I interviewed Brandon Karson a year ago. We spoke about so much stuff from his personal life to his break out character Damien of his hit web series About Him, and so much more. Brandon is a breakout star in his own right! Just know we will see a lot more of him.
Hello Brandon how are you today? First question I want to ask you: What does it mean for you to be Black, gay and proud?
It’s quite a big ordeal. To be not just one stereotype but three all in one lifetime (being Black, a Black male, then being a gay male.) It’s one hell of a hurdle to hop. Going through what I’ve had to go through as a Black, gay man has prepared me for the world. Being gay & of color means you’re a survivor. If you were to sit down with any Black gay man, no matter who they are, he’s survived something. Strength.
I love that response, and I agree with you! I would consider so many gay men of color as survivors. Many of us have encountered endless obstacles in life. Let’s start off by addressing your current role as Damien on the hit web-series “About Him.” How did you end up hearing about the role of Damien?
Well, I found out about the casting for this project online. I was without representation, so I did my research, signed up for some online casting websites and there it was. Once I got asked to audition, I missed the first audition… and the second one. I was working two other jobs so time conflict was my middle name.
Wow, this role seems like it’s WRITTEN FOR YOU! Even after missing the auditions, you still ended up with the role. After finding out you landed the role of Damien. Share your initial thoughts at that moment when you got the big news?
Oh, my God, it shocked me. I mean, I didn’t think I would get it. My nerves were all over the place during auditions. I’m always like that with auditioning. When I got the call, I was just BLOWN AWAY!
Did you think while filming if the show would have become the hit-series it is today?
Hell no! I mean, I knew we’d touch people, but this is some next level stuff. I thought this story was relatable, so that’s why I fell in love with it… it might be the same reason people are such big fans of the show today. We had some humble beginnings with the show. Seeing How Far We’ve Come makes me tear up because we’re just getting started.
The story is VERY relatable and needed for our community. One thing I love about the show is that it’s speaking of a variety of things. I think something many Black Gay men of color struggle with is our sexuality. For the show to pinpoint that issue allows the viewers to relate to the story line in so many ways.
How has life changed for you since the viral success of About Him?
People notice me now [LOL] that’s the biggest thing most of the time. As a child well into my adolescence, they overlooked me and I was unnoticed. It’s amazing how God places you where you need to be when you need to be there. I love it, all. This is the most love I’ve received before in my life. It’s beautiful.
That’s so beautiful! God makes no mistakes when getting us on the right track. Sometimes our stories start off one way and ends another with greatness aligned for us. The beauty in that is you’re now SOMEBODY and will not over-looked again.
We will touch more about Damien and the series About Him next. First, let’s get to know you, Brandon. When did you know acting was your calling in life?
I was about eleven, maybe twelve years old? I was huge in church and we had this purpose-driven youth director. She’d force us into just about everything. I would sing solo selections at church and that made her feel like I was ready for the world [LOL]. After seeing how well my brother did with public speaking, she had me follow in his footsteps… the rest is history.
That push helped you, it molded you into the person you are today. How does it feel to chase after your dreams and be able to reach this level of success as a Black gay actor?
Honestly, I’m not near as close to where I want to be as it pertains to my dreams and aspirations. This is one hell of an accomplishment. It feels unreal most of the time. I have to remind myself. God is real and what he has for you is specifically for YOU. Once you realize that, doors, windows, curtains… everything opens for you.
I’ve read online that you changed your last name to Karson. Your father didn’t believe the work you were doing as a gay actor was respectful of the family’s name. I know this is a touchy matter. What’s one piece of advice would you give an up and coming Black gay actor, who also may deal with a family that may not be supportive?
Continue to research yourself; you deserve to get a deeper understanding of who you are as a person. Never, EVER do things to please the next person. It was my biggest mistake (and still is). Most people don’t know who they are or where they’re going so, you need not look to them for support, become your own damn support.
Very inspirational and true! Sometimes we have to support ourselves and not expect the world to hand us everything. You’re from the south. Do you think southern gay men have it harder coming out than other gay men across the U.S.? Being that many southern states are religious.
I think we all have it hard coming out. All of us, no matter from what standpoint, there’s a hardship within every gay man’s lively hood, I promise you. Aside from that, I think the south can be more so pressed about the situation, only because of fear of the unknown. People fear what they don’t understand, and in the south, not too many people want to understand change, so they reject it.
Who do you consider being one of your biggest influences so far in your acting career?
Four people come to mind… Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Meryl Streep & Will Smith. They all have embodied what it means to take your craft and go to the next level with it. I can appreciate an actor who makes you believe the moments captured on screen. Anyone who knows me knows it’s the four illustrious careers of these gifted people that influenced me to act.
You’re now a famous big-time actor in the LGBT community. How would you describe that feeling? Being a country guy from Louisiana?
UN-REAL! [LOL]. I hate the word “celebrity.” It’s has so many negative connotations tied to it, on top of the fact that everyone nowadays will do anything to become a “celebrity” or “famous”. It’s different. It’s not crazy or anything like that, not on Beyonce or Rihanna’s status yet.
I’ve read online that you are in fact a single gent? Damien is a character but as we all know, people can sometimes take films and shows as “reality.” Your name is Brandon, but people still will call you Damien. So when being approached by guys, do they approach you wanting to get to know you or just to get a piece of Damien?
Honestly, being a part of this show has raised my awareness about dating and the guys I might attract. Many people have a hard time with separating me from the actual character. Honestly, I think’s why I’m single. I’m not sure if people want to get to know me for me or to get a little piece of Damien. Another thing, guys don’t approach me. I’m not sure why they don’t but then again I care less.
Would you say About Him is one of your most prominent and successful roles to date?
Not only is it the biggest, but it’s also my first one, which is nerve-wracking sometimes. I’m always wondering what people feel about my performance.
Most of the cast from “About Him” came from acting backgrounds and even went to school for it. I read online that you considered yourself a natural actor. Give tips to the readers who may aspire to be actors.
I look at myself as a natural actor because I’ve been doing it all my life; I didn’t know I was doing it. I’d pop in and out of personalities as a child to cope with being bullied. I took that & went to get it trained. My biggest advice to ANY actor is to train and stretch that muscle as much as possible. Honing the craft will help you be GREAT.
Great advice! I would also say allow the no’s to inspire you to seek that final YES. I think entertainment is very hard to break into. It’s possible to be successful. Also to know somebody else’s success meant for them. So knowing yourself and finding your niche and path is very important guys. Just my piece of advice for you guys.
You got your first television role on MTV’s series remake of “Scream.” What was that experience like for you? Did it give you the acting bug which may have pushed you further into acting?
Being on that set helped me a lot with set etiquette and how things come together. I loved working on that set. The crew was amazing; the cast is talented & the story line is pretty intriguing. I think working on this project made me realize my calling. As soon as we did the first take for the first episode, I was sold. I told myself, “I wanna do this forever.”. I was serious.
How would you describe your first-day filming the show?
I was nervous. Me, Darone & Gary were all nervous about meeting and shooting with each other. Both Gary & Darone knew each other before “About Him,” so that made me feel even more nervous. After a few takes, a couple cracked jokes & a shot of tequila; all was well.
Do you believe “About Him” is an actual gay coming of age story? What inspired you to take on the role of Damien?
It is. You know, I think because of the content within this specific coming of age story that made me want to take on this role. So many people can connect to this story because of how relatable it is. After reading the novel, I knew I had to do it. It was the novel that inspired me, it still does.
Playing the role of Damien, was it easy to get into character or did it take you some time?
I think me developing into Damien was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. Damien is MUCH more reserved & observant because of his natural curiosity towards the world around him. He’s a teenage boy in the 90s… I got out of my teenage years all of three years ago. It took time… a lot of time. I’m still developing Damien’s character.
Your primary love interest on the show is Vince, the talented actor, Gary Lavard. The chemistry between the both of you seems so real and believable. Do you think he was the best choice for your character’s love interest?
Not only do I think he was the best choice but without him, this series wouldn’t be as memorable as it was with him.
I agree I think Mr. Lavard owned that role. The acting didn’t seem forced. The chemistry fitted perfectly, and I think as viewers we picked up on that. I’ve also read you spent time with Gary Lavard before filming, being he’s a more experienced actor. Did you get acting advice or tips from him?
I did. He told me to how important it is to stay in the moment. Nothing promised to any of us, so it’s all about taking a moment & relishing in it making it fantastic, making it worth living through.
Did you feel awkward while filming the big controversial sex scene with Gary Lavard?
After the first time with Gary, I was fine. We did all the controversial scenes we had with each other in one day, so all the nerves disappeared after that. With my other Co-stars like Rahim & Rico, it all started with a conversation. A few do’s & don’ts & we were good to go.
The show featured a lot of “soft porn” as many people described it online. Have you gotten any negative remarks or comments about the show?
I got a LOT of negative feedback because of the “soft porn.” More so from my family members though. It’s the people that supposed to know me the most judged me the most. Interesting, right?
That’s very interesting and unfortunate. Like PEOPLE it’s just a show, it’s acting! [LOL]. There’s been many graphics (sexy) scenes some of which has been viral on Pornhub, myVidster, etc.
Being an actor and playing this role, did you ever feel uncomfortable doing certain scenes?
I felt uncomfortable about it all. But prayer changes everything, and it changed everything I thought about or had fears about.
This is no secret but a lot of gay men see the cast as eye candy now. How has the dating scene been for you since the big success of About Him?
It’s been interesting. A man’s true colors in certain situations… I’m so hard to date. [LOL]. I am… and it’s because of that, that a lot of guys can’t handle me. I can’t be tamed, fellas.
Right now Black gay films and web series has taken over the internet and the entertainment world. Do you think more Black gay web-series could make a return on television again soon?
Prayerful, “About Him” makes it. I want that so bad. If it’s not us, one of these amazing LGBT shows has to make it. I’ve dreamed about being on television, and it would be a dream come true.
Do you think About Him gives the gay community a positive representation?
I do. Our show in so many ways has assisted in bridging the gap between generations. I noticed how much of a gap that was bridged while being on the tour. The show attracts all different age groups. I love that about the show.
The show started off with Damien not being sure of his sexuality. Could you say that one particular part was something you connected with the most?
I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t. I went through that all the time, especially with my virginity (when I had it). It’s almost like being stuck in limbo.
Signal23tv has released 13 episodes. The fans can’t get enough of this show. Tell us a few secrets you guys have in the bag for us on the next season of About Him?
Okay, I’ll give you two things… They will center This season on Damien’s first year in college…& his first boyfriend.
I read positive comments about the show and how it has helped many other gay men of color to coming out and embrace their sexuality. How do you feel as an actor when you receive positive feedback about your role and the show overall?
It makes me feel like we did our job. I’m so glad we could connect with someone. To know we did warms my heart. What we did helped someone understand a little more about themselves. It’s amazing.
Many people would consider you the breakout star. Everybody on the show is amazing, but there’s something about YOU that stands out the most. What do you see next for your blossoming career?
Prayerfully, more opportunities to express myself. Acting for me is an expressive exercise I love to use. Next up, my Co-star Tripp Ali along with myself, have been given a radio show. It’s called “The Plug” and it’s brought to you by World Star Hit Radio! We’re so excited for its November 6th debut. I cannot wait until you guys tune in. We cover it ALL! Celebrity gossip, interpersonal relationships, politics, social media… you want, we got it.
Has the success from About Him helped you get any new offers yet?
Not really. I’m not sure why but that’s not for me to understand. It pushes me to go out & get work for myself.
Share with the readers some other Black gay web-series you are binge-watching at the moment?
“Love@FirstNight.” I love the cast and the story line. It’s intriguing. I’d love to be a part of an episode or two soon if possible.
Love@FirstNight is my second favorite series behind About Him. If you could tell the fans anything before we finish this interview, what would you like to say?
It’s not about him; it’s about you. Never, ever forget that. You should be the only inspiration you need to push forward in life. Love yourself.
If you guys would like to keep up with Brandon Karson follow him on Instagram and Twitter. Check out his season of About Him only now on YouTube/Vimeo.You can also purchase the whole season for 25 dollars.