something one can experience often, so I was blessed to have been given that opportunity. I also made some wonderful friends there.  

As a teen actor, how do you approach portraying characters that may be significantly different from your own experiences and background? 

I believe that playing a character that is different from my own background is a great experience! When you play another character, you are getting out of your element. 

Playing a different role requires character breakdown and careful study of it.  


“Miracle at Manchester” is a notable project you’ve been a part of. Can you share any memorable experiences or challenges you faced while working on this film? 

Miracle at Manchester was a very memorable and enjoyable experience for me. It was an adventure to fly to California and be a part of the film. The production company is JCFilms they are so amazing, and consider them my film family. This film is based on actual events about a community that comes together to organize a miracle for a teen battling an aggressive form of brain cancer. Meeting this person on set had a profound effect on me. He is a role model today using his foundation—Miracle At Manchester Foundation –to help other children with cancer. 

I met actor Eddie McClintock (Warehouse 13, Friends, S.H.I.E.L.D, etc.), who directed the movie and was one of my favorite directors. I believe that faith in God has shown through this movie and ultimately impacted the movie world.  

Being a part of the entertainment industry at a young age, how do you prioritize maintaining a healthy worklife balance? 

It can be very busy at times, but with time management, you allocate enough time for work responsibilities as well as personal pursuits, such as spending time with family, engaging in hobbies, or pursuing personal goals. That is how I can maintain a healthy work-life balance. 

Staying busy doesn’t mean that it’s always work; I could be busy having fun with family & friends, gaming, biking around the neighborhood, or simply reading a book. 

 With a diverse portfolio including “Baila Conmigo” and “Success Camp,” how do you approach roles in different genres, and what attracts you to such varied projects? 

What attracts me the most to such projects is how diverse they are. To me, a good actor can portray all genres. That is a part of acting- getting out of your element. I was blessed to have been a small part of “Baila Conimgo.” The crew was phenomenal, and the experience was something I will not forget. 

“Success Camp” was intriguing yet exciting because as we were filming the movie, we felt as if we were real campers of the camp! I got to work with many familiar faces and new people, making the film an enjoyable experience.  

How do you stay grounded and focused on your craft amidst the attention and potential pressures that come with being a teen actor? 

Faith & Family is very important to me. Without the love and support from my parents I would not be where I am today. Finding a balance that leaves room for spending time with family & friends, church, volunteering, sports, gym etc. is key.  Challenges are always going to be present in this industry. It is an excellent way to except it and turn it into motivation. As actors, we should always work on our craft, whether on set or off set. 

Auditioning is a crucial part of an actor’s life. Can you share any tips or strategies you’ve learned for navigating auditions and handling both successes and rejections? 

Be prepared. It is best to study the character you’re reading for beforehand. It would be much easier to step into the character’s shoes during an audition. One thing that has helped me prepare for this industry is discipline. Don’t worry about being nervous. Do your best, smile, and have a good time. There will be times where you will experience rejection in this industry. Accepting that rejection is very much a part of the journey. Welcome that fact, which gives you a chance to improve and use it as a motivation. Learn that everything happens for a reason and trust the rejection – you may not have got the part, but that allows you to have space for a different one.  

Can you share any advice for other teenagers interested in pursuing acting as a career? 

If you feel that the stage or the camera is calling your name, don’t ignore that call. If anything, the best time to start is now. This career takes commitment, so if you feel ready, put in the work, and see how rewarding it will be. An issue many people have faced is self-doubt, but if you get into that mindset of becoming the best you can be as an actor, it will work out. Keep going, keep learning, keep doing, even though some auditions don’t go through, never give up! 

Leland, where can we find you online?

Instagram: @leland.mergillano, IMDb: Leland Mergillano and Facebook: Leland Mergillano

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