Chris Tavarez Leaving Duke for Hollywood

By Justine Hendricks
Photo from


“Leaving the team to pursue his acting career” is something you might expect to hear out of USC or UCLA, with their campuses next door to Hollywood, but this week Duke announced that redshirt freshman safety Chris Tavarez has left the team to pursue his acting career.

And yes, he actually does have an acting career.

Tavarez, who began modeling and appearing in commercials as a young child, started taking acting classes at age 8. He hit the big screen a few years later, in 2006’s Big Momma’s House 2. He has a recurring role on Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns, has appeared on VH1’s Single Ladies, and scored the lead role in the Disney Channel Original Movie Avalon High (in which he played a football player).

His Twitter avatar and Facebook cover photo both show Tavarez in his Duke uniform, but his Twitter profile tellingly identifies Tavarez as an “Actor/Football Player,” followed by a list of his film and TV credits.

Yesterday, Tavarez tweeted:

Laura Keeley, Duke beat reporter for the News & Observer, noted that Tavarez had previously tweeted about choosing acting over football, but those tweets were quickly deleted and replaced with the above tweet: “Life is full of decisions.”

Back in November, Tavarez was featured in The Duke Chronicle. He told the paper he didn’t initially take his acting career seriously because he always put football first, and he admitted that he wanted to quit acting for football but his parents wouldn’t let him.

His two conflicting interests caused issues when it came to being recruited for college, and Tavarez committed to Duke because head coach David Cutcliffe was open to allowing him to continue acting when possible.

“Coach Cutcliffe understands that football is great to be a part of, but we are students first, so grades come before anything. But he also understands that there’s life after football as well, so if there’s a way I can still show 100-percent commitment to the team, I can still do whatever I want in acting,” Tavarez told The Chronicle. 

It seems that it was no longer possible for Tavarez to continue balancing auditions and movie or TV shoots with the demands of being a Division I football player.

Cutcliffe gave him the green light to leave the team for a few days over the summer for a shoot, but on Tuesday evening, he released a statement that said: “After meeting with Chris, it was determined that it is in everyone’s best interest for him to depart our program, effective immediately.”

A knee injury suffered earlier this season may have motivated Tavarez to start focusing on life after football sooner than he planned. Tavarez had arthroscopic surgery at the end of September to repair a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee. He’d played in all four games before the surgery, but appeared sparingly during the rest of the season.

Making it big in Hollywood is as difficult as making it in the NFL, but since Tavarez hasn’t had much of a playing career and he already has a jump start on acting, it seems like a smart decision.

In the entertainment business, the chances of career longevity are greater than in professional sports; even if he doesn’t become a big star, he can still work consistently for much longer, and the work will take less of a physical toll.

Last month, when he was featured in The Chronicle, Tavarez seemed to realize that acting, not the NFL, was in his future.
“Tavarez said he would play professional football if the NFL comes calling, but would be thrilled to pursue a full-time career as a professional actor,” the piece said.

As the safety-turned-actor said, life is full of decisions, and Tavarez decided that his heart lies in Hollywood, and that his future as an actor starts now.

You May Also Like