Balthazar Getty Isn't Content to Rely on His Last Name
Photo Courtesy of the Artist

Balthazar Getty Isn't Content to Rely on His Last Name

Balthazar Getty has a name to live up to. Today, the name Getty may be more associated with stock images than 19th-century industrialism, but the billion-dollar family Balthazar is a part of made its fortune in oil. Like the Clintons and the Kennedys, the Waltons and the Johnsons, the Gettys passed down more than just money and prestige — their descendants carry with them the weight of responsibility. “It’s a gift and a curse,” Balthazar told us.

At a young age, Getty made his own name as an actor with a starring role as Ralph in Lord of the Flies. Minor roles in films like Natural Born Killers and Judge Dredd were soon strengthened by a brighter spotlight in David Lynch’s Lost Highways. For the next 20-odd years, Getty established himself as a working actor. “Acting is something I’m always going to be doing. It’s just now I’m in a position to do the projects I care about and love.”

One of those projects is PurpleHaus, a “multimedia powerhouse” and label created by Getty to help communicate his art to the world. "Everything you see at PurpleHaus is something either I’ve done myself or worked directly with someone else on. Writing, producing, editing, or whatever... My goal is to curate everything at a PurpleHaus event. Everything you experience, everything you see, smell, and hear are things that I’ve curated."

Getty acknowledges that he’s in a privileged position. While releasing his debut album, Solardrive, he recognized his love for music and his unique ability to pursue his passions so fully. “Through that process, I realized this is where I’m happiest. I realized I didn’t have to put so much energy to acting. I didn’t have to get that role or work.”

Though he now shows pride and appreciation for his surname, it wasn’t always easy on the young Getty. "It’s hard to grow up as a Getty or if your parents are people of perceived importance,” he says. "There’s always that pressure on the child to create their own identity or live up to another. At a young age, I rebelled against a preconceived notion of what people thought I had. And I was hellbent on showing them that I wasn’t what they thought I was.”

What he thought people thought he was was an entitled, rich, and spoiled kid who didn’t have to work for his accomplishments. But after the angst and rebellion subsided, Getty came to terms with the title. "It’s not something I have to run away from,” he says. "It’s something I’m proud of. I know that people will think things. And of course it’s opened many doors for me. But along with those doors comes a lot of judgment and other things.

"I never really had anybody to talk to about this other than my mother,” he adds. "I didn’t have many people to sit down with and explain this thing to me and what it was going to be like."

But Getty seems to want to do better by his kids. A young voice introduces many of his Balt vs. Beats productions. “My daddy is Balthazar Getty,” she says with a lisp, “and he’s sick with the beats!”

“That’s my daughter,” Getty tells us with a slight laugh. Just as Big Boi features his own son, Bamboo, on some tracks, Getty’s use of his daughter's voice depicts both pride and admiration.

"I sit down with my kids and I explain to them that there will be judgment from others, but also that the name is an incredible honor and that they have a responsibility to portray us in the best way they can. It’s a great thing but also something they’ll have to navigate in life. And I don’t want spoiled or entitled kids. But that happens whether you’re a Getty or not."

Balthazar Getty. 10 p.m. Friday, December 4, at E11even, 29 NE 11th St., Miami; 305-829-2911; 11miami.com. Tickets cost $20 to $40 via 11Miami.com.

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