Maranda Pleasant: What makes you come alive?

Richard Brancatisano: In general and at the simplest level, it’s whatever makes me feel connected and in the moment. Several things can throw me into that space where I feel energetic and peaceful at the same moment—often things that force me to utilize all my senses. Sunshine does it for me. Music for sure, singing, and dancing. Conscious breathing. Nature. Silence. Meditation. Sport is a great one.

MP: What makes you feel vulnerable?

RB: For me, it’s the slow release of my ego and certain belief systems that I identify with that give me comfort and an identity, and it’s scary to let go of that. It’s difficult to change, because I have to admit that I have been previously living in a less compassionate and loving way. Sometimes we just want to be right instead of fully conscious. I feel especially vulnerable when I know I’ve let the reactive ego take control of my actions and it may have had hurtful implications with someone I love. I feel vulnerable when I don’t listen to my conscience.

MP: If you could say something to everyone on the planet, what would it be?

RB: I’m trying to put myself in the other person’s shoes here and imagine what I would like to hear from a complete stranger. I don’t have enough knowledge or wisdom to say anything profound to people all over the world. But maybe a simple “I love you,” as corny as it may sound, shows them that I am willing to be compassionate, generous, and peaceful with them.

MP: How do you handle emotional pain?

RB: I try to make sure I have a helpful perspective so when emotional pain comes up, it doesn’t get out of hand. Sometimes we can’t help the way we feel, but we can mostly choose how we respond to it. I try not to think in terms of good and bad but more in terms of helpful or unhelpful in regards to specific moral codes and goals.

So when I feel hurt or attacked, jealousy or fear, what works for me is thinking of life as an adventure. This way, I remember that all these feelings or situations are part of a greater whole and that they need to be there to make life exactly what it is. Duality. We can’t have the one without the other. And both are OK. And both are incredible. And if you give yourself permission to feel the pain and the joy, without attaching to either, then you can be happy or sad with an underlying peace that just makes everything feel like it’s going to be OK.

MP: How do you keep your center in the middle of chaos? Do you have a daily routine?

RB: I try to remember the things that keep me peaceful, happy, and compassionate. I constantly write notes on my phone about little discoveries I make in terms of perspective and habitual thought patterns. My memory seems to let me down, so this really helps me. I find practicing gratefulness and generosity keeps me centered the most.

MP: What’s been one of your biggest lessons so far in life?

RB: Probably the nature of duality. It helps me become more empathetic knowing that there are always two sides to a story. It allows me to accept joy and sadness in my life without becoming depressed in an attempt to avoid them. It reminds me to be aware of where I am situated in regards to a balanced approach. Knowing that a paradox is required for life as we know it to exist allows me to give up trying constantly to understand it and instead just feel it and enjoy it.

MP: What truth do you know for sure?

RB: What is truth? I think stating a truth could be dangerous, because we are locking something in and therefore making it harder for ourselves to change beyond that certain thought or concept. I am still learning and experiencing things and feel like I cannot state a truth. So I guess one truth I know for sure is that I cannot state one. A paradox.

MP: How can young people make a difference?

RB: They should make a difference in any avenue which they are passionate about. Passion overcomes obstacles. Hopefully, they understand and harness the power of the Internet and bring out the best in it. There is a lot of knowledge on the Net and an equal amount of crap. They should not blindly follow what was done before them but really look at the actions and habits that have formed the current standards and ask questions about them.

MP: Tell me about your latest projects.

RB: I’m working on an ABC Family drama series called Chasing Life. It is about April, a journalist in her early twenties, whose life changes when she is diagnosed with leukemia. I play a character called Dominic. He and April are just starting a romantic relationship when she gets the news. Even though the show deals with such heavy topics, it manages to be extremely funny, witty, and enjoyable to watch.

One of the reasons I love working on this show is because I feel like here needs to be more content like this. Nearly one in four Americans will die of cancer, which means most people have some sort of experience surrounding it. I think it’s important that we broadcast programs that represent the reality so the viewers can really connect with the content and, hopefully, not feel so alone.


Richard Brancatisano is known for his role on the award-winning Australian series Underbelly as well as the film Bait. He plays Dominic on a new ABC Family series, Chasing Life.

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