We had the good fortune of connecting with Brianna Barrett and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Brianna, how do you define success?
Did I accomplish what I set out to do? If the answer is yes, then I consider that a success. A lot of times in the creative field, it can be disheartening to base success on how your project is received by the public. Especially when looking at videos on Instagram and Tik Tok, it can be easy to place value on how good your work of art is based on how many views a video got. But some of my favorite works didn’t get a ton of likes or views – and I’ve realized that doesn’t make them any less than what they are.
When I look at a blank piece of paper, a blinking cursor, a fresh script, I can’t think about what how the end product will be received. I can’t wonder if people will like it or not. 100% of the time my work is better when I follow my instinct and create what I feel I have to create in my gut – for the people in the world and for myself. Honoring how I feel and what I need to express in the moment has been an important part of that process. Because if I’m feeling that way, I’m sure at least one other person in this world is feeling that way too.
This is why I think art isn’t complete until it is shared. That’s what makes it art. And if I have affected at least one other person for the better, then it was worth it.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
For most of my life, I viewed my drawing as separate from my acting as separate from my writing. I thought that by expressing myself artistically in one medium, I was taking time and attention away from another. I struggled with that notion of “jack of all trades, master of none.” I thought that if I didn’t focus all of my attention and time on only one form of artistic expression, then all of my art suffered.
During the pandemic, when I was overwhelmed by the hatred and prejudice surfacing in our society, I felt the need to create something to express what I was seeing on the news. One drawing didn’t feel enough to express what I wanted to say. So instead, I combined charcoal drawings with stop motion to create a short film made in my own bedroom, with the hope that it gave some peace to those who watched it.
That’s when I realized. This “jack of all trades, master of none” thing? It doesn’t apply. All methods of artistic expression are linked together. They’re tools that serve the same purpose. Each method is just another way of exploring the world, of expressing observations about human interactions through different means. Just like yoga can help a professional football player become a better athlete, engaging in different forms of expression can strengthen your work as an artist overall. That new skill manifests itself in different ways, and opens up a new range of possibilities and ideas when you decide to go back to the field, start a new script, or pick up a fresh piece of charcoal.
No matter the medium, what intrigues me the most is human expression. What is the story behind this person’s eyes? What are they thinking? That’s why I love drawing people the most; I can build the interest in who they are and add that spark of life. And I think that’s what forms the basis of some of the best films — interesting people living out their own spark of life.
Whether it be film or fine arts, there are no boundaries in between. I think all art has a power to unify, to break down barriers, and to cultivate understanding. Whether it’s drawing loved ones who have passed away, honoring indigenous tribes in charcoal, or performing in and directing stories about love — I aim to encourage as much positive change in the world as I can. Even if all I do is make one person smile and feel seen. That’s worth it.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Oh my GOSH. So many good things! There’s a 7 mile hike in the Santa Monica mountains that I’d highly recommend. At the highest point, all you can hear is the wind and the call of birds, and all you can see is a stretch of mountains with the ocean in the distance. It’s incredible.
If we’re talking food — Joe’s Falafel is the best falafel I’ve had in LA, and Spitz has an awesome vegan mediterranean wrap. Clark Street Diner is great for breakfast and has the best seedy sourdough bread I’ve ever had. Also Frozen Fruit Co is a must if you’re lactose intolerant like me, it’s top tier vegan ice cream. Best pie (because this is always important) is hands down Republic of Pie.
When I need to write I usually spend the day at Groundwork cafe (the renovated train depot) or Aroma Tea & Coffee in NOHO. For a lazy Saturday, hooking up the hammock to the trees on Venice Beach and having açaí bowls in the sun is the absolute best. Ending the week with a trip to the farmer’s market, then going down to Dockweiler’s beach for a bonfire and s’mores is one of my favorite ways to spend a Sunday.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The first people I have to thank is my family. A major shoutout to my mom for always giving a second opinion on my drawings – you say you’re not an artist but you always manage to give a different perspective that I couldn’t see! My sister Madison for countless hours over FaceTime going back and forth about a scene or character. My brother for always encouraging me to take that bold step in life. And all my extended family and my friends for their insane love and support – I love you all so much.
And shoutout to all the artists, directors, musicians, and beyond who continue to inspire me with their bold work. Sometimes when I’m feeling stuck in a rut, all it takes is one line from a song or a film to realize something in a new way.
Instagram: @briannaleebarrett & @portraits_by_bri