'Act because you are fascinated and inspired by the process' an interview with actor Brian Stepanek

Best known for his work on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody and the hit TV series Young Sheldon, actor and director Brian Stepanek talks to Mandy News about the differences between acting and directing plus how he got involved in the up and coming film Green Book - out in February 2019.

4th December 2018
/ By James Collins


Please introduce yourself to the Mandy Audience and tell us how you first got involved in acting?
My name is Brian Stepanek and I am an actor and director in Los Angeles, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. As a kid in grade school and high school I performed in any local community theatre that would have me. I ended up going to school at Syracuse University and majoring in communications whilst auditing theatre classes and performing in several productions there. I moved to Chicago where I toured with The Second City and made my living doing musical theatre, commercials and voice-over work. I eventually won Chicago’s Jeff Award for playing Bill Snibson in the musical Me and My Girl and decided it was time to move to Los Angeles - it’s been a long road.

How did you get involved in Green Book?
I submitted an audition tape. Oddly enough I had the stomach flu the day of the callback and couldn’t attend - but luckily I was cast from my original submission. 

What is the process of shooting an episode of Young Sheldon and how does this differ from shooting a film?
Young Sheldon is a very well-oiled machine and an absolute pleasure to work on. It probably differs from a film in that the sets are all the same every week for the most part, the crew knows how to shoot in them so things move a little faster. Same holds true with the actors as it pertains to their characters on the show - everyone knows their job. With a film, the sets are new and the actors are feeling the characters out for the first time so things can be a bit slower. 

As well as acting you also direct, what are the different challenges you face between directing a project and starring in one?
As a director you have a much larger role in telling the story - I’m not just breaking down my own character but everyone else's. When an actor asks me a question I can be confident that I can answer it because I’ve prepped that character as if I was going to perform it.

The hours are much longer as a director too. As an actor I can step into a trailer for a few hours between scenes but for the director, it is non-stop. Prepping camera shots, meeting with executive producers as well as network and communicate with all of the department heads. Directing is something I have been moving towards for years and I’m so thankful that I’m starting down that path.

What are your plans for the rest of 2018 and beyond?
Hopefully more directing, Young Sheldon of course and Andrea Savages in I’m Sorry on Tru TV. I'm also voicing the character of Lynn Loud on the Nickelodeon cartoon Loud House. I have three amazing kids and a beautiful wife that keep things busy as well.

What advice do you have for young people wanting to get involved in acting?
Like any other skill, start clocking your 10,000 hours. Join community theatres, shoot sketches on your phone, write material for yourself - have fun! This is a very unique time where anyone anywhere can generate content. So start generating! However please make sure you're acting because you are fascinated and inspired by the process of acting and not because you want more followers. If it’s the latter, you won’t last long.

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