Brandon Jay McLaren
as Oliver Yates
Brandon Jay McLaren has quickly established himself in the entertainment industry with
a wide variety of diverse characters that he has brought to life on both the big and small screens.
He currently stars as “Oliver Yates,” a psychological profiler, on the 13-episode, straight-to-series CBS/Global/TF1/RTL drama RANSOM.
Brandon most recently starred as Dale “DJ” Jakes on the hit USA series GRACELAND, which ran for three seasons. The series, created by Jeff Eastin, followed a group of undercover agents from various law enforcement agencies in the US who live together in a confiscated Southern California beach house known as “Graceland.” Brandon shined as ‘DJ’, a quick-tempered, wise beyond his years ICE agent whose hard exterior is tough to crack, however deep down his commitment to his team and his career is unprecedented. Brandon won a Golden Maple Award in its inaugural year for “Best Actor in a TV series broadcasted in the U.S.” for his work on the show’s third season.
Aside from his work on GRACELAND, Brandon is well-known for his breakout role as ‘Bennett Ahmed’ in season one of the critically acclaimed AMC series THE KILLING. He was nominated for a 2012 Leo Award for Best Supporting Performance by a Male in a Dramatic Series, for his work on the show. He shined as ‘Marco’, an organic vegetable farmer, on Bravo’s first scripted series GIRLFRIENDS’ GUIDE TO DIVORCE, with his character returning for the second season. Brandon is also well known for his portrayal of ‘Jamil Dexter’ on season two of Steven Spielberg’s summer blockbuster series FALLING SKIES on TNT. He had a recurring role on the NBC hit CHICAGO FIRE, and stared on the Chiller Network’s series SLASHER.
Additional credits include appearing on the Canadian smash hit series BEING ERICA, CBS’ HARPER’S ISLAND and guest star roles on CSI, HUMAN TARGET, and THE
WANDA SYKES SHOW.
On the film front, Brandon executive-produced and starred in the independent film
MILWAUKEE, which premiered at Cinequest. Other film work includes the comedy-horror feature DEAD BEFORE DAWN 3D, directed by April Mullen. Brandon co-starred in cult-hit TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL, which made its way through the film festival circuit in 2011 after becoming a Sundance Film Festival Favorite, and winning the 2012 SXSW Audience Award.
Brandon first made his mark in Hollywood as Toby, in the DreamWorks smash comedy hit SHE’S THE MAN opposite Amanda Bynes and Channing Tatum. Born and raised in Vancouver, Brandon is of Trinidadian and Grenadian descent. He attended high school at Johnston Heights Secondary, where he took theater courses and his love for acting was born. He also was a star soccer player, and he was offered (and accepted) a full scholarship to the New York State University at Albany to play soccer. Brandon graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Human Biology, and then moved back to Vancouver to pursue acting full time. Once moving back to Vancouver after college, Brandon booked his first real project, a WB series called THE BLACK SASH. After being on set, he was forever hooked. He has gone on to appear on some of the highest rated series on television and in blockbuster films.
Behind the camera, Brandon recently made his directorial debut on the music video “The Valedictory Address” for ALMA MATER, reaching an impressive 40,000 views within four days of being released, and garnering attention from: ET Canada, Hype Magazine, Hip Hop Canada, TheHuffington Post, Variety, and The Toronto Star.
In his spare time, he loves to cook, read, and run.
as Zara Hallam
Nazneen Contractor currently stars as “Zara Hallam” in the Frank Spotnitz produced drama series, RANSOM.
Born in Mumbai, India and raised in Nigeria, Africa until the age of seven, Nazneen quickly became well-versed in world travels and a variety cultures at a very young age. She attended boarding school in London before her family moved to Toronto, Canada where she spent the majority of her young adulthood and studied classical ballet. It wasn’t until the age of 16 when she realized she actually wanted to pursue acting seriously.
One year into her studies at University, Contractor went to an open call audition for the play PERICLES at the prestigious Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario, Canada, landing the female lead role. Contractor was immediately offered the opportunity to enroll in Stratford’s conservatory program, shortly thereafter joining the cast of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM as Hermia.
By the third season with the company, Contractor set her sights on a career in film and television, quickly booking a regular role in the Anthony Hines (BORAT, BRUNO) produced Fox pilot, THE PAPDITS. While the show didn’t end up getting picked up to series, soon after Contractor landed the role of Layla Hourani in THE BORDER, a Canadian produced drama for CBC. The series aired worldwide, garnering Nazneen a Golden Nymph Award nomination at The Montecarlo Television Festival.
Upon moving to Los Angeles, Contractor booked the role of Kayla Hassan in the eighth season of the hit Fox drama series, 24. Other roles soon followed including a recurring role on CBS comedy RULES OF ENGAGEMENT starring David Spade. Contractor later joined the cast of the final season of hit drama COVERT AFFAIRS, opposite Piper Perabo, before landing the role of Farah Nazan in NBC’s revival, HEROES REBORN.
On the film front, Contractor appeared as Rima Harewood in the record-breaking Paramount feature film, STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS, directed by another one of her industry heroes, JJ Abrams.
When not working, Contractor is an avid runner and yogi. Philanthropy is a huge priority for her and she supports such organizations as Second Harvest to feed the homeless, and Look Good Feel Better, supporting women with cancer. Nazneen currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son, and border terrier.