I had a typical suburban childhood in Canada. I grew up in a middle class neighborhood in Burlington, Ontario (45 minutes from Toronto) with a father (auto industry), a mother (teacher), sister (older), and brother (older still). So yes, I’m the youngest. And bestest. And the favorite. And maybe slightly more spoiled, ha!
I was a grade A kid in Elementary school and a model student. When grade 6 came along, I started to get a little more rebellious but still kept up my grades. At age 11, I decided to audition for my first play ever, The Wiz. I was cast as both Uncle Henry and a munchkin (even though I was always the tallest in my class!). I loved the experience so much that I told my mom I wanted to be an actor. Coming from a family with zero experience in the arts, we turned to the newspaper and I came across an audition for Oliver at a professional theatre. The open call audition said that you must bring your own music and be prepared to follow choreography.
Soooo I showed up in jeans and t-shirt to a room full of ‘professionals’ wearing spandex, stretching and doing vocal exercises. If that wasn’t enough, get ready for this… My name was called, so in I walked in with my music: a cassette tape from the motion picture My Girl. My mom and I were too ‘green’ to realize that ‘bring your own music’ meant ‘sheet music’. They were still very accommodating and scrounged around looking for a cassette player, to which they had none. So instead they had me sing O Canada. At the end of that fiasco, I was so embarrassed yet stuck around for the dancing. Luckily I was able to keep up with the dancing and was offered a role! I was super excited that for this 4 week run at a huge theatre where I was going to be paid $100 total, haha. That experience changed my world and I continued to audition and book every audition I went out for.
The next year I booked a role at that same theatre and was paid $200, double rich! It wasn’t until after college that I switched over to film/tv. Between 11 and 19 I performed in more than 25 plays and musicals both in Canada and even Japan!
I’m proud to say that most of my childhood friends are still my closest today including Brad, Nattalie, Julie, Jordan and my friend Erin, who has been my friend since birth! In high school our weekly Friday evenings revolved around going to McDonalds, eating, being loud and obnoxious, walking to the strip mall and buying candies from the Bulk Barn and renting a VHS from Jumbo Video. We’d then go to Nattalie’s house and listen to Alanis Morissette and goof off. We were super duper cool.
Growing up my favorite shows were Family Matters, Family Ties, Full House – basically family shows haha. And if you’re Canadian, you also watched The Racoons! I’d always rush home from swimming lessons to catch that show. My favorite film was Willy Wonka and I do recall watching Popples repeatedly! I loved playing baseball and was a great third baseman until high school when I decided to trade in my bat and glove for a job.
As far as jobs went, I was always motivated to succeed. I first would babysit. Then I created flyers to both cut my neighbors lawns and also rent out my collection of VHS tapes. I was such a nerd, but a businessman who was determined to save money for college (at 12 years old!). My first job was a paper boy. I got paid ½ a cent for each paper I delivered plus 1 cent for each flyer that I had to stuff inside each.
I later ran my high schools store and sold clothing on consignment. My real job started at 15 when I worked at McDonalds. By 16, I was a shift supervisor and stayed on until I was 18.
Outside of ‘work’, I was very active in my community. I was struggling with my sexuality in high school, so I filled my time with activities and also acted out a bit in class resulting in my grades slipping in grade 10 (I graduated with a 70 average in the end). I was the chairman of the Mayor’s committee and two others, I wrote and directed plays at my school, I was a ‘big brother’ to a young child, volunteered at an Alzheimer’s retirement home and was even named “Junior Citizen of the Year” by my city when I was 18.
My volunteer work also helped me get numerous small scholarships to College where I studies Theatre Performance. Going to college was the best thing for me because it pushed me to move out on my own and truly figure out who Brian really was. Only months later did I come out to my parents. I was very lucky to have them be so open minded as they had zero experience with the subject before (nor did I really). In fact all of my family and friends were super supportive. I remember emailing my aunts and uncles to tell them and was astonished with their beautiful responses.
I’ve never followed anyone else’s path but my own and have always taken chances with everything in life. I live by the ‘you only live once’ and, ‘you only succeed if you try’ approach. Not every choice I make is the right one, but darnit it IS the right one! You learn and you grow from each and every mistake and experience. And we are also shaped by our family and our upbringing. Imagine if I didn’t have supportive parents when it came to acting. Then none of my biggest successes in life would have come to fruition. I wouldn’t have acted, I wouldn’t have moved to Toronto or LA, I wouldn’t have met Marco and I definitely wouldn’t have had a YouTube channel or be writing this blog as I’m flying off to another Casino event to greet hundreds of people!
So ya, I had a great childhood which led me to where I am now. I wouldn’t have got here without the love and support of others. That is why I always do my best to be supportive to others out there who may not have had it as easy as I did growing up. When I started my YouTube Channel, I had no one reach out with help or assistance and was rather treated poorly for even existing. Because of that, I’m very open and willing to help any new and upcoming channel – as long as they’re willing to put in the work and not just expect me to promote them and voila – become famous. It doesn’t work that way. I’ve been asked numerous times by channels to promote them and offered money in compensation. I always decline and instead tell them to show me they’re putting in the efforts and then I’d gladly shoot a video with them for free, using my own money.
Childhood + Drive + Lots of Work + Many Failures = Success
And you know what, it still may not bring you success. At age 18 I came to the realization that I may end up being a bartender for the rest of my life in order to support my acting career, and that was ok. As long as I was following my passion – nothing else mattered. At a young age I watched an interview with the late George Burns who said something along the lines of “I’d rather be a failure at something I love, than a success at something I don’t”. I’ve always lived by those words.
Line it up!