Spring 2018 Spotlight: Brian Michael

In each of our quarterly newsletters, Charlotte Pride spotlights volunteer, staffer, community partner, donor or sponsor, so that you can learn more about the beautiful people who comprise our diverse community. For our spring spotlight, we’re sharing the story of Brian Michael, our special guest at this year’s 10th annual Reel Out Charlotte, the Queen City’s LGBTQ film festival.

Brian, who began speaking publicly about his life as a trans actor in 2016, recently starred in his breakout role as Officer Toine Wilkins in the Oprah Winfrey Network’s “Queen Sugar” series. Brian is known for his work as a teaching artist and youth mentor to LGBTQ young people, as well as his advocacy for trans representation alongside Janet Mock and Amiyah King. Brian will join Charlotte Pride during Reel Out Charlotte’s 10th Annual Opening Reception & Celebration, where he’ll speak on the importance of LGBTQ, and specifically transgender, representation in media.

Weekend Passes are currently on sale for this year’s Reel Out Charlotte. Buy your pass today and get access to a special VIP pre-reception with Brian and other special guests!

Brian Michael was born and raised in Ann Arbor, MI. As a child, he channeled his boundless energy into athletics and stage performance.

Although assigned female at birth, he self-identified as, and was perceived as, male throughout his childhood. He always challenged societal pressures to conform to his assigned role.

While in high school he played football on the Boys team in the fall and set records in throwing events on the Girls Track team in the spring.

He fell in love with acting in elementary school, because he was allowed to be whomever he wanted to be onstage and he discovered the power of performance to generate understanding and move people.

Brian attended Kent State University where he continued to study acting and found a deeper passion for screen work. Confronted with increasing gender-based restrictions on which roles he could play, Brian shifted focus to Video & Film Production and began transitioning during his final years at Kent State.

Upon graduating from Kent State, Brian returned to Michigan and began teaching and mentoring youth through filmmaking, eventually moving to New York City to pursue his career in acting.

His professional career began training under Terry Knickerbocker at the William Esper Studio in 2011. While studying he earned featured roles on a few TV shows and films and joined SAGAFTRA.

Building on his gift for comedy, Brian also trained and performed with several sketch and improv troupes, most notably Gotham City Improv. Also taking the stage off-Broadway and regional performances in a handful of plays including Women Are Crazy Because Men Are A**Holes and Mitch Albom’s Duck Hunter Shoots Angel.

Most recently, Brian has appeared as Roland Garrett, a troubled suspect turned witness in NBC’s Chicago P.D. and Nate an EMT caught in a standoff in Showtime’s Homeland.

Quick facts about Brian:

  • Since 2015, Brian has appeared in Girls, Law & Order: SVU, Person of Interest, Blue Bloods, The Detour Chicago P.D. & Homeland
  • Brian has appeared opposite Eli Manning in a Toyota commercial.
  • The Meisner-trained actor has studied under Terry Knickerbocker, Bill Esper & Anthony Abeson.
  • He was raised by his mother, Ingrid Smith, an event planner, with the support of his close-knit family. He and his mother spent his early years living with aunts, cousins and adopted brother.
  • While attending Ann Arbor Pioneer High School played Boys football & Girls Track
  • On September 17, 1999 became the first female athlete to score a Varsity touchdown in the state of Michigan.
  • Holds 3 school records in shot put and javelin and pole vault. At KSU Two-time MAC Champion in throws; is top 10 in school history in five throwing events.

(Click here to see all Spring 2018 newsletter content)