“I went to the Julianne and Derek Hough concert with my mom many years ago. It was a point in my career when I was getting recognized out in public more and more frequently as the time when on. Before the concert, my mom and I were in the lobby enjoying some adult beverages and gabbing (most likely about our favorite Derek and Julianne performances from Dancing With The Stars), and these two girls came up to me and said, “Can we get a picture?” I love when fans come up and say hi and ask for a picture. So without hesitation I said, “Of course!” and I saddled up in between the two of them and put my arms around them and smiled — presumably while saying things like “I’m Brock, nice to meet you!” and “Thanks for watching!” And after an awkward beat of me just standing there with my arms around them, one of the girls said, “Oh…. no. Can you take a picture… of us?” I was mortified. I must have come off like such a narcissist to those two, innocent girls. Never again will I make the mistake that when someone asks for a picture, I assume they want it to be with me. My mom and I still get hysterical thinking about it to this day.”
I had the pleasure to interview BROCK CIARLELLI. Brock is best known for his role as Brad Bottig on ABC’s “The Middle.” The ninth and final season is airing now. Brad is Sue’s flamboyant best friend on the show who came out as gay in the seventh and is also Sue’s ex boyfriend. He will be featured in the show’s final episode May 22nd. In addition to the show, Brock recently starred in his first one man show — the play “Fully Committed” at the Two Roads Theater in LA. It is a comedy and Brock played 35 characters in it to a sold out crowd both weekends.
What is your “backstory”?
I come a strong, supportive family. My mom, dad, and brother have always been, and continue to be, great cheerleaders in all my endeavors. When you’re younger, you don’t really appreciate it as much as you should. But now that I’m older, and just a hair wiser, I’m really able to grasp just how impactful my family has been in my “backstory.”
Growing up, the biggest lesson I was taught as a kid was to keep a balance. It’s something my parents instilled in me at a very young age — and continue to remind me of. I think it’s so important. While you should have a passion and a dream, that shouldn’t be the only thing that consumes you. “The more interests you have, the more interesting of a person you are” is something my mom said on a regular basis growing up. And having that philosophy taught to me was probably my biggest component of my “backstory” that’s lead me to who I am today. While acting and the entertainment industry is my dream — I enjoy things that have nothing to do with the business. For example, as soon as I’m done with this interview, I have my kickball championship for the league I’m apart of. Cross your fingers — we’re going to need all the luck we can get!
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your acting career?
This is the first story that came to mind. I went to the Julianne and Derek Hough concert with my mom many years ago. It was a point in my career when I was getting recognized out in public more and more frequently as the time when on. And before the concert, my mom and I were in the lobby enjoying some adult beverages and gabbing (most likely about our favorite Derek and Julianne performances from Dancing With The Stars), and these two girls came up to me and said, “Can we get a picture?” And me, I love when fans come up and say hi and ask for a picture. So without hesitation I said, “Of course!” and I saddled up in between the two of them and put my arms around them and smiled — presumably while saying things like “I’m Brock, nice to meet you!” and “Thanks for watching!” And after an awkward beat of me just standing there with my arms around them, one of the girls said, “Oh…. no. Can you take a picture… of us?” I was mortified. I must have come off like such a narcissist to those two, innocent girls. Never again will I make the mistake that when someone asks for a picture, I assume they want it to be with me. My mom and I still get hysterical thinking about it to this day.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you have worked on recently?
Last month, I just finished a one man show called Fully Committed. Coming off of 9 seasons of The Middle, I wanted to do something totally new. So I ended up buying the rights to Fully Committed and took on the task of putting it up myself in Los Angeles. I played 35+ characters throughout it, so it was extremely challenging — but in the best way.
And now that The Middle’s over, I’m auditioning more so than I have in the past… and that’s exciting and scary. Any actor cab tell you that!
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like?
I don’t have a particular person that jumps out at me when I think about it. But I’ll say this. The type of person who interests me the most, whether they a friend or someone I’m in a relationship with, is a person who hustles. I admire someone who doesn’t wait for good things to happen to them. Rather, they go out and make it happen themselves. And lucky for me, there are tons of people in this industry who are like that. I find I connect with them more than anyone else because I have that same gene in me too. I think it’s such an attractive quality.
Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?
Marilyn Monroe. She’s always fascinated me. I think she’s a quintessential example of what it means to be layered. The persona she let the public see was what she wanted them to see. But in reality, she was smart. It’s probably the actor in me that gravitates me towards her, but I just love that there was more to her than what she led people to believe. Every person has those layers.
She inspires me because everyone always has something more to them than we think. And in my profession, that’s key. When you create a character or play a scene, you have to bring something that’s multi-dimensional to it — something that goes beyond what’s already written on the page.
What do you do to “sharpen your craft”? Can you share any stories?
I take two different acting classes a week. I think it’s incredibly important to sharpen your craft at all times. I find acting is not like riding a bike… if you step away for a little bit, it’s hard to get your groove back. And going back to being well rounded, I take a weekly tap dance class as well. It has nothing to do with acting, but I enjoy it because it’s something different I’ve done since I was a kid.
In my Wednesday night acting class, before we begin our work, we go around the room and share our “wins” from the past week. A win can be anything from booking a job, or having a great audition, or even just setting up an appointment to get new headshots. We’re all in class to “sharpen our craft,” and hearing everyone share their wins is a nice reminder that it’s working. It’s always quite inspiring as well.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
By being unapologetically myself. Being you, and not changing as a result of success, never goes out of style. The character I play on The Middle is fully himself in every circumstance he’s in… and that’s something I mimic in my real life. The world is so much better when we let people be who they are and when we accept them for who they are.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. “Be the squeaky wheel.” — Nothing’s going to come to you if you’re not persistent in asking for it. I found that has been the case both in my career and in my relationships.
2. “So much is out of your control.” — Success with acting is all about being in the right place at the right time. Early on, I would beat myself up for not getting a part or a callback… But I had to learn that there are so many factors that go into a casting decision that are out of your hands. So all you can do is put out your best work in the audition and hope for the best.
3. “Study TV.” — I love TV. All types of shows. However, growing up I wish I had studied it as opposed to just watching it. Study the writing, the acting, the tone, etc. Once I started studying TV, it became very helpful with my acting.
4. “Ask questions.” — Early on when I was on set, I was afraid to ask for clarification if I didn’t understand something. Now, I see the importance of it. My work is better as a result.
5. Not acting related, but I wish I had this important advice regardless: “Don’t get the highlights.” — I had Ryan Seacrest inspired highlights in 7th grade. Spoiler alert: it was not a good look on me… or Ryan.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?
My mom. She still lives in Colorado and I don’t see her enough.
Originally published at medium.com