Adams State theatre standout to attend prestigious Florida conservatory

Courtesy photo Pictured, Brandon Billings and Molly Bibeau (Class of 2017) in the 2017 Adams State Theatre production, ‘The Diary of Anne Frank.’ Brandon, SLV native, was chosen for elite Florida State University/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training.

ALAMOSA – Despite graduating from Adams State University as the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, Brandon Billings has advanced his acting career in Denver by performing at regional theatres and in TV commercials.

Once he concludes his current show, “The Hombres” at Vintage Theatre, he is off to Sarasota, Fla., to begin a Master of Fine Arts (MFA). After two months of auditions and callbacks, he was one of only 10 admitted – out of more than a thousand applicants – to the Class of 2027 cohort at the Florida State University/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training. Now in its 50th year, the conservatory is one of the top 10 programs for actor training in the United States and top 25 in the world.

John H. Taylor, director of Adams State’s School of Visual and Performing Arts and chair of the Theatre Program, explained, “Candidates for MFA Acting programs go through a nation-wide, highly competitive audition process through the University Resident Theatre Association (URTA). Brandon had a remarkably high number of ‘callbacks’ (30) from university MFA programs. The Asolo program will provide him with a combination of graduate level acting training and professional experience. This is an incredible opportunity for him and it is one he has earned through hard work. I couldn’t be prouder of him.”

The Conservatory awarded Billings a full tuition waiver and an assistantship; upon graduation, he will be eligible to join Actors’ Equity Association.

“For me and my family, coming from little Alamosa, this is a huge accomplishment. I wouldn’t have had the confidence to do auditions if not for my family, Dr. John Taylor, and what I was taught at ASU. I know I would not be here without John Taylor. We went from a student-professor relationship, to mentorship, to friendship. He’s a huge part of my life. We talk every day.”

As a multi-ethnic actor, what most impressed Billings about the Conservatory was its diversity. “In every single class I saw, there were people from all around the world, different ethnicities, different skin tones. It was amazing.

“I am a person/actor who has consistently gotten in casting rooms and auditions, and they say, ‘What are you?’ noting my ethnic ambiguity (He has Latino, Indigenous, and Caucasian heritage.) Over time, I have questioned, ‘What kind of artist do I want to be?’ And over the next three years, I hope to discover that answer for myself. What does it mean for me to be a multi-ethnic artist, and how can I contribute to the future of actors who are like me?”

Taylor said, “Brandon came to Adams State in 2016 and quickly established himself in the classroom and in productions, including ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’, ‘Noises Off’, ‘A Doll's House Part 2’, and ‘Good Kids’. He directed a very successful production of ‘The Twilight Zone’ (after getting permission from CBS to stage three original episodes from the TV series).” 

Billings said his favorite show at Adams State was the 2017 production of ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’, directed by Taylor, in which he portrayed Peter Van Daan.

“A lot of the training and stage work I did at ASU provided me with the courage and skill set to begin a career in the industry. I never went in blind and scared,” Billings recalled.

Over the last three years, he has performed in nine plays at the Vintage Theatre, Miners Alley Performing Arts Center, and the renowned Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities. One of his television commercials was for the Colorado Lottery. He was also cast in a producer reading for a film, “Welcome to the Fishbowl”, to be produced in Colorado featuring Natalie Gold (HBO's “Succession”, “Appropriate on Broadway”) and Jeremy Swift (“Ted Lasso”).