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There are actors who inspire you on screen and then there are actors, who are inspiring people. The best way to describe our next subject is authentic. Charlie Barnett is so unaffected by his success, his rawness in combination with his adorably quirky personality is what stood out most about this actor. Barnett’s zest for life and curiosity about the world around him is what we at Imagista are in awe of.

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Imagista: Where are you from?

Charlie Barnett: I am originally from Sarasota Florida, born and raised there but now I am living in LA but I have been all over the place.

Imagista: How did you get into acting?

Charlie Barnett: At the time when I grew up in Sarasota, there was a big art community and my dad is a builder. My sister and I started sailing at a young age, we pretty much grew up on a sailboat. However, I was a horrible sailor and my sister was amazing. I think this made me realize that I needed to find something that I was passionate about. I went to Opera camp then I went to theater camp and I fell in love.

Imagista: Who has been your biggest inspiration throughout your life?

Charlie Barnett: My parents for sure, they are unbelievable. I know it is a “go-to” answer for a lot of people, well to fortunate people who have good parents. I was adopted at birth so my parents feel like they are a gift to me. I look up to them in an eclectic way than most people’s relationship with their parents. They have always been an inspiration, through bad and good. I have learned so much from them and they have been such an inspiration in both my work and in the person I have become.

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Imagista: You were on the show Chicago Fire, can you tell me what that experience was like for you?

Charlie Barnett: That is where it all began, that was my jumping off point. It was my first big part, I had worked before but it was such a different world. I am still super, super close with some of the people from the show. Monica and I grew up next door to each other and went to Julliard together so she is like my big sister. Weirdly enough we had to play a couple for a little bit which was something new for us.

Beyond this role is a way in for me, it was a training mechanism for me also. I learned so much about the technical side of television, just learning about pacing and utilizing yourself and your body. That stuff I didn’t get in school I got from Chicago fire and I can’t thank them enough for both the experience and the knowledge.

Imagista: Recently, you were on the Netflix series Russian Doll. I love how your character on the show, has so many layers to him. Can you tell me what that experience was like?

Charlie Barnett: First and foremost, full credit is due to the women who headed this ship, Natasha Lyonne, Amy Poehler and Lesley Headland were unbelievable in making something new, different, exciting and risky and they accomplished it. Even when people are telling me how amazing the show is I feel the need to tell them that the credit goes to those three ladies.

Imagista: You did an amazing job, do you find you have similarities to Alen?

Charlie Barnett: I do. I hated and loved working on this character, I wanted to work on something that was challenging to me before going into this and I was blessed with this role. It was scary though, the things we related most to are the things that scare us the most. This character faces depression, self-manipulation and the incapability of stepping back and seeing where you are. All these things are relative to many people in different degrees. It was terrifying for me going into this role and it was terrifying to try and utilize myself from that but that is also what we do and what we love about it, so it’s a mixed bag. I can’t tell you how many days I went home and cried and felt as if I was failing but that helped form both my character and me as a person.

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Imagista: What was it like working with this cast on Tales of the City?

Charlie Barnett: I don’t know where to even begin. It was unbelievable on so many levels. I think I have to start with Murray because I worked so closely with him. He is just an incredible actor, but beyond that, he is an incredible friend, person, and guide. He has been a really integral force on pacing myself through the character and the journey of working on a project like this that focuses on this community. But then there is Laura and she is like a goddess. She has given me so many blessings on a personal level and within work, how to master my craft, not to sound to cliché. Everybody, beyond their work being incredible. Ellen and Paul and oh my god I can go on and on! There is really beautiful humanity to everybody that worked on this and their passion is palpable. Their passion for how to make this important and how to make this speak for everyone. It’s been a journey working with all of them, it’s been really fascinating learning.

Imagista: What should viewers expect to see from your character Ben Marshall?

Charlie Barnett: I hope that they see a compassionate, caring, and committed partner in Ben. So much of his journey in this first season at least focuses on his relationship. Within that you definitely get his own personality, he stands on his own as a character and in his own individuality. But I hope that they can see a person who is willing to sacrifice and also willing to stand up for what he thinks is right, fight for his own voice, and fights for what he wants in his own partner. But a person who is also looking to build a bond, a love, build a world together, and do it with Michael. I’m interested and hope that they can reflect that into their own relationships and through their relationships that aren’t only romantic. Just being a good friend, listener, or when you sacrifice and balance your own wishes, needs, and desires for a person that you care about. But on a personal level, I’m really interested to see how everybody takes a specific scene in episode 4 at a dinner table. Just by that reference, everyone should know what I’m talking about when you get to it, but I’m soooo interested to see where the conversation goes.

Left Facing: Sweater by Balmain @balmain Right Facing: Jacket by Balmain @balmain

Imagista: This industry can be really overwhelming sometimes, how do you stay grounded?

Charlie Barnett: I am terrified of losing myself or losing my relationships. The idea of losing myself in my career is something I think about. To be honest, I don’t know the answer to that question, what I can tell you is that I am still learning. I think a lot of it is not being afraid to go into audition rooms for any project to not be afraid of the outcome. I guess trusting yourself puts you in a position to engage in life in a different way. What you are working on and who you are doesn’t matter, anything that can put me in a position of realization helps me stay balanced.

My parents, my family, my friends, my fiancé; these connections go a long way and I can’t thank those people in my life enough. They are really a good center point for calling me out, challenging me and also letting me know when it is okay to be proud.  

Imagista: If you weren’t acting, what do you think you would be doing?

Charlie Barnett: I used to joke and say I was going to retire from acting at thirty and I am thirty-one now and feel like I have only just begun. I have always wanted to direct, it has always been a passion of mine. I had dreamed of becoming a country singer also, so maybe I would be in that world. I love that Americana element of our country, I love the west, I love the oxymoron of being a black cowboy, I feel like it is a part of history I would love to tap into and I always felt music would be a great way of doing so.

Other than that, I always thought about being a chef. However, after working in that industry for so long I realized that it would ruin my joy for cooking.

Imagista: What is something we can’t find about you on google?

Charlie Barnett: I have never won a race. I have only ever won a rubber ducky competition…is that a weird thing to say?

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