- Jack Stiglmeier: Reporting and Writing I Fall 2017
John Bermudez: It's Never Too Late
Updated: May 21, 2020
New York– Few would expect a kid from Flatbush, Brooklyn, who acknowledges he probably was not “supposed to do anything with my life,” to be where John Bermudez is today.
Bermudez, who is between his late 30s and early 40s (his professional acting manager advised he “stop giving away your damn age all the time.”) has been defying expectations his entire life.
Successes in multiple jobs on Wall Street, a stint as a NFL licensed sports agent and a number of formative experiences later in life at the Maggie Flannigan Studio for acting have led Bermudez to believe success is inevitable in whatever he does.
What would compel a man who’s been successful in the lucrative black and white world of business and finance to abandon it all for the raw, emotional world of a thespian?
Bermudez, who fully believes in the karmic nature of the universe desires to give back. “People don’t replenish what they take,” he said discussing not just physical resources, but emotional as well. With tears in his eye, he described why acting is so much more than a career relating it to music in the emotional support and escape it can provide people.
“It’s super important for me to make a difference,” he said. “It’s not for fame it’s not for money, if just one person can say ‘hey, it’s John Bermudez let me listen to him because he really has something to say,’ That’s what makes me happy that’s why I do it. To open up, to share with people that it doesn’t matter what you are… just be what you want to be.”
What, then could a hyper-successful alpha-type know about providing emotional escape to viewers? Bermudez, a highly recruited baseball prospect much like his father and uncle before him had to grow up quickly, burying his father at 15. A victim of AIDS from the heroin epidemic of the 80s, his father would never see the man he grew into.
Raised by his aunts and a mother, with their own financial struggles, Bermudez saw success and opportunity in baseball until a shoulder injury his senior year in high-school derailed any scholarship opportunities or big-league dreams. He persisted, working at a furniture store until a lightbulb went off, “I learned to sell,” Bermudez said, with a glimmer in his eye.
Sales led to Wall Street, where Bermudez used his abilities in cold-calling to earn multiple promotions and jobs with firms like Citi and Wells Fargo as a financial advisor. Eventually, he made a leap of faith into representing NFL Talent with his own agency. Not without failure, Bermudez exhibited a striking ability to “grind” his way to success in any field he entered.
Always the believer in giving back what you take from the universe, Bermudez began to feel the pull of a greater cause back in 2001, where an extremely close call involving the 9/11 attacks left him with an intense appreciation of humanity.
Due to a medical issue, Bermudez went to the hospital the night of September 10th, 2001. Although nothing amiss was found he stayed with his grandmother in Brooklyn instead of working at the World Financial Center across the street from the World Trade Centers the next day. An outpouring of concern from close family to seldom spoken-to acquaintances about his well being only increased the desire to contribute positively to the world.
He put little thought into “how?” before viewing a 2008 production of David Mamet’s “Speed the Plow” on Broadway. Sitting in the audience, something woke Bermudez up, as he thought “s—! I can do this,” carefully specifying that he did not believe it because it looked easy. He believed, and still does, his unique perspective, story and experience can help him create.
Bermudez finally took the leap in 2013. Dropping everything, he cold-called studios to inquire about training. Each one asked for the same things, headshots, resumes and experience level, none of which Bermudez had. What he did have was unrelenting drive and a lifetime’s worth of experiences from which to draw. Finally setting up a meeting with Charlie Sandlan of the Maggie Flannigan studio, Bermudez found a like-minded individual who was willing to take a shot on a man with an infinite amount more life experience than acting. He enrolled shortly thereafter, embarking on the most emotionally challenging experience of his life. Bermudez needed to change to embody what he now knows, saying, “acting is about putting the importance on other people. The other person is always more important than you are, and that was really hard for me… it was impossible.”
As is often the case with John Bermudez, nothing is impossible. The holiday break his first year saw him come to a simple but poignant realization. He found himself willing to “make an absolute a– of myself” allowing him “to be human again, to cry, to feel,” and to finally give everything to the craft he so loved. The studio’s training would prove to be “the best two years” of Bermudez’s life, leading him to abandon the individual who had “taken a lot of [his] humanity away.” Feeling he had been “stripped socially of feeling,” his training was so impactful it made him feel “human again.”
The best is yet to come for Bermudez, who is in perfect position to succeed in what he describes as the “golden age of TV.” He has booked numerous parts in films like “The Karma Club” (2016), which ran in multiple film festivals across the country, as well as using a completely improvised story of his own as the principal role in a short film titled “Gospel” (2016) that preceded every concert on Alicia Keys’ recent series of concerts. Other credits include "Law and Order: SVU" (2019), "The Blacklist" (2018), and "Bull" (2018).
Bermudez believes he is so close to breaking through from a working actor to that “next level.” For Bermudez there is no if, only when. “I know it’s inevitable. I won’t be stopped,” he said, “I’m doing it for the right reasons, and the universe knows that.”