La Jolla teen picks up outstanding young actor award

By Leigh Ann Dewey


A young La Jolla resident and actor is continuing to make a name for himself in the entertainment world. Ian Brininstool, 13, recently added a new achievement to his list of show business credits when he was named 2009 Outstanding Young Artist by the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle. Recipients were named during the Craig Noel Awards ceremony, held Jan. 25 at the Sherwood Auditorium in La Jolla.

Ian earned the honor for his portrayal of Rudy in the North Coast Repertory production of “Over the Tavern” last summer. The category was created for Ian in recognition of his outstanding performance in the comedy.

“I was super-honored that they would make a category for me,” Ian said. He added that of all the parts he has played, he most enjoyed the role of a precocious 12-year-old who pushes the boundaries of his Catholic upbringing and family’s values during the 1950s. While he enjoys performing in musicals, he said, “I like comedy roles because I’m an outgoing person and the character was more like me.”

From school to community theater to being a paid actor on TV shows and commercials in Los Angeles, Ian and his parents said they believe he is following a path inspired by his personality and natural talent for entertaining others.

Ian said his earliest memory of performing came from his preschool days. “I was playing with building blocks and talking to myself, and the teacher wrote down what I was saying.” His musings became dialogue for a play the teacher wrote and parents watched, starring Ian as king and other students as his subjects.

Ian’s father, Michael, said he remembers a family trip to Sedona, Ariz., during the holidays, when Ian, at age 3 or 4, sang Christmas carols from a balcony to passers-by below.

Active in musical theater productions since age 4, Ian began performing in elementary school and church programs, then went on to community theater groups large and small, including the La Jolla Stage Company, Lamb’s Players Theatre, North Coast Repertory Theatre and Starlight Theatre.

In 2007, he made his debut with the Old Globe Theatre in the production of “Ace,” where he played several roles; he portrayed Edgar in “Ragtime” for Starlight Theatre; and returned to the Old Globe for the production of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

Ian performed in New York City in 2008, when his father, Michael, took him to participate in a five-week workshop for the Broadway musical “Leap of Faith.” He also took part in a reading of the play “Secondhand Lions” at New York City’s Roundabout Theatre.

Now a professional actor and paid member of the Screen Actors Guild, Actor’s Equity Association and Actors Alliance of San Diego, Ian has worked in film and TV, and modeled in print ads. He played Luke in the film “Kid Billy vs. the Kidnappers,” played the recurring role of Rodney in the UPN series “Veronica Mars,” and sang in the ensemble for an episode of “Corey in the House” for the Disney Channel.

Ian said he enjoys TV work, but prefers live theater. Television is less difficult, he said, “because if you mess up, they can just say ‘cut,’ but not in the theater.” But although there are no retakes, he said, he prefers theater “because I can see the audience react to what I do.”

Aside from acting, Ian said he enjoys his regular classes at Muirlands Middle School in La Jolla, and hopes to attend The Bishop’s School this fall. He said his favorite subjects are social studies and history. His hobbies, he said, include surfing and basketball. Looking ahead to college, Ian said he is considering New York University and UC Santa Barbara.

Hoping to find a career in the entertainment business, he said he has other plans if he does not perform professionally.

“I either want to be an actor or a lawyer,” Ian said. “Even if I do (get involved in) a different profession, I’d like to act in my spare time.”

Ian’s past honors include a National Youth Theatre Award for his portrayal of Oliver in Starlight Musical Theatre’s production of “Oliver!” in 2005; and an Outstanding Ensemble in a Musical award from the Patte Awards for Theatre Excellence for the Starlight Musical Theatre’s production of “Urinetown” in 2006.

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