Meet Bradley Bredeweg, Co-Creator of Good Trouble and The Fosters
Photographed byTameka Jacobs
Walk into Bradley Bredeweg’s handsomely appointed Valley Village home and you can easily miss his Emmy. It’s not prominently displayed on shelving in the living room or in his guest house office out back. The gold statuette that the writer/producer/co-creator won for The Fosters (2013–18) sits on a small table in the dining room. “I had it packed and out of sight for a long time. But my mom, who helped me decorate, persuaded me to put it out,” Bradley shares. The soft-spoken Laguna native is equally modest about his career, which spans TV, Broadway, and, most recently, film. VB editor Linda Grasso caught up with Bradley at home, tracing his career from working as a teen at the Laguna Beach Playhouse to his current passion project: directing a film by screenwriter Paul Schrader.
Share a bit about how and where you grew up.
I was born and mostly raised in the OC/Laguna area. It was a very creative and artistic community back then made up of hippies, artists and gay men—much different than it is now. It’s still a gorgeous part of the world, but when the money moved in, it pushed out a lot of what made that part of the coast really special. I miss the diversity.
When did you become interested in storytelling?
I started going to the Laguna Playhouse as kid and joined their youth program. It taught us kids so much about the art of live theater. From stage managing, acting, producing, backstage crew work, lighting, sound—we got to learn all aspects of what it takes to put up a show.
When did the showbiz bug bite?
When I was six, my mom took me and my little brother to the drive-in theater a lot. She was trying to keep us busy and excited as our family was going through a rough time. My real father was pretty absent. I’ll never forget the first time we saw E.T. It felt so magical. I remember getting lost in that world and those characters. I knew that one day I wanted to reach people like that and be a storyteller.
What was your first big break?
The first pilot I developed was called Alyx when I about 24 years old. It somehow found its way into Madonna’s hands back when she was producing a lot. Maverick (her company at the time) fell in love with it, optioned it, and we were off and running. We packaged the project and it eventually sold to ABC. Although Alyx never went anywhere—you can do really well in this town just writing and selling pilots that never see the light of day—it lit this fire in me and made me believe that anything is possible.
It’s been seven years since The Fosters, which centered around two lesbian moms raising a family of foster, adopted and biological kids, debuted. Reflections?
The Fosters happened at the right time for a lot of people. My producing partner at the time and I wanted was to be able to put a show like that on the air so that audiences could come to understand that all families, no matter what they look like, tend to go through and struggle with similar things. We also wanted to do a show that spoke to LGBTQ issues that so many teenagers and young viewers had never seen on their screens before. I would have given anything to see a character like Jude on my screen when I was a kid, or to watch loving and devoted parents like Stef and Lena raise a family made up of such diversity. I still receive hundreds of tweets and messages a week and it really moves me.
How did you come up with the idea for the spin-off Good Trouble?
The network (Freeform) approached us about a spin-off, but Peter Paige (co-creator), Joanna Johnson (EP) and I kept saying no. We just weren’t sure how we were going to beat The Fosters. But once Trump got into office, we realized we had an opportunity to still tell stories of diversity. So many people in this world still need a voice. So we finally agreed to do it, and the show launched in January 2019.
We sat down and started talking about the main characters, Mariana and Callie, moving to LA. We realized that it couldn’t just be another roommate story or one about 20-somethings living together. I brought up to both of them this idea of communal living. I loved the idea of a bunch of different people from very different backgrounds having to share a nontraditional space. We eventually landed on an old LA theater.
You are currently working on making your film directorial debut with Life From the Other Side, optioned by screenwriter Paul Schrader. Details?
Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, American Gigolo) is a huge idol of mine. The movie is about a young woman who is a beautiful yet broken social media influencer and a man who is an Algerian immigrant who comes to the U.S. with a dream and just wants to become an American citizen. It’s about these polar opposite characters from different walks of life struggling to achieve very different versions of the American dream.
What’s happening in the theater arena?
I came up with this idea for a Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo (Broadway-bound) musical that I’m writing and producing. I really was like that 6-year-old boy at the drive-in all over again. It just makes me so giddy. It’s all a careful dance to balance everything I have going on in my career. We are now in production on Good Trouble and on long weekends I fly to NYC to work on the musical.
How did you wind up living in Valley Village?
I lived in Silver Lake for a long time and I loved the culture there. It reminded me of my days in NYC. But the moment I stepped foot into my house, it just felt like I had come home. It had such a warm feeling. There is so much new construction in the Valley where developers are going into the older homes and tearing them down in order to modernize them. I saw a lot of those homes, but they all felt so cold. There wasn’t a heart center to them. And as you know, I approach everything from the heart. My house was built in 1929, and you can just feel the history in it. It has a heartbeat. It’s a three-bedroom with a little back house, and I share it with my dog, Gertie.
Any favorite local spots?
I love Black Market. Their food is so damn good. The deviled eggs, the chips, just all of it. I also love sitting in the front library room of Firefly for a martini. It just feels so swanky and cozy in there.
What do you like best about living in the Valley?
I love the community feel of it. Everyone here just feels so warm and open. It feels suburban and yet still a part of the big city. And I love being central to so much. Many of my friends live out here and I can pretty much get to any place in the city in a decent amount of time. It just feels like the Valley is having this renaissance moment right now and I love being here.