We caught up with emerging actor Brandon Salerno to discuss his latest projects.
Check out our exclusive interview below!
The Knockturnal: How did you get your start in acting?
Brandon Salerno: At an early age, I enjoyed putting on little shows for my family, but I didn’t act on an actual stage until middle school. I grew up in Eastchester, NY and started performing in shows with the Eastchester High School Players’ Club and Eastchester Youth Council Summer Theatre, which led me to really fall in love with acting. At first, I was just doing it for fun and because I genuinely loved our small town’s strong theatre community. But then, I started to find myself sitting in my high school classes and literally only wishing to be at rehearsal. I had this “Eureka!” moment where I was like, “woah, I think I only want to do this?”. Then, everything was set in stone in 10th grade while rehearsing for a show called While the Lights Were Out by Jack Sharkey – a hysterical murder mystery farce. I played Roderick Remley, a creepy butler with heightened physical and vocal mannerisms that made me stand out in the performance. I remember on opening night that members of the audience were roaring with laughter whenever I would say a line and afterward told me that I’d “stolen the show”. I felt amazing. Top of the world. So fulfilled. From that moment on, I knew my purpose was to create and take on different characters. Making people laugh was what I needed to do.
The Knockurnal: What was your experience like at NYU?
Brandon Salerno: Overall, I would say NYU was an amazing experience. I definitely struggled during my freshman year with finding my place within the university, but once I found my path it was fantastic. This bump in the road happened because I decided to take a bit of an untraditional approach to pursuing acting during college. I actually entered NYU in the College of Arts and Science as an undecided major – I did not enroll in the drama program at Tisch School of the Arts. I decided to do this because I was already auditioning professionally at this point and wanted my college education to build a potential fallback option should performing not work out. I quickly realized that I had made a mistake because once again, I would be sitting in a science or math class and feel like I didn’t belong there. I felt very sad and out of place. Ultimately, I just wanted to be performing or at least learning about the entertainment industry. So, I transferred to NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, which literally became one of the best decisions of my life. Here, I was able to create my own concentration, combining Acting, Entertainment Business and Educational Theatre with classes through Tisch, Steinhardt, Stern, and Gallatin’s arts workshops. I was so happy with this new path and now I couldn’t recommend Gallatin more – especially for those who want a more interdisciplinary education.
The Knockurnal: You also got to work on Mrs. Maisel! What was that like?
Brandon Salerno: Working on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel was absolutely phenomenal. When I was first cast as Truman in Season 1, Episode 2, I only had one line. It was my first TV co-star role and my first time performing opposite a comedy icon, Tony Shalhoub. When I received word that they were bringing me back for Season 2, Episode 3, I was floored. That is every co-star actor’s dream to become recurring. For Season 2, I was invited to the table read where I met the entire cast and saw them perform – it was a masterclass in itself. I had more scenes and lines for this round which was a fantastic experience. After watching all of Season 2 when it was released, I thought for sure my character was done. But then, I received the booking for Season 3 and I remember I literally screamed. This was a dream come true! It seemed almost impossible that a role with one line could bloom into a three-episode recurring co-star. Working with Tony, Amy, Dan, and the rest of the cast and crew was absolutely the best experience. There is so much magic on that show and I am so grateful I got to be a part of it.
The Knockturnal: Tell us about your role on HBO’s The Other Two?
Brandon Salerno: I play a sassy, millennial New Yorker across three scenes (hoping all make the final cut) with a nice chunk of dialogue. I don’t want to give anything away, but my fellow co-stars and I got to work with Drew Tarver and it was a blast!
The Knockturnal: What was it like working on this show?
Brandon Salerno: This was my dream show. From the moment I first started watching Season 1, I knew that I needed to book a role on Season 2. I fell in love instantly. The characters are relatable and hilarious. The writing is comedy gold and the premise is so unique. Also, I really love the style of a “New York millennial comedy” – I’m talking about shows like Difficult People, Broad City, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, etc. So, booking The Other Two checked off literally everything on my wish list at the time. Onset, we did improv takes, had some fun with physical comedy, and everyone was so supportive and hilarious. It was a perfect day and I would relive it a million times over again if I could.
The Knockurnal: What do you love about comedy?
Brandon Salerno: I love that comedy can offer people an escape/distraction or a way of coping with whatever serious things they have going on in their lives. I always quote Joan Rivers (who I think was actually quoting Winston Churchill) saying that “when you make someone laugh, you give them a little vacation”. That has stuck with me for years. I truly believe that comedy is a powerful vehicle to get people through a tough time. If my performance can make someone laugh and for a split second they have relief from whatever they’re dealing with, then I’ve done my job. That is extremely fulfilling for me.
The Knockurnal: What’s next for you?
Brandon Salerno: Like many actors during the pandemic, I dove into the world of voice-over, specifically animation. I just wrapped up training with Mick Wingert (Kung Fu Panda) who helped me perfect a brand-new animation reel, which I plan to share in the next couple of weeks. I have voiced a few characters on Nella The Princess Knight on Nick Jr. and I’m hoping you’ll get to hear my crazy character voices on a new cartoon soon! I’m also actively teaching acting classes for kids (and helping parents with the “Business of Acting”) at The Prep (NJ) over Zoom.