Comedians have a gift that not everyone has, and that is to make people laugh. Laughter is contagious and is good for one’s soul. Some mask their real-life dealings with comedy and some use it as mere comedic relief. Actor and comedian London Brown has been through life and is still persevering through the roughest times. He chooses to use his pain to fuel the fire for his work. Growing up in South Central, LA, Brown grew up with a strong mother and truthful stepfather. Losing his brother years back has been the hardest challenge to date. Fighting to protect them from the streets, his brother’s life was taken to those very same streets. Through it all, London has always had his art and is focused to get there, although he’s reached Ballers status already.
For those who don’t know, tell us about London Brown.
I was born and raised in South Central, Los Angeles, at one point the gang capital of the world. Raised by a God-fearing mother and an honest stepfather, to say the least. Being the oldest sibling of 6, I felt the pressure of being responsible early on. With all that I was able to instill in them about navigating through life, it still wasn’t enough to save my brother. My brother was murdered the fall of 2015, just before filming season 2 of Ballers, which presented quite an interesting dynamic for me. Career-wise, things had picked up in a major way, yet I’m dealing with a heartache of losing my brother from the streets I had worked so diligently to protect us from. As difficult as this is to deal with, I use this unfortunate circumstance to drive my focus for daily progression.
You’ve accomplished a lot and made quite a name for yourself, coming from some legendary stages in LA. Have you been surprised at any of your accomplishments so far? When was that moment that you realized your success?
Not to sound haughty but I’m not surprised by any means because this is exactly what I set out to do. The moves that have lead me here have been quite methodical for the most part. Just about every job I’ve ever had allowed me to exercise being an artist. I’m not quite where I want to be just yet, as far as my career. However, simply not having a “day job” and being able to live off of my art was a milestone.
One of your recent tweets:
“Understand the game, but dont ever feel like u gotta kiss up or put anyone dwn to get to ur nx move. Cuz its not solid.. if u do, ur foundation will b effete. N a waste of time. Wen ur slept on, jus use that time to polish the gift so that wen the…”
What were your thoughts when you posted this and how do you remain humble and your feet to the ground?
As a stand-up comedian, artist in general, this career choice can land you at the feet of politics. It’s not quite how funny or talented you are that gets you booked but rather outside ideas, such as being easy to work with, professionalism, or are you currently working elsewhere? The town is full of talented people. I find that I’ve been able to work through building solid relationships along the way. It can be quite difficult to perform on these popular stages unless someone can vouch for you, but finding peers to vouch for you only works if they are secure with how their career moves are going. So, when I sent this post, attached to it are a few clubs I work regularly in LA. However, it wasn’t always this way. I have friends who perform at these clubs and they were able to work me in the mix on not only the urban nights but throughout the week. While the politics of these clubs were going on, I’ve always told myself that I would not kiss up to any club owner or promoter to perform in their venues. I know my worth. My thought process was to work on my craft so that when they called, which I knew they would because of the work I’ve been putting in, I would be ready to show why they should’ve called me much sooner.
Has it been much of a transition from comedic stages to in front of the camera?
I come from theatre. So, the biggest transition was learning how to adjust from the stage to playing for the camera. In theatre, everything is played bigger. This way we reach audience members in the distance. On camera, we can play the moments smaller because the camera catches the intimate subtitles we give. Theatre has been my foundation for most of my artistic abilities. It created my stage presence overall, which is prominent when I do stand up.
Tell us about your character on Ballers.
Fat Reggie, in the first season of Ballers, was kind of trifling. He was young-minded in his reckless behavior at times. However, always willing to protect his best friend and cousin, Vernon Littlefield. As the season’s progress, we have been able to witness Reggie becoming more savvy on the business side of things, taking on more responsibilities as he matures.
What can we expect this season from Reggie and from the show?
Reggie is more involved on the business side of Vernon’s career. He’s stepping up and having a real voice. He still puts his foot down from time to time to look out for the best interest of his friend.
When there is so much hatred in America, and towards our men and young boys in society, why is it important to use your platform or comedic voice to help provoke change?
I definitely use my platform to raise awareness and discussions on topics that I feel should be addressed, like racism. I realize that there are a lot of people who honestly believe that in America we all have the same opportunities to become successful, and that is factually false. I’m doing fairly okay with my career but this doesn’t mean that racism and inequality have now been obliterated. A popular statement I’m always addressed with as far as the progression of our society is, “We had our first black president. Racism is getting better”. There’s no such thing as “racism is getting better”. It is either present or not and until it’s not, we have work to do to make our society better.
What else are you up to and what do you have coming up besides the new season of Ballers starting August 12th?
Right now I’m still auditioning and working towards the next project. Ballers is GREAT, but I don’t rest in it, always working towards the following move. I’m also touring the country working these comedy clubs with my friend and feature Brandon Lewis from Atlanta (ADD-All Def Digital); just building my brand. In addition to this, working on a book of my photography. Most importantly, giving back and working in the community, feeding the homeless and speaking to youth.
Any advice for those who come after you and desire the path you’ve taken, whether it be comedy, acting, or both?
Discover what your gift is and your life will change. You do this by asking yourself, “what is it that you do really well with the least amount of effort?” Once you are connected to that, every day you must do something grandiose or micro that puts you closer to where you want to be. Personally, I keep God first and remain extremely focused.
Check out the trailer for the new season of HBO’s hit show Ballers below. Make sure to follow London Brown on Instagram.
Season 4 of Ballers airs Sunday, August 12 at 10:30 pm EST on HBO.