We had the good fortune of connecting with Branden Braswell and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Branden, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Taking risks has definitely played a huge role in my life and career thus far. I had just finished college in New York City when I was presented with my first big risk. I was doing college theatre shows and taking voice lessons on the side of my job and full time academic classes. But now, there was no guarantees in having another show to audition for in school or taking voice lessons for elective credits. Thinking about the possibility of not pursuing my passions was gut-wrenching. So as soon as I took this huge leap, it was both a heavy sigh of relief and absolutely terrifying to think about. After an additional 3 years living in New York and training constantly, I saw myself gravitating towards the film industry. At this point, I had learned to just trust my gut, so I once again took another risk by moving to LA where I knew very few people in the industry. I had spent so much time learning the way New York operated and moving to LA was a big adjustment, to say the least. That said, I met Crystal Correa through a mutual friend and began working with her at C+ Media. Currently, we are working on “Simon and I,” a tale about what happens when you let your guard down. I play Simon, a demon that isn’t afraid to push someone to their limits. It’s really great to feel limitless and to be creating on the daily with an incredible partner and mentor. I’m now beginning to see my dreams lived out and could not be happier! Had I not taken any risks in life, I know that I would not be where I am today. And there will be many more risks I will have to take in the future, but that’s what keeps me moving forward! Though it’s been extremely difficult up until this point (and still continues to be), I’m able to take these experiences and implement them into my art. It’s helped to shape the journey I am on and I’m excited to see what’s next!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
The thing that excites me most about my art is being able to live out human experiences and create stories of things that aren’t normally thought about. I love getting to share stories, whether it’s something that’s been written, an idea that I’ve started to jot down, or something as simple as conveying an entire story in one still photograph. There are so many different mediums that can be played with and I get so excited to document different experiences. It’s so important for every artist to be a human first and I think that is what makes each artist unique. For me, I’ve started to think a lot about gender and it’s place in entertainment and the arts. There is so much to learn about people outside the constructs of gender. As I mentioned, our experiences are what make us all the people we are today. I’ve always gravitated towards aspects of female roles in film, personally. When I was modeling in New York City, I started to find myself gravitating towards androgynous modeling. I remember I did a photoshoot with Chad and Steven of “THEGINGERB3ARDMEN,” and it’s one of my top favorite moments in my artistic career so far. I remember thinking about how it excited me to completely free myself of fitting into a certain mold. I was able to just be myself in that photoshoot and freely create and live in the moment of that experience. And I’m very grateful to be asked by Crystal to also come on board for her pilot, “Sparkles,” to play and write for the role of Valery, who is androgynous and gender fluid. I’m excited to help develop this character and bring life to Val’s experiences. I’ve definitely made a lot of sacrifices to keep doing what I’m doing. I seek balance and it’s been difficult to find the right amount. I think one thing that’s helped me is to focus as much of my energy into my craft as I do at my job. It’s always been important to me to do my best in all aspects of life. And sometimes that can be exhausting. I work full time to pay the bills and then come home and work full time to achieve my dreams. But in the end, knowing that I am getting one step closer makes it all worth it. And with that, I am able to repurpose skills I learn in life as well as side jobs and put it into my art. Nothing is a waste. Anybody can be an artist. The hardest part is to keep going, because you always need to be your number one fan. Even if you have a mentor or have a lot of people that believe in you, the one person that you need on your side is you. That’s been a huge challenge to maintain, because there are days where I get in a rut. But it’s always been important for me to grasp onto the reason why I can’t do anything else – and that has taken me to where I am now.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
Anytime a friend comes to visit, a visit to a coffee shop is a must. The first coffee shop I ever went to LA was Sabor Y Cultura in Hollywood. It’s my absolute favorite place to go and the environment is really great. I notice a lot of artists go there to work on projects and they sell local art and support artists. They also host an open mic night series that is fun to attend. I also think it’s so fun to go up to Burbank and walk down Magnolia Blvd and go to Porto’s Bakery for a coffee. I love all the fun shops you can find and the thrift stores they have up there. I won’t lie and say that Disneyland wouldn’t be in the itinerary either.. And no trip would be complete without the beach. I like to take friends up north to hike in Malibu and sit on the beach for a while. Lastly, no visit is complete without a sensible wine night. It’s always fun to throw in a night in the apartment with wine and board games to laugh and share stories!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Of course, I wouldn’t be where I am today without my mom and brother. They have been my biggest supporters and I am so grateful to both of them for being such an important force in my life. Likewise, my boyfriend, Patrick, has been by my side through many big changes and I love getting to share stories with him everyday. I think the most beautiful thing about being in the arts is the tremendous amount of support you get along the way. Crystal Correa has also been such a light to have in LA. It’s beautiful when people lift each other up and watch each other grow into fully developed artists together. That’s the fun of this career path! You get to explore so many different plots and grow your “team” along the way.
THEGINGERNB3ARDMEN – Chad Wagner & Steven Trumon, Desi Bee Richardson