WHILE YOUTHS across the nation were swooning over American Idol, Westminster teen Blake Brown was living his version of the dream.
Connections with the right people in the right places in Florida - and talent - recently landed Brown small parts in a music video starring hip-hop artists Lil' Kim and Ice-T.
Brown, 19, also got the green light to be an extra in the films Bad Boys 2, starring Will Smith, and Fast and Furious 2, but thunderstorms delayed the shoots, and Brown had to return to Carroll County.
"Blake can get these parts because he is versatile," said his cousin Gera Wright of Florida. "He sings, he dances, he acts, he can do voiceovers - his talent is very profound. On top of all that, he is a comedian, too. He's a natural, and you don't find that often."
With 12 years in the entertainment business and a cameo role on Miami Vice on her resume, Wright said she knew Blake had talent worth marketing. She called friends with Lipstick Model & Talent Agency of Miami Beach and the agency tossed Brown the parts.
"I did enjoy filming the music video. At least I got to do that," Brown said. "I was an extra for some scenes where they were playing basketball and there were people on the sidelines cheering and betting money on the game. I was there from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. every day."
Other than the excitement of being an extra, Brown said he also loved being in Florida because "it was a lot more open than Westminster and the people were more diverse."
"They were happy with Blake's work, and there is work here whenever he is in town," Wright said. "I know he'll progress, especially if he enrolls in a professional acting school. He has great, natural talent."
His mother, Paula Cook, proudly recounts each successful talent show in her son's rise - from his early days at Robert Moton Elementary School and East Middle School, to the time he and his brother Brandon won the talen show grand championship at Westminster Fallfest in 1993 for their singing and dancing.
The boys also won a talent competition in Baltimore in 1995 that earned them the chance to perform at the Apollo Theater in New York.
Along the way, Blake said, he has been encouraged by his family and the community. When they were in elementary school, Blake and Brandon received scholarships through Carroll County Arts Council to take jazz and tap classes.
For now, Blake Brown's dream of a career in the performing arts is on hold while he takes classes at Carroll Community College.
"In five years I'd love to be doing improv on a show like Mad TV or Whose Line is it Anyway?" Brown said. "Someday."
Westminster resident Mike DiPietro honors Doc, a bartender from Baltimore, as his Living Treasure this week.
"I never knew his last name - few people do, but not long after I graduated from college, he said something that has motivated me for years," DiPietro said.
"I had just gotten my first job and I was proud to be making a living, and I was telling Doc about it," DiPietro said. "'If you set your goals low enough, you are bound to achieve them,' he told me. And that was his way of telling me I could make a bigger difference in the world. I could make more of myself."
Brighten the day of someone who has made a positive difference in your life. Submit a name and specific reasons why that person has been your living treasure to: Lisa Breslin, 35 Ridge Road, Westminster 21157, 410-848-4703.
Lisa Breslin's Central Carroll neighborhood column appears each Monday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.