Although Dante has yet to work with many of his favorites in the entertainment industry, many people believe that it’s just a matter of time. Oftentimes, he’s referred to as the “Young Denzel” (Washington, that is). In addition, Oprah Winfrey herself proclaimed that Dante was a “future star” at the tender age of five, and now we get to witness “The Oprah Effect” as Dante’s budding career begins to take off. The 20th Century Fox and Walden Media movie, Won’t Back Down is Dante’s most recent role and afforded him the opportunity to make his big screen debut in theaters this past September. His heart-felt performance is positioning him for many more doors to open.
This 13-year old is the son of Chicago business owners Tracy and Joyce-Kelly Brown, and older brother to Dusan Brown, who is also an up-and-coming actor and singer. Dante’s parents made the life-changing decision to “give Hollywood a try” in August 2010, and because of Dante and Dusan’s successes over the past two years, they are contemplating relocating all in the name of family. GMO had the opportunity to catch up with Dante.
GlossMagazineOnline: What is your ultimate goal that you would like to accomplish as a Hollywood actor?
Dante: I’d love to win an Oscar for having a lead role in a Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese or Spike Lee film or even star in a blockbuster action movie. Dream big, right? Ultimately, I’d like to work with many of the legendary filmmakers, gain a ton of experience, become recognized as a working actor (maybe producer, in the future) with great work ethic … and just continue spreading the love of good stories through acting and movies. A lot of industry people have started referring to me as a “Young Denzel,” which is a huge compliment, so it would be great to have a career similar to his and even to work with him. [Laughs]
GMO: What do you ultimately aspire to become within the entertainment industry?
Dante: I think because I love music, almost equally, it would be great that in addition to a successful acting career and perhaps launching a production company when we’re older [my little brother and I]. I would also like to one day become a Grammy winning producer … maybe scoring several films … who knows … and a rapper, too.
GMO: For those who haven’t been to theaters to see Won’t Back Down, can you tell us about the role you play as Viola Davis’ and Lance Reddick’s son in the new film?
Dante: Sure! In the movie, I play the role of their son, Cody Alberts. My character has a learning disability, which is revealed during a pivotal point in the movie. So, if you haven’t seen it, you’ll have to see it to find out why. [laughs] Cody is also kind of a quiet kid and gets bullied at school, because of his learning disorder. He’s a lonely kid, given the problems his parents are having at home, but, in the movie, you’ll find my character in some very touching scenes. Watching it, I actually made myself cry.
GMO: Outside of Hollywood how would you describe yourself?
Dante: I’d describe myself as being a pretty typical kid. I attend regular, middle school and although this is the beginning of my second year at the school, I’ve met a lot of nice, new friends. I enjoy school, especially my science and history classes. Most people would say I’m pretty outgoing and I’m a very caring kid. As active as I like to be, whether it’s sports, video games, playing basketball, hanging with my little brother, family or friends. I can also be very laid back, too, when I want to be. I like having fun!
GMO: Has playing the role of Cody impacted you personally or individually?
Dante: Yes, I actually know what it feels like for kids that have a learning disorder and can empathize with them. Also, although I’ve never been one to bully kids, being a part of Won’t Back Down in this role, has also taught me to not stand by the side and just allow others to bully, but to take a stand by voicing my opinion that it’s really not cool.
GMO: What do you do outside of filming?
Dante: Outside of filming, as I mentioned, I also love music. So, oftentimes I’m listening to music, watching YouTube videos and I’ve started learning to make beats as well. I love playing with my little brother and friends, whether it’s video games, basketball, hanging at Universal City Walk, going to the movies or having a sleepover. I like being active; going different places… just keeping busy and enjoying life.
GMO: In your music career, what are you currently working on?
Dante: My little brother Dusan Brown and I actually have a group called The Brown Boys. We have an album called Here Come The Brown Boys on iTunes, which we released as independent artists when we were about 10 and eight. However, when we have time, outside of acting, which is our focus right now, with our dad, we brainstorm about future singles, albums and music projects. Hopefully, we’ll be releasing a new single soon and will begin working on our next album. Also, we recently collaborated with an 8 year old, singing sensation, Jayda B on her debut single, called “I Rock My Tutu.” It’s really cool and it should be released soon on iTunes and we also were in her music video, so watch out for it.
GMO: Tell your fans something about yourself that they don’t know already?
Dante: I love God. I’m a very nice guy and love for people around me to have fun. Because my parents are business owners and have entrepreneurial minds, I guess that’s also rubbed off on me … I’m always thinking of new businesses to start and jotting down my ideas and plans for the future.
GMO: What do you miss about Chicago?
Dante: Most of all, I miss my dad and being around my family––my cousins, grandparents, aunts, uncles and also my old classmates; my wrestling buddies and close friends. I also miss the weather in Chicago––having four seasons. In LA it’s hot, a lot! [laughs] So, when I’m home and the wind blows, it feels refreshing. Oh yeah, out here in LA, we’re in a tiny apartment, so I definitely miss our home in Chicago, and my bedroom.
GMO: What’s up next for you in your Hollywood career?
Dante: I just found out that you’d see me next on TV! Earlier this year I shot a pilot called Mockingbird Lane, and we just found out that on Friday, October 26 at 8pm, it will air as part of NBC’s Friday Fright Night. I can’t wait! [The show has aired as of publication. Check you local TV schedule for replay information.]
GMO: Tell me more about your role in Mockingbird Lane.
Dante: Well, if you’re familiar with The Munster’s from back in the day, then you’ll enjoy Mockingbird Lane. It’s the story of those characters, but a more modern day take on things. I play an 11-year-old, fastidious Boy Scout name Huey. That’s all I can speak on, but I had a ton of fun shooting my scene and playing this character. I’m in the opening scene, so if you plan to watch me, you must tune in early or you’ll miss me as Huey. I just saw the promo clip and got even more excited! The special effects are ridiculous on this project! I knew they would be, though, after all, the creator, Bryan Fuller, has done some amazing projects like Pushing Daisies and is currently shooting Hannibal, and the Director, Bryan Singer, worked projects like X-Men. So, Mockingbird Lane will be just as exciting! So mark your calendars and tune in to NBC, Friday, October 26th at 8pm.
GMO: Joyce, at what moment did you realize that your son was destined for Hollywood?
Joyce: I would say “in the womb,” but you know even when things have been prophesied … when we feel it’s not in line with “our mission,” sometimes we avoid it. [laughs] But seriously, when Dante was a baby, from Day one, he seemed to have just had this light about him. Strangers would approach me about holding him, wanting to touch his hair and would just stare at him, constantly. However, it wasn’t until Dante was almost two, when after hearing almost on a daily basis from someone who thought they had seen him in commercials or in a magazine, that I figured: 'Hey, maybe I should take the time to look into this entertainment industry.' So, with the help of a lady who suggested that we give it a try, we started Dante at home in Chicago, of course, and within the first month, he booked a national print ad for Keebler and a national commercial for Sears. So, that was his start and because it never seemed extremely difficult and continues to appear to be happening with moderate ease, that’s when my husband and I realized perhaps we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing, by helping him (little brother Dusan, too) to follow his purpose and passion.
This young mogul lets the world know that before exploding in stardom that fulfilling a purpose is much greater. Dante’s priorities are keeping family first, having a strong foundation in God, and knowing who he is as a person. Dante Khalil Brown is already making a name for himself in Hollywood and this light just starting to shine.