Brian Falduto might be best known for playing the role of Billy the stylist in the film School of Rock opposite Jack Black, but his career has catapulted him into so much more. The role was supposed to be cast as ‘tech nerd,’ but after falling in love with Brian in his audition, they rewrote the role to suit his personality, transforming Billy into an aspiring stylist. Once the film was released, eleven year-old Brian was bullied and labeled “the gay kid from School of Rock.” Spending the next few years laying low and trying to blend in, Falduto finally came into his own and in turn, came out to his family and friends. Taking on a new role as a life-coach focusing on LGBTQ clients, in addition to his work as a singer/songwriter, his debut, acoustic EP Love One Another quickly rose the singer-songwriter charts in the United States and the UK. I sat down with Brian for an exclusive chat where we talked about his childhood rocket-style rise to stardom, finding his center as a life coach, and his biggest lesson from people like Jack Black and Joan Cusack.
Michael Cook: Brian, you have a number of things going on right now! Tell me about your new single “God Loves Me Too”
Brian Falduto: The song comes out hopefully soon, we want to make sure that it gets to the right eyes and ears because I think it’s a really important message. I am a country music singer/songwriter and there are a lot of country music songs about church. I decided to write one about my experience growing up in church, it’s called “God Loves Me Too”. I think that it is time that there is a solid message to queer youth who need to know that they are loved and accepted.
MC: Many people feel that once you come out of the closet, you are not able to participate or attend church worship. How do you reconcile that for yourself in your own experiences?
BF: The reason that the song was so important to me was because I did go through that journey. My spirituality and my faith has shifted so many times over the years and it still shifts often, and I think that is okay. What I don’t think people are realizing is that there are options for people who want to remain completely who they are and also be part of something bigger than themselves. I didn’t realize that until recently when I found a supportive community like that and it inspired the song. People who don’t know that these communities exist probably feel really alone like I did and they need to adapt to what is going on around them, The song is meant to tell them to hold on for a little longer, that there is an option for you if you want to be completely who you are and still be loved.
MC: So take me back, when did you know that being a performer would be the passion that you would end up following?
BF: Ironically in church. I had the loudest voice in the kids choir and the director would always say “everyone be like Brian”. I really enjoyed that attention, so I constantly kept looking for it.
MC: School of Rock is probably one of the highlights of your career to this day. What do you think you learned from people like Jack Black and Joan Cusack?
BF: The whole experience remains so surreal still. I don’t think kids are supposed to experience something like that at such a young age, so it was very different and very magical to me. I definitely don’t regret it, it was such a unique experience and I would never trade that. Being able to look back and say that it was so unique, and it has led to so much of who I am. I graduated college as a Theater Performance major and I don’t think everyone was as prepared for the rejection of the industry as I was, or what it would take to keep your head above water for so long. I got a feel for just having to keep going!
MC: How many people come up to you and say the iconic line “You’re tacky and I hate you” from School Of Rock?
BF: They still do and It’s been seventeen years. It just happened two weeks ago when I was skiing, and I had so much gear on I could not believe anyone would recognize me, but they did! (laughs)!
MC: In addition to your music, you are a life coach also; Tell me how you dove into that.
BF: I lived so much of my life not really being connected with myself and not putting myself authentically into the world. It was about attention, approval or success because I hit success so young; it was really always about what everyone always thought of me and how I would blend in. It was about developing a good relationship with myself that I could actually value, and that is my proudest accomplishment to date. It is so far from were I was and I became really passionate about how one does that and whether or not I can help people do the same. I decided to become a coach and really look into what it would take to really take someone’s hand and walk with them along their own journey to do that for themselves.
MC: Are you finding that you are not only helping others as a life coach, but you are getting enriched yourself in return?
BF: Absolutely. I got on the phone with a client recently during a tough day that I was having and you learn from their stories and it almost served as a daily pick me up. I am trying to give people energy on a topic that maybe, I need a reminder on myself.
MC: What is on your vision board for the next few years?
BF: As an artist I am telling stories and as a coach, I am helping other people tell their own stories; it feels all very one lane for me. I feel that my music will get an elevated platform with more eyes and ears on it. I will be able to coach on a larger scale so I am not grinding as hard. I will be able to be a little bit more of a larger voice for whatever I am saying. I have had some moments of that and it is very rewarding, checking in with people on a larger platform. I don’t think that I would ever give up the personal one on one connection, but I think I would switch gears a little bit and work on creating a bigger picture.
MC: From an acting and from a singing standpoint, who would be some of your biggest dream collaborations?
BF: From a songwriting standpoint, it would be Brandi Carlisle, although she is much cooler than me (laughs). From an acting standpoint, definitely Josh Thomas. He has a new show on Freeform and he had an Australian show on Hulu right now as well.
MC: What would the Brian Falduto of today tell the Brian Falduto that is just starting out in the business?
BF: I am finding that in my older age, that all of the cliches do turn out to be true. Throughout my entire younger years, no one really stopped and told me to just focus on being me and turning inward when I felt misunderstood or things were not going well. I was always looking outside of myself. I would really just want to honor what I was taught for me and to be as true to that as possible.
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All Photos Courtesy of Brian Falduto (Facebook)