GETTING TO KNOW: SHAUN J. BROWN

ILYSM chatted with Shaun J. Brown about his new collaboration with Ryan Murphy, leaning into self discovery during the pandemic, and his obsession with Succession.

We are so excited about the recent announcement about your casting in MONSTER: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story! Congratulations! What are you allowed to tell us?
Thank you! It's been a dream come true of sorts. I was sending out to the universe that I wanted my next role to be more in depth than what I've done in the past. I'm grateful that Ryan Murphy trusted me to help tell this story among the likes of Evan Peters, Richard Jenkins, and Neicy Nash. I'm not allowed to say much but I can say that this story focuses more on the victims and how the police failed the community of Black and brown people. Racism  and privilege played a role in that failure. But not the overt images we are used to seeing of cross burning and racial slurs but in the nuance ways that let a white, normal looking, charming cisgender man get away with murder multiple times. He murdered approximately 17 men that were mostly Black and brown.

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How did your feature on season 2 of DAVE come about? Would love to hear the inspiration behind this character. We wanted more! Comedic timing cannot be taught!

I had auditioned for that part. I'm a big fan of the show and my friend Christine Ko is one of the series regulars on it. We worked together on the CBS sitcom The Great Indoors and became close as a result. I was already a fan of Lil Dicky's music so I had even more of a reason to tune in to the show. That show is incredibly funny. The humor is very awkward and cringey and I love that kind of humor. So when I got the audition I knew exactly what to do. I knew this role needed to be done very seriously as if I believed every single word and also believed that everyone understood every single word also. A mountain of butts for a rap video is nothing new but this guy truly believes he is breaking ground here. The role was actually a little bit bigger but the night before shooting I was told my lines would be split up for the musical guests to have more lines. Sometimes it is like that and you just roll with it.
What was the last most inspiring performance you recently watched? I keep going back and watching Succession on HBO. I think all those actors are firing on all cylinders and their chemistry is impeccable. They are a master class in relaxation and commitment. Nick Braun is a buddy of mine and I think he steals all the scenes he's in. I'm a bit biased. Brian Cox's portrayal as Logan Roy is one of the most brilliant examples of wielding power while being incredibly vulnerable. But he only shows that side in his most intimate moments either alone or with his wife. You never know what he's going to do next.
What are you currently in love with?I'm currently in love with growth and the journey of self awareness. I have an amazing partner and we started dating before the pandemic. She was so patient with me as I started figuring out more about myself and welcomed the change and growth with openness and honesty. It took me a long time to get to this point of realizing how important mental health is. So yeah I'm in love with growth and in love with my partner I guess. So corny but true!
How do you prepare for an audition? Any rituals? First I look up everyone involved in the project and try to make sense as to what world we could be creating. Then I try to find how I can honestly live in that world. It's a lot of memorizing and also getting on my feet and trying many many different ways and seeing what affects me deeply. Sometimes I'll laugh at myself at what I've discovered because I'm genuinely surprised by a certain side of me that pops up in the work in finding the character. I'll also watch the directors' most recent projects and the producer's most recent projects. I also read the script a bunch of times and try to find more subtext and nuance and honesty within myself and see what happens when I marry that with the text. I don't know if I'm a good auditioner though! I feel like my audition is a work in progress and when I'm on set I have way more ideas and yet still discovering things in the moment.
Last random thing you googled? Haha! "Does ice make a pimple go away faster". I have a screen test in three days and I can't be having no zits!!
What is the name of a foundation or organization you are passionate about - and tell our community about how we can support it? My baby sister died when she was 20 months old in a car accident when I was 8 years old. My mother, in her grief, set up a foundation that would help kids go to college in my sister's name. In her memory. I love that. In her short earthly life she was able to live on spiritually and help bless others in hopes to further their education. It's called the Shanele Jasmine Brown Memorial Scholarship and the foundation is located in Maryland at The Word of God Baptist Church. Every year we give a scholarship to deserving graduating high school seniors who are wanting to attend a college or university.*Follow Shaun on Instagram @shaunbrown Shaun is wearing the Silk Tabis in Shadow Stripe 

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