The star of JPEGMAFIA’s new video refuses to be typecast

Brooks Ginnan is self-actualizing, in spite of the trolls.

June 21, 2024
The star of JPEGMAFIA’s new video refuses to be typecast Brooks Ginnan in thumbnail for JPEGMAFIA’s “don’t rely on other men” music video, directed by Logan Fields.  


When Brooks Ginnan saw their face in the thumbnail of the “don’t rely on other men” video, the first thing they felt was a flicker of worry. The 27-year-old loved being the lead actor in Logan Fields’s gritty cyberpunk visuals for JPEGMAFIA’s new single, where they play a lonely misfit gamer captivated by Peggy’s cult of personality. But seeing this image of wild-eyed mania and blood gushing from their mouth made them wonder whether they’d actually been typecast in a dystopian horror short exploiting their ectodermal dysplasia — a diverse class of rare genetic syndromes that can affect craniofacial structure, skin, hair, teeth, nails, sweat glands, and other organs.

The Los Angeles-based model, actor, and hypnogothic musician explains over FaceTime that they’ll decline roles that feel exploitative or dehumanizing. Instead, they’re more partial to the “delicate or graceful” roles, appearing in high-fashion editorials for Vogue Italia and W Magazine, as well as music videos like Orville Peck’s “Big Sky” and Ethel Cain’s “God’s Country.”

Thankfully, “don’t rely on other men” didn’t portray them as a “creature,” but focused on their acting against a raging backdrop of glitchy noise, industrial metal hip-hop, and a vocal sample from Succession’s Logan Roy. Ginnan excels at channeling the pure fury and tunnel vision of a stan gone awry, lending true depth and complexity to what would otherwise be a run-of-the-mill apocalypse narrative.


Still, despite their skill, it didn’t take long for the trolls to appear with a slew of vile “jokes” and hard-to-stomach Reddit threads about Ginnan’s looks, reviving the ugly commentary they’d faced after modeling Playboi Carti’s Narcissist clothing collection. There will always be cruel bullies and ableist assholes on the internet, so detached from reality that they dehumanize others for the sake of viral validation. As Ginnan points out, though, they will always have something the trolls don’t: the “respect, employment, and appreciation” of these “people they actually worship.”

Watching that fight scene, I was like, “Oh my God, I had no idea the Brooks I know could do that…”

I didn’t! But that’s the fun thing about music videos: getting to play with new aspects of yourself and just try things out. And I’ve been trying to utilize jobs like this, more recently, to learn through experience. I don’t know why, but I’m very afraid of the formal training and teaching method of acting, but I’ve been very lucky to get a number of opportunities without any real formal training. It’s such a privilege to learn as you go and elevate yourself and figure out what works and what doesn’t. And [doing those stunts for “don’t rely on other men”] really opened up something I didn’t know I had inside me.

Before this, I’ve always been cast in much more delicate or graceful roles, like a mime or a doll, so to get to do something like this made me so excited. I was being trained to fight someone on camera for the first time in my life, and I loved it.

“I don’t want to represent people who are born differently or are disabled in some capacity as something monstrous.”

The photos that I usually think of are the ones where you’re these beautiful romantic angel-like figures. But seeing you in this cyberpunk Fight Club-meets-Mad Max video was super cool. There was even a crusty graffiti train.

Yeah, it was in Boyle Heights, Downtown L.A. For the fight, I trained for probably two or three hours with the stunt coordinators, and being physically involved in that capacity… It felt like a very, very, very long time.

I didn’t end up meeting [JPEGMAFIA] at the shoot, though, because he was doing his scenes in the distance, while I had someone in a chokehold or was trying to learn how to fall properly and not crack my head open — except my instinct when I’m choking somebody is like, “I don’t want to do this,” so I’m faking it, basically.

What was interesting was that the guy I actually ended up fighting was one of the people I did a Foster the People video with in this exact same location. He’s been a character actor in different music videos for something like 20 years, so he’s done a lot of fight scenes through the years and was like, “This [chokehold] is 80% real, 20% acting. Please apply more pressure.”

He told me to go harder than even the stunt coordinator did, but he was also so lovely and very nonjudgmental when I really needed some coaching.

You’ve done a video with this guy in this same place? That’s a pretty crazy synchronicity.

Yeah, to be in this shared location you’ve been in together and doing this very intimate but potentially dangerous thing together. But it was interesting to me that he told me he does play a lot of semi-villain roles, and there’s a lot of typecasting.

I’m glad he was there, though, because it made that experience really comfortable for me. We were talking for a little bit, and he was really encouraging about [finding acting work]. He’s a burn survivor and said there’s often going to be work for us because of what we look like, and he was telling me that it’s both a positive and a negative.


On that note, you mentioned earlier that you get a lot of work through DMs, and, typically, it’s very quick compared to the whole casting process everyone else in the video went through. Does that leave you feeling tokenized or exploited?

Mostly, I feel very grateful for that because it allows me to get to places where a lot of people who don’t have that shortcut want to go. It really depends, though. For example, there’s an actor with the genetic condition I have who’s done mostly horror films, and I will say no to anything of that capacity. I don’t want to represent people who are born differently or are disabled in some capacity as something monstrous.

I’m also just trying to let myself be free of other people’s [opinions]. They have the ability to make judgments or say whatever they want about me or people like me, but that has nothing to do with honoring people like myself and trying to do us justice. So I’ve absolutely been tokenized, but I try to have my guard up about things like that.

I’ve tried to get to a point of only being on sets that feel very respectful, and, I’ve certainly been on many where that has not been the case. But [for “don’t rely on other men”], it was a really lovely team, and I really have the best things to say about it. I was only a bit hesitant when I saw the thumbnail of the video, but seeing the way it was actually presented put it in context.

[My character] felt like somebody just trying to find their identity or some purpose, something bigger than themselves. I also had this little monologue portion that got cut but [made this clearer]. It’s kind of sad because people [will see me and automatically] make a lot of associations with a creature, for whatever reason.

“I realize now that there’s so much more to be said when you can actually speak.”

I think there should be more videos like “don’t rely on other men,” where you’re able to be this complex character that’s also capable of being loyal, vicious, smart, angry, rather than some singular trope. I don’t know how you feel, but even the people who “mean well” seem pretty patronizing and annoying.

Yeah, I have agency to be a human being, and, hopefully, [the video will] show this in a way that does right by people like myself. That’s all I can really do, but everything’s always been done in the hopes of honoring that. I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve had in my life that have led me to positions like this, and I don’t want to be given them. I want to [earn them by doing] a good job, and I want to convey things to people and change their minds about ideas of acceptance of beauty: just being a more fully realized version of yourself and standing up for yourself, and—

[Ginnan’s sphynx cat, Casper, pops up in front of the screen, blocking our views of each other.]

Casper seems like a fully realized version of himself — giving no fucks, like the best of cats.

We can all learn from Casper.


I want to be like Casper. He would actually follow through on the whole “never read the comments” thing. Speaking of which, please tell me you don’t look either.

I’m guilty of reading certain comments. I did see somebody say, “How did they cast Caillou,” which made me a little bit… But, then again, as third parties have pointed out to me, these people they actually worship are allowing me into a space that is very respectful. It’s a space of employment and appreciation, and I feel like they’re honoring me with this work. If I felt disrespected, I probably would not be speaking about it.

[For “don’t rely on other men”], I let my morbid curiosity get the best of me. But I feel like people, for the most part, really liked the video. I mean, there were a few people… But it wasn’t like the Carti stuff. That was a whole other level, but I think that’s just an age thing and [him] having a generally bigger fanbase. But Carti was so lovely and so respectful to me. It was really one of the best work experiences I’ve ever had. There was a huge [backlash] when it was put out there, and people were saying a lot of crazy shit online, but I felt so taken care of and respected by that job. To this day, it’s one of my favorite work experiences, regardless of how anybody chooses to perceive the photos.

And, ultimately, I feel like you help people by doing that, by physically putting yourself out there.

I’ve been able to speak with a lot of people like me over time, and I think there is some type of help in the representation. I’m mostly trying to make something more beautiful, or take on a more outcast-type character and be the protagonist, like [with “don’t rely on other men”]. Ideally, I would love to move to more stuff where I’m just getting to go on the journey with this person, who doesn’t look like everyone else but has the same emotions and is just trying to work it out, like everybody else.

There’s also a lot of beauty in living in this type of body, just being a human being and not having to do anything “remarkable.” I’m so lucky and so grateful because I love doing this, and I hope I get to do it for a long time. But I also think there’s something about living true reality, not always staying in this bubble of creation and production within the film and music industry. All of these things are so outside of some people’s reality, but I think those people are really strong and really beautiful in ways that are much more grounded in reality.

There was a lot of fucked up stuff on Reddit. It was nice though, because there was this one kid who was like, “Fuck you guys. Their name is Brooks, and they have this condition. They’re amazing, and fuck you guys for saying all this terrible shit.” It felt like a sign of internet commenters learning to be a little more kind.

Stuff like that gives me hope too: to see that people are willing to actually lay it out and educate other people. It’s one thing for me to bring awareness to it, but there are specific groups of people who are prone to these sorts of comments, I just try to laugh because my life is very surreal. Just being alive and getting to do this type of stuff, I’m grateful for every moment of it. It gives me opportunities [to express who I am].

I want to do more acting than modeling now. I’m proud of my formal achievements in the industry, but that’s not my long-term goal. I feel like acting is actually something with longevity, so I’ll still shoot with friends, people I admire, or for a good check, but it’s not my aspiration in the way it was when I was like 20 or 21. I realize now that there’s so much more to be said when you can actually speak.

That’s so true. So, with your newly found voice, any final words for the haters?

“Fuck off” in a Logan Roy voice.


The star of JPEGMAFIA’s new video refuses to be typecast