Spotlight on Dorian Baucum: ‘In the Red and Brown Water’ Actor, Singer and Everyday Warrior

"In the Red and Brown Water"

Dorian Baucum and Diarra Kilpatrick and company in “In the Red and Brown Water”

If you’ve had the unforgettable experience of seeing the Fountain Theatre’s critically-acclaimed Los Angeles Premiere of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s In the Red and Brown Water, you can see  by his heartfelt performance of Ogun Size that Dorian Baucum is a talented actor. What you may not know is that he is also a gifted singer/songwriter.

Where are you from? How long have you lived in Los Angeles?

I grew up in Washington, D.C.  I came to Los Angeles in 2008 after taking a risk and leaving Boston, Massachusetts.  I decided to get my MFA in Acting from UC San Diego and came on up to LA to begin working in film and television.

Dorian Baucum

Dorian Baucum

What was it like auditioning for Red/Brown? 

By the time I auditioned, I’d been in L.A. for four years.  After hundreds of auditions, and landing some great guest star roles on television, by that time I’d made the decision that I wasn’t going to pretend I was somebody else to try to impress the Director or Producers like I did when I first came to L.A. I was going to just show what my instincts were for the role and if they liked what I brought into the room, great. If they didn’t? Well, I’d have to figure out a way to be okay with that. This art thing is sensitive.  So, in being true to myself and my actor instincts, I can just let them decide if I’m right or wrong for the piece.

I celebrated when I got the role in Red/Brown. Then panic set in. Who am I fooling?  I’m no actor! I’m going to ruin the whole show! (laughs)  That’s the cycle I go through.

Dorian retouched_back_panel_photo

How would you describe your character of Ogun?  

Ogun is a man that comes from the heart center.  He’s a warrior of love.  To walk through the world with an open heart can be frightening.  It’s like when you’re a little kid and all you want to do is love and then somebody comes along and shakes you into the harsh realities of life.  I think this is why he stutters as a young man: he is so open and vulnerable.  As an older man, he turns his open heart into his strength, when he realizes that love is his gift.  He realizes that his love can save people.  His love is so strong that it pulls Oya from the depths of depression, for a while.

Playing him is terrifying. Vulnerability, extreme sensitivity, insecurity.  All the parts of myself I’d like to pretend aren’t there were necessary to play him.  It’s also taught me that it’s okay to be a peaceful warrior.  It’s okay to live from the heart.  People like Ogun are warriors, but they are warriors in a different way.  Their gift is to bring love to the planet.  It’s hard to do that when you are living on a planet with so much turmoil.  You have to protect yourself, too.  I think he realizes this in the end.  It’s a tough balance.  I think he sees that in giving his greatest gift, love, to Oya, he has to also remember that loving himself is the most important thing that he will ever do.  Most people think that loving others first is the way it works, but I think it starts within, first and radiates outward.

What has the Red/Brown experience been like for you? 

Challenging. In order to play Ogun, I had to open up my heart center and that meant dealing with all of the experiences in my life that made me close it off to the world in the first place.  Director Shirley Jo Finney made it even harder because she was relentless in insisting that I go there.  She is kind of a vortex, an oracle for the ancestors in the way that she works.  When she gives directions, it’s not just coming from her. It’s coming directly from the ancestors and their mission is to open you up so that you can become who you were meant to be on your journey.

Tell us about your music career.

I’ve been singing since I was a kid. But, as an adult, music saved my life.  I started creating lyrics and melodies and singing them as therapy to get me through the day.   Now I volunteer at  Cedars Sinai Hospital and sing to patients at bedside as a part of their music for healing program.

The influences of the all the artists I listened to growing up like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and Earth, Wind and Fire comes through my music in a powerful way.  India Arie, Mos Def, Erykah Badu and Michael Franti are all great influences.

I write acoustic and neo soul.  But the lyrics – conscious lyrics meant to uplift, inspire and heal me when I need it – are really what makes my music something that the world needs to hear right now. It is very encouraging when you create a piece of art and there are people out there who say, “Yeah, I feel you!”

I’m doing it all myself as an indie artist. Connecting with as many people as possible who like my music to help me build a strong support-base. I’ve made sales in little pockets throughout the U.S., Japan, South Africa, South America, Italy and Germany. (laughs)  Somebody in Japan is grooving to my music, right now! Blows my mind!

And getting a chance to work with a living legend like Brenda Lee Eager on this show opened my voice in ways that blow my mind, too.  She knows where music comes from and where it needs to go. To the HEART!

What are the rewards of being an actor versus being a singer/musician? What do you get from each, as an artist?

That’s a tough one.  With music, it comes straight from the heart and I get to connect with people as me, totally and completely.  In acting, I connect with people, too, but it’s me playing within the confines of the realty being created, so it’s not all of me full force like it would be in music, you know?  I think that there is freedom in acting, but I think there is even more freedom in music.

You have a new CD out, “Everyday Warrior”. How would you describe it?

Dorian_-_Everyday_Warrior_cover_artMy debut album, EVERYDAY WARRIOR: ACOUSTIC – NEO SOUL FOR YOUR SOUL is conscious uplifting music that you can kick-back and groove to, but it is also meant to help folks get through the day in a better way.  I’m a music healer, urban yogi and a strong believer in the fact that music can change people’s lives for the better.  So, that kind of energetic intention is behind my music.

My producer a – multi-instrumentalist San Francisco born sister,  Joy Julks – is a baaaaaaaaad ass – she’s played with many of the greats like Pharoah Sanders, Angela Bofil, Marcus Miller, Sheila E., Macy Gray and many others.

What are your plans after Red/Brown closes?

I’m going to really get my music to as many hearts as possible and as always…find my next great acting project to work on. Or, let it find me!

In the Red and Brown Water   Final Weeks!   Must End Feb 24!            (323) 663-1525   More Info

Proceeds from Dorian’s CD go to Run For Her 2013, an annual run and friendship run/walk to benefit Women’s Ovarian Cancer Research and Awareness. 

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