AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH CANADIAN ENTERTAINMENT STARS BRITTANY WYNN AND BRENNAN CLOST
INTERVIEWER MATTHEW NOLAN
PHOTOS JOHN BREGAR PHOTOGRAPHY
Many people in the UK haven’t heard of you before, so let’s establish who Brit and Bren really are and what you’re all about! To get things started, how about you try to introduce each other!
Brit: Bren is probably the most incredible person you’ll ever meet. What? Me? Biased… no! Haha. In all seriousness, I’d describe Bren as loyal, insightful and creative. He’s an extremely talented Canadian dancer and actor who’s earned global acclaim. He’s currently a lead on “The Next Step” [which airs on CBBC in the UK] playing the role of Daniel, where he’s been able to combine his passions of dance and acting. Something that many people don’t know is that Brennan’s also incredibly gifted in the sciences. Before deciding to go to Juilliard [a performing arts school in New York City] for dance, he got into multiple high-level science programs at various universities. Personality? What personality? Don’t hate me, I’m kidding! Bren is probably the most driven person I’ve ever met. He is constantly working on bettering himself, and inspires everyone in his life. As for work, a lot of people say ‘don’t mix business with pleasure’, but “social rules”, what are those? I think we have developed a perfect combination of work/play and we definitely have a symbiotic relationship. We fill in the gaps almost instinctively – he does the YouTube editing, I do the web design, etc. Also, it’s hard to call what we do “work”. We are always just messing around and having fun, so who better to do that with than your best friend? 🙂
Bren: Brit is one of those friends that has just always been in my life. We met when we were 7 years old (my mom was Brit’s 2nd grade teacher), danced together for 4 years at a competitive dance studio, went to French immersion together and I practically lived at her house through grade 7 and 8. As it happens with some childhood best friends, Brit and I drifted apart when we went to different high schools, but managed to keep in touch. The difference with Brit compared to my other childhood friends is that we ended up falling on to the same path later in life, and reconnecting in a way even more powerfully than I could’ve imagined. Brit is definitely in my “soul group”, if you will. She has been my saviour more times than I can remember. She’s a friend that you can go to no matter what the issue is: ‘What do I reply to this text?; do I choose this Instagram filter or this one?; do I have anything in my nose?’ HA. She is good for more than just this, I swear! Brit has been my emotional, spiritual, and literal physical guide through life. Taking our relationship to the next level 😉 – becoming business partners – seemed only natural. Brit has a personality that attracts any and all opportunity towards her. She has a passion for the arts, but is a genius business woman. She has trained as a performer since the age of 2. She dances, sings (like seriously, she needs to book the next Disney princess animation movie!), and is an incredible actor. Similar to my own interests, Brit is pursuing a science degree! She is currently pursuing a degree in Psychology while managing our business, her career as a artist, teaching at and working as a social media manager for an acting studio, on top of her university workload. SUPERWOMAN, am I right?! Brit and I have found a great balance between hanging out as best friends and pursuing our entrepreneurial ventures. We’ve become really inspired by the YouTube community and are trying to create an online discursive space for positivity and inclusion.
While brainstorming our New Years resolutions, Bren and I decided to focus on taking our careers into our own hands. – Brit
Why did you decide to start a YouTube channel together?
Bren: I began a YouTube channel in 2015, but what fun is success – not saying our YouTube is hugely successful, yet… – if it’s not shared with others. It seemed like the obvious thing to do, build a YouTube channel with your best friend, like how else do you have fun while getting work done? Also, we’re both actors… More screen time? Um, yes please!
Brit: Funny enough, we always said we would NEVER start a YouTube channel. I can’t exactly place when we decided to start our channel, as it was truly a gradual process. Bren had posted a dance video in November 2015 and received a lot of great feedback from it. While brainstorming our New Years resolutions, Bren and I decided to focus on taking our careers into our own hands. So much of our industry is built on pushing, grinding and hustling only to wait, so on January 1st 2016 we decided to make an autobiographical concept film based on this theme as a way to bring in 2016! There was something so gratifying about creating art, calling it our own, and making it public. This has acted as the formula and fuel to all the videos we have made since the start of this year.
What kind of content do you like to create most for your subscribers? Why?
Bren: Brit and I watched a lot of videos and read articles about creating a strong presence on YouTube. Each source called attention to finding one’s specific niche. After much deliberation, Brit and I came up with “Wildcard Wednesday” and “Survival Sunday”. This way we are able to create and share, biweekly, work that’s creative and artistic, as well as meaningful and mindful. That duality is something that Brit and I both share, and wanted to exemplify in our videos.
How long have you been doing this for and what’s the experience been like so far?
Brit: Technically, we’ve been doing this since January, but we have really only been doing this “professionally” (ew, I hate myself, haha) since June. The response has been overwhelmingly positive.
Bren: So far the YouTube channel has been a lot of fun… and of course a lot of work. So much more goes into creating content than what it seems. There’s been a huge learning curve, but Brit and I love a good challenge. Our YouTube channel has been picking up a lot of steam this summer, since we decided to share videos on a consistent schedule, and spit out new content quickly. A challenge has been making sure our quality of work was still something we could be proud of (we are both crazed perfectionists!).
Is talking to a camera, particularly in public places, ever weird for you, or does it all just come naturally?
Brit: We’ve actually been asked this question a lot. Speaking to a camera is something that takes time and practice. If we had a time machine and could go back to my “acting beginnings”, you’d be rolling on the floor laughing. Generally speaking, Bren and I always feel comfortable on camera. However, I ALWAYS feel weird when we’re filming in public places. My mom is a teacher (as is Bren’s) and I don’t know if it was how we were raised, but creating content in public can sometimes feel awkward and invasive. For example, a few weeks ago we made a vlog in response to our “Coming Out” video and we filmed it at a local bookstore. The manager came over after we finished filming (luckily!) and told us to stop. Bren and I have literally never been more Canadian… I think we apologized 50 million times!
Bren: Brit and I love being in front of the camera, so whether we are in public or in our studio, we are rarely embarrassed while making videos. Since I edit all of our videos, I watch them back countless times, before uploading and sharing them on YouTube. I think since seeing myself on The Next Step, I have grown to enjoy watching myself on a screen. I think I have created this mental separation between me, real life Brennan, and “TV land” Brennan. It’s kind of like watching a different person up there, because if I let myself go there, I am really critical of myself. It’s like, it is me and I know that… but it’s not me at the same time. Make any sense?
Often, bullies are speaking from their own personal hurt, and love is what’s needed to end the vicious cycle. – Brit
Brit: Feeling alone or unaccepted is a soul shattering feeling that should be dealt with and resolved as quickly as possible. I have never felt the discomfort or negativity revolving around dealing with sexual identity, but I have dealt with various bullies throughout school. Bullying is painful and can have a lasting impact on the person that you become. Bren and I recently stopped by our old elementary school and recounted various memories we had shared. It was eye opening to realize that some negative memories were accompanied by twinges of pain despite 6-8 years passing. My advice? Find a collective of likeminded individuals (or individual) with similar passions and/ or experiences. We seek commonality and patterns in life, and this doesn’t change with our relationships. Find someone who can act as your sounding board, who you can unguardedly tell all your hopes, dreams, worries and sadnesses to, and also be there for them full heartedly, too. In the past, I’ve been given different scenes in acting class where I’ve had to play the mean girl, or the bully and the immediate response is terrible. “I don’t want to play her, she’s a horrible human being, etc.” However, receiving scripts with these characters has presented me with a meaningful life challenge – to see their point of view. No one wakes up in the morning and says “I’m going to be a terrible, mean, ugly person today.” While you find your “soul group”, share your bullying experience with someone important, and keep yourself busy with personal passions, this empathy inducing exercise may offer some insight. Bullying is never justified and it deserves a proper resolution, but empathy and love extends to everyone (even the bully). Often, bullies are speaking from their own personal hurt, and love is what’s needed to end the viscous cycle.
Bren: Bullying affects many of us in different ways, and although I don’t know if there is or will ever be a solution to eradicate bullying completely, sharing stories and finding comfort in the fact that no one should ever feel alone or isolated, even if they are in the thick of it, can help. My most meaningful piece of advice to share when dealing with bullying is to open up to at least one person. Have one person that can comfort you, give you advice in how to cope or fight back, and just care for you.
ON COMING OUT
The moment you start accepting yourself for who you are, the world will follow suit. We are with you. I promise. – Brit
Brit: I’d recommend people watch our coming out video and read all of our comments. No, I’m not trying to be self-serving by getting you to watch our video: if you take the time to a) hear Bren’s personal journey b) listen to the various tips and tricks shared and c) read through all of our comments, you’ll realize there are thousands of people with you. You deserve to be celebrated and are worthy of all the love in this world. Your “coming out” should be consistent to who you are as an individual. Scream it from the mountaintops if that’s your style, or only tell your one, closest friend. Either way, the moment you start accepting yourself for who you are, the world will follow suit. We are with you. I promise.
I would do anything for the better health of our relationship. This is why we have always been best friends, and will always be best friends. – Brit.
Brit: Honestly, I think any good friendship is built on a few defined features (trust, loyalty, etc.) I believe our friendship is extraordinary because we have proven it to last the test of time. We have a remarkable history, of shared interests and passions, and unconditional love for one another. There is no judgement, no jealousy, no possessiveness and no negativity anywhere to be found in our friendship. Brennan’s my oldest and closest friend and I would do anything for the better health of our relationship. This is why we have always been best friends, and will always be best friends.
Bren: I think a good friendship, the same as any healthy relationship, is built on great trust. For me, trust only comes with time. As I said, Brit has been in my life since I was 7 years old. She often says, with trust, you must give it to someone whole heartedly – if they betray your trust that leaves you with the decision to either revoke it completely or, without reservation, give it back to them fully again. She has never broken my trust in the many years we have been friends. I know she will always be a good listener; she will always rush to my side if I need help, and is always ready to have a fun adventure together. We’re both really sensitive people, and I think that has improved our friendship. We selflessly care about one another, and also if we get in a little fight it is always because we are highly emotional and are striving for an even better version of the friendship, there is never any malicious intent between us. I love Brit with my whole heart, and I squeeze her often to tell her that.
ON HOPES AND DREAMS
In a nutshell: I want to live a full, creative life where I can be happy and healthy surrounded by those I love. – Brit.
If you could do any job in the world, what would you like to do and why?
Brit: Other than acting, I would love to pursue a job in Psychology. Psychology combines my love of human behaviour, thoughts and motivation with my natural curiosity of people. I am currently studying this in university, and never feel as if I’m “studying”.
Bren: If I were to pursue any job in the world (besides being an actor) it would be a marine biologist! I love biology and I am a huge animal lover. Fun fact: I have very stretchy skin, and as a result of this my hands and feet are webbed – I’m a great swimmer! How do I combine all of these things, and get to live on a tropical island? Marine biology!
What are some of your hopes and aspirations for the future?
Brit: As for the future, I would love to fill my days with all things creative arts. I am a highly creative person and need to be fuelled by art of all kinds. Working in Film/TV is my ultimate dream: a sitcom comedy series, or a period piece… HECK YA! In addition, my creativity extends to multiple business endeavours. When I was young, I thought business was dull and boring, but my opinion has completely shifted. I really enjoy the challenge of creating a plan and designing the artistic package in which a product is marketed. In a nutshell: I want to live a full, creative life where I can be happy and healthy surrounded by those I love. Oh, and I want to keep making epic YouTube videos with Bren… but that’s a no brainer! 😉
Bren: I would love for our YouTube channel to continue to grow, and for making creative content to be a sustainable, financially supportive, full time job. I also have my own goals as an actor/dancer and would love to write and star in my own TV series (I’m already working on a script), as well as have roles in a variety of film genres. I love that I’m a versatile dancer, and I want to carry that over to my acting career. I would love to film a romantic comedy, an action thriller, and even a horror movie!
Ready for more Brit and Bren in your life?
YouTube (Brit and Bren)
This article will be printed in the next issue of THE STAG.