All through school, Brandon Bowen was told he wasn’t funny.
Now he’s set to star in his first Hollywood film — thanks to his comedy sketches and vibrant personality.
Bowen, an 18-year-old Irwin County native who has more than 3 million followers on the video-sharing app Vine, has seen his career take off, and his resume continues to grow.
He’s cast in the Fox Digital Studios movie “Mono,” which will be out July 8. In it, Bowen plays Melvin, a student at a school where a group of popular students comes down with mononucleosis, allowing heretofore social outcasts to take over.
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“It is an absolutely hilarious movie. The cast is all super nice and genuine,” Bowen said. “It is going to be different from a lot of movies you see now. Everything seems so fake. With (“Mono”), it is kind of what you might see in your own school.”
While he is just now hitting the big time, Bowen has always enjoyed acting and being a character, said his “ma’am-ager” — mother and manager — Shannon Bowen.
Brandon was quiet as a toddler, she said, but something changed when he entered a Head Start program at age 3.
“They started teaching them songs and he came out of his shell,” she said. “He went around and was performing for everybody.”
He started singing everything from “God Bless America” to “The Bazooka Bubble Gum Song,” which he would act out with a dance.
As he got older, he came home from school and watched stand-up comedians, who became his inspiration.
Dave Chappelle and Louis C.K. were his favorites, but wanted to forge his own style.
In school, Brandon was known as a class clown, often landing him in trouble.
Once, someone dared him to dance on a table, and he ended up in the principal’s office with his mother.
“They dared him to get on the tables outside that had the umbrellas and pole dance for, what was it, like a dollar,” she recalled.
Brandon, sitting next to his mom, quickly corrected her. “It was two dollars!”
While being home-schooled for high school at his home in Ocilla, Brandon discovered Vine, which lets users post six-second videos.
He began making his own videos in June 2013 and within five months he had 1 million followers — or as he refers to them, his “sexy taters” — after his video “Hater Blockers” went viral. He now has 3.3 million followers.
He won a 2015 award for “Best Vine Comedian” at the Shorty Awards.
He was invited to appear on “Good Morning America” and “Tosh.O,” a TV show that offers commentary on viral videos, celebrities and pop culture.
He continued to make his short videos — and began auditioning for movie roles.
One day he received an email.
“It was out of the blue,” he said. “They emailed ‘we love your stuff’ and we want you to be in our movie.’ ”
He didn’t even have to audition for the part, his mother said.
The transition from his six-second “vines” to a movie role has been fairly easy so far.
“There really isn’t much change,” he said. “You’re just being filmed longer. You got to go out there, do your lines, be the character and make it funny.”
To get the movie:
“Mono,” which features Vine and YouTube stars, is available for pre-order in two bundle packages. Each package includes a Blu-Ray and digital copy of the movie, starting at $19.99. It will be released on July 8.