Don’t try to hide who you are and don’t feel like you are wrong for not fitting into the “Asian” box or the “White” box or the “Ambiguous” box. None of that matters. If you are working to be as honest as you can at that moment, that is all that matters. People will try to label you and make assumptions, but don’t confuse other people's ideas of you with who you are. Your voice is so important, use it for good.
Brennan is a theatre artist born in Faribault, Minnesota, and raised in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. They are currently based in Chicago as they navigate through several mediums of arts. Brennan’s interests intersect truth in storytelling, he explains, “I find myself gravitating towards theatre that works to push boundaries. Whether that is in sharing the stories of under-represented groups, productions that break the “rules” of standard theatrical storytelling practices, or a piece that pushed the audience to reconsider their way of thinking. I think the commonality in all of that is SURPRISE, I like theatre that is surprising because it reminds audiences of what it’s like to have a novel experience! I love seeing artists push the limits and find the truth in an area that is yet to be discovered. I also like theatre that is messy and unclear. Life is never as simple as black and white or right and wrong. Makes people think in a well-rounded manner with empathy and understanding for all perspectives.”
Brennan shared with us his early beginnings as a theatre artist, “I was 12 when I auditioned for my first show, and I usually say that from that first audition I was hooked. I don’t think there was a moment that I knew I needed to pursue a career in theatre, but the more I did it the more I couldn’t imagine NOT doing it. As I started to consider going to college I realized that there was nothing else that I wanted to study. I just couldn’t imagine a reality where I am not a theatre artist.”
In connecting with their heritage as a Filipino, Brennan bears authenticity to the table as a part of their process: “By bringing myself to every piece I work on. I find that in theatre you are always searching for truth and in order to do that you look for it everywhere including in yourself. The more I discover who I am the more I connect with my Filipino culture, it is an undeniable part of me and a part of my truth. If I am working to be honest and truthful it would be impossible to avoid it.” They share further how being a Filipino in the industry has affected their practice: “Because I am not a part of the majority, it has forced me to take the time to find my voice. In an effort to figure out who I am I have had many invaluable conversations with Filipino family members and other BIPOC Artists. I find that a lot of times, the best way to figure out who you are is to listen to family and understand BOTH people whose views align with yours and people who don’t.”
In Chicago, Brennan was able to find comfort with fellow kababayans in the industry and shares fond experiences with them, “Especially since moving to Chicago, I have been able to create a little network of Filipino creatives. I LOVE IT. It feels like living in a small town, “ooo did you see whats-their-face in this show? They are Filipino!” and soon enough all the Filipino artists know each other. It feels like a small network of people who can turn to each other for support and understanding. When things get tough they know what you are going through and they know how important it is for your voice to be heard. Because there are so few of us, people reach out when there is a Filipino role. It’s so nice to work with other Filipino artists because there is this understanding (often unspoken) of shared experiences. And conversely, when there are other Filipinos in the room I know there is someone who will truly understand me if there is a need to discuss specifically Filipino things."
Brennan gave helpful words to any aspiring young Filipino creatives, “Don’t try to hide who you are and don’t feel like you are wrong for not fitting into the “Asian” box or the “White” box or the “Ambiguous” box. None of that matters. If you are working to be as honest as you can at that moment, that is all that matters. People will try to label you and make assumptions, but don’t confuse other people's ideas of you with who you are. Your voice is so important, use it for good.”
They are currently working on the post-production of a film they wrote and directed. To connect with them follow their Instagram @brennan_urbi or visit their website at www.brennanurbi.com. Their Acting Representation is with Paonessa Talent Agency.