THE CONNECTOR

Darren Darnborough is a man you want to know. The British import has made a name and a home for himself in sun-soaked Los Angeles, a city where he has realized many of his dreams. Actor. Journalist. Entrepreuneur. Connector. Giver. Darnborough is a man who wears many hats and that’s just how he likes it. A self-described Neophile, he is an artist craving variety with each new dawn, and not one to settle for the comfort of routine. We catch up with the warm and witty Brit to find out more.

MAN ON THE MOVE: DARREN DARNBOROUGH

HYDROGEN MAGAZINE: Let’s start at the beginning. What were the early years like?

DARREN DARNBOROUGH: Let’s see – North London, I believe you’d call it the ‘hood’, working class family, bright ginger hair, dabbling even back then. I couldn’t even choose my school, college or university subjects and stick to them without changing my mind!

HM: When did acting make its way into the picture?

DD: Performing started with dance classes from about the age of four, made its way through my 12 year-old rap act (pre-Vanilla Ice) and then I started doing pantomime in the UK with a group called Lyceum Players which gave me a good basis in performing. From there, I was in all the school shows, several new musicals, and the tipping point into the professional world was when my head teacher gave me and a friend the afternoon off school to be in a government film as extras. On that set, we became friends with the lead actor who introduced us to his agent. I spent a few classes with Anna Scher and then started attending Sharon Harris’ drama school in Wembley. She was my first agent, fantastic, and I booked the second job I went for – a Dr. Pepper commercial.

HM: You’ve found success with shows like East Enders in the UK and True Blood stateside. Tell me about some of those experiences…

DD: I feel very privileged to have been in both those shows, both great to work on, and in each I worked with other Brits! True Blood was really exciting as it was good to see how much attention to detail the crew have. Brits make superb drama and have great talent, but American shows take it to another level – the production value is high, the teams are experienced and everything is meticulously about making the best project. It was nice to see how collaborative the process was too – the whole team really care about everybody’s input. I was playing an 80’s punk in True Blood and worked closely with the costume and make-up [department] to achieve the character, rather than just being the puppet you often are on lower budget work. And of course, being Bill Compton’s dinner was not bad for the resume!

HM: When you first made the transition to Los Angeles, are we talking out-and-out excitement, slight dread, leap of faith? What was the thinking?

DD: Total excitement, I couldn’t WAIT to go. The whole process, visa etc. takes so long and there were doubts – I had a life, house, car, business, family, friends in London, but it had got to that point where I felt I knew what was around every corner, it was all so predictable. I led a pretty varied life, so I remember thinking, “if this is boring me, it’s time to explore.” I came to LA gung-ho, eyes wide open and said yes to every opportunity.

HM: Biggest difference between Los Angeles and London…

DD: So so many! Windowsills and plug sockets. In London all buildings have windowsills. Inside and out. People change their light switches and plug sockets to fancier ones. Here, you’ll have a $25m house sporting the same cheap plastic dimmer switch the builders stuck in controlling an antique chandelier. The attention to architectural detail is a big difference, but if I had to pick a prominent one, it’s the positive outlook. People here seem to get on, enjoy and JUST DO more than in London. I love London, but most of it could certainly do with a kick up the arse and a slap with the happy stick.

HM: I know you travel across the pond and back, but are there things you really miss about England…other than the fabulous weather over there, of course!

DD: Yeah, definitely certain people, and culture and architecture and that ‘solid’ feeling – LA can seem fleeting or temporary especially in its buildings and transient communities. Some food items, but nothing a quick walk round Fresh & Easy won’t fix. And the lack of BS. I love that people in LA talk a big game and have high hopes, and in most ways I’d rather them be that way than not try or be negative, but perhaps we could sprinkle a tiny bit of UK pessimism and skepticism into the recipe and it’ll ferment into realism when needed.

HM: You are a self-described Neophile. Explain yourself…

DD: I met a German guy who described me as a Neophile after meeting me for 5 minutes. I looked it up. It means someone who has a strong affinity for novelty. I love new things, I love learning, I despise routine. There’s just so much out there to do and most of it excites me. So there you have it. I’ll be a Neophile till I get bored of that!

HM: You are a man wearing many hats as I said. You run several companies including an events concepts company, having done work in Hollywood, Cannes, Earls Court and much more. Then there’s SponsorBridge, StuckforStaff, Brits in LA…the list goes on. Tell me about some of these forays and what drives you.

DD: Part of it is the Neophile in me. Part of me just can’t pass up a good idea. If I’m attracted to it or think it has potential I explore and do it. As much as it distracts focus occasionally, I find that often the different hats intertwine quite nicely. For instance, being an actor has helped me understand directing. Being a producer has helped me work as an actor. Being a journalist has introduced me to people who can help with exposure for movies, and give leverage and awareness to charities. Having web companies has allowed me the income and geographical flexibility to pursue a career in the arts and travel… so I can write about it for magazines. The eye may be REMing, but it’s always on the prize.

HM: As if that isn’t enough you’re also a journalist with over 100 bylines to your name. Tell me about that part of your life. Funniest thing you’ve written to date…

DD: I began writing because my student job was as a secret shopper – testing out restaurants anonymously. Who doesn’t like to eat fine food for a job?! So when my friend opened a magazine in Dubai, I began writing for it doing restaurant reviews, and then other articles. My personal favorite was a series I did called The Legal Alien which is a satirical view of LA from a Brit perspective, but I also had a column called “I Have Never” where every month, I had to do something I’d never done. It started with “Colonic Irrigation.” Say no more.

HM: You are also involved heavily in charity work, supporting Virgin Unite, the Eve Branson Foundation, Hollywood Arts and Face Forward to name a few. Tell me about your passion for giving.

DD: I don’t know if I have a passion for giving, it just feels right to do it. I guess being entrepreneurial, most of your time is spent being selfish, thinking about number 1. You have to survive and succeed and the buck stops with you. So, charitable work balances it out. It also feels like a duty – if I want to enjoy this world then I should contribute back. I do spend a lot of time and effort for charities but it can be quite seamless – I believe in using the resources and leverage you have to help and that is different for different people. Some people offer a day volunteering, some give money, some create awareness. Take this article – just by this, you and I have both helped as the readers will now all google Virgin Unite, Hollywood Arts and Face Forward. Go on. I dare you.

HM: What sort of stuff do you get into when you’re not slogging it out with work?

DD: I love travel. It’s the best thing to get me excited. Luckily, I get to travel a lot with work. Or maybe I make it my work to travel. Who knows? I think as long as you try and do what you love, work becomes play, play becomes work and gets nicely muddled like a great cocktail.

HM: What’s the long game?

DD: I honestly don’t know, and that’s what I find exciting. I have a lot of great things happening right now – our company StuckForStaff.com is at a great point of maturity; I’m starting a new business with Jessica Rose (of lonelygirl15 fame) called We Rehearse which I’m super excited about. I have my directorial debut Stefano Formaggio getting finished as we speak. We’re releasing 20 Ft Below starring Danny Trejo in March and developing the Andy & Chaz feature film, whilst writing another. Long game? This is long enough for now [laughs]!

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Blinkit Photography

Stylist: Aubree Lynn

Jewerly: Artemisa Rivas Jewelry

Wardrobe: Boutique DeMarcus, Dolcetti Boutique, Gents Closet, Rudsak, Antonio Rivas: Suspenders

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