When Heritage High School student Brock Ciarlelli got the call aspiring actors dream about, his mother was so excited she almost crashed their car into Los Angeles traffic.
He had just received word he’d landed a recurring role on the hit ABC sitcom “The Middle,” and he has since appeared in five episodes during the show’s two seasons. The show also features Patricia Heaton from “Everybody Loves Raymond” and Neil Flynn from “Scrubs.”
The thrills have yet to stop. Ciarlelli, now 17, won the Best Recurring Young Actor in a Television Series at the 2011 Young Artist Awards in March. It was his second nomination for his role as middle-schooler Brad Bottig, the flamboyant boyfriend of one of the show’s main characters, Sue.
Earning the prestigious award came as a genuine surprise for Ciarlelli, who knew he was facing strong competition.
“When they called my name, I just sat back and let it sink in for a quick second,” Ciarlelli said.
The good news keeps on coming. The show’s producers recently told him he would be brought back for the third season, which will begin airing in September. He’ll be moving to Los Angeles full-time in the fall to attend Chapman University and continue his acting career. Since landing his role on “The Middle” two years ago, he has split time between California and Colorado while wrapping up his studies at Heritage.
Now somewhat of a veteran, Ciarlelli says he feels more relaxed while filming. He’s able to breathe and focus on the task at hand, and his efforts show up on camera.
“By doing that, it makes my performance a lot better,” he said.
For his mother, Priscilla Ciarlelli, the excitement has yet to wear off. Her pride in her son is apparent in every word she speaks, and she hardly ever misses a performance.
“It’s exciting. I’m tickled to death that I get to see him in action,” she said.
Brock realized he wanted to be an actor at the young age of 5, after watching a community theater production of “The Wizard of Oz.” He has involved himself in dance, theater, choir, and other performing arts ever since. It’s this work ethic that he hopes to continue as a full-time actor in Los Angeles.
Fame and fortune aren’t his goals, he said. He simply wants to make ends meet doing what he loves: acting. He looks forward to living in the city and being able to audition for roles more often.
“We’re very proud of how practical and realistic he is,” Priscilla said.
Although he doesn’t have the time to commit as an actor in Heritage’s theater club, he participates on the paint crew, which allows more flexible hours. He enjoys being involved and helping where he can, and appreciates that his fellow students treat him as an equal.
“It’s nice that I have true friends that don’t treat me any different (since starting on ‘The Middle’),” Brock said.
At Chapman University, Brock plans to study both screen acting and mathematics. Math will serve as his backup plan if acting doesn’t work out.
As of now, that doesn’t appear to be an issue.
“There’s nothing like seeing your kid live his dream, and that’s what I’m seeing Brock do,” Priscilla said. “For a mom, there’s nothing better than that.”
The Middle airs at 8 p.m. on Wednesday nights on ABC. The final two episodes of the second season are scheduled for April 13 and April 20.