Question everything. I still encounter people who get annoyed by this, but as an actor and a human being, I’m curious by nature, so if I’m learning something from you expect questions along the way. In order to fully comprehend what I’m learning, I need to understand it. This may not be everyone’s process, but it is mine, which brings me to my next thing.
As a part of my series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Alex Brown. Alex is a singer, actor and film producer based in Los Angeles. Since the highchair, Alex has been passionate about performing — dancing, singing or acting as well as other creative expressions including gymnastics, drawing, writing and skating. He started pursuing acting and singing professionally at age 16 when he started working with actor, singer and YouTube sensation, Amy Walker. After taking acting classes in Madrid and Los Angeles, Alex moved to Cologne, Germany for a year to study singing at the Hochschule für Musik. He then moved to NYC, where he trained in Musical Theater before receiving his Acting degree from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I grew up in a tiny town in Spain, surrounded by two loving and hardworking parents. Since I was a little kid, I showed interest in anything related to art — from painting to singing to figure skating. This was new to my family though, as none of my relatives had followed an artistic path before. However, I’ve been lucky to have their support since I was young.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I’ve always been passionate about storytelling, whether that was through acting, singing, drawing, or any other art form; since I was little I always liked telling stories. Not only my stories and experiences but other people’s too. Acting allows you to do that, it allows you to experience being and living under circumstances that you may not encounter in real life, and through those circumstances, you get to tell each character’s stories.
When you step on a stage or the camera goes on, you get to play and tell a story, someone else’s story, but also your story. I believe it’s fascinating.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Filming on location is one of my favorite things about working as an actor. It’s like summer camp! Just this year I got to film a pilot in Yosemite, and two feature films, GETAWAY in Big Bear and Our Home in Lake Arrowhead. I also got to film my first coming-of-age feature, Earthquake Country, which was shot in Ojai, California in May and June of this year.
Now, people reading this may not know about Ojai, but Easy A being is one of my all-time favorite movies and was also filmed in Ojai, so when I booked my role in the movie, I was really excited to be filming in the same town and some of the exact locations. It was not only a dream come true but also made me feel like I was exactly where I was supposed to be — doing exactly what I was meant to be doing.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
A couple of years ago, I was shopping with my mom at the Grove (an upscale shopping mall in LA) when a stylish woman approached us. She was extremely nice and, after a couple of compliments about my clothing and my look, she asked me how old I was. I told her my real age and her answer was “That’s unfortunate. I work in casting for Nickelodeon and you have a great look. If only you were younger.” She then said goodbye to us and walked away.
I would go on to audition for her several times since then. Moral of the story: nearly everyone in LA works in the entertainment industry, so every connection you make — even the ones you make shopping at the mall with your mom may end up being important.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
There are currently three feature films I’ve acted in this year that are in post-production.
The first one is Our Home, an indie drama starring Charlotte Louise Spencer in the lead role as Rachel Woods, a writer in search of inspiration who returns home after her grandmother’s passing. I star in it as Rachel’s brother Evan, who has developed a drug and alcohol problem, and who will need his sister’s support to get back on his feet and start anew. Other actors involved are Trevor Stines (Riverdale, Purity Falls), Shamari Maurice (Euphoria) and Stef Beaton (Dredgewood).
Another is Earthquake Country, a coming-of-age film planned for release next year. In it, I star as Brian Barkey, a good-hearted teenage boy who falls for the protagonist of the movie, Rhyme Osbourne. It’s a beautiful and hilarious indie film written and directed by sister-duo Audrey and Hallie McPherson. The experience on set was one I’ll never forget and I can’t wait for audiences to see the final cut.
And last but not least is GETAWAY, a tribute to classic horror slasher with tons of black comedy that I’m extremely excited about. In it, I play Blake, one of the teens in a group of high schoolers who go off to a cabin in the woods for the summer and who are the victims of a mysterious killer. As a die-hard fan of horror myself, this was a fun one to work on. Other members of the cast are Georgie Storm Waite (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, The Lost Girls, Buried in the Backyard), Bobby Burkich (13 Reasons Why, The Big Feed, Golden Boy) and Stacey Patino (Murder Loves Company, Sons of the Universe)
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
Diversity and representation are important because they normalize aspects of other cultures that can then be absorbed by people who have a different background. If a story is told from the perspective or includes the point of view of someone who has lived through that culture or was raised in it, then we can tell a story that’s true to the people from that cultural background, and they’ll be able to relate to it. Having lived in Spain, Germany, the UK, and the US, I can tell you that every country that I’ve spent time in has different customs, ideals, ways of living, etc., and people from all those different places view the world slightly differently.
Similarly, it’s important to have representation of all ethnic backgrounds behind and in front of the camera. We come in many different shapes and sizes and everyone should feel like they’re being represented in the media by people who look and sound like them, not like stereotypes of them.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
Trust the process. I remember studying guitar as a kid and giving up after 2 months because I wasn’t playing by then. I remember going to singing class and hoping one day it’d be the day I hit that high note, and that day I’d be a singer. But guess what? You never get there. You’ll always be learning and improving, so just put in the hard work and trust that it’ll show, because it will. Probably slower than you thought it would, but it will.
Question everything. I still encounter people who get annoyed by this, but as an actor and a human being, I’m curious by nature, so if I’m learning something from you expect questions along the way. In order to fully comprehend what I’m learning, I need to understand it. This may not be everyone’s process, but it is mine, which brings me to my next thing:
Find YOUR way. We’re all different living beings, so don’t expect someone else’s shoes to fit you. Find the way you learn, the way you do things and get in touch with what works for you; it’ll save you lots of time. I never did great in school because I did things differently and asked too many questions (did I mention that already?). But I found a way that works for me and no one questioned it. Know yourself and trust yourself. But also:
Know when to keep quiet. So many times, while working and in everyday life, we don’t take in what we’re being told because we’re too busy listening to our own thoughts. Listen to other people’s advice (especially the people working with you on set!) and keep an open mind; a lot of times they’ll widen your horizons and it’ll be a worthy experience.
Have a support network.Artistic career paths are very challenging, and so is living in cities like Los Angeles, NYC or London. As actors, we deal with rejection on a daily basis, and it’s important to have a network of people who have your back and who you can spend time with outside of your creative environment. These people will be the ones who are there for you when you get back into town after two months of filming a movie on location or after your move to Atlanta for that series regular job.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Los Angeles is a tough town, so I recommend everyone “pull an Alex,” as my friends say, and leave town for several weeks a couple of times a year. Disconnect, take time off, leave the state, or even the country, explore new places! Living in LA has a way of making you feel claustrophobic, you don’t realize how much and how hard you’re working until you leave and see it from the outside. Learn to recognize burnout and take breaks.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I strongly believe in Equality for All in all aspects of life, and that’s one of the things I try to accomplish through my work as a producer/creator. There’s so much work still to be done. Last year, The Hollywood Reporter reported that women made up just 8 percent of the directors involved, down 3 percent from the 11 percent in 2017. It’s also 1 percent below the 9 percent recorded 10 years ago, in 1998. In that same study, women accounted for 16% of the six key behind-the-scene roles. 16%!
That is mind-blowing to me. It’s 2019 and we’re still dealing with this kind of inequality in filmmaking. I hope to continue to change and raise awareness to that through my current and future projects.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I am infinitely grateful for one of my best friends and mentor, Amy Walker, an extremely talented actress and singer who I met as a teenager and who believed in my talent before I could even do so myself. She’s an inspiration to me, every day.
In addition, I am grateful to my friends and family who continually support me and whose presence has allowed me to be where I am today.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Carpe Diem.” You never know what’s going to happen tomorrow, so don’t sit around and wait for it, just do it. Look around. Live in the moment. Take your eyes off your phone. LIVE.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Meryl Streep. Not only because she’s one of them most accomplished actors ever, but also because her energy feels so grounded. When you watch her both in movies and interviews, she holds so much weight in the way she talks and communicates. I can see myself taking so much home to think about after a conversation with her.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
You can follow all my social media accounts at @alexbrownactor.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much!