Former news anchor uses art therapy to help trauma survivors
March 22, 2022
Many people knew Brandon Lee’s name and face from his spot on the nightly news anchor desk at Channel 3 and 5. But this past year, the 5-time Emmy Award-winning anchor stepped away from the news to take a new path that fulfilled his passion to help others. Now, he teaches trauma survivors how to create art.
Brandon’s last day on the air was Sept. 29, 2021. He immediately jumped into his passion project, an art studio in Phoenix called “Art of Our Soul.” The program uses art therapy to help provide healing for recovering addicts, sex trafficking and abuse victims, and survivors of domestic violence.
Brandon has been open about his own past, during which he suffered abuse and struggled with addictions. He said he has even struggled with suicidal thoughts. In his candid memoir, “Mascara Boy,” he details his own past abuse, trauma and addiction.
Brandon’s trauma started as a child when he was sexually abused by his piano teacher and youth soccer coach. But Brandon held it inside because of shame and fear. It wasn’t until the age of 37 when Brandon was reporting on a story about sex assault when he found the courage to break his silence about being a victim and how that trauma led him down a dark path of addiction. The drug abuse began in his teen years and got worse as Brandon got older, and says his drug addiction fueled his sex addiction. Brandon eventually created a double life: one as a news anchor, the other as an addict. After nearly dying in a coma after an overdose, Brandon sought help from a 12-Step program and has been sober ever since 2-22-2010.
Brandon says art saved him, and he hopes he can help others use it to heal from their own traumas. “Artwork has saved my life,” he said. “It is my life’s purpose to give back to other people.”
“I know how dark it can be. I know how painful trauma can be,” he has said. “ Now, it’s my turn to give back in a truly meaningful way.”
Brandon’s love for art evolved over time. It all began with a trip to the art store decades ago. He had never taken an art class, but just wanted to create. “I was definitely not an artist at that time,” he says, He found that he loved experimenting with different styles of paints and mediums and that’s why he fell in love with love with “fluid art.”
Art of Our Soul studio opened Nov. 1 and Brandon hasn’t looked back. He holds regular classes and encourages others to use art to help them heal. He said while clinical art therapy is typically one on one, his method is having art “used” in therapy. “It is an art healing program,” he says.
In addition to writing his memoir, “Mascara Boy,” Brandon is getting ready to publish a new children’s book in May. It’s called “SPLAT! Brandon’s Big Fit.” The book is about childhood bullying (his childhood) and how art helped him express my feelings as a child.
His advice to others? “Find something you’re passionate about. Go after it (even though some will doubt you). Surround yourself with people who support your dreams even if they seem crazy. If you do those things, your purpose will be revealed.”
Art of Our Soul studio is located at 5330 N. 12th St. in Phoenix.
For information on Brandon’s artwork, you can visit originalfluidart.com
His book, “Mascara Boy: Bullied, Assaulted & Near Death: Surviving Trauma & Addiction” is available on amazon.