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Meet Shane Brady

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shane Brady.

Shane, before we jump into specific questions about your work, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Briefly walk you through my story… Oh man… That’s like asking Gordon Ramsey to briefly go over his Menu… In the name of being a clever writer, I’ll formulate this in a “BUT” and “THEREFORE” structure.

I think a smart place to start my story is when I was 14. It was September 15th, 2001. Four days after the big 9-11. I was a pretty kick-ass ice hockey player at that point playing for the JV Lightning when I more or less was attacked at the end of the game. I was on a breakaway (fancy hockey talk meaning just me skating VERY fast towards the goalie with no defenders in between us) when the final horn sounded, ending the game. So I let my guard down a bit because the game had just ended, but I still had all of this speed and momentum. A dude on the other team came from behind and took out my left skate, knocking me off balance, and he threw me into the boards headfirst. I never saw him. I was knocked out when my head hit the glass, then my head hit the ice again when I came down.

Long story short, I broke my neck in four places and had to be home schooled my entire freshman year of high school. I had an extreme post-concussion illness, vertigo, and underwent extensive rehab to walk properly without falling over. It sucked.

One of the only things I could do lying flat on my back was play guitar, so I got really good at it. Then I joined the high school talent show my Sophomore year and it was so infectious to be on stage – I had never felt happiness like that before. Just feeling like I belonged.

Then the stupidest thing happened – I saw “Seussical the Musical” at a high school theatre competition and cried my eyes out during the whole performance. I was hooked. For whatever reason it just spoke to me and I knew this is what I had to do with my life.

So I went to FSU to study theatre and magically got to spend a semester in London where I become really proficient in Shakespeare. I had success playing lead roles in a lot of FSU productions, which was rare for a BA Theatre kid to pull off.

I moved to Chicago and spent two years there performing as lead roles in seven productions – but I was broke as hell. Serving tables and making sometimes $12 a lunch shift, then, for example, having to go play Le Bret in Cyrano and have seven sword fights, my right foot had plantar fasciitis so bad I literally couldn’t walk without dunking my entire leg from the calf down into a bucket of ice water 4 times a show.

I was sick of LITERALLY living off ramen and having to steal food from the restaurant I worked at. So I spent my last few months truly saving every additional dime I could and moved to LA.

One of my best friends growing up is Aaron Moorhead, so I crashed on his couch when I first got here. I had about $6,500 to my name when I moved here in January 2012. I was own to $400 after my first two months because I needed to buy into SAG, get a car, first and last month’s rent, headshots…

BUT, luckily, since I play hockey, guitar, and am an expert up-close sleight of hand card magician, I was able to snag some non-union commercials that helped buffer my pocketbook and get me on my feet.

My seven years here has been like a heart monitor.

If you imagine a heart monitor has these high mountain peaks, then it goes PLUMMETING down to the bottom, below the halfway line, then it kind of teeters up and down hovering near the middle, leveling out for a bit before going back to that high mountain peak… down to the bottom… leveling out… You get the idea.

One year? Things will be going great, I’ll be making money, vacationing, have fun representation that gets me out, and then — WHAP — Like a freaking drought when a farmer has known nothing but rain, EVERYTHING goes to shit. The wheels absolutely fall off and you cry in the corner of your room wondering why you put yourself through this shit, why you moved from your family and loved ones to a small ass apartment in the middle of Noho because you have this disease of wanting to be more in this world than just a plumber. (No offense to plumbers, but I think even plumbers understand the metaphor)

I’ve had anxiety, baaaaaaaaAAAAAaaaaaaad anxiety for a very long time now.

Without turning this into a therapy session, just know that I’m leaving out a solid 90% chunk of my personal life in this story that would have turned other people into mush.

You can either let your narrative define you, or you can rise above it. And I rise.

I’ve also had three major wrist surgeries in my time out here in LA.

So things are going good? You have a bit of money saved up? Maybe move into a nicer place? Get a car that actually has A/C and a working transmission and you can’t unlock it with literally ANY key?

BOOM! Wrist surgery! That’ll be $3,750 dollars please, deductibles are fun, aren’t they? Also, thanks for the $212 a month you give us on top of that. Also, now you can’t play hockey or guitar or perform magic or really do anything functionally for the next 6 months. So your reps drop you and blahblahblah.

 

How I got here today, to where I am right now (which, truth be told, I still feel like I’ve only just BEGUN to find the success I thought I’d have by year two out here in LA), is mostly thanks to a guy named John D’Aquino.

I met John at FSU, he is an alumn. And I reached out to him when I first moved here and he gave me a job helping organize his office and periodically help teach his youth acting classes. Fast forward to now, and I do private coachings and self-tapes ALLLLLL THE TIME, teach a few classes, and every summer I get to write and direct short films. It’s an incredibly fulfilling part-time job out here, I’m able to go to all of my auditions, and I’ve never had to serve tables or bartend out here in LA. I’m truly lucky.

Also, major major insane thanks go to Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson. Now, look, Aaron and I have been dear friends since we were 15 and needed out over theatre and Star Wars together. There’s a Star Wars fan film we made in high school that’s the definition of awful, but we were figuring out how to make movies. Luckily, Aaron and Justin are both PROFOUNDLY good at what they do, and they’ve now made 4 features over the last 7 years and they like to put me in their movies. So that’s been another stream of steady work and time on set. We got to go to Italy for a month, and on days I wasn’t filming, I was helping out as PA. It was magic. I owe them so much because their films are becoming more and more high profile, which means anything that’s good that happens to them, indirectly may happen to me. Now that being said, they know full well that I don’t EXPECT anything, and if they do a movie that I am not a part of, so be it. It’s literally not an issue. Truly. it’s never gotten in between our friendship, and that’s important.

So yeah, 2019 has been great because I’ve found some success with the projects I’ve booked, but it’s not like the anxiety ever goes away. I’m always looking for that NEXT gig, and even as I type this, I’ve only had 2 auditions in the last six months. It’s a hard game out here folks… If you’re not supplementing your time by creating stuff for yourself, you’re going to die out here. You need hobbies other than acting also, you need supportive groups of friends. Stop getting drunk and stoned all the time and eating crap food. I love the people who are lazy because it’s one less talented person I need to worry about while I stay up late editing or wake up early to hit the gym.

And sometimes through all this crap, through the highs and lows, you get to say that for a few fleeting moments, in all of the auditions where hundreds of people give it their best, that you somehow made it out on top. That you got to share the screen with Robin Williams, and that you get to play a fun role in Doctor Sleep, the sequel to The Shining. If my Grandpa was still alive, he would have absolutely lost his mind knowing that I get to be a grain of sand in the beach that is the Stephen King cinematic universe. And maybe that alone is worth a decade of grinding and tears.

Please tell us more about your work. What do you do? What do you specialize in? What sets you apart from competition?
Well, my business is that of a professional actor. But I truly believe that being an actor means knowing ALL aspects of the set.

So, therefore, I try to be like Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant.

So I taught myself how to write, edit, tinker with some after-effects special effects, and how to direct.

I never want to be someone in a room who doesn’t know what’s going on. Or why the lights are being put in that corner. Or why it’s taking 45 minutes to set up a camera in a turnaround.

And my time as a magician has helped me learn how to lead an audience in one direction, then pull the rug out from under them when they least expect it.

There also, truly, I’m not just typing this, have been times that I’ve taken a huge step back from acting.

It’s too difficult.

You’re too beholden to some assistant at some agency clicking a button with a one-paragraph blurb hoping to get you an audition. It’s demoralizing. It’s infuriating.

So, again, you can become a victim of your narrative or you can rise above it.

So instead of whining and complaining and twiddling your thumbs, go read a damn book and buy premiere pro and learn how to edit your own damn demo reel.

I spent one summer WAITING for someone to edit my demo reel. It was 4 months of me WAITING, and politely e-mailing like “Hey dude, totally no rush, haha, right? Like, I get it. AGH! We’re both SO busy, right? But can I have that demo reel that I paid you money to finish?!”

Then I spent one afternoon looking up youtube tutorials on how to rip footage and build a timeline and add text and my demo reel was done in one night. I could have done that four months ago that summer and had a demo reel that whole summer – which – in theory – would have helped me get the auditions I wasn’t getting.

So the thing that sets me apart from others? Is I don’t wait. I step out of line. I make waves. And yeah, sometimes I make too big of a splash and my reps drop me because I’m annoying. That’s fine. It’s like a breakup, go find another person who is even better.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I got to work with Robin Williams.

I was on his show THE CRAZY ONES, and it was an insane learning experience. I auditioned for a part that had 0 lines. Which, they needed a callback for? I dunno…

So I book this role with 0 lines, and in the callback they had us improv some stuff, so then I get a call saying that I now have an entire scene with Josh Groban and that I need to learn how to play the lead guitar for his song and we will be filming a music video sequence also.

SWEET!

And I got bumped to guest star now!

EVEN MORE SWEET!

Then! Onset, they threw me a quick one-liner scene where Robin Williams asked me where Josh Groban’s character went, and I told him that he was in the bathroom crying.

My mom happened to be in town that week that I filmed, so she got to go on set pretending to be my manager because I didn’t have one at the time, and it was this insanely rewarding experience to share with her.

Then the episode comes out and they cut literally almost everything that I was in and my scene that had like 12 lines with Josh Groban got cut to one line, and that music video got cut to like a 45 second clip that was basically all Josh Groban in closeup and me in the waaaaaaaaaaaaay far back corner kind of playing guitar but I could have just as easily been a dude who was just pretending to play.

So that’s when I learned a huge lesson in Hollywood. If you’re not the star? If you’re not Robin Williams or Josh Groban? You’re probably getting cut. You’re lucky if you aren’t.

But no one can take away from me that I ate watermelon with Robin Williams at craft services and the two of us talked about the ending of Breaking Bad for 20 minutes. He was my hero and for a fleeting moment, we were just two dudes talking about our shared love of acting.

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Image Credit:
Thomas R. Martin took the photos that look like professional headshots

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