Mega-talented Actor, Producer, Writer, Barry Bradford talks with Samera Entertainment and the Chloe Chronicles about his new television series The Tramp
Written by Chloe Brown ~ Chloe's Chronicles
Q: Barry, you have been acting since the 90s, what was it that first drew you into the world of entertainment and how has this industry and profession changed since then in your opinion?
A: I am one of the fortunate ones, I have known that I wanted to be in the Entertainment Industry as an actor since I was very young! It was either that or I wanted to be a professional athlete, both careers that have to do media exposure and performing to a certain extent.
The biggest change I’ve seen in this industry since beginning in the ‘90s is the digital age! Most submissions now are electronic and social media-driven which gives us as performers so much more of an opportunity to connect and submit within the Industry! In the ‘90s it was a lot more of stapled headshot and resume piles and hustling to get them out. To an extent, it still is like that now but also due to the societal shifts due to social media and following actors, producers, writers, etc.... face a whole different self-marketing type of world, one where now you can get hired based on the amount of Instagram and Twitter followers! So, in that regard, I think it has changed a lot.
Barry Bradford reflecting on his career thus far, the Homelessness problem today, and what’s coming next for him in the world of Entertainment.
Q: You wrote and starred in your own short film entitled, When the 4 O’Clock Bell Rings, what inspired you to tackle the topic of the current education system? How was that experience from both an actor and writer perspective?
A: Having been a substitute teacher in NYC and having family and friends teaching in the Inner City is what really compelled me to do this project! I wanted to depict the enormous challenges that both teachers and students face! As an Actor, with real-life teaching experience, it allowed me to pull from a raw and real place that I could infuse within my performance! That being said, it has always been my intention to create the most honest and compelling depiction of the education system and have decided to do that I will be adding another scene before releasing the film!
Q: You star in the upcoming TV Series, The Tramp, where you play a homeless man named Jon Light, how did you prepare for this role and how important was it for you to respectfully and truthfully portray a homeless character?
A: In preparation to play Jon Light, I actually spent a few nights on the streets of New York City to prep for the role. I wanted to experience what that would be like for him before making my decision as an actor on how to portray it on the screen! To me, I would say this is my most important role to date! Homelessness is a major problem in today’s day and age, and a cause and concern of mine, I am involved with outside of my acting career! In my own time, I have done some volunteer work at a few shelters! I just believe there are so many factors regarding Homelessness that oftentimes people overlook or don't realize. Such as mental illness, unemployment or being simply one paycheck away, or spikes in rent and living costs, among so many others. I believe we should all take on the challenge to eradicate society’s current homelessness epidemic! This relates to my character on The Tramp because I wanted to let the audience see that anyone can become homeless. My character had a wife and family and lost it all! So, it was very important for me to play him with the utmost respect and dignity!
Q: The show, The Tramp is a mockumentary comedy about a struggling television personality, as an actor what attracted you to the script for this show? How was working with Steve Quistgaard and Brian Hooker on set?
A. I think what attracted me to this show was the challenge of playing a homeless character. As an actor, you always crave roles that can showcase your range and push you farther than before and I saw this as a perfect opportunity to display that. The way I see it, God has blessed me with this passion and ability to tell all these different character’s stories and it feels like my duty to use that gift! I wanted to show the Industry and viewers at home that I can play a Detective, or a Lawyer or a Doctor just as well as I could play a Homeless Man! So, it has been a wonderful experience to work with Brian and Steve! I am so thankful for the opportunity they gave me to bring John to life and the trust they put in me as an Actor to really have that freedom to explore and create him in collaboration with them. I look forward to being on set with them again soon!
Q: The Tramp recently just won for Best TV Actor (John O’Hurley) and Best NY TV Pilot (Comedy) at the New York TV Festival. First off, congratulations! How does it feel that the show is getting such attention before it has even officially aired, and why do you think it's important or a good time for a show like this to be coming out?
A: Thanks for the very kind words! It’s a good time for a show like this to remind us all about having humility and compassion, I think we as a nation could all use some of that! This show demonstrates that regardless of your demographic you can have it all and lose it all! And that’s true… that’s life. It challenges us to think “What would I do if I were Homeless? Could I survive?” Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes is quite humbling! So, ultimately I think the themes of The Tramp will appeal to everyone in this way.
Q: Barry, you have worked on a number of prominent sets including Law and Order: Criminal Intent and Safe, what has been the biggest takeaway or most influential thing you learned in service to your acting and writing from those experiences? How has that influenced your approach to work and characters?
A: The biggest takeaway I have learned is PREPARATION!! I have been fortunate enough to be on screen with Academy Award winners Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner and be directed by Academy Award winners like Spike Lee, Kathy Bates and Sídney Lumet and my intense preparation took all the nerves away from me no matter who was in front of me! When I’m on set, I know that I know what I’m doing because of that, I actually know everyone’s lines that I am in the scene with! It’s professionalism to them, and it’s a showing of respect and peace of mind for you (The Actor). It has always been and will always be my approach, whether I’m on screen with Meryl Streep, Al Pacino or you. I respect my craft, and I respect yours! I stay prepared!
Q: Whom would you say is an actor or entertainer who has inspired you and your career and why?
A: For me, the most influential Actor has been my Acting Idol THE GREAT Steve McQueen! His greatness as an Actor has never ceased to inspire or amaze me. He just had an intensity about him, and great looks to match but most importantly he wasn’t afraid to take a small role! He had a wonderful theory that I wholeheartedly believe that said, ”It’s not how big your role is or how many lines you have, it’s what you do when you are on the screen that counts!”
Those are the words of a mesmerizing presence on the Big Screen! I love it, I study him, and I hope to invoke the same passion and sentiment to others.
Q: Do you have any other projects in the works right now, and if so, can you tease fans with any information about what’s next for you?
A: Yes! I have some incredible projects in the works with my Production Company, Keep It Real Productions, that I am very excited about. THE BIZ is a TV series that I am working on that is both a realistic gritty drama but also a very comedic show that will be based on poignant and honest true stories about the ambitions, frustrations, and struggles of “real” life Artists weaving their way through many new-age obstacles! All I can is say is I think it is going to be “Can't-Miss TV!”
Q: As a seasoned actor, producer, and writer what advice would you give to a young entertainer entering the industry from your over twenty years of experience?
A: The best advice I could give any entertainer is to work on your craft in some fashion six days a week, whether that be studying, taking classes, working out, etc… just something to always keep you stimulated and creative and evolving. I believe everyone needs a Sabbath or a day off to do whatever you want! But be well prepared and a sponge for knowledge!
Don’t let anyone outwork you! As performers, there are a lot of aspects of this field we don't necessarily control, but we do control our effort!!
Q: Barry, besides Jon Light what kind of character, role, or film genre would you most like to try and portray next?
A. I would like to portray an autobiographical account of the Great Abstract Harlem artist Norman Lewis! I am targeting a few real-life stories to bring to the screen to get my Oscar! The rest of the stories are a secret!
Q: And finally… Why should people tune into The Tramp?
A: Because The Tramp is funny, sad, tackles the perils of Homelessness and is well-written!
We can witness this problem as soon as we walk outside! And hopefully this show while definitely comedic will also help change social stigmas and perceptions. Besides that, we also have an INCREDIBLE cast led by the Stellar O’Hurley that WILL lead to a lot more work for all the cast! I think John could win a Golden Globe for his Chip Turner portrayal!
Finally, the lesson from Chip and John is worth tuning in for right there! This is a can't miss Hit!
* Remember, make sure to keep up with all things entertainment and Indie Films by checking out https://www.sameraentertainment.com/ and signing up for the Samera Entertainment Newsletter! And if you want to keep up with Barry Bradford, head to http://keepitrealproductions.com/.