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How “Industry” Actor Branden Cook Learned Patience    

How “Industry” Actor Branden Cook Learned Patience

Art by FISK

By Sadie Newman

Actor Branden Cook knows all about patience. While he’s known that he wanted to be an actor since he was a kid, the path to making that goal a reality was a long one, winding through plays in high school, a scholarship to study theatre at Wake Forest University, and two years studying acting at the London Academy of Music & Dramatic Arts (LAMDA). 

Through all the highs and lows, Branden learned the importance of being patient. Even now, after a role in HBO’s breakout hit show Industry, he understands that his need to practice patience is as critical as ever.

That’s one of the things that impresses me most about Branden and made me want to speak to him for Inner Piece. In such a competitive profession, he has managed to find peace with the process. Choosing the school route for acting as opposed to moving straight to Los Angeles (which he officially did last year) was the start of Branden’s understanding of patience and trusting the process. Cook’s classes at LAMDA focused on breathing, stretching and slowing down, which in the intense world of acting, can feel impossible with everyone’s desire for instant gratification. 

“Patience is the acceptance of resistance” is a mantra Branden learned through his meditation practices, and he thinks of it often in his day-to-day life. 

Tell us about yourself? What do you want people to know?

My name is Branden Cook. I’m 25 from Charlotte, North Carolina. And I’m an actor. 

What have you learned about yourself during these strange times?

I’ve gotten a better understanding of what I need from myself; how I best operate without structure. Mentally, it's been a roller coaster of a journey. Plenty of moments feeling as if I have no purpose. I think I’m in a better place now than “peak” quarantine.

What does “patience” mean to you?  

Patience is allowing the time and space for things to work out on their own accord, regardless of your own ideas of how they should go. It’s an attempt at understanding more and thinking of others before yourself. It’s an ego check to remind you that you’re not the center of the universe. 

What do you wish you were more patient with?

Myself. I could use a lot more patience with what I expect out of myself and how long it realistically takes. 

When did you first become aware that mental health was something that you needed to pay more attention to? 

Sophomore year of college, I had just broken up with my girlfriend and caught myself in a deep depression for about half the year. I was sleeping all day, barely going to class, and not taking care of myself at all. I can’t remember the exact moment I dealt with it. However, I do remember having this awareness that what I was doing wasn’t good for me. That awareness and will to change was the turning point for me. I don’t think I fully dealt with the issue for a while but I became aware enough to know that continuing in that state was not the answer. It also was the first lesson in having patience with myself, especially when it comes to healing. 

Who do you turn to when you need to talk about issues related to mental health?

My brother Gilbert is my go-to when talking about mental health. We met at school in London. Though life-changing, London was the toughest two years of my life for a multitude of reasons. Without having someone like Gilbert, who I could talk things through, I don’t know if I would’ve made it out the same. He’s a few years older than me, so he has some perspective. I always felt like he understood me, even if he didn’t always agree. I can talk to him about anything. 

How do you know when you are in a good place with your mental health? 

I think a good place mentally for me is a place where I am present. That is all. Not too anxious about the future and what I could be doing. Just present in the now and how I can make the most out of it. I get to that place by meditating, writing, and praying.  I notice that when I do these things consistently, my mind is a lot more calm. It’s when I don’t, that I feel my “monkey brain” taking over, and my anxiety running crazy, which ultimately leads me to do nothing and feel terrible. Take the day as it comes and the moments as they appear. 

What is something that you wish you’d known sooner about mental health?

There is no “perfect.” There is no “right way.” Only the moment that is now, and how you feel in that moment can vary. And that’s okay. 

Keep the conversation going by commenting on this story below. You can also connect with us about whatever’s on your mind by texting The Local Optimist Hotline at 310.299.9414.