I interviewed actor and comedian Jonathan Daniel Brown about life during quarantine and how quarantine is affecting Hollywood, and here is what he had to say.
Jonathan Daniel Brown: I’m a filmmaker, actor, and comedian from Los Angeles. I like acting, writing scripts, and live performance.
Cat: How did you get into the entertainment business?
Jonathan Daniel Brown: I worked as a PA on a Showtime comedy show called The Green Room with Paul Provenza. After performing stand up for a few years, I bullshitted my way into starring in a Warner Brothers comedy called Project X, which was a pretty massive hit. I jumped off of that to book a few more roles in films and shows, sell some scripts, and direct a short film. For the last couple of years I hosted a podcast and taught an acting class, but the pandemic has made me reassess.
Cat: What was it like being thrust into the industry at such a young age?
Jonathan Daniel Brown: It was an extremely intense whirlwind. I had no idea what I was doing and frankly, I still don’t.
Cat: What inspired your interest in politics?
Jonathan Daniel Brown: When I was 17, I got heavily involved in protests against the Church of Scientology. I used “old internet” sites like Digg and chat programs like IRC to organize rallies in front of their Hollywood headquarters. Afterwards, I moved onto police brutality and then began to read more and more about Democratic Socialism, which has been a long time interest of mine. I haven’t been involved in the latest protests because I spend a lot of time with my parents in their 60s and my 95-year-old grandma. I’m too paranoid to risk getting anyone I know sick.
Cat: Can you tell me more about your most recent project with celebrities endorsing Bernie Sanders?
Jonathan Daniel Brown: My project wasn’t about Bernie Sanders. It was paying celebrities to say left-wing shit on the Cameo app. Most celebrities will say anything for money, and so it’s very funny to see famous people engage in radical political dialogue. I paid 20 dollars to Jeff Lowe from Tiger King to speak out in favor of communism. Now we have gone full circle and I have created my own Cameo page, because, like everyone else in the entertainment industry, I will pretty much say whatever people want me to say for money.
Cat: How has quarantine affected the entertainment industry?
Jonathan Daniel Brown: There is no entertainment industry in Los Angeles. Hollywood is desperate to resume shooting, but it just isn’t safe. Being on set is an extremely intimate experience that involves lots of people working in close quarters. It can’t be done, no matter how hard the studios and networks push for it. My guess is we won’t see a regular level of filming until 2021. I know of lots of small projects being made, but they involve close friends and family members and are being shot outside of the city.
Cat: What kind of projects are you planning for the future?
Jonathan Daniel Brown: Right now I’m outlining a couple of scripts. It’s very hard to creatively focus when you have no idea what the real world. To keep my creative juices flowing, I’ve started posting daily rants on my Instagram page @jonathandanielbrown. I’d like to get back into standup comedy when the pandemic ends. I’m not particularly interested in working with major studios or networks and would like to get involved in independent film. I’m also outlining a comic book, but don’t know any artists. If you can draw, hit me up!
Cat: What advice do you have for young artists when navigating the world of entertainment?
Jonathan Daniel Brown: I recommend that young people stay away from the entertainment industry unless they have some kind of support from family or friends. You also need to have some kind of backup plan for the slow years. There is no shortage of exploitative people and the safety net is extremely limited. A mistake I made was not getting involved in some kind of day job to weather the ups and downs. There are good years and bad years, and you really never know what’ll happen.
Cat Doss is an artist/writer/filmmaker/performer living in the Los Angeles area. She was born in Huntington, West Virginia. A classically trained painter and a winner of multiple awards in various disciplines, Cat refuses to confine herself to one medium preferring to experiment with her work and investigate the workings behind the creative process. Her art can currently be found at Facebook.com/someassemblyrequired