Victor Central School: As the piercing rain was pelting the pitch that portentous afternoon, Coach Tim Smith watched as his left winger, David Wright, cued up a corner kick in Canandaigua. Corner kicks were David’s specialty. As the coach watched, David Wright lofted a booming arching drive that managed to elude the hands and heads of every player on the field and gently curve to find a home, tucked into the back corner of the far side of the net.
At that moment, the coach was thinking about how good it felt to be assuming a 1-0 lead over an arch rival. One thing the coach was certainly not thinking was that four decades later he and his wife, Deb, would be interviewing accomplished actor David Grant Wright prior to his induction into the Victor Performing and Visual Arts Hall of Fame.
Michigan State University: Also a strong student, David applied to half a dozen colleges and was accepted at all of them. He shared a story with the quirky set of circumstances which came to dictate his college decision. One Monday in April of 1979, he came home from school to find a letter with a return address from Michigan State University. Upon opening the letter he was pleased to be praised with the news, “Congratulations, you are a Spartan.” That night, he watched Magic Johnson lead the Michigan State Spartans to the NCAA College Basketball Championship, defeating Larry Bird’s Indiana State Sycamores. It seemed like fate … Michigan State.
Most Exotic Location: We asked David what was the most exotic site at which he had filmed. The answer to this one was actually connected to a commercial for a nerve pain drug called Lyrica that was shot on the beach in Cape Town, South Africa, which of course begs the question, “Why?” The three of us collectively laughed at that scenario and David said, “I didn’t get it then, and I don’t get it now. I’m living in freakin’ California — we have our own beaches, right? But when they told me we were flying to South Africa for the shoot, I thought ‘Great, I’ve never been there, let’s do this.’
We next asked David what he was working on now and he shared that he had been working on a commercial for the cholesterol drug Praluant. “If it weren’t for old white men’s diseases,” he quipped, “I wouldn’t have a career.” This is a perfect example of his hilariously self-deprecating humor.
Hilarious Commercial: After watching some of David’s highlight reels, we had a hands-down choice for his commercial which was the funniest. It’s a Bud Light commercial titled “Stranded” and it first aired during the 2010 Super Bowl.
It starts out with the survivors of a plane wreck spread out on the beach looking scared and disheveled. David is playing the role of the plane’s pilot. A female passenger approaches the group excitedly shouting, “Listen up, everybody; I found the plane’s radio equipment. I think we can get off this island!”
Immediately following that, another passenger, some distance down the beach, calls out with even more exciting news, “Listen up everybody; I found the plane’s beverage cart. It’s full of Bud Light!”
Pilot David initiates a party frenzy by proclaiming, “Here we go!” Immediately all the survivors abandon the girl with the lifesaving radio equipment and rush toward the beverage cart. The irony which is central to the humor is, of course, the implication that if there’s Bud Light to be had, who wants to get rescued?
Adding to the carnival atmosphere, partiers are lined up to take joy rides down the plane’s emergency slide. There is also a giant beer keg functioning as a Jacuzzi. Initially you see the Jacuzzi keg occupied by a dude and two chicks. Then Pilot David enters the screen returning to the Jacuzzi with Bud Lights in hand. A closer examination reveals the fact that one of the chicks in the Jacuzzi is wearing David’s pilot hat. Surf’s up!
Interesting Analogy: David had an analogy that resonated with us where he compared the concept of playing soccer for Smitty in high school to acting. “Sports is actually the true drama. You’re never sure what’s going to happen and there’s always the possibility that victory can be snatched away by defeat. When I play Romeo, I know I’m going to win that sword fight every damn time. It’s kind of ironic when you think about it, but in one sense the genre that is called ‘drama’ doesn’t truly have any.”
A Shoulder Tap: Next, we’re going to close by getting serious for a few paragraphs. In February of 1993, David Grant Wright felt a tap on his shoulder. It was cancer. And cancer had a message for David which was, “I hope you don’t have any plans for the next five months.” It is not the kind of message a 32-year-old man wants, or expects, to hear. This is hardly a spoiler alert because the fact that we are writing about a recent interview with him clearly conveys the copacetic conclusion of his cancer conundrum.
So what do you do when life deals you a hand like this? In David’s case, you turn your miracle of life into a lesson that will become a blessing for others. David began writing a one-man play chronicling his experiences encountered during the course of his treatment. He completed and published this project in 1995 under the title “With Flying Colors,” which has been performed hundreds of times across the country to aid in the battle against cancer. The book has been acclaimed by medical professionals, caregivers, patients and spiritual leaders. “With Flying Colors” is a true story of survival guaranteed to hover in your heart for a long time.