Brandon Black: Living My Life Authentically
Everything is made of energy. And we, as inexplicable life forces, use these energies within us to express ourselves and create worlds through all our physical faculties: mind, body, thoughts, and emotions. When we look around with a softer, not so active mind, we can sense the beauty we have taken part in co-creating. We are the creator, the act of creation itself, and the creation—encompassing it all one.
Artist Brandon Black, through his desire as an actor to embody characters that are fulfilling to him, summoned a lead role as Tim in Tyler Perry’s film A Madea Homecoming available on Netflix. Tim will be the first openly gay character to be included in the entire Madea franchise. In commenting on this new role, Brandon says, “People have been using the word “inspiring” multiple times, which feels so nice to feel that anything I’m doing is inspiring for someone else. I understand that playing Tim, the first ever African-American gay character in Tyler Perry’s A Madea Homecoming film, is a big deal. The process of embodying the essence of who Tim is was with the question to myself, ‘What does Tim want to be in the future?’ Tim is graduating college, which means that someone at that point in their lives on that day, is now thinking about who they’re going to be in the future. Tim is valedictorian. So he’s also addressing a class of his peers that also are in this place of, ‘What am I going to be in the future? Did I make the right decision? Is it gonna work out?’ I started there. And then things kind of just naturally bubble up and percolate from there. We all know what it’s like to be uncertain of your future. So you say, ‘Uncertainty, what does that bring?’ Honestly, walking myself through all those steps and questions does it all for me. Now I just need to rehearse walking through those steps. And the reason why you want to rehearse is because on the day when you’re going to shoot a particular scene, at that moment, there’s lights, people talking, and there’s Tyler directing cameras to swoop around and the sun’s going down, we have to hurry up, and so on. And then your ego kicks in, and you’re like, I have to kill this, I have to be this good. And I have to be that. So all of those things are trying to dampen your performance. And so you rehearse so that way you can have it in your body. Between those things, hopefully, comes a nice performance.”
When asked to describe his own energy Brandon muses, “I’m born on Halloween, which makes me a Scorpio. And the essence about who a Scorpio is, is very true for who I am. I’m very opinionated, warm, and slightly superstitious,” then Brandon smiles and continues, “I burned some sage before we got on this call to get my energy together. I am mischievous. I’m cool until you cross me and then I’m not cool, just like a Scorpio.”
As we navigate through life and observe the expansive variety that our beautiful world offers, there is always a moment of stimulation that brings comparison. But as soon as we have made our preference, there is no need to continue comparing, it’s time to move our focus in the direction of our preferences, therefore, creatively expressing ourselves with joy.
“Something that I continually have my own head up against all the time it’s basically art versus business. I love acting, I love being a part of a crew, I love my job in that whole environment. I love when things I didn’t expect to happen come through. Then there’s the business, which is competitive and full of measurements about how many followers, how many this and that… To be real with you, I took like a two-year break from social media entirely. I didn’t really come back to social media until I booked A Madea Homecoming movie. And it was because I was kind of having some foresight that I should probably start to get my mind back wrapped around this, because this is gonna be something I’m going to have to do a lot more of when the movie comes out. But I, for the longest time, fully rebuked any idea that I needed to measure up to these things. And so it is difficult, I think. You just have to keep reminding yourself, why are you here? Because it’s not for the “numbers” of followers. And then you can trace it back that they’re following me because of this movie I did. I did that movie, because I love acting. And I love the process of building a creative project together. That’s why I’m here. Because if you get stuck on the numbers, it sucks. That’s why I’m someone who hates thirsty energy. And so honestly, it’s great having a publicist or an agent, or both, because their job is to sell and they’re focused on making sure you do this, because then that will do that. And I’m glad to let that be someone else’s job. And then I will follow their instructions. But I don’t like to stay in that mindset. Because it bums me out after a while,” says Brandon.
When we soften our physical faculties, we get steady within ourselves. Then from that wider perspective we see beyond our physical differences—we recognize the light we all are and the common thread of our eternal connectedness.
Weola, the collective energy channeled by Kosta Trifunovic, says, “As you get to practice softening your thoughts, you are on the way to really grasp and fully experience the wider perspective. Everything you give your attention to is a reflection of you, back to you. The wider perspective embodied by you and everyone else in that perspective of Self while measuring, and comparing, and noticing, and observing, and choosing, and making decisions based on all that physical action. But in essence, One. The breath you take was someone else’s exhalation. Your exhalation becomes someone else’s inhalation, and so, everything is at all times interconnected.”
Brandon shares his own wider perspective by saying, “I think that just living my life authentically is already adding to that narrative of inclusiveness because I’m already different in multiple categories. But I’m still going to be living my life the way someone who’s of the majority would as well. And I think that that is what equality is—we are all on the same playing field, and we’re all made up of the same parts. And so even if the world doesn’t necessarily treat me that way, I’m going to act that way. And I’m going to continue to be shocked when you don’t act that way towards me. I think that is how I want to continue to push that forward is by being surprised why you don’t want to treat me like you treat your other friends who aren’t black or aren’t gay, or whatever. Because that’s strange, because I’m treating you the same way.”
For as long as we are physically focused, there will always be some kind of condition that we apply to the world around us. We can’t be fully unconditional and still make our preferences of likes and dislikes. But we can get close to the most unconditional state of being by consistently looking within and gaining new layers of awareness that we can apply to our existence – moving toward a transcendental unconditionality.
Brandon says, “Maybe it’s impossible to always be in that frame of total unconditional love mindset. But I think that if you’re always striving towards that, then you’re going to do better than not. And for me, the biggest thing that I’ve kept in the forefront of my brain is that I don’t have to understand, to accept. When I got that, that helped me a ton. I don’t need you to understand, I’d love to. But there’s things I don’t understand. There are things in the world, there are people in the world that I don’t understand. But I accept that they’re all people all made up of the same parts that I am. And so therefore, they deserve all the same things that I do. And so I’m going to call you what you want to be called. I want you to call me what I want. There’s a certain mutual respect for all living things that I think that we have to have. And that’s not even just humans, that’s, your pets, your plants, the entire planet. I think everything deserves a certain level of respect. And if you live that way, hopefully you receive that back as well, because again, you’re setting the expectation that this is how it is.”
One of the leading teachers in Law of Attraction, Abraham-Hicks stated, “That which is like unto itself is drawn.” Our habitual thoughts eventually become our beliefs. We emanate the energies that are a match to the energies we invite into our life experience. If we are afraid or worry, most likely we will experience that which we worry or are afraid about. When we are clear in our desire and release the resistance we often attach to it, we embark in the satisfying discovery to experience that desire in our physical realm.
Brandon expresses, “I really believe in manifesting the things that you want by saying them out loud and saying them often. Someone who taught me that and I talked about him often, although I don’t agree with a lot of his ways, but Kanye West is someone I’m a fan of. Although, it’s hard work being a Kanye West fan these days because he is continually challenging. But why even like him? Because he gave me an example of what it means to manifest all of your dreams, even when people think you’re crazy. It’s very rare for anyone to end up being a leader. In a movie, let alone a movie that people are going to see. So I already know that I’m making my dreams come true, because I said them in middle school. Right now, there’s starting to be a little bit of attention on my Instagram, because some of my friends from high school are messaging me as they posted on an alumni board that, ‘Brandon’s going to be in this movie, let’s show him some love.’ And it warmed my heart. It showed me something that I needed to see, which was all these people were like, ‘Dude, you said you were gonna do it, you said you were literally going to do this. And now you are.’ And so I think that saying it out loud and believing it—that’s the only way to make it actually happen. I think that’s how I put it into motion when I said, ‘I want to be an actor that is successful and is generally liked by most people.’ And then you can always get more specific from there like ‘I want to have an interview with Look Within Magazine one day,’ and then here we are. So I think that’s how you make it happen. It’s called the law of attraction.”
We can’t assert anything to anyone, but we certainly can inspire others. Inspiration comes from within—when we are steady in alignment with our wholeness. In that state, other people who are in the vicinity of that energetical dance will resonate with us.
Then Brandon continues reflecting on his character by saying, “I think that you’re seeing Tim in a positive light. And so you’re seeing a gay character in a positive light that is going to be seen around the world. So it feels great to know that something I want to see more of, I now had a part in making. I want to see more gay characters in a spectrum of stories, not just always, deep, dark, sad things. I think that Tim is anticipating that and you’ll have to watch and see what happens, but I think it works out better for Tim than his doomsday scenario. And it feels incredible as an actor to feel like my work is going to mean anything to anyone, because it means so much to me. And again, sometimes it feels so selfish to be at home trying to think of how you can be great. So for it to be anything to anyone, I’m playing pretend if that makes you feel something, and I was literally up there playing cops and robbers like we were when we were little kids and you felt something, then I won 10 times over,” Brandon pauses, smiles and candidly says, “While it is important to not make everything about the fact that he’s gay, it does change how I, as the actor, am going to look at Tim’s dad in the scene, when I’m coming out. Look at my best friend who’s straight and black. In the scene, when I’m coming out, look at my grandma, my great grandma. While it’s not everything it does inform how you move about the world in some ways. And I’m glad that we show that because I do want more scripts, to focus on the person, not every bit of their flashy thing and their identity like that they’re gay or whatever. But don’t let that mean that there, it can just not have any influence over the other characters over his life. Because what ends up happening when they have these characters that just happen to be gay, which is what we want, it ends up being their life floating in space. There’s no real grounded realism, because they’ve now either overcompensated by, ‘Oh, yeah, he’s gay.’ Or “He’s gay. Oh, my God.’ So something in the middle is what we want.”
There is a beautiful natural balance within the movement of the energies of the universe. When we look from a wider perspective, everything, including our cells, self-generates; the planet Earth spins constantly, the sun and the moon cooperate between themselves in the most harmonic way, gravity works whether we think about or not, and our whole physical vessel is functioning as the most advanced technology that has ever been designed. We can freely walk through our existence knowing that this movement is equally happening for all of us, while celebrating our unique physical vantage point.
“I will say playing Tim definitely made me have to think about how I talk about sexuality a little bit more. Because it is not something that I think about all day, every day. But it is something I’ve been talking about a lot recently, because of the coverage of Tim’s character in the press, which I love. So it’s kind of helped me just boil down how I really feel a bit more concisely, which is that it’s kind of what I told you at the beginning of this, which is that just walking around in the world, as the person that you are fully not apologizing or shrinking yourself down for anything—is an act of protest and is an actionable form of pushing things forward. So just by being my full self, I’m doing so much and I think that I kind of grew to appreciate that differently, while and after playing Tim, because that’s what Tim is doing,” says Brandon.
Empathy is the starting point for us to sense what other people are feeling. And when we do so, we can also turn empathy to compassion and, like Jesus, see others in their fullest expression of well-being. Brandon shares that, “Whatever the main ingredient an actor needs to possess is empathy, being able to see yourself in someone else’s shoes, and try on that perspective. We’re all naturally able to do it, it’s humanity. It’s not fully selfless. If you said that your cat died, I would be like, ‘Oh my god, I’m so sorry that your cat died.’ But then my brain would imagine what that would mean for me if my cat or dog died. So it’s not fully selfless, but you do then go and give that person a hug.”
Love is who we are. We can’t learn to love, but we can recognize the love that we naturally embody and continually infinitely expand. Brandon says that, “Love and family are the cornerstones of what A Madea Homecoming movie is about. This movie has a lot of laughs, it’s super silly, but that is to sneak some medicine through like when I give my dog a pill, I wrap it in a piece of ham. And so there’s lots of ham here. But there’s some medicine in there. And it is about acceptance. It’s about love. It’s about sticking together as a family. And you’ll see that at the end of that speech that Tim does, you’ll see that it kind of wraps up the whole movie in that way where he also now has to realize that if he is going to demand acceptance and respect, he also has to give it in this moment that doesn’t feel good. It might not always feel good, but it’s the greater good and I think that’s what the movie will leave you with at the end.”
Having an interest in other people and sincerely caring about our different perspectives will only enrich and add new layers of awareness.
“I’m very good with people. I know that about myself. I have a genuine interest in people, I’m curious as to what their lives are like, what they believe, what they don’t believe. I like that about me. And that is something also that I would like to see more of in others. Not everyone is like that. And I have to respect it. But if you were just a little bit curious about someone else, it would also get you off of yourself. So whatever social anxiety you’re feeling, might kind of dissipate a little bit if you’re like, ‘Well, what about you, tell me about you,’ and then you can go from there. I think if more people got a little bit off of themselves and how they’re feeling and just asked a question, it would help,” concludes Brandon.
There is nothing more satisfying than to celebrate who we are and our eternal process of becoming. Are you celebrating yourself enough? Regardless of the answer, it is always a good idea to acknowledge what you love the most in yourself and what you love seeing in others.
Photography // JSquared