FYIG recently had the chance to chat with actor Brian King about his career. Find out more about Brian’s role as Detective Bill Wallace on The Chi, his role in the upcoming film Widows and much more right here!
Tell us a little bit about yourself before we dive into your acting career.
Well…I was born and raised in Chicago. I have two amazing supportive, funny, hard-working parents. I also won the sibling lottery because I have an awesome brother and sister. I played sports growing up and into high school. Then studied everything from art to acting to writing in college. After college, I got a job writing in advertising which I did while I pursued my acting career for a while. Lucky for me, the acting won out and I was able to quit my job writing commercials back in 2010.
How did you get your start as an actor? Was it always something you were looking to pursue or did it come together over time?
I think going all the way back to being a young kid I always knew I wanted to be an actor or be a part of movies and TV shows. My parents were very much into that stuff, SNL, Johnny Carson, David Lettermen and would kind of share what those things were with me as a kid, even though I couldn’t stay up that late haha…but then I played basketball as a kid and truly wanted to be in the NBA for years…hahaha…which later on I found out was never ever going to happen. But then I slowly did things out of my comfort zone like doing a talent show in high school, wrote little sketches, stuff like that. Then college comes and you want to do nothing but drink beer and smoke cigarettes haha…but acting was something in the back of my mind always speaking to me as something I should pursue or at least try. Then I decided to study it in college for a year. Then I went over to Second City in Chicago and just asked them for any job they would give me and I ended up working in their box office and just watched as many shows as I possibly could to learn. Eventually, I got the nerve to shoot some stuff I wrote a couple years later with some friends as I was in advertising and one thing led to another and next thing I knew I was getting headshots, meeting with agents and auditioning. It’s something that was a slow build from my late teenage years into my mid-20s.
Talk about your role as Detective Bill Wallace in The Chi.
Well, there are two detectives on our show, Detective Cruz played by the awesome Armando Riesco and myself. Cruz is more caring, invested, leads with his heart and my character Wallace is the other side of that coin, he is more aggressive, angry and doesn’t do things by the book. They bump heads from the very beginning and do not see eye-to-eye.
What drew you to The Chi to make you want to take on the role?
I was only able to take on the role because I was unbelievably fortunate to have the opportunity to audition for it…haha…but being able to do a Showtime show created by Lena Waithe, produced by Common and Elwood Reid and to be a part of a cast as amazing as ours and to tell important stories about the southside of Chicago that need to be told is a dream come true. For real. I still can’t believe I get to be part of this haha…
You’ve done a lot of work on commercials appearing in over 40 during your career. What similarities and differences are there between filming a movie and filming a commercial?
Hmm…well you have 30 seconds in a commercial versus an hour to two hours to tell your story in a movie, so you don’t really get the luxury of diving deep into moments as an actor like you would in a film. It’s a different kind of beast to tackle. You have a product to sell, no matter what the story you’re telling in that 30 seconds it all goes back to that. In a movie, you also have a story to tell, but you get to explore that at a different more human pace depending on what story the writer and director are trying to tell. It’s like eating M&Ms…Doing a commercial is like getting to eat and enjoy just one single M&M, and a movie is like be able to eat a whole bag of M&Ms. Ha…I hope that makes sense.
Do you have a favorite commercial that you’ve worked on?
They’ve all been fun in some way and I’ve learned something from all of them. Maybe this KFC Pot Pie commercial I did a few years ago, only because I got to improvise the whole spot and it was shot on an iPhone before everyone was doing stuff like that.
You play the role of Sergeant McArdle in the upcoming film Widows. What can you tell us about this film and your role?
This film is going to be awesome! It’s directed by the amazing Steve McQueen. If you’ve seen the cast it’s insane…Viola Davis, Liam Neeson, Colin Ferrell, the list goes on and on. I have a small part amongst all these amazing peeps. I play a detective, who with my partner, has been trying to chase down this team of guys led by Liam Neeson who are pulling heists.
What projects do you have coming up next?
Next month I work on this great independent film currently called “Seneca” for a couple of days. And I have been doing a lot of voiceover work as well.
Do you have any dream roles?
Hmm…the little kid inside of me wants me to say I would love to be in one of those Marvel movies in any capacity. But honestly, any time I get paid to act I’m fulfilling my dream, so they’re all kind of dream roles in a way.
What advice would you have for aspiring actors?
Never stop working, be grateful for every opportunity, and be nice to everyone along the way. Work harder when no one is looking and get out of your comfort zone. Learn from every experience in your life and in your career. Take something away from it all, remember the good things to build that confidence you’ll need and learn from the not-so-great things to get better. This business is crazy and will drive you nuts because so much of it is out of your control…but if you control the things you can, which is how hard you work, you’ll go a little less crazy. And please remember to have fun!
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