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Rising Star Brian Falduto: “A lot of our solutions remain in middle school & high school. If we all stopped making fun of the way people walked and talked growing up, there’d be a lot less self-esteem issues”

I think a lot of the solutions remain in middle school & high school. If we all stopped making fun of the way people walked and talked growing up, there’d be a lot less self-esteem issues and self-esteem is, in my opinion, the most fundamental psychological need. We need to encourage everyone to love themselves […]


I think a lot of the solutions remain in middle school & high school. If we all stopped making fun of the way people walked and talked growing up, there’d be a lot less self-esteem issues and self-esteem is, in my opinion, the most fundamental psychological need. We need to encourage everyone to love themselves with a love that is inclusive of all aspect of their story. As artists, it is our job to mirror stories and reflect them back to society. The more stories we are able to mirror, the less alienated people feel and so the self-love begins. It’s all a bit cyclical but it also starts with empowering people to share their stories in the first place.


As a part of my series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing country music artist Brian Falduto. Brian is best known for his role in the 2003 film School of Rock. In 2018, PrideLife Magazine named Brian one of “the 20 most influential, outspoken, and optimistic individuals on the planet. Brian is an LGBT advocate, and an I.C.F. certified professional life coach.


Thank you so much for doing this with us Brian! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Prior to starring in a major motion picture, my life was pretty NJ standard — school, church, and attempted interests in sports. I always had a desire to perform. At holidays, I would gather members of my family into my Grandparents’ living room so that I could perform for them. I remember them cheering me on — I specifically remember my Uncle Larry tossing a twenty-dollar bill at me once while I performed “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” That was an interesting moment.

It’s hard for me to recall when exactly everything shifted; when standing out in this expressive way became something to be ashamed of. But eventually School of Rock happened and suddenly the desire to perform brought with it such heavy stakes. I’ve blocked a lot of the in between from my memory.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

My current career path has been the result of heartbreak. There were quite a few stories prior to this one that ended similarly but a couple years ago I spent an extended period of time living in Los Angeles for Pilot Season. It was my first time ever living more than 45 minutes from where I grew up and though I was out of my comfort zone, I also had the blankest slate I’d ever had and that was kind of cool. There were a few people who pinned me quickly as the gay kid from School of Rock but for the most part, I got to decide who I was. This was terrifying for me, though, because I had no idea who I was. I’d been anything but myself for 14 years! So I quickly began searching for validation in other people because that’s the standard I had always lived my life by. I met and fell in love with a very beautiful but lost soul who took advantage of my fragile state and left me feeling broken. It was a rock bottom moment but it caused me to start asking myself the questions that would help me reverse the narratives that were keeping me from loving myself and sharing my story with the world — which is what I do now. As an artist, I’m learning to love myself and share my story. As a coach, I’m helping others do the same.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I’m struggling to choose the most interesting. School of Rock coming to Broadway was a very exciting time for me. I’ve been obsessed with Broadway since I was a child and always dreamed of being a Broadway performer so having something that I did inspire a Broadway role was a pretty exhilarating experience.

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?

When I was working in radio, I was responsible for making sure Avril Lavigne’s breakfast was delivered at 5:30AM because she was going to be on-air for an interview that morning. Instead, I woke up at 9AM to an explosion of e-mails and texts from my boss. Avril went hungry and I was told to not bother coming in to work that day. I’m not sure what lesson I learned from this. People oversleep sometimes. Accidents happen. No regrets.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I recently wrote a pop country song about growing up gay in the church. It will be released at the end of the year via music video. I’ve never been so passionate about a song. I have a big vision for its trajectory as I feel it contains an important message.

I’m 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?

I mean, I’m a prime example of why diversity should be represented in entertainment, no? I still get messages on social media weekly about how impactful what I did as a kid was. It allowed effeminate, expressive, sassy boys to see themselves on screen and know that they weren’t alone. There’s so much diversity that is yet to be showcased and that means that there’s so many people who’ve yet to know that they’re perfectly acceptable just as they are. There’s no “normal.” It’s all just social construct and perception, which means we have the power to expand the “normal.”

From your personal experience, can you recommend three things the community/society/the industry can do help address some of the diversity issues in the entertainment business?

I think a lot of the solutions remain in middle school & high school. If we all stopped making fun of the way people walked and talked growing up, there’d be a lot less self-esteem issues and self-esteem is, in my opinion, the most fundamental psychological need. We need to encourage everyone to love themselves with a love that is inclusive of all aspect of their story. As artists, it is our job to mirror stories and reflect them back to society. The more stories we are able to mirror, the less alienated people feel and so the self-love begins. It’s all a bit cyclical but it also starts with empowering people to share their stories in the first place.

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. You will fail. So much of the system is aimed at making sure we strive to be successful but they leave out that in order to succeed, we must fail. Because I had a successful start, I was always super hard on myself to achieve the next big thing. In fact, I put so much pressure on succeeding that I forgot that’s it’s primarily about having fun. It’s art, it’s not brain science.
  2. Don’t take anything personally. Whatever others think and feel is their problem and not yours. It is the way they see the world and it has nothing to do with you. I love what Kirstin Wiig says, “If creating anything at all, it’s really dangerous to care what other people think.”
  3. You are good enough. Everything you’ve been through and everything you’re going to go through and everything you’ve done and everything you’ll do is valid enough and interesting enough and worthy of being shared.
  4. “Don’t compare yourself to others. There is no comparison between the sun and the moon. They shine when it’s their turn.” Be yourself. A lot of these are clichés but no one ever stopped and took the time to tell me that it was OK to just be me and we really can’t be reminded of that enough. We tend to think that the answers to our problems are outside of ourselves and that is never the case.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

As a Life Coach, I’m very particular about giving generalized tips because what works for one person might not work for another. The important thing is to take the time to figure out what it is that does work for you and then be diligent about making sure that those practices become routine. For me, taking long walks or journaling are great ways for me to get in touch with myself and prevent burn out. We talk to ourselves more than anyone else so it’s important that there’s a good relationship there — and that doesn’t just happen, it’s a full-time commitment.

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. 🙂

Well this is a heavy question but something I’m passionate about is allowing more authenticity in the gay community. I wish we could do away with the overcompensation that is a result of the years of feeling less than and replace it with narratives that are rooted in actual self-love and self-acceptance.

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’m currently indebted to multitudes of people who’ve kindly supported me simply because they believe in me. I can’t even begin to thank my parents because that would need it’s entirely own set of interview questions. I’ve also been blessed to collaborate with a plethora of talented musical minds who constantly choose me over a vast array of other ways that they could be spending their time and for that I am eternally grateful. Them believing in me often fuels my belief in myself.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I quote Eckhart Tolle often, “Worry pretends to be necessary but serves no actual purpose.” I had always been a worrier and I am very proud of how little time I spend worrying anymore. It’s never the right thing to do.

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. 🙂

Ellen. Or Mindy Kaling. Or Jennifer Aniston. Or Kelly Clarkson. Or Kacey Musgraves. Wow, no I can’t choose. But I’ve always said that if I ever make it on Ellen, I’ve made it.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

@brianfalduto

@thegaylifecoach

This was very meaningful, thank you so much!

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