Brandon Lee

Written by Alejandra Armstrong Category: Spotlight Issue: June 2015
Group Mid-Level
Character count 2500
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3TV Evening Anchor

Broadcast journalist Brandon Lee has delivered the news in eight different cities over the past decade, graduating to the anchor’s desk and climbing the ladder to bigger markets – most recently Atlanta, where he worked until 3TV hired him in December 2013.

Along the way, Lee – known as Brandon Rudat before moving to Phoenix; he now goes by his middle name to honor his Japanese heritage – won an Emmy and rose above the digital news fray by making a singular connection with viewers. “Everyone has access to a computer, so we have to give them a reason to tune in to us every day,” Lee says. Off-camera, he’s passionate about painting and likes to “color outside the lines.” We recently sat down with the native Southern California news junkie, who enjoys savoring all Phoenix has to offer – especially tank top weather and delicious food.

When did you start painting?
I started doing artwork when I got my first really big TV gig at NBC in Boston [2007]. I moved into this apartment and all my walls were blank... so I went to all these art galleries in Boston and I fell in love with this really cool, modern, abstract piece of artwork. I was 27 or 28 at the time and I asked the curator how much that art piece was – so naïve and thinking that I could maybe afford it. And I think he said the price was $25,000. I was really embarrassed and I ended up leaving, but I guess the ego inside of me said, “Why don’t you just go to the art store, pick up some paint and try to mimic it?”

Art is not only a hobby for you, but also a side business.
Art, to this day, is a hobby of mine that truly allows me to escape life, escape the anxieties and pressures of work... It’s kind of turned into a little side business, but I refuse to ever really categorize it like that. If I had to rely on selling a piece to pay my rent, then I would be forced into creating a piece that wasn’t from the heart, that I truly wasn’t passionate about, just to sell something, and I never wanted that to be the case, so I only ever made it just a hobby.

How does Phoenix compare to the many cities you’ve lived in?
I love the winters here. I will find any reason to wear shorts and a tank top, even if it is 50 degrees outside, because that to me is still warm... The food here is some of the best in restaurants that I’ve ever had anywhere... I love, love the tacos at Taco Guild. They even gave me a member’s key because I’m there all the time.

What’s a normal day like at the 3TV studio?
Show up for work at 2 p.m. Write scripts. I eat peanut butter and granola at 3 p.m. every day; that gives me the fuel I need to get through all the hours of the early evening shows. At 3:30 p.m. hair and make-up, or as I like to call it, my war paint. After the show’s done at 6:30 p.m., I eat dinner – it’s a broiled chicken breast, a red bell pepper, every single day – and then I get a double shot of espresso and that is my fuel to get me through the 9 and the 10 p.m. newscast.

What’s it like to be a lead anchor?
I still struggle with being under that spotlight, but I love the storytelling aspect of it. I think a lot of people get into this business because they want to be famous, but that is just not the case... This is not a glamorous job. Anybody who has ever worked in TV knows that this is not a glamorous job... I am a perfectionist. I am my own worst critic. That’s something that I really had to work on over the years. What other people think of my artwork is really not my business. That’s a hard thing to accept. Similar to being on TV, similar to being a news anchor, is that, “Listen, not everyone is going to like you.”

VIDEO EXTRA
Check out phoenixmag.com/web-extras or our tablet editions (available on iTunes, Amazon and Google Play) for exclusive behind-the-scenes video of the PHOENIX magazine photoshoot with Brandon Lee and the progression of his painting pictured here, plus an extended Q&A.