EF - You've been in the business for a while. What kind of perseverance does it take to be in the theater industry?

BdJ - You really have to love acting. Now, whether or not you have the opportunity to do it for pay can be a big hindrance but it is something you must love. You are going to find yourself doing it and it will ultimately make you happy. It is, obviously, a tough thing financially.

EF - Yeah, a lot of people drop out. I'm sure there are a lot of people who would love to be in your position.

BdJ - I'm very grateful to my family because they're very supportive. It takes a lot of support to make you feel confident in yourself and to pursue something that most people would consider an unlikely decision. Some might even say unwise decision. It is hugely important to have an affirmative push. My family still comes to see me in whatever I do.

EF - They must be very proud.

BdJ - It is no different than doing Bye Bye Birdie in High School. It is just on a bigger scale.

EF - I guess support is important in not just theater but any career avenue.

BdJ - Yes - exactly.

EF - Tell me about your first audition. What was it like? How did you feel?

BdJ - It was a summer stock production in Michigan called "The Gas Light Revue." It was great. I worked there for two summers and learned a lot. [Grinning] I sang "Give My Regards to Broadway."

My first experience singing in front of people was in Junior High School. I sang in this thing called "Academic Track." Academic Track is a scholastic and talent competition for junior and high schools. The first part included the scholastics, i.e., timed written tests like chemistry, algebra, English... These were taken in the classrooms. The performance segment entailed different performance categories like dramatic interpretation, comedy improv., and vocal solo. I participated in the vocal solos. I sang "Piano Man." During my performance, I'm thinking: "this is something... this is kinda cool... I like singing."

EF - Did you feel nervous?

BdJ - I don't remember being nervous. I just remember being really happy doing it.

EF - Did you take something, some experience from your earlier auditions that helped you later on?

BdJ - You definitely learn something every time.


Interruption by Brian fan number one:

"Hi, are you Brian? You were just wonderful in Titanic. I loved the show. You were great!"


BdJ - [With a broad smile] Thank you very much.

EF - That is cool! Good for you.

BdJ - Yeah, thanks.

EF - Okay, back to auditions...

BdJ - Auditions are tricky. The more you do them the more confident you become in terms of what YOU want to do as opposed to trying to fulfill someone's perception of what you think they want. It is a hard thing to do. I'm continually learning.

EF - Define success in terms of being an actor?

BdJ - I'll tell you recently when I felt very successful in light of everything happening with and being in a Broadway show. A friend's mother came to see the show. She had seen me work seven or eight years ago in Chicago. She loved Titanic. She said how much I had grown. That is such a great thing to hear because that is what it is all about. If you can have a sense of your own growth and progress as an actor, then I think you're on the right track. If you are lucky enough to hear about or feel that growth then that leads itself to being successful.

EF - Let me borrow a quote from a fellow cast member, Michael Cerveris. He said "as an actor you have to be more interested in the process, not the results." What is your opinion concerning that statement?

BdJ - I agree. The result is temporal. It's not a concrete thing. The process is always going to be there. If you are result oriented, you are never going to be happy because the result is never the same. If you are in a scene and start at point A and end up at point X one night, the next night you may still start at point A but end up at L. Both nights are completely unique. One is no less gratifying or satisfying then the other in the process of taking that journey. I totally and emphatically agree with what Michael said.

EF - What about the results type of mentality though. Don't actors want to make it big, be on Broadway? Is that not result oriented?

BdJ - I think actors want to have validation. They want to have the chance to do their work. For better or for worse, Broadway theater and film are great opportunities for actors to have their work validated because a lot of people can see it. Whether that means a pat on the back as you walk down the street or opening doors to other opportunities.

I think most actors are concerned about the potential for opportunities rather than being noticed. Work to get work - that is what you want to achieve. You can only do your work alone for so long. By validation, actors just want to share an experience. They need a play or show to do that.

EF - It must be very satisfying to share that experience that comes when an actor is involved with a show.

BdJ - It is. It makes you feel like you are getting the chance to work the muscles you have trained for.


Sail onward...


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