Brandon Jay McLaren

SUMMARY
Industry:
 Film
Title: Actor
Province: Vancouver, British Columbia
Heritage: Trinidadian 

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Brandon was born to Trinidadian and Grenadian parents. His father worked for an airline as a supervisor and his mother was a bank manager. He got his first taste of show business when his mother heard an advertisement for ethnic children needed for professional acting work. After auditioning, Brandon booked six commercials within a year.
Building upon his interest and talent, he attended the Johnston Heights Secondary School, which had an excellent student-led comprehensive drama program, during which his drama teacher had a profound influence on him.
In Brandon’s senior year, a casting director came to visit his class and offered one of the students a cold read. Brandon volunteered. The casting director was so impressed with Brandon’s performance that she told his drama teacher that Brandon was talented and that she would be willing to get him an agent.

I’m inspired by anyone who takes definitive action in the face of improbable odds..Brandon
Growing up, Brandon also played soccer, becoming a Canadian All Star Champion and winning numerous awards, including the U16 National Championships, a gold medal in the Under 19 Western Canada Games, and a silver medal in the Canada Games. Brandon received a scholarship to attend New York State University in Albany and play NCAA Division 1 soccer. He studied Human Biology at university with the intention of going to medical school.

As his university was just one and a half hour’s drive away from New York City, when 9/11 happened, Brandon was on a shuttle on his way to class. He was deeply affected by the tragedy and considers it a turning point in his life, when he realized that life was truly short and that he should do what he really wanted to do and stop living for other people.

He went to see a musical theatre production at the university and was inspired. He began to miss being on stage, having spent years of his undergraduate degree in a Chemistry lab.

Admitting that he had been influenced by his West Indian parents to pursue professional school, he decided he wanted to become an actor. He changed courses in his third year and began to take theatre courses.

Brandon starred in one of the university productions, Flyin’ West by Pearl Cleage, an all-Black play featuring four women part of the first generation of free Blacks after Emancipation, hoping to buy land in Kansas. He played Frank Charles, a half-Black son of a slave owner. This experience solidified his passion and resolve that acting was what he wanted to do.

Brandon Jay McLaren 02 LGBrandon graduated and began pursuing a career as a professional actor. In 2004, he won the role of Jack Landers, the Red SPD Ranger in Power Rangers: SPD.

He eventually moved to Los Angeles and eventually was cast as Toby in the movie She’s the Man in 2006.

Brandon went on to spend time in many different cities, such as Toronto, filming Being Erica in 2010 playing Lenin. In 2011, he played Bennett Ahmed in show The Killing and in 2012 landed the role of Jamil Dexter in Vancouver, in Falling Skies.

In 2013, Brandon began starring in the USA Network show Graceland as a main cast member, Dale Jakes.

Though Brandon initially faced resistance from his family for pursuing acting, happily things worked out for him. So much so that his parents are now open to embracing his brother Brent McLaren, aka Alma Mater, in his pursuit of a career as a Hip Hop artist.

Brandon directed a music video for his brother, Brent (Alma Mater) “The Valedictory Address” released in June 2013. They raised money on Indiegogo and shot the video in a studio in Los Angeles. At the time, Brandon had never directed before, and so was really proud when the video received over 40,000 hits on YouTube in 7 days. As Brent is his best friend, the video remains one of the projects that Brandon is most proud of.

To Brandon, being a Black actor is no different from being “a Black anything.” There are challenges and there are lots of successes. One thing he has learned is that if you want to portray characters like yourself, as a Black person, you have to be the one to write them. Thus, Brandon is very interested in also pursuing personal projects and one of his goals is to get back onto the stage.

Five Favourites

Favourite book
I’m not sure if I have a “favourite” book but there are a few books that have been impactful for different reasons. “Ishmael” was a book I read as a freshman in university and it offered a fresh perspective of the world which, up to that point, I had not been exposed to.

Favourite quote
“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” ― Robert F. Kennedy

On my bucket list…
A play on Broadway.

Inspiring people
Any one who takes definitive action in the face of improbable odds.

My fuel
To expose the common thread of humanity in us all

Connect With Brandon Jay McLaren:

Wikipedia | IMDB | Twitter | Facebook 

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