Friday, December 16, 2011

My Friend JB

So, I'm going to start writing a "people who inspire me" page every month. 
It can include people I don't personally know, like last months' author Jon Katz.
It can be people I have known well for many years.
Like this month's Inspiration...

My friend Jonathan Browning.

He was raised in Southern Illinois.  A good ol' boy in a good ol' town.  Benton, to be accurate.  He had a knack for being funny as a child from what I hear.
He was destined for a lad he mowed famed actor John Malkovich's grandmother's lawn back in Benton for gosh sakes. 
Benton grows great theatre folk. 
Malkovich and Browning.

The guy always has a joke, a funny voice to tell you a story. 
He has an awesome and contagious laugh.

I met him in college.  I think it was probably in 1991 or 1992.
He was a theatre major while I was a dance major.  He was a great compadre, a great listener, and always had everyone in stitches.  Later we all moved to Chicago where he kept living the dream of actor/comedian by joining the Annoyance Theatre, Comedy Sportz, and The Midnight Circus.  We used to drive around in my car looking for the cheapest places to eat and we walked my dog Madison to the park to play catch.  Always laughing...always.   
He's been a great friend to me.  We did drift apart for a while, but in the manner of all lifelong friends we found one another again.

He lives in Los Angeles now. Married to a great girl from Chicago. They are the proud parents of boxer dogs. They have their own production company...Screaming Frog.
It's a realization of a dream come true.  He gets to write scripts, direct actors and he's living his life to the fullest.  His short films have been shown at film festivals throughout the world and he's gone to a lot of them...South Korea, France, Australia, Portugal, Italy.  

When my five year old daughter Zoe was diagnosed with cancer last fall, his serious side kicked in.  He jump started a great fundraiser for her in LA.  For a little girl he did not personally know, but whose genes he does.  We were touched by his generosity.  By his determination to present a great benefit in her honor.  We were contacted by people from all over the planet inquiring about Zoe and wishing her well.  All because of Jonathan.

He's modest and very humble.
He's determined and purposeful.
He's amazed that he gets to do what he's doing everyday.
He's flabbergasted that he gets to work with great actors like Paul Dooley and Martin Mull.
He's a great shining star in everyone's life, but he'll tell you that's hogwash.
He doesn't realize how blindingly bright he really is.
And that's why I love him.
My friend Jonathan.
Mr. Finkle.

He's an inspiration to me.  He has created something wonderful out of a craft he adores.  
He has persevered and I can't WAIT to see him on stage one day getting his Academy Award.
Mark my words, it will happen.
And I'll be applauding loudly with joy bursting in my heart.

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