With Hollywood stardom just one TV show away you soon won’t need me to tell you that the man in the picture is Damian Garth Brown an up and coming Jamaican-Canadian actor. He is making a name for himself as a stage actor, a model, and a stand-in movie double and most recently in a made-in California Caribbean TV series.
With workmates like Kate Winslet and Idris Elba cheering you on from the sidelines, it is no shocker to learn that Damian Brown has gotten the advice he needs to make it in Hollywood. … Big Time.
At 6”2” Damian Garth Brown has a real presence when he stands in front of the camera. No wonder it was Adios Toronto, Hello Vancouver when he got the career boosting call to come to British Columbia and stand-in for superstar Idris Elba during the filming of The Mountain Between Us.
That 2018 feature film (now showing on Amazon Prime), starring Elba and Oscar winning actress Kate Winslow is set high in the Rockies. Alba and Winslow are onboard an airplane that crashes into the mountainside. The two strangers are the only survivors and must work together to battle the punishing elements, and make it back to civilization.
“When you are a stand-in at a shoot, it is not a given that the stars will acknowledge your presence,” Brown told me over the phone from New York, early last month. “Not so with Idris and Kate.”
In between takes they were straight up in giving me advice and on-the-job training. That was the real thing, unlike what it was like in theatre school! ”
That was almost four years ago; Brown admits he was pretty much a nobody outside of Toronto back then. So spending days talking acting with two of the biggest movie and TV stars, is what he described as a one-time opportunity.
Brown came to Canada in 2005 and won a scholarship at York University. After graduating he began the long stressful process of breaking into the business. He was acting evenings and weekends with Marcia Brown Productions, a Toronto troupe that perform plays for the Canadian Caribbean Community. Small parts in television and film roles followed. In Toronto he became best known for his performances in Doggy Daycare: The Movie; the popular TV series Kim's Convenience and the feature length film Downsizing.
Just before Damian got that call to come to British Columbia he was starting to loose interest in what is a tough, competitive business. “I felt a little lonely, everyone was trying to be something they weren’t. People in Toronto can be tough – but deep down I never stopped believing in myself.”
“ Out in British Columbia there is a huge movie industry and working with Idris showed me that there are big stars out there that are actually quite human and willing to talk about the business.”
After The Mountain Between Us made it into theatres, Damian Brown became a bit of nomad. His bag was always packed and by the front door, he had to be ready to go to his next audition.
The Mountain Between Us caused his cellphone to ring more and more. A year later he packed his things and left Toronto for an apartment in Surrey BC. Even though the pandemic was just starting to slow down the production of movies and shows, Brown was able to network, make friends in the industry and land some jobs in Hollywood, Toronto and British Columbia.
“ He recently moved down to Hollywood to be where the work is, but, we are keeping the home fires burning for him, and hey we are just a 5-hour flight away” said Yvette Martin, the president of Working Artists Caribbean International, a new Toronto based company that promotes emerging Caribbean artists to a global audience.
“He is the best of the new Toronto talent who are finding their way in front of the cameras,” she told me earlier this week.” Caribbean talent is in heavy demand. Suddenly a Jamaican or a Trini accent is a game changer.”
In 2020 he was invited to audition for a speaking role in the Caribbean / American TV series Arnold’s Caribbean Pizza. The comedy centres on Arnold, who opens a pizza shop that serves Caribbean-themed toppings to a head scratching America.
“When that I came to do the audition, I soon discovered I looked older than the character I was suppose to play,” said Brown. He was worried he wouldn’t get the part, but he was so good, the character was rewritten, and he soon was in front of the cameras.
It first aired in April 2020. In Trinidad and Jamaica the viewing numbers were record breaking because of the quality of production and the fact that the stars of the show are Caribbean and on this show Jamaican is spoken here!
According to the makers of Arnold’s Caribbean Pizza, “the Caribbean lineage comes from executive producer Trenten Gumbs, whose roots are marked by his grandfather who was born in Trinidad and Tobago.”
The Jamaican flavour, which is most present in the show, comes from the producer and actors, including veteran lead actor, Jeffrey Anderson-Gunter who stars as Arnold. Anderson-Guther's credits include Marked for Death (1990), Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult (1994), and Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood (1996).
Others in the show include Brown, Judi Johnson, Mark Anthony Williams, and Courtney Nevers. “The whole cast and writers are from Jamaica “It’s my first TV show with an all-Jamaican cast. The acting is incredible,” said Gumbs. “We didn't want Caribbean people with fake accents. We wanted real and authentic accents. It's a great presentation of Caribbean people and I'm happy with it.
If you can get Flow TV or National Black Television on the Internet you can see him in two coming episodes of Arnold’s Caribbean Pizza. He has been in a number of shows in the long running series and there are two more episodes set for the new 2022 season.
So what is next for Brown? He says he does have some blockbuster news but that he can’t tell me about it until the contract is signed. I guess he is afraid I might spill the beans early (he is probably right). So stay tuned for Part 2 of this story or follow him on his popular Instagram and Twitter services at: @damiangbrown