Are you a fan of The Blacklist, Homeland, Girls or American Horror Story? Did you happen to spend over three months binge-watching all 14 seasons of Law and Order: SVU in a darkened basement covered in a light dusting of Doritos crumbs?

If so, you caught prolific New York-based actor Amir Arison performing in just one of the mediums in which he practices his craft. Aside from being involved in all of those shows and then some, Arison regularly appears in off-Broadway plays, films, and even an acclaimed Web series.

In the sixth grade, Arison was standing on a stage at Pine Crest elementary in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for yet another school play when he was distracted by an unexpected thought. This is when most kids would be struck with a sudden bout of stage fright, but Arison had been doing this since the third grade, so My Robot Buddy was a cakewalk for the brown-eyed boy, despite the momentary contemplation he had found himself in. It had dawned on him at that moment that if he delivered his line with a certain inflection — just so — he’d earn some laughs from the audience.

“Ooh, this is what I should be doing,” he had said, recalling to GALO the moment the room erupted into laughter, and with it the moment he realized he was meant to be an actor.

Arison’s still got the chops to make them laugh. Though most of his roles have been in dramas, he’s been steadily getting to live out his dream of breaking into more comedic roles, where his natural humor is allowed to emerge when given the chance to improvise some lines, such as with his upcoming film Jane Wants a Boyfriend and his role on HBO’s Girls this season. His on-the-spot wit was enough to have executive producer Judd Apatow cracking up in the editing room of Girls, in which Arison’s character, Kevin Mimma, made his first appearance this past Sunday.

And there’s much more coming up for the 35-year-old actor — but when hasn’t there been? In addition to appearing on Girls this season, he has a recurring role as Aram Mojtabai on NBC’s The Blacklist, which was recently nominated for a Golden Globe and a People’s Choice Award for Favorite New Television Drama. Additionally, the easygoing, black-haired virtuoso has two upcoming films, the aforementioned Jane Wants a Boyfriend and Merry Friggin’ Christmas, and will more than likely reprise his role on the second season of the acclaimed Web series H+: The Digital Series (the second season has already been written, although it hasn’t been green-lit for production just yet), nominated for a PGA for Outstanding Digital Series. Whether it’s TV, film, or theater — Arison has been working on overdrive, “drawn to great parts, not the results.”

In an interview with GALO, Arison discusses what goes into his choosing a role, his burgeoning relationship with Twitter, and what makes today the Golden Age of TV.

Editorial Note: Portions of the interview have been edited and shortened.

GALO: You have a very long resume and it’s only growing — you’ve not only done TV, but theater, film and even a Web series. How did you start becoming involved as an actor?

Amir Arison: I am very grateful that I found my passion early on. I did a play in the third grade, and I remember my sister said, “Amir you don’t just have to remember your lines; you have to remember the lines that come before yours, so you know when to speak.” I said, “Okay, I think I got it,” and I remember going on stage and it was totally natural.

I was not great at sports, so I joined the drama club, and by the time I was in the sixth grade, I got a drama award. It was just always kind of what I did.

GALO: Who were your influences that motivated you to pursue your craft?

AA: That’s a great question. This is going to sound funny, but my mom was a really big influence on me. I mean, both of my parents are extraordinary role models for hard work. My mom has this immense optimistic spirit, and so I find myself drawn to people who do things; people who put their money where their mouth is. I don’t know if I inherited this or learned this, but the reward is in the doing and not in the result. It’s a hard thing to do as an actor — if a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one there to hear it, does it make a sound? If an actor is performing and no one sees it, no one recognizes it, did it happen? You want recognition so you can move forward and so you get validation on what you’re doing so that you can grow.

GALO: In your lengthy experience, can you name a production, film or show that you learned a great deal from and that really resonated with you? And how did you use that to further hone your skills as you went on to other acting jobs?

AA: Theater was my first form as an actor — then I went to Columbia and continued doing theater, and though I had done some commercials in high school, I did not have much on-camera experience. So my approach has always been script analysis, the theatrical approach — all the fundaments of theater are what I would call my baseline, how I work. So when I started working in TV more and more, I would say that my graduate school was working on Law and Order SVU.

When I got there, I found that television goes fast; you have to be extremely prepared. You have to own your role, your material and your lines, so that you can be prepared for anything because anything’s going to happen — they’re going to change a line; they’re going to drop a line; they’re going to take another angle; suddenly they’re going ask you to do it with an accent. The only thing we can control is our preparation. You have to prepare as much as you can, so that you can release it and be present in the moment. I really think it’s like being an athlete. You practice, and when the big game comes, it’s automatic. You can deliver when you’re tired, exhausted, and when the pressure’s on.

So I call SVU my sort of graduate school in television and film. It really is true, I really felt the difference after I had done those — I felt much more confident.

GALO: This season you’re on NBC’s The Blacklist and you’ll be a recurring character on the HBO show Girls in later episodes. Could you talk about your characters a bit and what we might expect from them in the future?

AA: They’re both very exciting jobs — I’m thrilled about them. Girls was especially exciting, because it was a show I was a fan of and that I had watched. It’s rare that you get to go onto a set that you’re a fan of and suddenly you’re standing across from a person whose work you love and admire like Lena Dunham. And she is the real deal! It is no accident she is where is she is. She is an extraordinary talent and person.

And it was the most fun. People make fun of me because I’m always saying “that was the most fun I’ve ever had,” but that truly was some of the most fun I’ve ever had on a job. Different jobs are great for so many different reasons, but that was particularly great for me because I come from comedy; I did a lot of comedy theater and I haven’t had a lot of access to a lot of comedic roles. I was more known for SVU and Homeland, much more dramatic roles, so to be able to be in a comedic role on a show that people like and watch and is important in the comedic zeitgeist that alone was just a boon or a feather in the career cap that meant a lot.

As for The Blacklist — nobody knows what happens next. I’m only a few episodes ahead of the air date, so I cannot say what is in store. But these writers know what they’re doing, clearly. I wasn’t in the original concept of the show, and the fact that they’ve carved out this place for me and are receptive to my role and my work is unbelievable, and it doesn’t usually happen like that. I am aware of that and I am very grateful.

(Interview continued on next page)