Acting can be a challenging industry to work in – being immersed in the limelight 24/7, staying true to yourself and juggling a variety of different roles inevitably comes with difficulties, but Brianna Brown is an actress that manages all of this with ease. As well as acting, Brianna founded her own non-profit organisation, The New Hollywood: “dedicated to supporting socially conscious storytellers and change makers.” She is someone whose career goes so much further than just acting – she wants to implicate and create change.
Having started acting as a child and being represented by a well-known agent from a young age, we spoke to her in more detail about staying focused, how The New Hollywood came around and some unforgettable words of advice on launching a career in acting…
“It’s so important to focus my time and energy on things that make me full and happy, and staying around good people and not becoming drained by situations and things that aren’t really important.” – Brianna Brown
Taylor Magazine: How did you get into acting and what was the point when you realised you were rising to fame?
Brianna Brown: I started acting professionally at the age of 19, but I became interested in it when I was in middle school and high school. I ended up getting representation in Minnesota, where I’m from. I got a Minneapolis agent and through working a little bit in between cities, I ended up auditioning for things and Iris Burton became my agent. She’s renowned for bringing certain Minnesota actors to LA, like Josh Hartnett for example. I was sought out by her because she’s a well-known, boutique agent for child actors.
She was an amazing woman, and had quite an eye for younger actors. I was auditioning for things because of these connections and got the feedback that I should go to LA and audition for real. When I was in my freshman year of college, I came out to LA for a pilot season and ended up getting three jobs! I never really thought I could make a living acting because back then there wasn’t YouTube or people creating their own content. People that were in movies or on TV were somewhere far, far away. I never knew anyone that had made a living as an artist, let alone an actress.
I took a huge leap of faith and being a bit stubborn in nature and having a lot of grit, I decided to just go for it. I knew that if I stayed and finished college, I would never have tried acting and would have always looked back on that decision and wondered ‘What if?’ The first couple of years were a bit rough, and I basically had to figure out ‘adulting’ by just being an adult – most people at that age have their friends to go through that journey with but I was doing it alone! My family were great as well, they basically said: “Sink or swim – you want to do this, so figure it out.” I had to take care of myself and act professionally. I was fortunate because at age 23 I started to make a living out of being an actress.
Taylor Magazine: It sounds like such a journey, but definitely a rewarding one! How do you find acting for a variety of roles – what’s the process you go through to prepare?
Brianna Brown: That’s definitely evolved over time. When I first started, I just went off my instincts but then I started to work with different teachers where I learnt a lot of different techniques. I actually had a couple of negative experiences – some teachers were quite dysfunctional, not inappropriate, just dysfunctional people. They would cut you down, or build you up, or make something of you in front of everyone in class – it just seemed off to me.
I ended up doing as many acting classes as possible and learnt all sorts of techniques on my own. My detrimental and greatest moments in my 20’s were that I studied with so many different people and learnt so many acting skills. I grasped what made sense to me as an actress. Honestly, it wasn’t until I was on General Hospital, that I was able to take everything I had learnt and visualise it as an actress and put it into play. I could hone my skills in that genre really well, so it was such a blessing to work on my craft for that show.
Taylor Magazine: What has been your favourite role that you have played so far and why?
Brianna Brown: It has really varied over the years! Right now I’m on the show Dynasty, and I’m replaying the role of Claudia Blaisdel Carrington. In the original Dynasty, she was a villain and would come in and out of the series and was a really prominent role. It’s a really interesting character, because there are so many different colours that this particular character portrays. I also did this show called EastSiders – that was fun because it was a quirky, loveable loser type of character, which isn’t necessarily the type of character I’ve played before. A lot of my favourite roles have been the one off ones.
Taylor Magazine: It must be fun for you to practice your skills in all of these different roles too?
Brianna Brown: Yeah, I really like having something more complex to play that’s a change from a previous role I’ve done before. Like anything, people love having variety in their job – it’s exactly the same with me and acting!
Taylor Magazine: What keeps you motivated within the industry?
Brianna Brown: I’ve been blessed by having a really great tribe of people around me. I also founded a non-profit organisation called The New Hollywood, which has really given me a sense of purpose and helped me to stay focused, rather than just solely concentrating on my acting. It also fed me as an artist in a bigger way too. We’re all about supporting socially conscious story-tellers and change-makers. That really fills me up to know that I’m supporting and helping others.
“The key component to motivation is who you surround yourself with, particularly in an industry where there is such a spectrum of people who are attracted to the business for different reasons.” – Brianna Brown
Taylor Magazine: We love that! Being in the spotlight must get quite stressful at times – how do you keep calm and relaxed when things get a bit overwhelming?
Brianna Brown: In LA, people aren’t in awe of actors as much as other parts of the country. It’s funny because I really don’t feel that anyone would recognise me! Like anything, it’s just so important to focus my time and energy on things that make me full and happy, and staying around good people and not becoming drained by situations and things that aren’t really important. Like anyone, whether you are an accountant, a doctor or on the set of Dynasty, it’s what you’re choosing to focus on and who you choose to surround yourself around, to stay focused on what’s important.
Taylor Magazine: If you were to give advice to anyone that wanted to get into acting, what advice would you give them?
Brianna Brown: The big thing is ‘Why?’ Why do you want to do it? Be really clear about that. Also, understanding what the business is about is crucial. Coming from a theatre background, you’ll think that you’ll be more artistically fulfilled doing TV and film, but that isn’t necessarily the case. It’s also a visual industry too and that can be frustrating, naturally but don’t let that erode your sense of soul or let it get you down.
I also think that so many young people are creating their own content and vehicles for success – that is really the way of the future because to stay creatively fulfilled between the lag of being on and off set is difficult. By creating your own content, you can stay creatively fulfilled.
Taylor Magazine: Who would you say is your role model and why?
Brianna Brown: I definitely have different role models for different things. Geena Davis is a role model for me – she’s a phenomenal actress but she’s also inspirational by what she does beyond acting, by being a philanthropist and starting the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in the Media. My friend Jennifer Siebel Newsom, who started The Representation Project and is a film-maker and documentarist, is such a role model for me. Alexis Jones is amazing. She was on a reality show and used that platform to create I AM THAT GIRL and make a positive change. Eva Longoria is also amazing! She’s a power house and has done so many incredible things on top of her acting. The people that impress me are the people that are artists but also have a bigger purpose to add value and use their platform to be beneficial.
Taylor Magazine: Some fun questions now to get to know you a bit better! What is your favourite movie?
Brianna Brown: Oh… that evolves over time and changes a lot! At one point it was Taken, then more recently it was Trolls… but you can’t be sad and watch Trolls! When I was younger it was Elizabeth, but I don’t have one in particular – there’s a good few that I can watch over and over again!
Taylor Magazine: Other than acting, what interests do you have?
Brianna Brown: Most of my time off consists of doing things for The New Hollywood – we’re launching a guide book and I’m looking at doing more speaking. When I have down time, I spend lots of time with my husband, and my animals of course, as well as my girlfriends. I love going on hikes and doing things that keep me re-charged and happy.
Taylor Magazine: Tell us something that nobody knows about you.
Brianna Brown: Hmm… I rarely watch TV.
Taylor Magazine: What should we look out for from you in the next five years?
Brianna Brown: I’m on Dynasty right now! There is EastSiders Three that I’m on, and I have my guidebook coming out, Manifesting Your Mission, which is available here! I’m going to be doing speaking engagements as well, so let’s see what happens…