If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to try new things, we have a brilliant idea to get you started: check out Youthful Daze. Created by actor Bryan James, Youthful Daze is a steamy web series that follows James’s character, Drew, as he navigates love, life, and multiple personalities. Talk Nerdy With Us had a chance to sit down with Bryan to chat about the many hats he wears both in front and behind the camera as well as what we can look forward to in an all new season of the show, premiering in February. Read on to hear what Bryan had to say!
So first of all, you are the writer, creator, director and star of this show.
And the craft service. [laughs] Yeah, I do everything on the show.
What inspired you to create this show?
Basically, a desire to work as an actor, feeling that was my passion and getting into casting offices and getting close and almost booking shows and just being frustrated like “When am I gonna get it?” I just kinda started making my own project, taking it into my own hands. I never expected or thought it would get this big but I always had creative instincts and ability to do something like this so the fact that other people appreciate it and like it is rewarding. It came from a place of just wanting to act.
Creating your own opportunities, that’s awesome. How would you describe the show to people who have never seen it? What genre does it fit into? What kind of stories do you tell?
I would say that it’s very original. It’s hard to say that it’s like anything you’ve seen before exactly, but it’s kind of a throwback to serialized storytelling, meaning long-term, same characters, teen drama oriented. I think it’s like My So-Called Life, that show with Claire Danes, but this is more skewed around me so it’s like the male version of that kind of a show. [laughs]. It’s all trials and tribulations and angst. I have several love interests on the series and I also have multiple personalities so I deal with a lot of stuff on the show. Everyone kind of revolves around my characters and it’s about how I influence their lives both positively and negatively.
As far as fan feedback, what have people responded to the most since the show started?
My character having the multiple personalities was one of the biggest storylines we’ve done and people really responded to that. They loved seeing a different side of me. People assumed I was gay because of the storylines I’d done before that. Like Drew, I wrote him straight the first few seasons and then I got bored, frankly, so I wanted to do something I thought mattered. And I thought doing a gay storyline was prevalent in our time and now here look where we’ve gotten with gay marriage and whatnot. It wasn’t me trying to say, ‘This is who I am,’ but that’s what people end up tying me to. So when people saw me as Josh, the straight character, and maybe more predominantly what I’m really like in real life, they were surprised. Because the other thing, to piggyback on what I’m saying, that has been very popular on the show is the gay storyline. I had a gay love triangle on the show, and someone told me recently, and it really touched my heart because I worked really hard on it, they told me that it was the first time they’d ever seen something like that, that was unapologetic but also had nothing to do with the fact that it was that. The fact that it was three guys was irrelevant. It could have been three girls, it could have been a guy and two girls, it could have been a girl and two guys, which is what we’re all used to. But it was three guys and I was the center and that’s fun to do as a guy because as an actor I just wanna do things and play parts that I may never get a chance to do. I mean I’m playing like Jennie Garth on 90210. It’s amazing, I love it. And now I’m playing Neve Campbell on Scream with the new storyline. Now there’s a serial killer trying to kill Drew. I can’t wait for everyone to see this. It’s so exciting and cool and fun.
What are the benefits of creating content for the web versus working for a TV network?
I think that there are downfalls as well as benefits that come into play. The benefit is that I do the show and have the final say in the show. My voice and my vision can be heard. That said, I am, again, in control. So, it’s such an interesting question because the benefit for me is that I get to do what I want on my show and the final say is mine. If I don’t get along with someone, they’re fired. [laughs]. And if I want something to keep going, I’m the boss. The story is my bottom line. At the end of the day, I have to make a show that I believe in.
I haven’t yet been in a position where I’m working for a studio. I feel like I’ve met and worked with people who did and do and they feel trapped by their contracts so I guess one of the benefits for them is that they have a lot of freedom in that way. But, that’s not a benefit for me because I actually want to lock them into a contract. Because when your bottom line is ‘this is my story’ they become part of something in your life that you need to get done. And then if you don’t have a contract with them they may not show up for work. We shoot out-of-order, I have a lot I’m trying to get done. So if my fans ever see something and they’re like ‘that’s not as good as Bryan can do,’ they don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes. That doesn’t happen with a studio.
So, the struggle that I have is that it’s a positive that I’m in control but in some ways it’s also harder.
The new season is starting February 20. Is it the type of show where people need to watch the previous seasons in order to know what’s going on?
Yeah, the new season comes out on February 20 all at once, like on Netflix. If you watch previous seasons you’re going to like it more, but you don’t have to watch it. I started watching Friends in season 6 and Monica and Chandler were together and I f—-n loved that show. I ended up watching it all the way to the end and buying the DVDs and watching it from the beginning. I feel the same way with Youthful Daze. I feel like we have a lot of people who are going to check it out for the first time with the new stuff coming up and I have written a show where it’s totally understandable and easy for you to catch on immediately, but I’ve also written a show where if you have been with me or a while it’s more rewarding, because when you watch anything and you already have that connection, I don’t even know how to say it, it’s like a warm comfort food in that way, so people will have to get there with me. And if there’s something you don’t understand, you’ll catch on eventually. Imagine starting Grey’s Anatomy or Pretty Little Liars a few seasons in. You’ll get hooked immediately, but you’d have to go back eventually if you cared enough. My job is to make you care. If you do, I do think you’ll want to go back but I don’t think you need to.
And people can watch the entire series at youthfuldaze.com, correct?
I read that you have almost an entirely new cast this season.
It’s not that it’s an entirely new cast, it’s just that some of the stuff changed on the show, like we have a new character, and then there are a couple of things where I am moving in a new direction with a part so I recast something. But then, there are some people from the past who are on the show, but I don’t really advertise it because I want to surprise people. I’m living in a world where social media and the imdb page is my friend and my enemy. I’m trying to control it a little better. My whole cast hasn’t actually been revealed yet. So, to answer your question, yeah like half the cast was replaced and then a couple of them are back and then I have some new ones.
What would be the final thought you want to leave people with?
Just keep watching Youthful Daze. We have lots more exciting stuff in store.