Actor from Pleasanton stars in spooky TV classic | News | #schoolshooting

“Are You Afraid of the Dark?” Nickelodeon kicked off its new season last month, and the first episode begins with Connor, played by Parker Queenan, looking terrified as he steals into the local magic shop.

Queenan, 19, hails from Pleasanton, where he fell in love with movies and filmmaking at an early age.

“I started acting when I was a kid,” Queenan said in a phone interview from his home in Los Angeles. “I went to this community theater summer camp.”

He continued attending acting camps, eventually meeting the person who became his manager, he recalled. He began to audition long distance but eventually realized that if he wanted to pursue acting, he should move down south.

His folks, Angi and Kevin Queenan, were not the stereotypical stage parents, Parker noted — they left it up to him but were encouraging when he wanted to give it a go.

“My aunt lived in St. Louis and she was like, ‘Let’s do it,’ and moved to Los Angeles with me,” Queenan said.

He was 14 at the time and remembered it being a lot of fun for him, and for his aunt, too.

“It was a really different lifestyle for her and for me,” he said. “We started off saying we’d give it one year.”

Then he realized he needed to stay longer.

“For a couple of years, I hadn’t seen the fruits of it, but I was making progress and my family in Pleasanton was very supportive and said I should continue,” he said.

Now Queenan has had roles in “Punky Brewster,” “Party of Five” and “Andi Mack,” and he is one of the central characters in the second season of “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” which is based on the 1990s TV cult classic of the same name.

The series is about a group of kids, led by Connor, who dub themselves the Midnight Society and meet to share horror stories. Then the real world begins to resemble one of their tales.

“One of the reasons this episode was so great is partly due to the chemistry of the cast … Each character presents a distinct personality trait,” read one online review.

Queenan spent a few weeks in Pleasanton at Christmastime after intense, 14-hour days of shooting in Vancouver.

“It was nice to come back and sleep for a couple of days,” Queenan said with a laugh.

He also enjoyed seeing his brothers — Taylor, who lives in San Ramon, and Chandler, who goes to college in Boulder, Colo. — as well as friends.

“My oldest friends I’ve had since I was 11 years old, maybe even since I was 4 or 5,” Queenan said. “No matter how much success I get, I’m not really treated any differently.”

Queenan said filming continues despite the pandemic.

“In the film industry, they pivot really, really well,” he said. “No matter how much you put them through, they end up on their feet — like a cat.”

Shooting in Vancouver was better for the budget and also safer, he said, although filming also continues in Hollywood.

“We get tested every day, wear masks and shields, and quarantine wherever we’re shooting,” Queenan said. “It’s very, very safe.”

“It’s giving jobs to many, many people, not just the people in front of the camera,” he added. “Especially in a place like Los Angeles, where the touchstone is movies and cinema, it allows the economy to move a lot smoother.”

Queenan said he enjoys his time on the sets and finds that his upbringing in Pleasanton, attending Vintage Hills Elementary and Pleasanton Middle schools, were valuable even as he did independent study once he moved to L.A.

“Lots of people didn’t have the social skills I got from those public school years,” he said. “That’s helped me in my career. A lot of young people learn to be professional and diplomatic but maybe don’t know how to relate to their peers.”

Relating to his young costars is important, he noted, as he might meet them shortly before filming begins.

“Then, over the next three months, we begin to get close. But in the beginning, there’s a certain unknown,” he explained.

Queenan is taking college courses and doing independent film studies with an eye toward a future career in writing and directing in addition to acting. But he continues to return to Pleasanton to kick back and relax with family and old friends.

“It’s like a perfect getaway,” he said. “I love L.A. and the traveling, but it’s good to have roots back home where on weekends I can go back for a few days and get to say hi to everybody and see those old cornerstone places.”

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