Flourtown’s ‘Disney’ actor becoming multi-media star
If you Google “Phillip Brown, actor,” as I did last week, this question will pop up on your computer screen: “Did you mean Philip Brown?” (No. I did not.) You will also see that there are 280,000 results combined for actors Phillip Brown, Philip Brown or Phil Brown. If I looked at all 280,000, it would probably take the rest of my life, but fortunately I found what I was looking for in the 23rd entry.
Phillip Sean Brown, 38, of Flourtown, the actor whose information I was looking for, has more balls in the air than most jugglers in Las Vegas. For openers, the tall (6-foot-2) and handsome localite is starring in “Tiny Dynamite,” a Philadelphia Fringe Festival play running from Sept. 9 to 18 at Second Stage at the Adrienne Theater, 2030 Sansom St.
In addition, Brown just learned that he has been selected for the leading male role (a promiscuous pastor) in “Pimps in the Pulpit,” a comedy that will play at the Merriam Theater next January before embarking on a national tour.
In December, 2008, Brown also opened the Ambler Actors Studio for both children and adults (its new fall semester is about to begin), and he is also co-director of the upper school theater department at the exclusive Shipley School in Bryn Mawr.
That should be enough to fill up anyone’s plate, but just in case there are a few minutes left on his calendar, Brown will need them because Phillip got married in May, 2009, and his wife, Sunanda, 37, a social worker, is pregnant with the couple’s first child, due on approximately Sept. 23.
And just in case Phillip has more days in his week than the rest of us, he may also find time for his Salt World Theater Company (formerly known as Urban Artists), a non-profit theatre company he founded for a group of young actors who perform street plays. Brown even wrote “Beat Down the Negative,” his first play to be performed. It toured the Philadelphia School District, spreading the message that “If you can dream it, you can do it.” A firm believer that “Art should reflect society and point out its imperfections and flaws; it should lift society up,” Brown felt torn when he moved to Los Angeles to pursue more commercial interests in screenwriting and acting. After a trip to Thailand, Brown’s Urban Artists became the Salt World Theater Company, which reached out to communities in need by working with local churches and spreading positive messages through theater. Since then, Brown has enjoyed great commercial success, working for Viacom and most recently for the Disney Channel, as a screen writer and acting coach for the hit Disney TV shows “That’s So Raven” and “Cory in the House.” He has also managed to balance his commercial pursuits with outreach work, which has taken him to many cities across the U.S. and such countries as Costa Rica, Malaysia, Mexico and Southeast Asia, where he has brought theater to young people who might not otherwise be exposed to it.
“I am so proud of Phillip,” said Annie Brown, Phil’s mother, who lives in Flourtown and works in the Chestnut Hill Local classified advertising department. “I was just as proud of my other son, Sherrod
“The three of us were best friends,” added Annie, who was divorced many years ago. “I never had any problems with them. They are such beautiful sons, and they were best buddies. Sherrod was Phillip’s biggest fan. I never imposed my desires on them, but I always supported them in whatever they wanted to do. Phillip is on a wonderful journey.”
Sherrod, who also lived in Flourtown with his wife and three sons, died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 36 on Oct. 18, 2007. “He called me right before it happened,” said his mom. “I believe he had a premonition that it was going to happen.”
“God blessed us to have time together right before he died,” said Phillip. “Sherrod stayed on the set with me in Chester County when we were shooting the movie ‘The Happening,’ directed by M. Night Shayamalan. He said, ‘It (stardom) is going to happen for you.’ He was always 100 percent supportive. He died two weeks after that. He still inspires me every single day.”
Brown attended elementary school in Jenkintown but spent one year only — 7th grade — at Jenks Elementary School in Chestnut Hill. He then went to Germantown Academy in Fort Washington, where he was a football star and had college football programs very much interested in him, but by that time he had fallen in love with the theater, so he attended the University of the Arts in center city. Eventually Phillip landed roles in three Disney shows, two of them on ABC-TV, as well as on “Hack,” the CBS-TV show that starred Chestnut Hill resident David Morse; “The Jamie Foxx Show” and “Living Single,” both on the WB Network, and others.
Brown also has numerous theater credits in Philadelphia and New York, among others. And he has been a dialogue coach for TV shows, a personal acting coach for several celebrities and a screenwriter.
“But this is a tough career,” said Phillip. “You have to look as young as possible for as long as possible.”
“Tiny Dynamite,” the Philly Fringe show starting Sept. 9 that will star Brown, was written by British playwright Abi Morgan. A hit at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (Scotland), it tells the story of two damaged men, the woman they both love, freak accidents and why, if you wear rubber boots all your life, “you will never feel the crackle of electricity in your heart.”