A talented actor with a promising future-by NIROSHA RAJAPAKSE
It is no exaggeration whatsoever to admit the fact that Brandon Damian Ingram does not need an introduction.
Acting, dancing, singing and advertising are his synonyms. Ever since, Brandon played the role of Arjie in ‘Funny Boy’, directed by a renowned Oscar nominee Deepa Mehta, his artistic and realistic acting became a pow wow of the town while letting him grab a unique identity of his own as an actor with a promising future. ‘Funny Boy’ is the film adaptation of Shyam Selvadurai’s debut novel of the same name. It is also Canada’s official submission for the 93rd Academy awards in the best international feature film category.
Amidst his busy schedule, speaking to the Youth Observer, Brandon declared that working with an outstanding film director like Mehta was an absolutely rare and unique experience which has given him a wealth of knowledge on the big screen.
Brandon while being indebted to Mehta for the unique opportunity given to him further said that he is inspired by the amazing and wonderful human being in Mehta for whom he calls his mentor.
“It is quite heartening to know someone like her. She didn’t know me at all. Our relationship is little over three years and throughout these years, we have become very close, and she is a very dear friend of mine now”, Brandon said.
‘Funny Boy’ is Brandon’s debut in the big screen, he has spent more than a decade on stage during which he has significantly sharpened his skills in acting. Following his encounter with Mehta, the theatre actor started to discover his potential and due position in the big screen which gives rise to his future big screen aspirations.
Brandon is undoubtedly moved by the expert guidance, memorable lessons, valuable assistance and the extensive knowledge, given by Mehta which gave him confidence and the mental solace to do the justice for the character of Arjie.
He further remarked, “Funny boy was my first film. Learning the landscape of acting, how to pose in front of a camera, and learning the same for the first time with Mehta was a huge privilege”.
Commenting on Mehta’s professionalism as a film director, Brandon went on to say that she is a director par excellence who has got a terrific vision while being able to see the film from its conception through its final product and she never loses sight of her ultimate goal.
Being particular about the advice that Mehta gave him, Brandon said, “When the emotion takes you towards wanting to cry, how differently can you express it. She taught me how to find new avenues to express all feelings”.
When asked whether Brandon is perhaps the manifestation of Arjie, he explained that both differences and similarities in Arjie and himself are able to be noticed. “Similarity is that at the age of 17, I too struggled with my sexual identity. And at that age, it was extremely difficult to move around in a society where such a subject was not openly discussed. Arjie is the 17-year old version of myself,” he said.
Brandon has carefully identified that compared with him, Arjie’s emotional intelligence is far more greater than him and Arjie was aware of many things at the age of 17 of which he was not aware at that time. Brandon said, “I would say my emotional intelligence grew in my early 30s.”
“Not for me”
Brandon studied at Wesley College from grade 1-10. He moved to the United States for a short time during which his intention was to explore whether he needs to live in a country other than Sri Lanka, where he wanted to understand his sexual identity. “I just wanted to see whether there is a far more rewarding place for me to live. At a very young age, I understood that the American dream was not for me. I learnt it at the age of 17,” he said.
Surrounded by these thoughts, he returned to the island where he restarted his studies for a year at the afternoon school of Gateway International to do the London (O/L) exam. Simultaneously, he joined the school of effective English communication, run by veteran media personality Noeline Honter. He has done speech and drama exams of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Academy of Art through Lamda. He was also meant to get the teacher’s licence. He started working in the field of advertising at the age of 17 and has been reading for his Master’s in Mass Communication with a local university, affiliated with a Malaysian university. Brandon is an amazing storyteller. Storytelling is at the core of his work where he declared, “I am fundamentally a storyteller. It is fundamentally who I am.”
He is motivated by his passion for storytelling, rather than by external rewards. With fresh ideas, he evolves in his beautifully worded stories. He has the courage to pursue his passion and dreams. His creativity in storytelling is overwhelming.
He manifests his artistic vision into words and his professional dreams in the field of advertising into reality. “I love hearing stories. I tell stories, sometimes through singing, acting, and dancing. People love stories. Tailor-made stories are a part of my job,” he said.
Versatile singer Corrine Almeida is Brandon’s mother. Being the son of such a phenomenal artist, Brandon says that he is extremely privileged, and he never takes it for granted. Instead, he takes it in a positive way where he can help the people who cannot raise their voices.