Photo courtesy of Bradley Bowen
Bradley Bowen is a study in determination. He hasn’t walked a straight path through life. Yet he’s met every twist and turn with a focus and resolve that’s allowed him to achieve a series of goals that are unquestionably impressive. While he describes himself as having an “addictive” personality, it was clear in a recent one-on-one interview that this is a man who dives into every new endeavor with an undeniable passion that makes him almost unstoppable.
It all began in Daytona Beach, where Bowen and his family moved when he was just 12 years old. Growing up in Minnesota, he had never seen the ocean before. But when they relocated to a house right on the ocean, Bowen discovered a love for water sports that eclipsed everything else in his life. “I started body surfing and then grabbed a surfboard and just started hitting the waves every day so much that I ended up dropping out of high school just to go surfing,” he recounted.
Never returning after his sophomore year in high school, leaving home at 16 years old. Undaunted, he became a part of the Pro Am circuit and moved to the West Coast to pursue the California dream. Although he never reached superstar status in the sport, he scraped by finding sponsorship to cover his surfing expenses, worrying only about how to feed himself and “moving from place to place and thinking nothing other than about surfing.”
It was on his return to Florida at the age of 21 that Bowen entered a whole new phase of his life. The night he got home he met a girl named Aimee at a party his sister was having. Determined to settle down and have a normal life with his newfound love, Bowen took a full-time job in construction within six months and he and his girl have now been married for 24 years. Once again, he found success at his newfound profession. Within a few years, “I had big large retail jobs and my construction company started to really take off in my middle ‘20s.”
But as his business expanded, Bowen had to deal with bigger issues. One day on the job, he was attacked by a construction worker. As he recalled, “I worked with people in construction who are felons, deadbeat dads, alcoholics and such. So, one day I got choked out on a jobsite… That was the most humiliating experience of my life. It was in front of my crew and it brought me down a notch. So, that night I went home and I called the local martial arts school and immediately started taking classes the next day.”
This time it would take Bowen three years to go from a novice martial arts student to a champion in Chun Kuk Do, earning his black belt. Now he touts a purple belt in Jiu-Jitsu, as well.
But it’s his most recent pursuit that seems to be bringing him the most joy. After stumbling into extra work on a local shoot for the movie Grace, Bowen realized that his day job was getting him down. “I was now totally involved in running a construction company and was grossing over $1 million a year. I had 20 employees. I had headaches. People didn’t want to pay me. I had to travel all around. So, immediately I started thinking this is kind of cool. I’m sitting here. I can do business [on the Internet]. I’m meeting people. I’m eating awesome food.”
He quickly went after this new career with the dogged determination that brought him good fortune in surfing, construction and martial arts. “I started getting away from the headaches of construction and downsizing my crew just to support me,” Bowen explained. “I started just going anywhere I could to get on set as a background actor… Atlanta is eight hours away from us, so I would drive up there.” He soon got work as a background player in big films like The Hunger Games, Antman and Divergence and on TV shows like Devious Maids.
He attributed these accomplishments to one simple fact — work ethics. “It’s showing up, doing what they ask, not complaining. Because I was an employer, I knew what it took to be an employee. When I started doing acting, it was like I’m the employee now. So, I was sharp, never late, do what they say, never question what the director asks. I was in the forefront, attentive, learning. I wasn’t off in the back partying and high-fiving the other people and taking pictures and all that like a lot of people do.”
He ultimately got his big break and entree into the Screen Actors Guild in 2014 when a director pulled him out the background and gave him a speaking role. With his SAG card in hand, Bowen made a big move. “Once I became eligible, now I’m starting to think, ‘This is it.’ So, I walked away from construction and started hitting acting with a vengeance.”
The move has paid off. In 2016, Bowen got his first supporting part in the film He Was Paradise. He also stepped into a new role behind the camera as a producer — first as Associate Producer on the film In Search of Light and then as a co-producer in the feature Out for Vengeance. On the latter, he also landed his second supporting role, which filmed in Europe.
It was during production on the latter that Bowen got an out-of-the-blue tweet from author Hugh Wilson that set a series of fortuitous events in motion. According to Bowen, “He tweeted, I never met him, didn’t know him from Adam. ‘If I succeed in having Caledonian Skies written as a screenplay, you’d be perfect for Ian Mackay.’ That’s the lead role.”
The next day he met writer-director Mohy Quandour at the Cannes Film Festival though a mutual friend. After sharing his story and a link to the book with the European powerhouse, Quandour promptly signed-on to write and direct the adaptation which has been titled, Flight. As producer, Bowen is in Turkey with the helmer putting the final touches on the script and getting ready to go into production. “We have the studio set up, a crew lined up and things have escalated quickly. He says we’re gonna be shooting in Romania in 2017,” Bowen noted.
To find out what Bradley Bowen will do next stay tuned to his website.