Acting is an age-old profession and the opportunities for all ages, including seniors, are greater than ever before.
Mark Brandon is one of those actors still going strong at the age of 70, although the years have been kind to him and he looks much younger. He has a role in Hallmark’s The Baker’s Son – partially filmed in Chemainus and Cowichan Bay – as Seattle News Tonight anchor Rick Rodgers, sent to the tiny town of Windward, Washington to do a story.
“It seems like I just started this yesterday,” said Brandon of his acting career. “At this age, I’m just glad to still be working.”
Brandon is an actor and producer, known for roles in Riverdale (2017), The Flash (2014) and Supernatural (2005). He’s been married since 2009 to Joanne Brandon, an actress herself who’s on a temporary hiatus during COVID-19.
Mark Brandon has also written a book, Winning Auditions – 101 Strategies for Actors.
At one stage during filming for The Baker’s Son, the town added a couple of additional mayors with the presence of Haig Sutherland as the mayor of Windward, Washington and Brandon, who also plays the mayor in the Chesapeake Shores series.
The Baker’s Son, directed by Mark Jean, is Brandon’s 23rd movie for Hallmark.
“He’s done a ton of television,” noted Brandon of Jean. “I really like working with him.”
“It’s going very well – good bunch of people,” added Brandon prior to the final day of shooting in Chemainus.
“It’s a delightful little story.”
In his role covering a dance company that’s rehearsing in Windward, Brandon (a.k.a. Rodgers) picks up some bread on the way home at a shop from the son of a French baker from Paris.
“We talk about the bread with my co-anchor,” he said. “It makes the town ultimately famous.”
His co-anchor just happens to be Tess van Straaten, a real television news reporter, from CHEK-TV in Victoria.
“It’s a total of five scenes, but kind of enough to move this little sea story along,” Brandon said of his role.
He didn’t actually start out as an actor. In fact, “I was actually a fireman for many years in San Diego, California,” Brandon noted.
With so much time off, firemen often pursued other careers and their fame led to calendars, of course, other modeling or acting jobs. Brandon initially began doing commercials.
“Once I started doing commercials, that’s when the bug really started to bite me,” he recalled.
“I eventually took a lot of training. One of the first shows that gave me a break was Days Of Our Lives.”
Ironically, “they cast me as a recurring news correspondent,” Brandon added.
He was an investigative reporter for the Salem Chronicle on the show.
After leaving San Diego, Brandon spent about a decade in Los Angeles when he got serious about acting. He moved to Vancouver after that and has been on the Lower Mainland ever since, currently residing in White Rock.
Once Brandon appeared on a show people saw as credible, the roles started to escalate. But it’s never easy to get acting jobs, he stressed.
“Your hopes get dashed so much,” Brandon indicated. “It takes persistence. I think persistence is the only thing I owe this to. I simply did not give up.
“I’ve enjoyed the best years of my career in the last five.”
Filming for Chesapeake Shores took Brandon to nearby Parksville. And he’s gained a foothold on Hallmark roles.
“Hallmark seems to be really kind to us older guys,” he laughed.
Parents, bosses, lawyers or doctors are the primary roles for older actors. But Brandon has found his niche in a different area with the tone of his voice making him a natural for the news anchor in The Baker’s Son.
“I’ve played a ton of news anchors,” he pointed out. “People will ask me, are you a news anchor?”
While 2020 was horrific for the industry due to COVID, things have picked up again and there’s as much steady work available as Brandon wants to take.
“I am not complaining,” he said. “I feel very fortunate.
“It’s heating up. There’s a lot of things in Vancouver right now.”