Life can change in an instant.
For Ari Stidham, his change was for the better.
The 22-year-old’s life changed when he was cast in the CBS hit show, “Scorpion,” as Sylvester Dodd.
Since the show’s debut last fall, it has hovered near the 15 million in viewers mark, which makes it one of the most watched freshman shows on any network.
“I was still living with my parents when I got this job,” he says. “I’ve moved out now and I am paying all my own bills. It’s still very exciting for me because I’ve found this early in my career.”
“Scorpion” airs on Monday nights and is inspired by the life of present-day CEO and eccentric tech genius Walter O’Brien, played by Elyes Gable.
Stidham plays Dodd to life as the “human calculator” in a team of brilliant misfit prodigies, who are recruited by the Department of Homeland Security as the last line of defense against a series of complex, high-tech threats around the globe.
The genius think-tank, known as the “Scorpion Team” was handpicked by O’Brien, who has an IQ of 197 and is considered one of the smartest people in the world. Dodd, a genius statistician is O’Brien’s best friend and right hand, who also struggles with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and anxiety.
Working alongside team members Toby Curtis, a world class shrink and Happy Curtis, a mechanical prodigy, #TeamScorpion is tasked with solving the most mind-boggling national security issues, which ultimately comes naturally to them.
Stidham describes Dodd as a smart, but super anxious person.
With that description, he says the two share the anxious characteristic.
“I have a lot of anxiety about everything,” he says. “Sometimes having anxiety will cripple me and I’m no good to anyone. One area where Sylvester outshines me is with his mind. I only wish I could calculate everything in life as fast as he does.”
Being on set can be grueling for the entire cast and Stidham says it’s worth it because the fans are becoming attached to the show.
“They want to know more about us,” he says. “I’m surprised that people are relating to Sylvester. It makes me feel like I’m doing something right.”
On the show, Dodd and O’Brien’s sister are getting closer, yet Stidham won’t spill any secrets.
“They both love Walter,” he says. “Whichever way their relationship goes, it’s all due to the fact that they care for Walter. They have his best interest in mind.”
While the role in “Scorpion” changed Stidham’s life, it almost didn’t happen.
Originally, the role of Dodd was written for an African-American actor in his 30’s.
Stidham fits none of that criteria.
“On paper, I was not Sylvester,” he says. “I went in only once and read for the role. I was cast on that one audition, which is rare.”
With TV shows, actors have to go through rounds of auditions before getting cast. Stidham landed the role with one audition.
“It still blows my mind and I’m so grateful the producers saw something in me,” he says. “This role is amazing for me.”
Acting is at the forefront of Stidham’s mind, yet when the TV series goes on hiatus later this spring, he plans to work on making music.
“No, I’m not going to pull a Childish Gambino and leave my show to follow my music career,” he says. “But the two can coexist.”
Before landing on “Scorpion,” Stidham’s breakout role was in the ABC Family drama, “Huge,” where he starred opposite Nikki Blonsky.
He’s also been on the short-lived comedy, “The Crazy Ones,” with Robin Williams. Then he took some turns on “Mike & Molly” and “Glee.”
Stidham harvested his enthusiasm for the arts from a young age, growing up in Southern California.
He says as a toddler he immediately gravitated to the stage, starring in a number elementary and youth-based musical and theater productions — affirming his innate star power — and earning him an invitation to perform with the prestigious American Conservatory Theater (ACT) program in San Francisco.
“Having this success so early in my career is a blessing,” he says. “What makes it so great is that the fans are liking Sylvester and the show. I’m so afraid of this all going away, which is why I am determined to keep working hard.”