In the Wings: “Hands Up” Star Brian Anthony Wilson

Discussions with Philly's brightest stage talents.

Flashpoint Theatre Company is presenting a groundbreaking new work called “Hands Up,” in which six playwrights present world-premiere works about being black and male in America. We chatted with one of the stars, Brian Anthony Wilson. Among other things, he told us about his wild evolution of nicknames, working with Abbi Jacobson on Broad City, and his delicious first stage kiss with Miss Pineapple. 

Brian Wilson

My name is … Brian Anthony Wilson. Growing up, my nickname was “Big Josh,” because I looked like a lumberjack). I was also known as “Boo-boo” (Yogi Bear’s sidekick), and in college, my frat brothers in Kappa Alpha Psi called me “Milkbone” or “bone.” Now, I go by, “baw.”

I am … a daddy to a 7-year-old Daughter, who is my joy, husband, son, brother, nephew, uncle, friend and last, but not least, an actor/artist/singer.

On opening night … I try to sit outside—weather permitting—with the sun on my face, go over my script, line by line, make sure I’m hitting what I’m supposed to hit, run my monologues 3 to 5 times out loud, and have a champagne toast after the show.

My favorite part of “Hands Up” is … watching my mentor, Johnnie Hobbs Jr., perform his spoken-word piece.

To get into character for “Hands Up,” I… look in the mirror and use my imagination for the rest. I’ve lived much of what my character speaks about, but there is one big difference between us, which I can’t divulge now. Come see the show and try to figure it out.



My first stage kiss … was with the lovely, talented, and sexy ‘Miss Pineapple’ aka Raine D’Johnson, in On Flower Street.

The first play I was in was … On Flower Street at Freedom Theater, circa 1983: a wonderful Christmas musical (which needs a re-mount!), lovingly written by the multi-talented Millicent Sparks.

My dream role is … Troy Maxson in Fences.

My surprising celebrity crush is … Carla Gugino (she’s friggin’ gorgeous and a helluva versatile actress). I actually worked with her, however briefly, in a quick scene in Snake Eyes, where I passed by her as a casino security guard.

Who’s the most famous person you’ve ever met? I’ve been fortunate to work with quite a few famous actors/actresses, and although we’re in two of the same movies (Limitless and Silver Linings Playbook, where I’m briefly in a scene with him), I actually met Mr. Robert DeNiro and his lovely wife after they saw me perform in Freedom Rising at the National Constitution Center. He was very soft spoken and unassuming in person, but onscreen, watch out!

The last thing I binge-watched … was Comedy Central’s hilarious show Broad City. I was fortunate to play a detective in a scene from episode two of this season. The two lead actresses/series creators, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, were very gracious, down-to-earth, beautiful, and just darn funny.

To stay in shape I … Ha! I’m horribly out of shape, but trying to walk more with my crickety knees.

The last time I dined out in Philadelphia, I ate … some delicious Thai food at Erewan Thai on Sansom Street.

The best show I saw in Philly recently … I see a lot of amazing theatre, and I don’t want to slight anyone, so, I’ll shine the focus on both of the multiple and sustained belly laugh-generating shows, I saw this week: Seth Rozin’s The Three Christs of Manhattan (InterAct) and The Hound of Baskervilles (Lantern Theatre).

The best thing about Philadelphia’s theater scene is … the astounding level of artistry I consistently see on display, the ensembles working in glorious concert, the fact that there are so many different “Flavas of Theatre” here to feast upon. I’m proud to be a member of this thriving and vibrant theatre community!

“Hands Up” runs through June 28th at the Caplan Studio Theatre at University of the Arts. For tickets and more information, click here.