Brandon and I go way back… specifically, to October 3rd, 2020, when we met on the set of ‘Bat Girl at War’ – a short fan film we were selected to star in by the lovely Alexzander Rogers.
He put on his green Riddler costume and I could tell he was born to play a villain – the eyebrows – the smirk – the confidence.
“Where’s the bird boy?” he lowered his head slowly as the camera inched closer to his face, “I know he’s in here somewhere…”
His sinister voice validated my assumption as I watched him take direction with ease.
Once we wrapped, we applauded each other’s performances and took photos for the mems, and also for our parents, obviously.
Then, as one does in the age of social media, after filming, we became online friends which is where I saw his posts about the Murder Mystery Company and I thought, ‘yep – he’s the one – he’s the one I need to feature for Halloween.’
Thankfully, he agreed.
Cut to our interview –
“Woah, are you actually at a coffee shop?” I sounded amazed for some reason. Perhaps because the Black Rock across the street from my house hasn’t been open inside for several months.
“No, I bought a green screen from Amazon so I can choose whatever background I want without it looking all wonky,” he laughed, “it was necessary since we’ve been doing all our shows virtually, with COVID and everything.”
I wondered if there’d been any conversation had since March that didn’t include talk of the virus.
“How fun is that, though?” I remembered the Murder Mystery night we had with Matthew’s family, then pondered how much time would pass until the 20+ of us would get together again. “How did that all come about?” I asked earnestly.
He raised his expressive eyebrow as if to say, ‘ah’
“Well… a few years ago, I saw this recommendation on social media… like, ‘you may know this person,’ and it was a bully from school. I saw he was doing something with acting and I thought, ‘oh okay, if he’s doing it, I’ve definitely gotta step up…”
“Wait, wait, wait,” I interrupted before he could continue, “you were bullied in school?… Why?” I felt the desire to defend him retroactively from someone I didn’t know.
“Well… where do I start?” he shrugged, “I was a band kid, I wore a fedora every day, I wrote poetry, and I had a rolling backpack…”
“Doesn’t compute to me,” I slightly laughed.
Sure, the visual sounds a bit tragic, but damn it – no one should be bullied for simply living their lives.
“I’m so grateful television and media have placed more of an emphasis on people being themselves… with shows like Glee, Euphoria, and from what I’ve heard – Schitt’s Creek,” I made a mental note to make that my next watch after the new Borat movie.
“Totally, but back to your question… I was working at IHOP over the summer after graduating high school and I absolutely hated it,” he shook his head and widened his eyes – I pictured the soggy pancakes and syrup crusted containers, “so, I scoured Craigslist because I didn’t know about casting sites then… and I saw this opportunity to play different characters. I’d always done impressions and practiced different accents, so this was right up my alley,” he explained.
His first show included a lot of improvisation – something he wasn’t comfortable with, but he quickly got into the flow, working with the Murder Mystery Company through Community College, and while he secured his Bachelor’s in Theater at GCU.
“Brandon, you’ve gotta know what I’m gonna say next…” I smiled. “Give me those impressions!”
Without a beat, he slipped into a classic, impatient New Yorker, followed by a nasally detective Lancaster.
“Amazing!” I applauded, suppressing my urge to jump into a likely terrible British accent. “Alright, so tell me when you got the itch to be an actor… were you always drawn to television and film?” I asked, getting comfy in my black computer chair.
“Well, I was born in Huntington Beach and I lived in a 1200 square foot house with my mom, nana, grand-dad, aunt, and uncle, so you could say we were very close… because we had to be,” he laughed as he recalled his childhood.
“I loved Halloween as a kid, dressing up like a ninja and really morphing into the character, but I didn’t do anything related to theater until we moved to Arizona when I was 15,” he paused to consider, “I think I was too afraid to go for it, but in Tempe we needed a performing arts credit to graduate so I auditioned for the school play and actually got a great part,” he recalled.
“What?? You had to have a performing arts credit to graduate?” I poured my envy out, wishing PHS would’ve mandated the same thing.
“Hah, yeah… it was pretty great. And before I started at my new school, I’d go to the movie theater all the time because I didn’t have any friends. I’d watch three movies a day sometimes,” he shrugged before continuing, “I must’ve seen The Dark Knight Rises at least five times!”
He went on, “speaking of the Batman franchise, I was actually watching Birds of Prey and thought to myself, ‘I’d love to play a Batman villain’ and then I got a call from Zander the same day, asking me to play a part in his short film, Bat Girl at War,” he noted casually.
“The SAME day?” I practically squealed. I love the universe.
We discussed the power of intention and goal setting which transitioned into his experience with theater and film and the need to shift from big and animated to more subtle and internal.
“My first show at GCU was Macbeth and it was the first Shakespeare show I actually liked, which oddly fit in perfectly with this film I did called Elodie,” he explained in more detail.
It’s on Amazon, y’all! Can we give Brandon a collective round of applause?
“Look at you!” I nodded as we talked briefly about his experience on Elodie, and how alive he feels when he’s performing, whether on stage or behind the camera.
“So obviously production is stagnant in a lot of ways, but putting that aside, what’s your plan for the future? What would your ideal world look like?” I asked.
He geared up with a smile to respond.
“Well, I’m somewhat looking for an agent… I’m applying and auditioning for a Master’s theater program… I’m an Assistant Director for the Murder Mystery Company but I’d definitely consider being the Director,” he stopped to inform me that he’s an air sign, though, so he’s very ‘go with the flow,’ eager to throw things out and see what comes back.
“If I’m talking really big picture, I’d definitely want to live in San Francisco; I’d love to work at this company called Magic Theatre which was created by my favorite playwright, Sam Shepard… and then I’d like to be successful enough so that I could help other people by providing a directing or teaching outlet,” he concluded diplomatically by reiterating how much acting has helped him tune in to his emotions and lift his confidence.
“I’ve told my mom I’m pursuing this for the both of us, since she was pregnant with me while she acted on stage 24 years ago,” Brandon looked off as if to imagine all the possibilities for his future.
“Well, my friend, I can’t wait to see what you do with your career. And I hope you never lose that fedora-wearing, poetry-writing spirit!” I ended, thanking him for giving me his time, and praising him one last time for that impressive backdrop.
And for those of you interested in following in Brandon’s voyage (I literally thesaurused ‘journey’), please see the links below.
Brandon’s IG: @kingcaraco
Murder Mystery website: https://www.murdermysteryco.com
Amazon link for Elodie: https://www.amazon.com/Elodie-Faith-Decker/dp/B0875LLPSJ/ref=nodl_
Bat Girl At War: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSUFWvpshfs