Former Mr. NDA Involved in Theater, Also Writing for Television


Frannie Wied, Grace Schuh, Staff Writers, Journalism I

Adviser’s Note:  Alum Bear Brummel visited Journalism I class, and students interviewed him.  Enjoy some of their stories.

Berndt “Bear” Brummel got his start on the Notre Dame Academy Awards stage, but he didn’t stop there. 

 Brummel was a junior when he was made 2008’s Mr. NDA. His act is still remembered today as the act that helped shape present-day Academy Awards. He’s accredited for integrating the technology and lights show with the live performance. 

“This is the guy who changed the NDA Academy Awards,” said Mrs. Carolyn Brown. 

When Brummel attended NDA, he actually had no intention of pursuing acting or performance of any type – he had planned on going into pediatrics but quickly realized that wasn’t for him. This led him to apply to acting schools and programs. 

“I couldn’t stand seeing people hurt so I choose to do acting instead,” said Brummel. “When I was auditioning for schools, I wasn’t well prepared coming from Green Bay, Wisconsin. I was out there with the best of the best. It was really intimidating.”

After graduating from NDA and facing the daunting auditions, Brummel went on to graduate from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities where he studied acting and received his Bachelor’s of Fine Arts. 

For the next four years, he worked at Guthrie Theater and local theaters in the Twin Cities area, before deciding he wanted to do more. 

“People told me that if I was really interested in doing this, I needed to move to New York,” said Brummel. And so he did – by fall of 2018 Brummel was in New York City and ready to surefire his career. 

“I intended to go to New York, so I could audition and then perform around the country,” said Brummel. 

Living in New York and amassing his experience as an actor has shown him the kind of roles he likes taking on but has also introduced him to new roles as well. 

“I like making joyful things. The great part about doing theater is the feedback. To do something and then to bring it to the stage and have people respond is like candy. It’s phenomenal. There’s this portrayal of joy that I really enjoy doing,” said Brummel. Recently though, Brummel has taken a step outside of this ‘joyful shell’ and is undertaking roles that he wouldn’t normally choose. 

“To get to play the heel and have people walk out and be like ‘I hate that guy.’  I find myself doing more of that right now. It’s like an outlet for things that you don’t necessarily have an outlet for,” said Brummel. 

Besides his recent nefarious endeavors, Brummel has been a part of a variety of plays in New York and around the US, always keeping busy. 

Like all performers, Brummel’s work was affected by the pandemic, but he’s starting up on a different end of the screen this time. He has a TV show pitch in January that he’s currently preparing for. 

“There’s a very good chance that this script won’t get picked up. Either way it’s good for us. My goal with this, or any script, is to sell it. I really want to be with a bunch of like-minded people who can work together,” said Brummel.                                                                                                           –Frannie Wied


Berndt “Bear” Brummel, former winner of the Academy Awards, is now involved in the theater world of  New York City. Brummel graduated in 2009 from Notre Dame Academy and went to the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. 

“I wanted to become part of the pediatrics world, but I had too much pain empathy,” explained Brummel. So instead of going for pediatrics, Brummel eventually decided to go into acting and pursue something he’d enjoyed at NDA.

After dropping out of college for a semester, Brummel focused on acting. “The doors that opened for me were the right ones,” he said.

Brummel eventually went back to college to get a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts. After college, he did an apprenticeship in Kentucky. 

The apprenticeship was 40 kids from throughout the country making a small version of running a theater. “These were people that were trying to be in acting and thrive in that environment,” he explained..

He had a wonderful time there, and people were telling him that he was kind of crazy for staying in Minneapolis. “So after that, I decided to pack up my stuff and move to New York in 2018.”

In New York, Brummel worked on a one-man show. “It was a scripted stand-up and was about a guy that didn’t get a break into soap operas so he got a job as an elf at Macy’s,” he said. The show was written by David Sedaris, a popular author/writer.

“My favorite thing to do is make joyful things,” he said. “The great thing about doing theater is feedback and to do something, rehearse it, and bring it to stage. To have people actually laugh is like candy.”

“I love to play different characters. For the audience to walk out of the theater, hate my character, meet me, and say that I’m nothing like my character is so rewarding as an actor,” explained Brummel.  He added that being the villainous character is kind of an outlet for experiences from everyday life. 

After the one-man show, Brummel went to Montana to be in a world premiere of the play, Go Please Go. “It was one of my favorite plays, and it was just beautiful,” he said.

Momentum slowed down after the pandemic hit, and theaters struggled hard. “Only the shows that had a lot of money and could do all of the covid protocols were staying alive,” he said.

Now that shows are starting to open back up slowly, Brummel is starting to get back into auditions.

“I was a ‘manny’ for a family in New York during the pandemic, and I kind of needed to start again with acting since everything is starting to open again,” he explained. 

He left that job and is currently working at a small real estate company in New York. “I can work from home and work from Wisconsin. It’s great.” 

His new project is a TV pitch in January.  He wants to get in a writers group with people who are all the same and want to find what is funny. He wants to make people laugh.

Brummel attended the Dec. 4th Academy Awards show and noted the obvious changes to the production.

“Bear was the one who first did something really ‘way out there with technology when he won Mr. NDA as a junior,” said English teacher Carolyn Brown.  “Now technology is an integral part of the show.”