Brandon O’Neal

@iambrandononeal

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EP 178: Brandon O’Neal (autogenerated)

[00:00:00] Dane Reis: [00:00:00] You booked it. Episode 178. Okay, let’s get started. I am excited to introduce my guest today, Brendan. Oh, Neil, are you ready for this Brandon? 

[00:00:17] Brandon O’Neal: [00:00:17] Yes, I am ready.

[00:00:19]Dane Reis: [00:00:19] All right, let’s do it. Brandon is a native of Knoxville, Tennessee trained and mentored by Emmy award winner. Debbie Allen credits include Broadway’s. The lion King and wicked film includes Netflix is at Christmas on the square Lala land tend to and.

[00:00:38] Fame from 2009 DV credits include the 2020 Grammy awards with Misty Copeland. Grey’s anatomy, season 14, scandals season seven, lip-sync battles, seasons two and three broad city dancing with the stars  and the late late show with James cordon in multiple episodes, a few commercials include forward, which was the Superbowl commercial, Amazon prime subway gap, and at and T.

[00:01:04] Brandon has had the good fortune to work with Misty Copeland will Smith Paula Abdul,  Dolly Parton, Stevie wonder Neo John legend, Janell Monae, Kacey Musgraves, Miley Cyrus, bill Porter, Rob Ashford, Marguerite derricks, Garth. Fagan and Desmond Richardson to name a few Brandon, that is a quick intro of who you are and what you’ve done, but why don’t you tell us a little bit more about yourself, fill in the gaps and a little bit more about what you do as a professional in the entertainment industry.

[00:01:37] Brandon O’Neal: [00:01:37] Yes, I would love to. Well, Well, first of all, I’m so happy to be here. Second of all, Brandon O’Neill is an all around entertainer. I am a triple threat. And like you said, I’m from Knoxville, Tennessee, and I am calling from Los Angeles where I reside. And this is where I’m living.

[00:01:54]Dane Reis: [00:01:54] beautiful. Well, Well, let’s dig right into the first question here. And Brandon, I am a sucker for a good quote. What is your favorite quote? You’d like to share with everyone

[00:02:07] Brandon O’Neal: [00:02:07] Favorite code is on my refrigerator. It is your mind creates your reality.

[00:02:12]Dane Reis: [00:02:12] Oh, so true. And that’s such a simple quote, but wow. . It’s so deep and it can expand so much. Can you expand on a little bit how that’s worked its way into your life and career?

[00:02:23] Brandon O’Neal: [00:02:23] Of course. So like, I feel like you have to be a go person, right? Like you have to create your own drive. Like for me, like when you wake up, you brush your teeth. So for me, I treat it like when you wake up, you have to train for what you want to do. So I just treated it as if it’s simple, then it’s treated like you’re brushing your teeth, just go and do it.

[00:02:44]Dane Reis: [00:02:44] Yeah, I love that active to just simplify the thing. Cause it’s so easy to get into our heads. Isn’t it? Over-complicate whatever that end goal is or whatever we’re really trying to strive for. But instead. It really is made up of all those little, teeny, tiny little things like brushing our teeth, that  those little things make the big difference. Beautiful. And let’s move on to this section here. And Brandon, of course, you’re an entertainer, I’m an entertainer. And I think that you’d agree that this industry can be one of the most subjective, brutally, honest and personally emotional industries in existence. And you know, you know, as well as I, that in order to create and have a successful career in this industry, like you’re having now, it takes a lot.

[00:03:30] Of dedication and hard work. And while, yeah, there’s an outrageous amount of fun and excitement doing what we do. There are also our fair share of obstacles, challenges, and failures. We are going to experience and we’re going to have to move forward through. So tell us, what is one key challenge, obstacle or failure you’ve experienced in your career and how did you come out the other side better because of it.

[00:03:54]Brandon O’Neal: [00:03:54] one of the things that I was so devastated was I auditioned for Alvin Ailey, the American dance theater company. It was one of my dreams to be in that company. I trained for it. I had done ballet schools and I even. Found out what they were, the audition piece was, and I didn’t get it.

[00:04:12] And I was devastated. And even to put the icing on top, my best friend got it. So I had to really be, be grateful and, and, you know, not ruin the friendship, but also just like, it was, it was hard for me. I was crying and luckily my mom was in town. And one thing that she said to me that stuck with me was, was, was for you, is for you.

[00:04:31]And what that, that says to me is it wasn’t meant for me, you know? So it, it hurt me at the time, but, you know, life is so crazy and amazing that a year from that date, I got lion King on Broadway.

[00:04:44]Dane Reis: [00:04:44] Yeah, that’s amazing.

[00:04:46] Brandon O’Neal: [00:04:46] a reason.

[00:04:47]Dane Reis: [00:04:47] Absolutely. And you’ve had an incredible career since then, right? So it really is true. You have to really. Trust the journey, trust the path, even though we can want something so badly , it’s, it’s hard to surrender to that and to, into give into that. Right. But I don’t even know if giving in is the right word.

[00:05:04] I think it’s more of an acceptance and be, and to know that you’re doing like your quote, you’re doing those small things every single day and trust the work and that what is for you is for you is for you. Beautiful. And let’s move on to a time that I like to call your spotlight moment. That one moment in time you realized, yes, I am going to be an entertainer for a living or maybe it was, yes, this is what I need to be doing as an entertainer.

[00:05:38] Tell us about that.

[00:05:39]Brandon O’Neal: [00:05:39] yes, I would love to , uh, I was in the Knoxville. Children’s show choir at around like 10, 11 years old and to sing with, you know, you know, at least 40 people, it was just an amazing feeling. So to go from that, to be asked to sing a solo, I was of course, very nervous, but I went out there and sang my heart out and to hear the applause when I opened my eyes, that was the moment that I realized this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.

[00:06:05]Dane Reis: [00:06:05] Ah, that’s so good. And how special that you got to experience that at such a young age as well. Very cool. Love that. And let’s piggyback on that real quick and talk about your number one, booked it moment. Walk us through that day, the audition and callbacks. If they happen to be a part of it, what was going on in your life?

[00:06:27] And what about that moment? Makes it your favorite? Booked it moment.

[00:06:32] Brandon O’Neal: [00:06:32] This is a no brainer by far. My book that moment was when I was able to audition and book the role of a dancer in the movie fame. Uh, obviously the, the original was in the 1980s and the remake was in 2000. Um, I think eight and the , uh, story was. The most dramatic you could possibly, I flew all the way from New York city, all the way to Los Angeles, the taxi Uber at the time was lost.

[00:07:03] I got there late the door person was so one of those types of people that were just rude, you can just say it, they were rude.    I said, I have to get this audition. You don’t understand. I had my luggage and with tears and hope in the face of hope she let me in. And that audition , um, I booked it, Marguerite derricks literally said, if you make it to the end of this audition, you will, you will be in the movie.

[00:07:31] And I made it to the very end of audition. And it was a book that moment. And what was so surreal was to be trained under the iconic legend, Debbie Allen. And to then years later be in a remake of a movie. She was also in.

[00:07:47]Dane Reis: [00:07:47] How full circle is that? That is so cool.

[00:07:51] Brandon O’Neal: [00:07:51] principal. It was, it was pretty , really, really cool.

[00:07:53]Dane Reis: [00:07:53] Aw, that would have been amazing. And what was it like once you were on set and filming it? Talk about that experience a little bit.

[00:08:02]Brandon O’Neal: [00:08:02] Well, being on set, of course you have to fight the nerves, but one of the, the. The hardest things is to do is to be consistent because a lot of people think, you know, you hit it maybe once or twice, it can be up to 50 times. It could be up to 70 times doing due to the camera angles and all the different shots.

[00:08:19] So you have to be consistent and also remember why you do what you do. So each time make it special with also making it consistent.

[00:08:29]Dane Reis: [00:08:29] Oh, yeah, that is key because unlike well, , well, if you’re going on stage, you’re doing a live show. Yeah. You’re doing the same choreography, but the specificity and the accuracy to the movement and to , even the energy, like you said, the feeling that you have behind all of your choreography has to be so consistent when you’re on film.

[00:08:51] And that’s definitely a massive challenge. Yeah, let’s take a moment to talk about the present. What projects are you working on now? What are you looking forward to? And it’s a weird time, right? We’re amidst this global pandemic. How do you see the entertainment industry moving forward in the next couple of years?

[00:09:11]Brandon O’Neal: [00:09:11] Yes, I will. I can gratefully say out loud in the year of 2020, I can say that I am in the Dolly. Parton’s Christmas on the square on Netflix right now. Now the role I play is Andy. He works in the beauty shop who is owned by character margin lane, who is played by the Jennifer Lewis, who is the mother of black Hollywood.

[00:09:33] It’s amazing. And the second thing I’m in, in the upcoming, I’m going to be in 2021. In a new Apple TV show, it’s dying Rose Byrne, which is she’s in one of my favorite movies of all time. Bridesmaids. I’m a huge fan of that movie. So to be in this new show with her, I’m so excited.

[00:09:51]Dane Reis: [00:09:51] ah, so cool. So much to look forward to and congrats on both of 

[00:09:55] Brandon O’Neal: [00:09:55] Oh, thank you so much. And to, for the future, I would love for in my head. I honestly would love for, you know, for everything to be open and go back to normal. But I obviously know the real, the realization is we have a new normal, so I have been on set. Um, Doing doing the current climate. And it’s very different, you know , of, of course, with the Corona tests every day and you have to wear mask and the shields, and then when you get ready to film, they take it all off.

[00:10:21] And then when they say cut, you put it back on. So it’s completely completely different. But I do believe that people miss human connection, human interaction. And I think if we say safely, Can do it. I think it will be great. And I, I’m a firm believer and I have faith that we’ll, we’ll get over this and it will be a time where we can see each other and, and just hug as many people we want to

[00:10:47] Dane Reis: [00:10:47] Yes. That’s good back to that eventually. Yeah. I love that insight and it is time to move on to one of my favorite sections in the interview. I call it the grease lightning round. I am going to ask you a handful of questions. I want you to answer them as quickly and concisely as possible one after another.

[00:11:08] Are you ready? All right. First question. What was the one thing holding you back from committing to a career as an entertainer?

[00:11:16]Brandon O’Neal: [00:11:16] My parents

[00:11:18]Dane Reis: [00:11:18] Second question. What was the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

[00:11:23]Brandon O’Neal: [00:11:23] never be late.

[00:11:24]Dane Reis: [00:11:24] Oh, so good. And if you’re on time, you’re late.

[00:11:29] Brandon O’Neal: [00:11:29] Exactly.

[00:11:30] Dane Reis: [00:11:30] you’re early, you’re on time.

[00:11:32] Brandon O’Neal: [00:11:32] If we’re waiting 

[00:11:33] on you, there’s the clue.

[00:11:36] Dane Reis: [00:11:36] There it is. Third question. What is something that is working for you right now? Or if you’d like to go pre COVID, what was working for you before our industry went on? Pause?

[00:11:48]Brandon O’Neal: [00:11:48] Oh, I would say having an accountability partner , um, and for me also to just writing things down, being old school, of course, you know, with. You know, social media and everything, everything is digital, but going back to writing things down, writing letters, whether it be thank you or writing letters to yourself, writing a, to do list, putting it down on paper.

[00:12:06] So we’re making yourself accountable.

[00:12:08]Dane Reis: [00:12:08] Yeah, I could not agree more. I am a huge. Digital person. I love uh, , uh, use notion almost religiously uh, , uh, to organize my life and I love it, but there is still something I still have right next to me. I’ve got my pen in my notebook. Something about writing things down really does cement it just a bit more for me.

[00:12:28] Brandon O’Neal: [00:12:28] Totally. And for me as a learner, I grew up with always wanting to be a performer, always consist still, always the kid that wanted to sing and say, look at me, look at me, look at me, look at me, look at me. So for me, learning, writing it out, it literally seeing it and writing it. It goes into my body. I like to retain, I retain it better.

[00:12:45]Dane Reis: [00:12:45] Yeah. Yeah, for sure. And the fourth question, what is your best resource? Whether that is a book, a movie, a YouTube video, maybe a podcast or a piece of technology you’ve found is helping your career right now.

[00:13:02] Brandon O’Neal: [00:13:02] That’s a great question. I would say the first thing that came to mind is music. I could not believe my life without music. So for me, good music, being able to listen, to inspire yourself, to create whether it be dance, even singing with it for me is just. Hands down music. I could not imagine being in this pandemic without music.

[00:13:22]Dane Reis: [00:13:22] Fantastic. Are you a Spotify and Apple music person? What are you?

[00:13:25] Brandon O’Neal: [00:13:25] I’m actually all of them. I don’t know how and why I’m paying title and Apple and SoundCloud all my money, but I, I love music, so I am I’m on Spotify. My mom, all of them.

[00:13:36]Dane Reis: [00:13:36] Brilliant. And the fifth question, if you had to start your career from scratch, but you still had all the knowledge and experience you’ve collected from your career in this industry, what would you do or not do? Would you do anything differently or would you keep it the same?

[00:13:53]Brandon O’Neal: [00:13:53] Ooh, that’s a great question. I kind of kind of want to say both. I would say if I were the first thing I say, we’ll keep it the same, because I’ve had a lot of. Ups and downs in my career, but the downs made the ups so much more special. And I feel like that’s, who has defined me, who I am today, which is as made me who I am.

[00:14:13] And I feel so strongly in that person. And if I didn’t have those, those setbacks, what I have. Be the person I am today, you know, you know, so I, but then also I’m kind of like, I would have loved it if my mother could have put me in gymnastics at three, so I wouldn’t have to work on this. Yeah. You know, You know, I’ve always,always, always told my friends because one of my friends still make fun of me for.

[00:14:36]Uh, stretching. Cause like you don’t have to stress so much, but for me I’ve, I, wasn’t always a flexible dancer. So now that I am flexible, you know, it’s one of those things.  If you don’t use it, you lose it. And I believe that to be true. So , um, for me, I would, I would love to be rhythmic, like a rhythmic gymnast.

[00:14:50] That’d be kind of cool in another life, but yeah , I, I wouldn’t change a thing. I think being. Being who I am today with struggles and all I feel has made me the person I am, and it’s going to make me go forward.

[00:15:04]Dane Reis: [00:15:04] Beautiful. Love that answer. And the last question, what is the golden nugget knowledge drop you’ve learned from your successful career in this industry that you’d like to leave with our listeners?

[00:15:18] Brandon O’Neal: [00:15:18] Never be late.

[00:15:22] And I only say that because I’ve been that person to be late and it’s just, doesn’t feel good. One to get docked in, pay out, secondly, to get fired out and three, just to be as a bad taste in someone’s mouth. When they say your name, they’re not like, Oh my gosh. They’re like, Oh yeah, they’re always late.

[00:15:42] So I’ve been on both sides and it’s just now I’m the. The one people make fun of for being a goody two-shoes with being on time. But if no one’s ever waiting on you, then it’s a, it’s just a good look. And for me, with even being on set, I’ve learned when you get there early, you can see how things run. You can see how they set up the lighting, and then you become friends with that lighting guy.

[00:16:02] And it’s just, it’s just something, I would say that to all the young professionals and people who want to do this in this industry, that that’s one thing that. It will get you really far, because even if you get to like paramount pictures, your first time there you get there, your appointment’s at two, two, o’clock you get there at one 55.

[00:16:20] That is really late because say if you’re on lot seven and they give you a map, lot seven is a 45 minute walk. So just little things like that, just like   it’s okay. To be 30 minutes early. And I know people of course will say, Oh, is your suck up or are you too good?

[00:16:38] Trust me. It has helped me in my, in my career. People remember me and people also know that they can count on me if they know that you’re not late. So that is the number one. And it sounds so cliche and corny, but it trust me, it’s a good one.

[00:16:54]Dane Reis: [00:16:54] you know, you know, and that goes straight back to how we started this with your quote and it’s those simple little things, right. right. Simply just be on time, because you said it, you said you don’t want to  leave a bad taste or a sour taste in someone’s mouth. The next time they work with you. And what that really is saying is it’s all about relationships.

[00:17:11] It brings it back to that because that’s really how the success of a career develops is becoming known as a reliable go-to person. Not just someone who’s talented because. Once you get to your level, everyone’s talented, right? So  it’s about being on time, developing those relationships, being someone who has integrity.

[00:17:33] And that really speaks volumes, not only about yourself, but all about how you can create a career in this industry.

[00:17:42]Brandon O’Neal: [00:17:42] Yes, you are right.

[00:17:43]Dane Reis: [00:17:43] There we are.  And two. Wrap up this interview, Brandon, it is time to give yourself a plug. Where can we find you? How do our listeners connect with you? Is there anything you want to promote?

[00:17:57] Brandon O’Neal: [00:17:57] Yes, I would love to first and foremost. Thank you again for having me. My name is Brendan O’Neill. I am a triple threat from Knoxville, Tennessee. You can find me on Instagram at I am Brandon O’Neill. That is , I a M B R a N D O N O N O N E a L spelled like Shaquille O’Neal O N E a L. Yes. And I look forward to seeing you there.

[00:18:26] Dane Reis: [00:18:26] Brilliant. And for everyone listening out there, I’ve put the links to his Instagram, into. The description of this episode, so you can easily connect with him and also be sure to share this podcast with your fellow entertainers, coaches, teachers, arts, and entertainment educators, and anyone, you know, you know, aspiring to create a career in.

[00:18:49] This industry you booked. It is the number one resource of expertise on how to actually create a successful entertainment career. It is integral to helping them succeed in helping you create a better, more fulfilling career in this wild and crazy industry. If you enjoyed this episode, hit that subscribe button.

[00:19:08] So you don’t miss the next one. And Brandon, thank you so much for being here has been such a pleasure to speak with you. I’m so glad we got connected.

[00:19:17] Brandon O’Neal: [00:19:17] Oh my gosh. Thank you so much for having me and until next time. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

[00:19:22]