Wheeling Native Fired Up to Appear on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’

Pragmatic yet philosophical, actor Bobby Campo seems mature beyond his 30 years.

Instead of talking about fortune, Campo talks of wanting to help fellow actors manage their money to hold onto their wealth.

Instead of talking about fame, Campo points to two small roles he shot last February as being some of the most meaningful and exciting to him.

But a big role is on the horizon.

Campo – born Robert Joseph Camposecco at 3:15 a.m. March 9, 1983, in Wheeling – has a prominent role on the season opener of “Grey’s Anatomy,” a two-hour episode set to air at 9 p.m. Sept. 26 on ABC. He plays Brian, a firefighter, engaged to a policewoman who has been injured in an accident. He appears in the second episode of the season, too, he said.

“I didn’t realize how much attention a man in uniform got until I put on my firefighter’s shirt,” Campo joked.

Show regulars Dr. Jackson Avery, the blue-eyed doctor played by Jesse Williams, and Dr. April Kepner, the red-headed doctor played by Sarah Drew, along with Heather Hemmens who plays Campo’s fiance Sasha, were in the scenes that he shot. Shooting lasted for three days, he said. He also met Justin Chambers who plays Dr. Alex Karev and tweeted with Ellen Pompeo, Dr. Meridith Grey.

“She seems like a sweetheart,” he said of Pompeo.

While Campo grew up in Florida, after having moved from Wheeling when he was about 2 years old, his parents Robert and Donna Camposecco brought him to Wheeling almost every summer for a month or two until he was around 15 or 16, he said.

“I have great memories of spending summers there.”

Relatives who still live in the area include his great-grandmother, 95-year-old Rose Contraguerro, grandmother Theresa Campo, grandfather Joe Bauduin and a host of Contraguerros, he said.

“It’s a huge family …. there are hundreds of people I’m related to there,” he said.

“It was a whole new group of people to play with every summer,” he said, recalling running around his grandmother’s garden with his cousins, going to dances at Wheeling Park’s ice rink and hanging out a Wheeling Park’s swimming pool. “That’s where all the hot girls were,” he said.

And he remembers getting in trouble. But, “just the right amount of trouble,” he said.

He moved around Florida quite a bit as a kid, but adapting to change and meeting new people was a good experience, helping him to acquire skills that have come in handy in his professional life and in life in general.

It wasn’t until Campo was 22 that he got into the acting world. He started modeling, he said, and a casting director pulled him aside and suggested he take acting classes. He did that for about a year and a half, dropped out of college and started to pursue acting.

Upon the advice of another casting director from Los Angeles, he decided to move west for pilot season – that time of year when television pilots are cast and shot.

He has studied acting while in L.A., but also, over the years, he’s been creating his own acting technique.

“Essentially, you take a character trait …. and start to own that trait,” he said of his technique.

For example, he auditioned for “50 Shades of Grey,” and the character, Christian Grey, is “enigmatic, manipulative, attractive and narcissistic.”

To have qualms about the character’s traits does not bode well for a good audition.

“I come up with questions to see how the trait has benefited me. … It’s very empowering.”

He’d like to write a book, he said, that would offer support to actors. “I love helping people,” he said.

“It’s traumatic constantly dealing with rejection. What I would want to do is create a way for people to reframe it (rejection). I believe how we perceive the world is from the inside, not from the outside. It’s a way to deal with this career. It’s all what you make it.”

He noted that certain skills are missing in traditional acting classes.

“For example, financing. You can have an amazing year, making $30,000 a week, and have nothing to show for it 10 years later. … If you manage your money wisely, you’ll get more money to manage.”

Financial independence also contributes to confidence, and that confidence comes through in auditions, Campo said.

“Communication skills – how to listen, how to ask the right questions – that’s very important in an audition, and in life in general, whether talking to your parents, a person you’re in a relationship with, your producer or a fan.

“There should be more classes in that. It pertains to acting, but off-camera, too.”

He also believes that coming up with “a master plan” is important to your career.

“I came up with a list of characters I want to play. … I have an audition in two hours, and that character is on my list,” he said.

The more “certainty” in your life, the more confidence, he said.

“The one who has more certainty has a better chance of winning the game.

“This past year, everything I go out for, if I don’t get it, I’m pretty close. I’m starting to feel like I know what I’m doing. More certainty, more freedom to explore.”

It was a bit of that confidence, he believes, that led to a good audition and ultimately his role in “Grey’s Anatomy.”

“I was doing a lot of voice, movement and breath training … clearing the tension we accumulate in our body.

“Many of our aches and pains have to do with thought – not a torn muscle. I was spending time clearing that stuff out. I came out of class and felt so grounded and solid.

“I walked into the room and read for a casting director I’d been in front of quite a few times, but not for awhile.

“She was doing something on the computer, but by the end of the reading, she was leaning forward, she was drawn in.

“I feel like the scene made sense to me. I took life’s experiences – how people reacted to me when I was sick – went in, and got the part,” he said.

Other television roles he’s had include Max in “Being Human,” Ben/Ian in “Audrey,” Erik Johnson in “Love’s Christmas Journey,” as well as parts in “CSI: Miami” and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”

He also played Nick in “The Final Destination.”

The two roles he’s “most thankful for” he said he shot back-to-back on the same day in February.

He played Yolo in “Justified,” which was an action-oriented part.

“It was fun, different than how I usually get to work. I’ve studied martial arts and I got to use that. It was a blast, a dream come true. It was violent and scary. … I’m so used to being ‘sunshine,’ and never get to be the ‘dark side.’ It was a fun experience.”

He said he was compared to Michael Madson in “Reservoir Dogs” and James Gandolfini in “The Sopranos.”

“It was cool to be compared to those iconic characters.”

Then, later that same day, he went to shoot a scene in “Masters of Sex,” a new Showtime drama about Dr. William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the pioneers of the science of human sexuality, where he played a male hustler.

He plays Dale in episode three of the series.

“It was such a cool switch, to go from playing a violent and masculine part to an effeminate character – to do that in one day, it’s a cool job I get to do.”

“I definitely love my life,” he said.

He’s been fortunate that he hasn’t had a “day job” since 2006.

“I had a couple of commercials and lived wisely off that money,” he said.

His “day job” now, he said, “is trying to create something I can control,” explaining that he and a writer are working on a script.

And planting seeds.

He explained that when he changed his name from Camposecco to Campo, he did it for a few reasons.

“I thought Campo sounded more like a face I want to put forward – it’s a catchy name.”

His grandfather, Wheeling disc jockey Bob Campo used the name, as did his dad when he was a boxer.

“Campo means ‘field.’ And I can plant anything I want,” he said.

Asked if he had any words for all those Campos, Camposeccos and Contraguerros back here in Wheeling, he said, “I was reading a history book about Egypt, and something in it reminded me of them, recognizing the importance of the support of family. I’m so thankful to be a part of such a lineup of happy people.

“I’m thankful for their support. Regardless of what I’ve found to empower myself, to do it alone is silly – and painful. Knowing they’re there, I take comfort in that. I’m thankful to have a family that has my back.

“‘Thank you’ is what I would say to them.”