Breon Pugh is an actor and singer born and raised in Shreveport, Louisiana, whose earliest acting roles rooted from various theater productions of local plays. He began to pursue acting full time while acquiring his Associates Degree in Medical Assistant/Phlebotomy from Louisiana State University just to have something to fall back on. But that all changed when he landed his first lead role in a feature film, Bolden! directed by Dan Pritzker (TBA). After his experience in Bolden!, he used his newly refined talent to land himself in the HBO Film Mosaic (2017) directed by Academy Award winner Steven Soderbergh. His work on the highly successful WGN show Underground and new HBO Comedy, Vice Principles, is what, as of late, he is most noted for.
From Medical Assistant to actor; this is an exciting journey! Tell us more.
To be quite honest with you, being a medical assistant was my fallback plan. I always saw myself as an actor. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always had an interest in the medical field, so I figured I’d give myself some time to get something under my belt. Even better, it was something that I was passionate about. That way if the acting thing didn’t work out, I would always have my degrees. But with that being said, from experience I’m here to tell you that you have to always follow your dreams.
Congratulations on landing your first feature film, Bolden!. Tell us more.
Thank you so much. When I think of Bolden!, only the best memories come to mind. I still hear the music. I still listen to the music [laughs]. I still remember the costumes from the set. It’s like another world. It was a wild ride I have to admit. One of the best experiences of my life so far, as well as the start of my career. I will always be grateful for Bolden! and Fincannon Casting for taking a chance on me. I’m so blessed to be able to play my character Willie Warner as my first role. He’s the childhood friend of the main character, Buddy Bolden, and one of the members of the band who plays the clarinet. King Buddy Bolden, as they called him, was the first jazz musician in New Orleans. The movie will chronicle the ups and downs of the musician, highlighting peak points in his life and his music journey. And though there’s been a lot of talk about the project, and I can’t give away the plot. I will say all of my cast mates are on their “A” game! It’s nothing like you’ve ever seen before. I can’t wait for people to see it! It’ll be out very soon, and I have to give all props to the director Dan Pritzker.
You also landed a role in the HBO Film Mosaic (2017). It’s directed by Academy Award winner Steven Soderbergh. Tell us about the film.
Working with Steven Soderbergh was unreal. I felt like at any time, someone was going to knock on my trailer door and say, ‘we chose another actor so yea you can leave!’ [laughs]. But I was running my lines over and over again in my head like a thousand times. I didn’t know what to expect at first. I mean, this is an Academy Award-winning director! But as soon as I walked on set, all that anxiety went away. Everybody’s energy was so inviting, and then, I see Steven looking from behind the lens with a black cap on. He says, ‘Hey Bolden!‘, and from then on I was good. He’s a very humble guy, very enlightened, and he’s very precise and hands-on when it comes to the shots that he wants. There are no actor chairs. No video village. None of the extra stuff you would normally see on a set because he’s that fast. I played the character Lando. Again, it’s pretty closed lip on the project. But I will say the movie is a suspense thriller and it’s a new venture for HBO which I’m excited to be a part of. It also stars Sharon Stone, Garrett Hedlund, and Paul Reubens.
You’re most noted for your roles in the WGN show “Underground” and the new HBO Comedy “Vice Principles.” Tell us more.
Both came as a total surprise to me. I was shooting Bolden! when I auditioned, and I did a self-tape last minute in the hotel I was staying in. But both roles were standouts and I got to play polar opposites of one another. Underground was such a whirlwind when it premiered; it just took off. In it, I played a character by the name of Lewis who was a strong-willed slave who was just looking to get work done and stay out of trouble. Playing this character was the most memorable to me because I was very sick during filming. I had a high fever; was shaking and dizzy. But I didn’t let anyone know. So I just used it for the scene. The pain you see on my face was real [laughs]. And in Vice Principles, I got to work with Danny McBride. He was very funny and welcoming. On there I played the character of Cameron. He’s a young kid in high school that’s in drivers ed, and he just wants to get his license, but winds up being the chauffeur for Neil’s antics. I’m still amazed to be a part of both shows even if just for a little bit. Being able to display my comedic side and my dramatic side is great for me because I’m just starting out.
Is there a certain type of character that you would consider playing?
There is an array of characters I would love to play. But if I had to pinpoint one, it would be somebody with a mental illness or with a drug problem. I know that may sound strange, but working in the medical field gave me the chance to see a plethora of people from all walks of life and a chance to study their behavior and their mannerisms; a sense of foreshadowing real life experiences I’m a part of. And use that as practice and motivation to push myself and sharpen my abilities.
You starred in theater and plays. How has it helped your acting career?
I would advise anyone looking to get into the arts to take or be a part of anything involving theater. It’s a great place to hone your craft but you will need to find a balance. With theater you have to project emotion out further. So your emotions have to hit the people, even in the back row. On the other hand, with film, I feel you have to pull back because there’s a camera directly in your face. You have that one shot to give the audience what they need just using your inner dialogue, and displaying it with your body language.
Career wise, where do you hope to be ten years from now?
Hopefully with an Oscar [laughs], but I would just like to have a solid career if God sees fit. And have been in quality projects that show my abilities as an actor. I have a couple of ideas I would like to pitch to some studios, and musical endeavors I would like to explore as well. Opening up an acting studio in my hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana would be up on the ultimate goal list.
Are there any upcoming projects that you would like to mention?
Yes. Well, as I mentioned earlier, Bolden! will be out soon. And Steven Soderbergh‘s “Mosaic” will be coming up on HBO. And there’s The Party Crasher, which is a horror film about a group of fraternity brothers directed by one of the coolest most creative people I’ve had the chance to work with, Brant Sersen, which will also be out later this year.
What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to become an actor?
My advice is to make sure that your acting muscle is strong, but your brain is stronger. Without it all will fall. Always be prepared, stay grounded through the ups and downs, and most importantly, remain humble. And God bless [Laughs].
A special thanks to my agent Dawn Landrum and my Landrum Arts Talent agency family! Dawn has guided and coached me to be where I am today and gave me a chance when others wouldn’t. To her I say “thank you!”
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