Brandon Stewart has always been a force to be reckoned with. Brandon’s first big gig was opening for George Jones on his Farewell Tour, right before making it on American Idol in Season 12. Last year Brandon’s movie “Future World” released starring James Franco, Mila Jovoich, Snoop Dog and more powerhouse icons. He signed with Awesomeness TV in a brand deal that relaunched his Youtube channel, pouring out award winning content that won a collegiate Emmy, multiple Atlanta Film Festival nominations, an AT&T festival honor and more. Brandon recently wrapped his new feature film “Moondance” set to premiere this year, as well as his return to the judging panel on the popular online singing competition, “Shine.”

Describe yourself in 3 words?

I’m dedicated. Always happy. And fun.

Name one your strengths?

Resilience. Honestly if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my career, it’s that negativity will always find a way in. You just have to learn to conquer doubt, conquer fear, while teaching yourself how to thrive. I wish everyone understood that your happiness, is yours! Not anyone else’s. I’ve had so many people tell me I wasn’t good enough or that I wouldn’t amount to anything. While in high school, I had people go out of their way to tell me my career wasn’t real. It’s unattainable. Friend’s parents would side bar opportunities I should be taking instead of pursuing what I want. It can be one of two things: a small mind or a jealous mind. Both of which I was raised to ignore. My resilience comes from experiences in my career and in my personal life. I never stop. I never take no for an answer. And for that, I will always thrive. Who knows how far I’ll go, but with a strong mind and a resilient soul, the sky is the limit. That’s what my parents taught me and that’s what I will teach my kids one day.

What inspires you?

Am I allowed to say food? No, I’m kidding. I honestly get inspired when I see people living their dream. I just watched National Geographic’s Oscar winning film, “Free Solo” last month and let me just say, wow. Stories like that move me in ways I can’t explain. When you really sit down with yourself, assess what it is you need in your life to be happy, that is inspiration. Taking control of your life and saying, this is who I am. This is what I want to be. It doesn’t have to be a career. It might be raising a family, visiting other countries or maybe its giving your life to a charity in need. Whatever it is, that’s inspiring to me. You only have one life. Live it to the fullest!

Why and how did you get started in acting?

I was always enthralled with incredible acting. Greats like Meryl Streep and Al Pacino created a version of myself I strived to be. They’re so effortless in their portrayal of every single role. My first role was playing Danny Zuko in Grease when I was 12 years old. Yes, it was the school version! I had begged my mom and dad to let me act. Unfortunately, there just wasn’t many opportunities. So my mom created one. She put together a huge show in Carrollton, Kentucky, where I’m from, purposely casting a variety of different people. She gathered up athletes, choir singers, bar musicians, students from the drama club and so on. Long story short, she wanted to prove that art lives inside everyone. It’s not some outlandish thing students should look down on. Nonetheless, it is still one of the highest attended productions ever produced in my hometown, making thousands of dollars that went to fund an organization helping purchase school supplies for kids who couldn’t afford them. I’ll never forget, after my dad watched it on opening night he said to me, “Son, you really have something special here.” That right there, is what started my whole acting career. After several sold out shows, it was all about the right people seeing your work. It set opportunities on fire for me.

What roles do you like to play? And why?

I really enjoy comedy, but I have to say I like the gritty roles more. I’ve played several drug affiliated roles, which you would think is crazy if you knew me because I’m not about that life. But I’ve always enjoyed a challenge. I like getting into the minds of individuals who are going through hardships, addictions or mental health problems. I’m so in tuned with myself, I know when to turn it on and off…some actors don’t. I don’t practice method acting either, which is how some actors lose themselves to their role. For me, acting is about learning. Every role I play, I learn about that type of individual. I have so much empathy for people I wouldn’t normally have, only because I do the work to understand who they are and why they make the decisions they make. I want to understand their pain. I want to embody their motivations down to every subtle movement they make. That’s what makes for a good movie. Living truthfully in someone else’s skin.

Tell us about the projects you been part of like American Idol, Future World and Awesomeness Tv?

Wow! This is a big question. American Idol was an experience I’ll never forget. The friends I made and the mentorships with successful artists I looked up too for years, it was incredible. I’ll never forget Mariah was always team Brandon. Future World was a blast. It ended up not doing as amazing as we’d hoped, I know James had big plans but things happen. We had a star studded cast. I got to work with Snoop Dogg, Method Man and James Franco of course. We also had Lucy Lui and Milla Jovovich in the film. It was action packed and lots of stunts during filming. I learned a lot and owe it all to Cynthia Huffman, who actually brought me on to the film pretty last minute. It turned out to be one of my biggest credits to date. AwesomenessTV is one of my agencies right now. For those who don’t know who they are, they were just bought by Viacom. They basically helped me rebrand myself online, building an entire network of content around my name. It’s called the BRANDON Network, and it’s basically a glorified youtube channel that will be holding various short films, reimagined covers of music, web series content and back door pilots. You can find it on my website officialbrandonstewart.com and binge all the content we’ve made so far. We have 4 shows in development right now, a series in pre production and two new music videos in post. It’s really exciting.

What other projects you have been part of?

Another big question. I’ve been apart of lots of different things. “Cut” was a series that we filmed here in Los Angeles a few years ago, that ended up being the leading comedy in Saudi Arabia. We won some exciting awards for a reimagined version of “This is Me” from The Greatest Showman last year. I was in a fun action film with Vinnie Jones and Danny Trejo called “Cross Wars” a few years ago too. I recently just did a big calendar shoot with the Integrity Agency at the end of last year to raise money for The Southern Poverty Law Center with my talented friends Darius McCrary from Family Matters, Mahem Miller from Rupaul’s Drag Race and David Hernandez from American Idol. You can purchase those on their site here!

How does a normal day in your life look like?

First of all, what’s normal? I mean right? My life stays busy. I’d say the typical day is a 9 to 5 job, come home, watch some TV, go to your child’s ball game or go out for a drink, then home to repeat it again. My life is not very typical. Every day is different. Sometimes I’m up till 3am and others I’m asleep early and up by 6am. Everyday I typically stay consistent in the gym for an hour or two. Right now I’m in constantly in development meetings, working on a big investment deal with my company, Panoptic Entertainment, pitching my new political series, “Scarlet X” — regarding the water crisis, and writing the rest of these shows for my network of content with AwesomenessTV. Every so often I attend a red carpet here and there to support a friend’s premiere, catch the next wave of excitement in the industry or go enjoy a fashion show. It all depends on the season.

What has been the hardest part of your career?

I’m going to get real for a minute. Growing up I lived with an insecurity so big, it impacted who I was. Fighting with myself wondering why I didn’t look just like other picture perfect actors, or why I’m the only guy in high school worried about what people think? Many of my fans know, as I’m pretty vocal about self love, I struggled with acne in school so bad, it resulted to scarring my facial tissue. They were so deep, it’s taken me years of micro needling, microdermabrasion and micro lasers to help fix. My biggest and most feminine insecurity. One I couldn’t shake. One that was lying right on my face. When you watch film and TV, there’s not many actors with scarred faces. I was constantly putting myself down. For years, I packed makeup on my face trying to hide insecurities. My closest friends, girlfriend and family questioned my sexuality. They would make subtle comments that made me feel worse. As an athlete, my teammates were obviously really confused. They didn’t know how to explain to outsiders why I did it. Opposing teams would chant, “he wears makeup” in front of a gymnasium of people—pinning my insecurities against me. Which in turn, caused people I didn’t even know to label me too. Slowly making me question my own justification behind my actions. My friends would tell me to stop wearing the makeup, “stop drawing more attention to it.” Taking something that made me unique, and hating myself for it. Covering it up. Today I look back at the days alone in my room, asking God why he would do such a thing. I understand now. I battled my inner demons, the side commentary and the unjustified rumors about my sexuality. I stand today as someone more than that. Happy. Glowing. Inspired. Staying true to me, my dream and my skin. I still wear makeup and guess what, that doesn’t define who I am or what sexual preference I may have. I pushed through an insecurity that I thought wouldn’t make me as good as the other actors and singers out there. I never let negativity win. I encourage everyone to take what makes you feel like an outcast, what makes you feel ugly, accept it. Your flaws are your assets. Perfection is boring.

Best advice ever given?

You’ll never get anywhere by yourself. It’s all about culture, teamwork and commitment. I have a long long list of people who have helped me get where I am. They know who they are, and they are all still a big part of my life.

What’s your favorite show on T.V. right now?

Easily Game of Thrones. My team and I are actually developing a series for my network of content right now, that’s like a GOT meets Mad Max. It’s so cool.

What do you do when you have some time off?

The gym always puts me in a good mood. I occasionally host slumber parties for a bunch of friends, or we go to dinner or something. My circle of best friends are those people you could do anything with and have a good time. We’re not the “we have to drink” crowd, though I do enjoy a good cocktail.

What is on your bucket list?

Buy my own house. I’m really looking forward to putting roots down somewhere and taking that next step in my personal life. It gets hard with my career, but the day is quickly approaching and I can’t wait.

What quote do you live by?

Practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes permanent.

Your idea of a perfect Sunday?

Church, brunch and then home to catch Sunday night football. When football isn’t on, then I’m okay with catching up on my favorite tv shows.

What’s next for Brandon Stewart in 2019?

My recent film, “Moondance” will be coming to theaters later this year. The series I talked about previously, that’s in pre production, that’s a reality singing competition called, “Shine.” I am returning as a judge on there. We start filming in June. I’m always on the move. We will start filming one of our first shows on my network in a couple months. My EP is also releasing this year, one by one. So the singles will be dropping here and there throughout the year.

Something people don’t know about you?

I have a weird thing with feet. Like I love pretty feet. Is that weird? It’s totally weird. I don’t know, I just like when people take care of their feet. It tells me the person probably takes care of themselves from head to toe. They’d have to be hygienic and take care of the rest of their body too, you know? Hopefully somebody else out there agrees with me.

What is your own definition of happiness?

Self love. Finding your own happiness is realizing what you want and taking it. It’s waking up and finally allowing yourself to do what you love. I talked about this a bit earlier, but it’s true. It’s the same with relationships. You can’t seek happiness and love in someone else when you don’t even love yourself. Happiness has to come within you. It’s okay to be a little selfish for happiness. If you’re not, you’ll be living for all the wrong reasons.

How would you describe your fashion style?

Chic, with a touch of drama and poise.

How would your best friend describe you?

I don’t know! Probably that I never sleep, I’m always working and I’m horrible at arriving on time anywhere. All things that are true. I will say I have several best friends, and they will probably all tell you the exact same things. What can I say, I’m consistent.

What is your favorite healthy food?

Probably salmon, a yummy poke bowl or an order of buffalo califlour.

And your favorite cheat food?

Fried chicken or cookie dough. Yum!

What music do you like?

Motown, pop, country, soft rock, and some soul. I love music. If it tells a good story, or has me shaking my booty, I’m all in.

If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?

Meryl Streep. Hands down.

Do you support any charity?

I really believe in giving back. A big non-profit I support is the Aids Healthcare Foundation. They’re making a huge impact all over the world! I’m working on a new idea for their company in the near future. I can’t talk about it yet, but I’m working everyday on it. I also support others like Africa Outreach, started by Charlize Theron and the United Nations Children’s Fund. I’m actually still in the works to getting a non profit started in my hometown for kids who want to pursue the arts. I want to be able to award scholarship money to kids who want to take the next step in the arts. I wasn’t given the same opportunities, as there were no art based scholarships when I graduated. I’d love to change that.

How important is Social Media for you?

Annoyingly important. It’s the best way to keep my fan base in touch with what’s going on in my career. I try to be active everyday. I’d also be lying if I said I didn’t like it, I just hate how much time it takes.

Where we can follow you?

My social media is the same on every platform. It’s “@branmstew.” You can follow me on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and YouTube.

Favorite Song: Can I say my new single we just released called “War Zone?” Only because it’s really a beautiful story!

Travel destination: Orlando, Florida.

Movie: The Greatest Showman.

Actor/Actress: Taraji P. Hensen, Robin Williams, Robert De Nirl, Meryl Streep, Will Smith, Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo DiCaprio, Nicole Kidman…the list goes on.

Sports Team: LA Lakers (NBA), LA Rams (NFL) and Kentucky Wildcats (College Sports).