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Life and Arts

Tools of the trade

Steve Howey has found his niche in acting. The Crescenta Valley High School graduate played the son-in-law Van on the TV show “Reba” for six seasons and is now on the new Showtime series “Shameless.”

In college he had his sights set on playing basketball, but when that didn’t materialize, he began taking his father’s acting workshop to build his confidence.

It helped launch his career, but the process wasn’t easy, he admitted Wednesday during a visit at the Bill Howey Acting Workshop in Burbank.

“Sometimes familiarity breeds contempt,” he said.


It’s difficult enough learning something from a stranger, but when it’s your father, it’s tough.

“Instinctively you want to rebel,” he said. “There are times when he is rough on me and times I’ve been biased. When I get a compliment, I wonder is it Daddy or teacher? But he’s been able to get me to open up or try something different.”

Howey said it’s all boiled down to trusting what his dad has told him, doing it and then continuing to work on it.

“It’s paid off,” he said. “I started working real fast.”


He was only 21 when cast on “Reba,” and after the first couple of years he said he started to relax and get into the part.

“Sitcom acting — it’s fun,” he said. “You get to be big — overacting.”

But as the show evolved, Howey said his character did as well.

“I matured through the experience,” he said. “It was like getting paid to go to acting class. I was growing as an actor, and that was good because if you’re not learning, you’re going backwards.”

And with his new role on “Shameless,” he’s moved from comedy to dark dramedy. And while Reba McEntire was a huge country legend, he’s now working opposite William H. Macy.

“A theatrical genius,” Howey said.

The audiences have changed also. While “Reba” was family-friendly, “Shameless” is more shocking and crude, he said.

He’s had to cope with appearing nude for the first time on television, he said.


“The show is more provacative,” he said. “It’s pay cable.”