Isaiah Frizzelle is an actor, writer and personal trainer based in Los Angeles. Known for his appearances as Luther Campbell in The Breaks (TV Series 2017) on VH1 and his part in Blue Bloods (TV Series 2010 – ) on CBS, Isaiah’s physical on-screen dominance has inevitably lead to law enforcement and military roles. A martial artist and book lover, Isaiah is also more than adept at playing a variety of roles, such as a scientist, lawyer or doctor. Multi-talented doesn’t quite seem to cover it. With all due respect, you can’t really see fellow muscle-men Schwarzenegger or Stallone bursting out of a suit in court or white lab coat – at least not seriously. Junior (1994) anyone?
Frizzelle also raps, sings, plays guitar, pens songs as well as screenplays, and somehow also finds the time to run his own podcast – more on that below!
An absolute pleasure to interview, Isaiah Frizzelle stars in Boy*Friends (2020) which has to be seen to be believed. Truly. The comedy is right on the edge and you’ll likely find yourself hitting rewind to check what you’ve just seen and heard.
At the time of the interview the pilot episode had racked up 166,000 views on YouTube. At the time of publishing this fascinating interview it’s now been viewed by over half a million. Staggering numbers and I’m not surprised.
WARNING: TRAILER ABOVE CONTAINS ADULT SCENES. SENSE OF HUMOUR REQUIRED.
FF: Thanks so much for joining me today. I’m really grateful for the opportunity to speak to you.
IF: Oh, man, likewise! Like, this was one of the interviews I was excited to be a part of. And, yeah, my buddy, Kazy Tauginas, I think you had an interview with him as well. He enjoyed it!
FF: He was brilliant. So if it’s half as good as that, then it’ll be awesome. Definitely.
IF: Kazy’s a good dude. That’s my brother.
FF: Can you introduce yourself and give an overview of your journey in the filmmaking industry to date?
IF: So, my name is Isaiah Frizzelle. And in terms of journey… Hmm, where do I start? I would say my acting journey started, in certain ways, by accident. And I mean that by, you know, growing up, it was…the idea of acting and things like that was cool.
FF: I’ve already got the impression of you, from researching you, and just listening to you for whatever it’s been, two minutes, that you’re very focused. Is that fair, that you’re very focused and measured?
IF: I appreciate that. I try to be very intentional with everything that I do for sure. Like, there’s usually intention and thought that goes behind just how I move throughout the world. I don’t like to, you know, pardon my French, I don’t like to half-ass things, so it’s, like, whenever I do something, I try to do it to the best of my ability. And yes, be very focused and very determined, and very diligent.
FF: Can you tell us what Boy*Friends (2020) is about, your role in it, and whether the full series has been commissioned or not?
IF: So Boy*Friends is about the main character Nick, who’s in college and he and his friends are just kind of experienced in life. It’s a heavy emphasis on, you know, the lifestyle of a gay character, and just his journey and his challenges, however normal or extravagant they are, and him having the support of his friends.
So my character Dom is one of his friends in college, like one of his close buddies, confidants, and we’re just experiencing life together, man. It’s just like the ups and downs, the craziness that is…and the great thing about Boy*Friends is it like – it kicks it up a notch, you know? It’s more than just your humdrum… college experience. There’s a lot of surprises involved, a lot of moments where I’m just like, oh wow, that’s crazy but – could it possibly happen? Sure. Absolutely. And yeah, it’s the whole series itself, I guess they’re still in the workings, the pilot that we shot and that everyone can see has been doing amazingly well.
FF: Very well, I mean… obviously I watched it before I’ve spoken to you and, at the moment, at the time of this, when we’re recording this, it’s at like 166,000 views.
FF: Which is incredible! You must be stoked at that.
IF: It’s crazy. I mean, it’s cool to see those numbers. And, yeah, I think it’s just cool, in essence, to be a part of something like that, but like the cast and crew, it’s all amazing, they’re very talented.
And, you know, to see something come to fruition like that… it’s like there’s a possibility for other things to come afterwards. We’ll just see.
I think the thing about the film life is that it’s always something you’re juggling, you know? You never really know what’s going to come of it. But, when you do anything, and it’s received well, it’s cool. It’s like, ‘Alright, cool. We did something. We did something right’.
FF: ‘This is what I’m doing it for’ kind of thing, yeah.
IF: Yeah. It’s a reminder. And, you know, you do it to have fun. And again, that was my biggest takeaway. There was a lot of talent on that set, and I made some friends that I still have now from that project. Yeah, it was just cool.
I think when people watch it, they can kind of experience what it is, because college is… it’s weird. College can be weird at first; how you navigate and all those things… it’s very, it’s relatable, but also can be very subjective in certain aspects, too, you know?
FF: Yeah, I was gonna ask you. I found myself sort of guiltily laughing very early on when one of the characters claims that another may have a serious illness, and… the clever albeit disgusting ending to the pilot episode. So was edgy humour part of the reason you came on board with the project? How did you get involved?
IF: Um, I got involved, actually, from my buddy Joe. He had reached out to me randomly in June, we hadn’t talked in a while. He was like, ‘Hey, would you be interested in this pilot?’. I was like, ‘Um, what’s it about?’
He started reading off what it was about and everything like that. I was like, ‘I auditioned for this a while ago, and I never heard anything back’.
So I went, read with some of the other guys… I remember when I first auditioned for it, and I got the script, I liked it because it seemed to be pretty fast-paced, but also very smart.
Noam, who’s the creator writer of this, has a very intelligent way of getting things across, and very funny. So that caught my attention. I was like, this would be something cool to be in the mix of for sure. Yeah.
FF: I feel like I’m kind of working my way through the cast of Standing Eight, which is a 2016 short film – me having spoken to Kazy Tauginas and Freddy Giorlando. What was it like working with them on that short movie, depicting a boxer who was diagnosed with Lupus… Are you friends with them? Do you already know them?
IF: Oh, yeah! Kazy and Freddy are family, those are two of my closest friends. It’s no stretch of the imagination – they’re family for me. Those are my brothers.
I talk to Kazy and Freddy regularly. Whenever Kazy’s out here in LA, we all get together and we just hang out. It’s very much what you would kind of want in life, you know, people that you are going through the same journey with, but also just good solid people. Kazy has an amazing heart, and you know, the whole story behind Standing Eight (2016), how it pertains to his life, in certain ways, how it reflects on his life, I think, is very commendable.
When we worked on Standing Eight (2016) that was a good time. You know, I remember that day specifically, and a couple of days that we were on set for. That was a really, really cool time. Great people to work with. Again, it was a solid cast and crew and everybody was there to work, and just make this something that people want to see. Kazy works hard. He’s a brilliant mind too, so coming into this, I was like ‘I’m down!’
FF: I’m not surprised that you two are friends, just based on my conversation with him recently. With how you’re coming across, I can kind of tell you’re maybe on the same wavelength with the same kind of focus and drive to get to where you want to be really?
IF: Yeah, it’s just a group of guys who are doing what they’ve got to do to make things happen, but also looking out for their people, you know? And just being decent.
I think that’s the biggest takeaway: it’s one thing to have a goal, and have a dream and to have a drive. But it’s another thing to be yourself and also treat others well throughout the entire process. I think that’s the biggest task. I think that’s the most important when it’s all said and done, because everything else is gonna happen. It’s like, ‘Who are you at the end of the day and at the beginning of the day?’ You keep that. You know what I’m saying?
FF: Nicely put. Yeah, no, I like that. That’s cool. What do you wish you’d known when you first embarked on your film-making career?
IF: What do I wish I’d known? That’s a good question. What do I wish that I’d known… taking stock and understanding that everything you do is worth something instead of just running yourself into the ground. Like, really taking your time, asking more questions, and, you know, seeking community, because I think in this industry, sometimes we…as an actor, it can be a very solo journey, in theory, but it’s really not. As actors, filmmakers, creators, whatever the case may be, in order to make something happen you need other people involved to some capacity. So it’s cool to ask questions, it’s cool to ask for help. It’s cool to form a network and be willing to… just do that. Instead of thinking that I have to put my nose to the ground, and forget everything else. Just ask for help to take the load off? You know?
FF: We could all do with that advice to be honest, not just in acting to be fair.
IF: Yeah. I think it’s very important to understand that and realise that as you go through life, because we’re a community first, you know, and a community really goes a long way. Because there may be something that you do, but someone else does this, and they could kind of take the load off of what you’re doing, and you can take a load off of what they’re doing, and you guys just build something together. And the industry is… it’s a mystique in certain ways. Like, there’s not one linear way to get from point A to point B. And it doesn’t mean that what you’re doing is not the right way, just because you haven’t had a certain amount of success at this age or in this timeline in comparison to someone else.
FF: Like Morgan Freeman…
IF: Yeah. I think that’s the biggest thing that I wish I knew early on.
FF: What’s the best advice you’ve been given as a filmmaker?
IF: The best advice I’ve been given as a filmmaker is… I think, just to create. I think that’s the biggest thing, just create and don’t worry so much about each thing being perfect or like Oscars worthy or something like that. Instead just get yourself to do, just create, and keep creating. And be certain of what it is that you’re doing. Be sure this is something that you’re willing to do, and take on, because it’s a thankless job in certain aspects. You’ll spend a lot of time working versus reaping the rewards… for a long time. You know?
FF: That’s interesting… pretty much all filmmakers seem to say the same thing: just get on with it. Don’t doubt yourself too much. Believe. Have convictions. Go for it.
IF: Yeah, because I think it’s one of the things we’re told as actors at least, or just in life. People can pick up on desperation, people can pick up on uncertainty. It’s important, I think, to have conviction about yourself, the self assurance aspect,, because when you walk into a room, you know, people pick up on what you’re giving. And it’s not always easy when you don’t have the reaffirmations or the validation that comes with what you’re working on, or what you put out, but it still helps to have a certain level of ‘This is who I am. This is what I do’.
FF: And what do you struggle with the most as a writer, and also as an actor?
IF: Actually, it’s like impostor syndrome. It’s very much like: ‘Alright, well, this probably isn’t good’, or ‘this is crap’. And it’s like, you think yourself out of something before you even do it. And you know, in terms of writing, you get this ‘monkey brain’, like a chaos that goes on in your head. And how you just walk through every situation with that in the back of your head. So for me, impostor syndrome is big for me. And just learning to take a break sometimes too, you know, that’s a big thing.
FF: I could definitely write an article about Impostor Syndrome. You’re not the first film-maker to say that either. So that’s interesting.
Can you tell us about your podcast? It seems to be an interesting blend of sort of mental health and horror.
IF: Yeah. So The Bird Brain Podcast is my baby, it’s a hybrid.
On Mondays I have episodes that focus on just, honestly, seeing yourself better, treating yourself a little bit better, having a very healthy relationship with yourself, and how you can pinpoint certain things in your life that you may have overlooked. Things that are very simple, in your daily routine, that really reflect what kind of relationship you have with yourself, and how that filters out into your relationships with people in the world. I just do my best to, like, have a conversation, not talk over anyone’s head. Just have a simple conversation about, ‘Hey, this is what my week was, maybe you can relate. And let’s talk about it’.
It’s all about staying elevated, I say ‘have a bird’s eye view on life, because birds, they fly a little higher’. And it’s like, if you’re up here, and your situation is down here, it allows you to kind of stay elevated.
FF: I love that. I thought it was very accessible. That’s my impression of it.
IF: Thank you. Yeah, I try to be. Because for me, it’s like, ‘Look, I know what I’ve experienced, personally, and I know I’m not unique’. So… if there’s anything that I can talk about, how I got through this situation, I’m willing to share it, and maybe someone could relate to that, maybe you’d help someone along the way. And then I just switch gears on Fridays, I write a lot of horror stories. I write these short stories, and I narrate them for the Night Owl portion. I call that the “Night Owl” because I really don’t… My sleep has always been a little off, and I think that’s just the creative curse.
FF: Me too. 100%. Yeah.
IF: Yeah, you don’t have an actual sleep schedule, you just fall asleep whenever you’re tired. The Night Owl, it’s a bunch of short stories. I think about a situation or a scenario, I write it and I narrate it, or I have some other actors narrate.It’s cool. I like having a balance, because those are two of my favourite things like horror and just working to be a better person. So I kind of bridge them together.
FF: That’s cool. Obviously, you’re going to be doing that ongoing. But I was just gonna ask you finally, what are you working on next? Other than, obviously, your ongoing podcast?
IF: Uhh working on right now….? I just finished writing the book. It’s in the revision process and I’m going to start working on the illustrations for it very soon. It’s called “The Coloring Book”. And that’s all about life not being as black and white as we think, and understanding that your experiences throughout life really colour who you are as a person. Again, very similar to the podcast, but more in depth. Something that people can read, and also colour. But yeah, that’s a big one that I’m excited about. Because throughout quarantine I’ve had a minute to really just hunker down and write, and use my experiences to my advantage.
So just working on that, trying to have that done by like… it would be cool to have it done by the holidays. I think that would be fantastic. And there’s a film that I was in called ‘Blind Fire’ that will be premiering, I believe it’s November 13th. That’s going to have a very opposite… story, plot, feeling… from Boy*Friends. That’s a little bit more serious, more visceral, but it’s a project that I was excited to be a part of, and very much something I think worth watching, with a lot that people will take away from it. Big time.
Film lover. Coffee hater. Raising a newborn during a global pandemic and interviewing indie filmmakers in between nappy changes.