Inside the life and heart of award-winning actor Brandon Houston

FLINT, Michigan — “I feel like there was a base layer, and there was a lot underneath — moments that we didn’t talk about,” explains Brandon Houston with a gaze so innately vulnerable that it leaves me in awe. He sits across from me with his head tilted down, eyes fixated on the ground, with one hand running across his thigh and the other picking at the pocket of his brown cargo jeans.

He constantly shifts in his chair, sometimes folding his arms across his chest, assuming a defensive posture to protect his heart from years of loneliness and to keep his inner child at bay from sharing too much with me — an acquaintance at best.

In other moments, he leans back, arms stationed at his side to signal the relinquishment of control and allow freedom to take hold of him. In this ebb and flow, push and pull, and uncertainty of whether to reveal all or retreat into himself, Houston casually admits, “I don’t know how I navigated through [life]. After a while, I set everything on autopilot and dealt with it.”

We find ourselves in the Artis Room inside the Gloria Coles Flint Public Library on a partly cloudy Friday afternoon, two days after our first conversation at The Sauce Italian Kitchen in downtown Flint.

Dressed head to toe in a blue Guilty Rich sweatshirt and sweatpants combo under a black hooded puffer coat of the same brand, Houston spoke about his life as an award-winning actor, scriptwriter, filmmaker, athlete, and one of Flint’s emerging content creators.

But a grand moment of silence signals the beginning of the journey to peel back the layers and unveil the inner child. In his desire to express himself and my willingness to take the plunge, we start with his experiences in therapy, predicated on the passing of his mother and aunt, and bad relationships where he “didn’t want to admit [what] happened to me.”

Houston talks about his journey with therapy after the passing of his mother and aunt in downtown Flint on Jan. 30, 2024. (Bryce Mata |
How he felt when “everything backfired on me, and I never took the time to process.” And openly admitting these reasons and more is why “I haven’t been in a relationship for two years.” But there’s something he wants everyone to know.

“Check in from time to time [or] reach out and see how I’m doing,” Houston says when asked how exactly he wants people to support him. “It’s hard because not everybody shows up the same. [But] I just want people to reach out and be able to help if I need help. I’ve dealt with everything by myself all my life. I’m the person everybody goes to when they need advice or support, and I’ve never had that person.”

Born and raised in Flint, Houston’s childhood revolved around sports. From basketball to track to football, he was a sports star at Southwestern Classical Academy, even with a story published in The Flint Journal. To this day, sports are still prominent, but there’s a side to the game that came with great strife. As much as he loved sports, his father revered it and academics.

“My dad wanted so much out of me. He was on me when it came to sports and education,” Houston remembers, detailing the duality of having a father who doubled as his coach. Still, the constant pressure of meeting everybody’s expectations and not feeling like he could express himself caused him to retreat inward. It’s a moment that weighs on his heart because “it’s still to the point where I can’t talk to him about stuff, and it was the same thing with my mom for a while, too.”

The weight of his words simmers between us. They marinate as Houston slowly scrunches back into the chair, fiddling with his fingers. The inner child has said too much; however, it allows Houston to speak on his love of acting — a passion that started in the 5th grade and has now seen him win a 2015 Audience Choice Award, win Fashion FWD Actor of the Year twice, and a 2023 Fli City Award Winner for Best Actor.

Pictured in downtown Flint on Jan. 30, 2024, through FliStarMedia, Flint native Brandon Houston dawned the moniker "your favorite actor." (Bryce Mata |
Houston has made a name for himself within Flint through his interview content, FliStarMedia. Content creation has positioned him right in the heart of Flint’s creative scene. Houston has interviewed some of the city’s biggest stars, from fashion shows to downtown events, and has partaken in music videos and more.

The opportunities, he says, give him chances to come out of his shell, be social, and open up. “I think being out and interacting with people helps me from a business standpoint and a personal [one]. Getting to know people and interacting with people I never took a chance on before will open up myself as a person,” he says with a grin.

Over the years, his viewership has grown, and he’s adopted the moniker of “your favorite actor.” That name isn’t far from the truth, and he’s proud of it.

“Acting has been my escape. Ever since I got that leading role in the stage plays, it’s been the go-to for me in conjunction with going to the gym and video games,” Houston says. “[With] acting, I don’t have to be me in those moments. I can take on this character and develop their characteristics and not worry about who I have to deal with after the fact. I thank the people in [those] acting spaces because they understand some of the things I’ve been through.”

"I worked hard to get where I’m at. I put the work in solely because I wanted to be a better person,” says Brandon Houston in downtown Flint on Jan. 30, 2024. (Bryce Mata |
There’s a trust, it feels, building between us as Houston leans forward in the chair, hands cupped under his chin. Acting and therapy have taught him to recognize and acknowledge his emotions and need to express himself. It’s given freedom for him to understand that he has to stand up for himself and put himself first.

Houston’s also clearly a man in progress, healing through years of experience. The healing has allowed him to open up and share his and others’ stories, mainly through his Superstar Spotlight series.

“I look at my career as the baseline for questions I want to ask. Would it give the information needed to engage the people in their story and [highlight] what they’re trying to do?” Houston explains. “I got started because I wanted to shine a light on everything that was going on in the community, to cover the gaps that mainstream media misses.”

And now, the rush of staff signals that the library is about to close, and the environment has changed. Although we have discussed Houston’s academic and athletic background, his progress as an actor and content creator, and his insights gained from therapy, he wishes to share more. He wants to tell the story behind everything.

“I want people to know that I’m trying my best every day to improve on [who] I am. I’m trying to branch out more, and I want people to have patience with me. Even though on the outside I’m able to smile, at the end of the day, I go home and deal with the reality of my life. I worked hard to get where I’m at. I put the work in solely because I wanted to be a better person. If I’m a better person, it makes it easier for everyone around me to [improve.]”

For more Brandon Houston, find him on Facebook, Instagram, and IMDb. Also, check out his Superstar Spotlight series and recent role in director Jermaine R. Davis’ film Legend of 3-Pac.
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Read more articles by Xzavier Simon.