Comedian and actor London Brown of the HBO hit series Ballers talks about why every day should be a fashion day.
London Brown holds his own alongside Adult Third Culture Kid powerhouse actors Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Troy Garity (of the Fonda acting family) in the gritty, in-your-face, and ultimately message-filled, drama that is Ballers, an HBO drama series rooted in the world of professional sports management. Here, Brown reveals the secret to his down-to-earth demeanor and sense of style.
How did you get on the HBO show?
I was working as a choreographer and doing a comedy tour with Chris Tucker. I think we’d stopped touring for a minute. A friend called and said, “HBO is looking for you to audition for Ballers.” So I moved to Miami, and that’s how it started.
When did you develop your sense of style?
At [age] 14. We used to get new clothes twice a year: Easter and maybe Christmas. There were nine or 10 of us living in a three-bedroom apartment. My uncle was staying with us and we were the same height. I thought, “I can’t wear my fresh Easter suit and then on Monday go back to my old clothes.” The next day, I started wearing his clothes because I didn’t want to go back to wearing my old clothes anymore.
In high school, I used to cut hair. I went to the thrift shop to find unique things for very cheap — wearing my little ’70s floral tops and my little jackets. That’s kind of where it started. Sometimes I would get lucky: I’d find a brand name, something from the ’80s. No one was wearing this stuff. So I’ve always been eclectic that way.
Was that the start of your personal brand?
I really started to pay attention to the reputation of guys that I like and how their style was. Like when I look at Will Smith, he’s very posh. Diddy’s another one who’s very together; very pristine and very together. I just wanted that to be part of my name. Not just “he’s funny” or “he’s an actor on Ballers,” but “he dresses well” and “he’s kind.” I realized our reputation is based on consistency. So, if I want that to be associated with me, I’ve got to do it all the time.
My friends always say, “London, why are you always dressed up?” They don’t understand that living is enough (of a reason) to be dressed up. I’m comfortable with me. A guy could be in a three-piece tuxedo, and I’m in my denim. As long as I’m comfortable, I’m being me. I don’t have to fill out a place anywhere.
Every day, people should do something that puts them closer to where they want to be.
What is your style advice?
Sometimes, less is more. A lot of insecure people, when they want attention, they gotta go big — really flashy brands and all these things that scream, “I need attention ’cause I’m not comfortable with myself, so please affirm me.” But it’s not about these external things. It’s when the inside is cool.
When it comes to fashion, people should always do the thing that makes them comfortable. When it comes to clothes, look at your whole look as a cast, then decide who’s the star for the night. Just remember, accessories are the supporting cast.
And your advice for life?
Find the thing you do really well with the least amount of effort. That’s a gift. I don’t think people take the time to find that. Sometimes people get their job, they get comfortable. I get it, (gotta) pay the bills. But every day, people should do something that puts them closer to where they want to be. Even when I worked at an after-school program, I never forgot that I was supposed to do something else. It’s not all of a sudden you get the dream, “I want to be an artist,” so just quit the job. The time is gonna come. It just depends on whether we are ready or not for it.
*Styled by London Brown, Clothing by Zara