“I had finally found a place to put my grief – on the stage. I could transform into a character and put these painful emotions somewhere constructive.”
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of having Brianna Oppenheimer on your set you then know what a happy set is actually like. The actress/writer/director brings more joy than Craft Services delivering Cuban coffee shots at 3 PM. And there are many reasons why. She’s talented. Bri is super smart when it comes to production. And she rolls up her sleeves to get the job done.
She was born in Pasadena, CA and moved all over the United States. At an early age she started hamming it up with ballet. Later, she pursued musical theater at New Orleans Center For Creative Arts. Bri then studied Theater at Desales University and Psychology at Marymount Manhattan College.
And Bri is a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community.
Brianna loves period pieces, content creation, improv, and furry animals. With more than 30K followers on Instagram and more on her other social media accounts Bri is growing into a force.
She is part of a comedy sketch group called, Spoof Troupe. She was recently in a feature film with MMA star, Rampage Jackson, called “A Psycho’s Path.”
Reel 360 had a chance to sit (yeah masks were worn you non-maskers) and discuss Bri’s views on life, Harley Quinn and her upcoming projects. Let’s go.
Alright Bri, you’re all over Instagram. From Harley Quinn to film festivals. Do you think IG and social are necessary for an actor’s career these days?
Social media is an essential tool for every actor these days. It doesn’t matter if you don’t want to be a part of it. We live in the modern fucking world and it’s as important as our IMDB’s. I know for a fact that casting directors ask for my social media numbers. If you don’t have any social media following you are stabbing yourself in the foot. Why not use everything possible to succeed?
What about TikTok? It just seems like a colossal waste of time to us? But maybe we’re old lol.
TikTok is a part of social media. Everyone needs to have a profile. I’m sure casting wants to know if you are on there. I understand all of this is exhausting, but it is necessary. Can I take a nap now?
Who inspires you as an artist?
I’m watching the last season of Homeland and Claire Danes is such an interesting actor. I strive to be so complex like her or like Anya Taylor Joy. I watched The Queen’s Gambit.
Anya doesn’t even have to speak and her big eyes express so much emotion. I could watch her be silent and just move her eyes around hours. She’s incredible. I’m sure she’ll get an Oscar soon. I also get inspired by great writers.
I just saw Uncle Frank, and Alan Ball’s writing is perfect. I participated in a few Zoom readings this year, and some people write such brilliant and in depth characters. Alan Ball is such a master. He inspires me to be the best I can be. I hope that every piece of art I create is as detailed and in depth as his work.
So you woke up one day in Louisiana, what made you decide you have to act?
Becoming an actor was really more of a necessity rather than an idea for me. I was a ballerina as a child and then my mom had committed suicide while I was a pre-teen. I was in therapy and trying to cope with the emotions of the loss.
Feeling abandoned, and not knowing how to grieve, I was asked to audition for a musical. I loved it and I caught the acting bug. I auditioned for New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. I had finally found a place to put my grief – on the stage. I could transform into a character and put these painful emotions somewhere constructive. Acting was a type of therapy for me. It always has been.
How did the family react to this “ridiculous” job choice?
Unlike many families, my family has always been really supportive of my career choice. My Dad is my number one fan. I think they understand how therapeutic this has always been for me. Despite the hardships I have faced, acting has pushed me through until the next day. I was always singing and dancing around the house.
After hurricane Katrina, I moved in with a host family in San Diego to finish my education at a high school with a performing arts program. My own family had to relocate from New Orleans to Oregon, and they were all saddened they didn’t hear me performing throughout the halls of their new home.
When you take on a role, how do you prepare?
When I have taken a role, I go back to my roots at New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. I do a lengthy worksheet about who this character is and what this story is about. What happened before in this story? I go through the script and mark notable moments.
I like to memorize as soon as possible, so I can have freedom with the script to go deeper. What is the subtext here? What do I feel reading this as a person? How does this slice of life change the character’s life?
Name five directors you would kill someone to act for?
A director I would kill to work with is Taika Watiti. Taika is a master. He has this special skill of bringing out the light in the dark or the dark in the light. I absolutely loved Jojo Rabbit and would die to work with him. I saw it four times and got to meet Taika at a screening before COVID.
Taika was so funny and interested in me as a person. It was a very unique experience, because he was so genuine. I gave him my card – so fingers crossed! He was the warmest person I have ever met in Hollywood. I’m loving The Mandalorian. Every week, it brings me so much joy.
I watched The Disney Gallery about Star Wars: The Mandalorian (which is a behind the scenes documentary series) and I’m LOVING Dave Filoni. Star Wars is a religion for him. I love working with people who are passionate like that. Dave Filoni is amazing just to watch being passionate about Star Wars.
Of course, Scott Frank has killed it with Queen’s Gambit.
He’s a genius and I would kill to work with him. I look forward to seeing what his brilliant mind does next. Sadly, I was very close to being a part of Mank last year which was almost a dream come true. I love David Fincher sooooo much! To hear that I was on the short list for Mank was thrilling!
So hopefully, my dream will be realized and I’ll get to work with him. Every scene of Fincher’s is perfect. Fincher is like a sculptor that has sculpted the clay scene into being the most perfect piece of art. I also got to meet Bong Joon Ho who was incredibly down to earth.
He has such a beautiful vision. He is so humble, but so skillful. Every scene he works on is like a clearly set out map. Lastly, anything Ryan Murphy does is fucking gold. So, any Ryan Murphy production would be a dream!
When you’re reading a script for role, what are the elements that make you lose your shit?
When I begin to read a script, I usually have low expectations, because everyone has a script and everyone thinks their script is the next Godfather. I think it’s great to have a low bar, because then you are more easily excitable. I lose my shit when the character is just like me! I’m like do they know me?!?!
WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK?! I also lose my shit when characters are so fun I just want to hang out with them all day. I recently read a script similar to the film, Ready or Not. The characters were so cooky and surprising. I never knew what was going to happen next! It was awesome! That script was like a theme park ride. The writer was equally cooky. He was so down to earth and quirky. I don’t think he realized what a masterpiece he had made.
You were Harley Quinn in a short fan film? Do you think it’s more fun/interesting to play a villain or a hero?
I have done a few Harley Quinn fan films or pieces. Anytime, I get to play a villain I get so fucking stoked. As an artist, I feel like the opportunities are limitless with a villain. Evil can go on forever! Whereas being the good guy is kind of limiting.
There is a strict moral code that you have to follow as a good guy and that is it. You can’t break the rules. With darkness, I really soak it up. I feel truly transformed because I am a pretty decent person in normal life. However, with a villain I take the gloves off and I go to places I would never would in my real life. It feels like this alternate fantastical universe. I love it!
Being a villain is such a high!
We’re in a time of transition with pandemics etc, how does that affect you?
The pandemic has been difficult, as mentioned before. The biggest hardship for me has been the entertainment industry being slow. There have been fewer union projects. The opportunities have been scheduled for the future, but then you wonder is it ever going to shoot or did someone die? Sadly this is the reality. So many lives have been lost.
Who knows what the future holds? I try to remain calm and develop my other talents. I’ve recorded music this year and wrote more than I ever have. It helps to keep my mind off of the chaos.
But at home, I usually end up watching a TV show where I can follow long character story arcs, instead of a two hour movie that is a singular experience. I hope movie theaters don’t die completely and they open up safely soon.
What do you envision as our new normal?
I do hope that we have learned some lessons this year. Just because we had a pandemic doesn’t mean we should stop taking temperatures? If someone has the flu it could turn into pneumonia. So, I hope the new normal has people being cognizant of germs. There should be more hand washing, no hand shakes and less hugs, unless you know someone is 100% healthy.
You’re known to be a cinephile. Bitch to us about not going to movies this year?
2020 has been bitchtit. Hard to believe nearly a year ago, I had Moviepass and I saw every movie I could. I was watching three movies a week. Who knew I’d be punished for Moviepass a year later. I miss hearing the laughs in the theater or the screams at a horror movie. It isn’t the same as watching a movie at home.
I guess it has been nice experiencing my first drive-in this year. Now, I realize that movie theaters are an interactive experience and I miss it. Sometimes, I would go to the movies just for the thrill of it. There are too many movies to watch while “Safer at Home” on streaming platforms.
I do hope theaters will open again, but people need to be more careful in the future pandemic or not. I know I will be more careful. This has taught that every moment is important. You don’t know what people are going through. Be careful emotionally and physically.
What stresses you these days?
Every time I turn on the news I get stressed these days. I never know when we’re going to shut down or if we’re shut down. I have a few friends that come to me to find this information out. Sometimes I don’t know myself. The COVID cases keep rising.
My family lives in Florida out of all places. DeSantis (Governor Ron DeSantis) doesn’t give a flying fuck about anyone down there. He is constantly dismissing the facts of coronavirus.
So I worry about my family. I hope that they are safe in Florida even though their governor, Desantis, is an idiot delusional anti-science fuck bag of dicks.
How sick are you of politics?
The news is really triggering these days. I try to stay calm. I meditate, take walks on the beach, do my affirmations, and etc. However, it really fucking pisses me off when normal people start spouting conspiracy theories at me. WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?!?!?!
People really believe that Lady Gaga, my favorite singer, sits around with the Hollywood Elite and eats babies?!?! I can’t even argue with these people. Or that Bill Gates is sitting around in his fucking mansion trying to figure out ways to kill people with vaccines and microchips?
How about the most annoying one of all – that wearing a mask is taking away people’s freedoms.
NO. IT IS SAVING A LIFE! A MASK IS NOT A POLITICAL STATEMENT! DOCTORS WEAR THEM TO SAVE LIVES DAILY – YOU FUCK HEADS. The whole world is being considerate and wearing masks. But no, here in America we have to prove the narcissistic stereotype that the world already believes that we are. So many people have died because of idiots like our President and these other selfish fucks.
It is not politics that I am sick of – it is conspiracies. I always used to like conspiracies. I thought they were fun – like alien and dinosaur stuff. However 2020 conspiracies are flat out annoying and I wish they would stop. They aren’t grounded in reality and people don’t use facts to argue them. The world is laughing at us. Do people not understand that?
Tell us about your latest project?
I was cast in a few projects this year, but they keep going back and forth. So, I don’t know what is actually going to happen anymore. However, I did wrap Preacher Six with Emmy nominated, Naomi Grossman. I’m excited to see that come out. It is a fun action film with lots of effects! I love the entire cast and crew. We got very close.
I model as well and I shot some fun pictures with the director of Preacher 6. I’m also working on my music for my artist name, Boppz, which will come out in 2021.
My music is inspired by Lady Gaga and Vicetone. Every week on YouTube, I do an episode of Boppzworld where I explore food, places, or some new activity!
PS. I have no tattoos.
We’ll let you slide on the tats, Bri. We do hope you get to work with Taika one day…