Column: Remembering Brian Dragonuk, who guided many DC-area acting careers

The name Brian L. Dragonuk may not be a household name to a lot of people in the D.C. metro area, but his insight and his website helped several local aspiring actors launch their careers, including mine.

Dragonuk died Monday.

I received an email Tuesday evening from one of the acting groups I am a part of announcing the sad news of his passing. While he had health issues lately, I was still caught off guard by the news.

Dragonuk, who graduated in 1971 from Baltimore County’s Randallstown High School, just turned 66 on Jan. 8. Dragonuk had gone to a rehabilitation center in Sykesville after recent foot surgery. He died in his sleep there, his business partner Jay Chapin said.

Dragonuk, who participated in over 500 film projects in the Mid-Atlantic, fueled early-career actors with his insight. And I, for one, have been lucky to be a part of that.

In addition to my role as a WTOP sports reporter, acting has been a big part of the last several years of my career.

From commercials to sitcoms and popular Netflix shows to major motion pictures, Dragonuk helped those of us who were always looking for that next gig.

He had insight on classes that were being offered or when an extra set of hands was needed behind the scenes on a set.

Dragonuk was responsible for helping people not only achieve their dreams, but follow their passions no matter the size of the stage.

Recently honored by the Television, Internet & Video Association of D.C., Dragonuk helped others experience things that they thought might never be reachable, but were and still are, thanks to his efforts.

“Probably the most recognizable name in the DMV for acting in general,” Khawaja Aziz, an actor friend of mine, said in a Facebook exchange after we heard of Dragonuk’s death.

Another actor, Belinda Lake said, “Without him I would never gotten the gigs I got, never become SAG (Screen Actors Guild member), never blessed with the great folks I met — both actors and crew.”

In an interview with Arts and Entertainment magazine “The Eerie Digest,” Dragonuk said he started his acting career rather late in life, at age 47, when he was an extra on the film set for “The Replacements.” The film had ties to the D.C. area, as the movie was loosely based on the Washington NFL team. It used film shots of M&T Bank Stadium (then PSINet Stadium), home of the Ravens.

That experience taught him a lesson he retained throughout his career: “If you want to make a living as an actor [in the D.C. area]. you must make yourself valuable to as many employers as you can.”

Dragonuk not only did that for himself, but was able to help countless others who were interested in the world of acting.

Visitation hours are set for Sunday in Sykesville, Maryland, and funeral services are set for Monday morning there. See additional details.

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