In 2018, Instinct Magazine contributing writer Ryan Schae, built a strong following with his mission-driven content that rejected body shaming and celebrated body positivity. His popular “Bears You Should Know” posts featured a bevy of proud, big barrel-chested boys of various physical types. The men Ryan featured exuded self-confidence, sexiness, and a sense of brotherhood in their non-conformity to ideal male beauty standards.
One of those bears was Pearse Andrew Egan, a burly, nearly 6’1” Irish-born, red-haired rugby player living in the UK. Pearse was an immediate favorite of the Instinct Magazine audience, many of whom read his heartfelt story of overcoming a bullied youth to emerge as one of today’s newest talents on the rise in entertainment.
I sat down with Pearse recently to find out what he’s been up to lately, which is quite a lot! He shared his current successes, from stand-up comedy to new film roles, and his ever-evolving relationship with his father.
Our Interview with Pearse Andrew Egan:
CA: We first met you in 2018 when our dear late writer, Ryan Schae, introduced you to our readers as part of his popular “Bears You Should Know” round-up. How did it feel to be featured in that piece along with some of your fellow hottie bears?
PE: Yes, may Ryan rest in peace. Ryan checked in on me every day when I struggled during the lockdown, which I’ll forever be grateful for. I can only hope he’d be proud that we’re getting to continue what he started. Being a part of the ‘Bears you should know piece’ was so cool. Like so many of us, I hadn’t felt like I belonged in any community. When the piece came out, I started getting so many lovely body-positive messages, which helped me rebuild my confidence. My previous agent had told me I’d never get work with my size. There were many times I almost gave up, but I’m so glad that I’ve kept going. And pieces like that, where we get to see others like ourselves, really helped me, for sure.
CA: So many amazing things have happened in your life since then, including your emotional appearance on the hit Britain television show “Long Lost Family,” where, with the help of the show, you searched for and found the father you had never met? It was a moving episode. Do you still keep in touch with him? What’s your relationship like with him now?
PE: That is so kind, thank you, Corey. A few years ago, I was lucky to find my dad through the ITV TV show Long Lost Family. I grew up in Dublin, but my father is from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. All I had was an old address and the wrong name. Unfortunately, he had a stroke and heart attack a few months ago, so I visited him recently in Brazil. It was great to be able to spend that time with him. It felt very special. After that, he went back to New York, and I had some time to travel around. It is such a beautiful place, and I finally started to feel like being Brazilian was a part of me.
CA: I was so fascinated watching the episode and seeing the surprise of discovering that your father was this Brazilian man living in New York. Have you met your other Brazilian relatives yet, either there or in the US?
PE: On that trip, I met my uncle, aunts, and cousins. It was surreal. I learned much more about where I come from as my dad gets distracted mid-story, much like myself, and we could end up talking about cheese for an hour. But my family are great storytellers, so that was good to see where I get that from as well. I plan to learn Portuguese, go back, see them, and travel around.
CA: Beyond that part of your journey, you’re an actor, budding stand-up comedian, and an advocate for anti-bullying and body positivity. Before we delve into your latest accomplishments in entertainment, why are you so passionate about anti-bullying?
PE: It’s funny hearing your accomplishments being said back to you. I tend to forget all the good stuff I’ve done and focus on where I’m not, which is counterproductive, so thank you for that. I am passionate about anti-bullying because I got badly bullied in school. To be honest, my focus on the negative stems from that. I was constantly put down, spit on, and punched around as I was growing up. I have flipped the script, and realizing I’m in charge of the narrative has become somewhat empowering and really helped me build up the person I should have had the chance to be then.
My hope, which I imagine like so many others, is that children aren’t abused for being seen as what people deem as different. I was called fat, dumb, faggot, ginger, poor. I’m still all of them, but I am embracing myself and constantly pushing for others to not shut others down when they express who they are.
CA: Remarkably, you’ve turned your childhood angst and negative bullying experiences into a positive catalyst for success-but, if you could go back in time and tell young Pearse one thing, what would it be?
PE: Wow. That question has made me a little emotional. I don’t think I’ve ever really been able to answer a question like that. But I’ll try. If I could say anything to little Pearse, it would be first, cut back on the cheese before you become too big, Pearse. I’d also hug him because nobody did then, and he deserved love. I’d tell him to keep his head up, that things will get easier — that there isn’t anything wrong with him and one day he’ll be the most fun at a party, even with all the food he’s hidden in his pocket. People will want to give him a hug then. He’ll be on the big screen, and all those bullies will melt away, almost wishing they’d given him a chance. I have to get a tissue for my eyes now.
There is one upside, though; one thing I learned from traveling recently on my own is that enjoying our own company is a privilege. When I didn’t have friends growing up. I used to think being on my own was bad, and now I enjoy just being with myself.
CA: Now, let’s get to how you are slaying the game in your career as an actor and comedian! In 2015, you were a star rugby player on the Australian gay rugby team, The Sydney Convicts. This led to you appearing in the acclaimed documentary film entitled Scrum, about Australia openly embracing gay players. Can you share some of what it was like being part of that team and the documentary?
PE: It was amazing. I think the people behind the documentary initially wanted to get some lighthearted relief as the topics covered were heavy. When I started to open up, and they saw that my humor was maybe the tiniest bit of deflection, they began to get me involved more. Joining that club was the first time I’d let myself get back into sport since school. I got bullied by many teams and was always scared to return. Being a part of the Sydney Convicts was and will forever be one of the best things I ever did.
CA: So, are you trained as an actor, and if yes, where did you study?
PE: We were poor when I was younger. Because of this, my Mum couldn’t afford to pay for any classes upfront. The only class that would let us pay a few pounds per class was drama class. So, I used to go after school. I trained alongside Eve & Jordan Hewson. Eve just played the lead in the Netflix show “Behind Her Eyes.” I was so clueless as a child that I didn’t know their father was well-recognized worldwide. My Mum used to say, “I can’t afford the train this week. Pearse, get a lift home with Bono’s kids.” And for years, I used to think. What is a Bono? I finished all my drama grades back in Ireland, then moved to London.
CA: I recall more than a year ago; that you told me you were writing jokes to start doing stand-up comedy. You must have been quite good because you recently turned your rather unsettling childhood memories of being bullied into an award-winning comedy routine, beating out 15 other comedians in a prestigious contest in The UK. What did it feel like to have such an accomplishment so early in your comedy career?
PE: That was surreal for sure. It was my second stand-up gig ever. I went late so they’d have to send me away- hello, self-saboteur. But they let me go sit with the other comedians. Again, clueless, I didn’t know it was a competition or that people got booted off if they weren’t funny. And then the lights go off or black out. When I got up there, I’d forgotten everything I’d written down. I even forgot my name. The MC had to keep saying my name. And there’s me thinking, how does this guy not know his name? Oh, wait, that’s me. So, you can imagine the surprise when they said it was a competition and then called out my name as the winner. It has been a highlight in my career for sure. Since then, I’ve been gigging as much as possible and have been lucky to share the stage with many great acts here in the UK. The next step is to do some gigs in Ireland, as I’ve not done that yet.
CA: And your star keeps rising! You were in San Francisco a few months back to attend the Frameline Movie Festival, where your latest film, In from the Side, was chosen for a primetime viewing slot! Congratulations! Tell us about the movie and share a little bit about your role in the film.
PE: That was the last part of my trip. Before I flew back to London, I was able to get a flight to go see the film. In the Castro theatre —1400 people. I was also surprised by the director and cast, as I didn’t know if I’d be able to make it. The guy sitting in front of me didn’t realize some of the cast was behind him. And whenever my character popped on the screen, he clicked his fingers in the air. And for me, it’s one of my best experiences ever. As actors and performers, we get so many nos; for me, that was one big YES moment. The theatre had sold out. And the buzz was electric.
My character is called ‘Pinky.’ He is the friendly, fun one on the team, who has a heart of gold (and chocolate) that people might initially perceive as just the lighthearted one, but he has lots of depth, which we get to see as the film progresses. Being a part of the film was amazing.
CA: Where can we watch In from the Side?
PE: As far as I’m aware, the film is doing the film festival circuit at the moment. People really love it! Next are the Atlanta and San Diego film festivals. Then after that, who knows? I’ll see if Meryl wants to do a sequel. Or if Kate Bush will let Pinky do a Running up that Hill dance montage!
CA: Ha! I’d love to see that. So, what’s next for Pearse Egan?
PE: This is always such a tricky question for us. I mean, today, is try not to sweat a nipple off in London while I learn lines. I got cast in a TV show next week for the BBC, which I’m thrilled about! Another chapter of ITV’s Long-Lost Family will be available soon. There are a few new reveals, too, which will be great for others who have been able to see my journey while looking for family.
Comedy-wise, I’m going to keep gigging and writing more material. I’d love to do a tour of the states next year. So if you see me at a local bar trying to make people laugh, throw me a sandwich, as I’ll probably be starving. I have been working hard for years now, and I’m starting to see things come together; I am in a good mental and professional place. Physically … well, I look like two gingers trapped in one body, but I’m working with it.
Watch the trailer for “In From the Side.”