Check out our interview with talented director and actor Brian Hooks who’s all his passion projects are done through his organization, Left of Bang Entertainment (LOBE). The mission of LOBE is to bridge the gap between the film-TV industry and at-risk youth in an effort to break the violent gang cycle inner-city youth face. Hitting on the importance of diversity from the ground floor, this program aims to create a more diverse and inclusive industry that brings new points of view into the mix. The organization has launched a virtual film school this month, where students are learning the basics of filmmaking, producing, and more from veterans in the industry. In addition to LOBE, Brian is wrapping production on his latest independent film, ADAM + EVE (shot almost entirely during the pandemic last year).

Follow Brian @thebrianhooks

Hi Brian, please tell us a little about you?

I’m tall, dark and handsome… I like long walks in the park… I love to be surprised with dozens of roses and random scalp massages… I’m an actor and a filmmaker, a Rotarian, and I am committed to making the world a better place however I can.

Describe yourself in 3 words?

Hardworking, Humble, and Funny.

How did you get started into acting?

I moved to the Los Angeles area to attend Cal State University Northridge. Once I was here I found that I was in the epicenter for entertainment.

I was in school majoring in Mathematics to become a teacher, but I would keep an acting class on top of my scheduled classes. The more I learned, the more the acting bug inside me grew. I then began seeking out more classes outside of college.

Ultimately I would get an agent by the name of Barbara Cameron. It was a small boutique agency. I was sent out on a few auditions, learned more about the industry in the process, and that acting began to grow into an acting monster inside of me lol 🙂

I would ultimately submit myself for a role through the publication Dramalogue, which is now Backstage, for a film called Phat Beach. Seven auditions later I got the role, and that was the beginning of a very blessed career for myself.

How has this changed your life?

My personal life hasn’t changed much. That’s one of the things I’m prideful about. A lot of artists allow the industry to take them over but that has never been the case for me. I have leaned on a strong foundation instilled in me by my parents, and have never wavered from that. This industry can be very harmful if you’re not conscious about your steps.

However, my public life a lot has changed. Most places I go, people who recognize me from the TV and Film I’ve been blessed to be a part of. It requires a lot of your time, space, and energy, which I don’t mind. There are also a lot of perks that come along with the career. Most people are willing to give you whatever they have access to, in order to connect with you. I can’t say I mind that either lol.

However, the biggest perk has been the ability to impact lives and make change by using the power and impact that TV and Film has in the world. That’s what I love and appreciate most.

What is the best and worst part of being an actor and director?

The best for me is being able to do what I love. Acting and directing is a dream of mine, and it’s amazing to be able to do it for a living. Also, the voice it allows you to have is great. My mission is to create change with inner-city youth, and acting gives me the platform to effectively do that.

There truly is no downside in my opinion. We have some very early days, and very late nights at times, but again it’s what I love to do so I don’t mind. I guess a lot of entertainers would say the loss of privacy is a downside, but I don’t mind saying what’s up and meeting people who appreciate my work. The public is a key part in our success, and I respect them as such.

Tell us about Left of Bang Entertainment (LOBE)?

Left Of Bang Entertainment is the greatest thing I’ve done and been a part of to date. The program reaches out to inner-city youth and allows them to be a part of the coveted Hollywood magic.

The BANG in our name stands for that action moment in a child’s life where they decide to pick up a gun, commit a violent act, join a gang, or do anything that puts them on the wrong side of the law. We want to intercept these youth before that bang moment, to keep them Left Of Bang.

We want to arm these youth with the tools and knowledge needed to give them hope. So often these youth are born into situations where they’re forced to choose between bad and worst, and we want to be that other option for them. One of the top reasons kids join gangs is because they’re looking for a sense of family and belonging. This is a natural human instinct that every human being needs to thrive and stay alive, and these kids are no different, and they’re going to seek this out even if it’s with a gang. We want to provide that sense of family for them through our filmmaking community. We want to provide them with the mentorship needed to help them achieve their dreams and live happy and fulfilled lives.

After all, given the chance to choose between shooting a gun or shooting a movie, these youth will choose shooting movies EVERY time. That’s the option we’re affording them.

Why and when did you decide to create this organization?

About 2 years ago I came to a crossroads in my life. I knew there had to be more to what I was currently doing. I did some soul searching which ultimately landed me in the space I’m currently in.

I’m a rotarian at the Santa Monica Rotary. And I think the biggest factor that led me to create Left Of Bang was when I visited a neighboring Rotary. There was a guest speaker there who made a comment that shifted my spirit. The speaker said that they are able to predict whether or not a child would be headed to jail or prison by the age of 3. He said they are able to predict this due to the geographical area the child was born and raised in, the number of gangs the child had to walk by to get to and from school, and whether or not the child’s parents were in jail or prison.

So at the age of 3, this innocent child’s life is limited to death or prison, simply because of the geographical area that the child is born and raised in. I had to ask myself if I was okay with this, and if there was something I could do to change and impact the path of this child’s life, would I? The answer for me was, yes. That’s when I committed myself to keeping youth Left Of Bang.

On the acting side, how do you prepare for a role?

I study. I do everything I can to become one with the character. I do that by learning the who, what, when, and where of the character. I create a backstory that gives the character depth and a real life beyond the page. I let go of myself and allow the character to take over.

What projects you have been part of?

I’ve been blessed to be a part of a lot of very cool projects, and work with a lot of great people. 3 Strikes, Soul Plane, Beloved, Fools Gold, and the amazing sitcom EVE. These projects and more were great achievements and brought me great joy. I’ve been blessed.

What kind of roles do you like or would like to play and why?

I feel like I can pull off dramatic roles, as well as comedic roles. So for that reason I won’t be happy unless I’m able to do it all. But I have always wanted to do a period piece. I got a little taste of that in the movie Beloved with Oprah Winfrey, but I need to do it at a greater scale before it’s all said and done.

The reason is it’s a period of our history that was so important to where we are, and are not today. And I’d love the opportunity to recreate that moment in time and live those moments through film. Again, It’s something I need to do before it’s all said and done.

If you have to choose in order, what goes first: Actor or Director?

Actor first, because that’s where it all started. However, I really enjoy directing. It’s difficult to choose one or the other. I love the ability to quarterback projects from start to finish. I need acting and directing in my life to be complete.

What is the most rewarding part of your work?

The most rewarding part is the gratification I get from the fans who enjoy and appreciate the work. We put together these projects to entertain, and when the audience is in fact entertained, it’s an amazing feeling.

How would your best friend describe you?

Crazy, funny, and cool. I’m not sure why they say the crazy part, beats me 🙂

What’s next for Brian Hooks in 2021?

There are a lot of things happening! I just finished production for my new film Adam + Eve. It will be released later this year. I’m about to start production on a sitcom with super-show runner Bentley Evans. I will be back on the road doing stand-up comedy later this year, building towards shooting my first comedy special. However, the thing I’m most excited about is my work I have planned with the youth in my Left Of Bang program. The idea of being able to impact these youths’ lives, while making the world a better place is everything for me.

What is your favorite healthy food?

Tacos. And I know what you’re thinking, but I feel tacos are a very healthy food at times.

And your favorite cheat food?

Tacos. And I know what you’re thinking, but the reality is tacos can sometimes crossover into the “unhealthy” category.

How would you explain your fashion style?

I dress how I feel. What I put on isn’t dictated by anyone or anything. When you see me dressed the way I am, it’s because that’s how I felt that morning.

If I had to label it, I would say it’s extra sexy with jalapeños on top… because it’s not only sexy, but it’s hot. Hot & Sexy, and that’s how I would describe my fashion style 😉

What is your own definition of happiness?

Happiness is a place you arrive at as a result of making decisions that make you happy. It sounds simple, but it’s not. So often we go through life making choices to please others, friends, family, co-workers, etc. True happiness comes from surrounding yourself with people, places, decisions, and things that make you feel good.

It’s a place you arrive at in your life that allows you to be your complete self.

Best advice ever given?

Best advice is to not get stuck in the planning state. Often we over plan things instead of pushing forward. It’s a silent and deadly form of procrastination. An hour of actually doing something, is more effective than a month of planning something. Take action. Move forward. Don’t get stuck in the “planning state.” Some of my biggest successes came from taking action and moving forward.

Do you support any charity?

I support all charities when I can. I’m always looking to help and assist those who are looking to make an impact and push the world forward. We should all seek out charities that speak to who we are and support them however we can.

Where do you see yourself and your career in 5 years from now?

I will be doing everything I’m doing now, just on a larger scale. Independent movies, stand-up comedy, and my Left Of Bang program servicing thousands of kids across the country and around the world.

What do you think of Social Media?

It’s a whole other job lol. I enjoy the leisurely aspect of social media. It’s a great pastime when you’re stuck in a line, etc. However, the fact that it has become an integral part of our business and work has been quite an adjustment. I’m still in the adjustment faze, but I am committed to making the adjustment. Social media is a lot lol 🙂

Where we can follow you?

You can follow me at @thebrianhooks on Instagram and Facebook, and @b_hooks on Twitter. Also follow @leftofbangentertainment on all social media platforms!

 


 

Photo Credit: Kin Cordell