Austin Lee Basis was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York in a little beach community called Sea Gate at the end of the famous Coney Island boardwalk.
From a very young age he felt at home in the limelight, entertaining people and making them laugh- BUT Austin actually dreamed of playing major league baseball as a catcher for the New York Mets! Once it was clear that biology and genetics were teaming up to prevent that from happening, he turned his focus to… becoming a DOCTOR!!! Eventually, even that became a complex form of procrastination.
All throughout Austin’s childhood he performed in plays, usually musical comedies, despite his lack of singing ability. From his first role as “The Sun” in his kindergarten play to the title role of Dracula in a Junior High School production of “Young Dracula” to the Dentist in a summer camp version of “Little Shop of Horrors” to the part of Stanley in “Brighton Beach Memoirs” – his first full production in college- Austin’s future was being mapped out before his eyes.
Luckily, Austin had very supportive parents who managed to make a lower middle-class existence an extremely comfortable environment for him to reach his potential. His mother, Shari, was a high school Health & Physical Education teacher and coach for over 30 years. His father, Arthur, went to school for Hotel & Restaurant Management, but also worked in the Employment industry for several years and has been the Manager of a Meat Distribution Company for over 20. He even owned a gourmet candy store at one point called “Cravings” on Sheepshead Bay Road. Both of Austin’s parents have been the foundation for his success and continue to be there for him every step of the way. He also has a younger brother, Jeremy - a Phys. Ed. teacher/administrator & coach in Los Angeles, CA.
Austin attended Mark Twain Junior High School for the Gifted & Talented, where he was in Drama Talent. There he came into contact with Ms. Celestine DeSaussure & Mr. Michael Polenski (or Ms. “D” & Mr. “P” – as he referred to them back then). They cultivated Austin’s talent and encouraged him to achieve his dreams. He is forever grateful for their contributions to his development as an artist.
Austin was accepted into a Medical Science program at Midwood High School at Brooklyn College - where he performed in the annual SING competitions. There he won the Morty Gunty Award for Performing Arts; was a member of Arista & Archon; and played JV Basketball, Varsity Baseball & Varsity Soccer.
Austin went on to Major in Theater at Binghamton University. He performed in the title roles of “Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead” and “I Hate Hamlet” among others, in addition to several original productions. Austin was encouraged to further his education and to seriously pursue a career, by his acting teacher Eugene Lesser- who proved to be a supportive, yet demanding mentor, and inspired his persistent work ethic.
Austin took Gene’s advice and continued his training at the Actors Studio Drama School, where he received an MFA in Acting. His thesis project was a scene from “Beggars in the House of Plenty” by John Patrick Shanley. Austin also appeared in the original play “Safe” by Ben Rosenthal and a self-conceived piece called “Walking to School” in which he played the African-American little girl depicted in Norman Rockwell’s painting “The Problem We All Live With.” There he studied with Elizabeth Kemp, Gene Lasko & Doug Moston.
Soon after graduating, Austin became a lifetime member of the famed Actors Studio. There he had the privilege to work with the likes of Al Pacino, Faye Dunaway & Estelle Parsons; and under the tutelage of Martin Landau, Ellen Burstyn, Harvey Keitel, Arthur Penn, Mark Rydell, Lou Antonio & Lee Grant. He now studies with Cathleen Leslie.
Austin was a struggling actor in New York for a couple of years. He worked as a bartender, a bouncer, a busboy, a cater-waiter, and a substitute teacher to make a living; while he took classes to hone his audition skills, worked “in session” at the Actors Studio, and performed in a slew of independent & student films, and Off-Off Broadway plays. He also co-created and performed in a weekly improv & sketch comedy show called “Mmm… Comedy” that ran for 7 months.
Austin’s first paid acting work was for an interactive CD-ROM that trained corporate workers, but his television debut was in the Comedy Central film “Porn ‘n’ Chicken.” His break came in 2004 when he was cast as Lou-Lou Versini in an episode of “LAW & ORDER: Criminal Intent.”
After several trips to Los Angeles, Austin landed a role in a Warner Brothers TV pilot for FOX called “Spellbound” with Christine Baranski, Barry Bostwick, Maggie Lawson and Dave Annable. He soon moved out to LA for good and began making a living as an actor.
Austin’s initial success was in National Commercials. He has appeared in spots for Toys ‘R’ Us, Wendy’s, Dr. Pepper, State Farm, Burger King, and AT&T. He also played Benjamin Bankes, the pig in the Ad Council’s “Feed the Pig” PSA campaign.
Since his arrival in LA, Austin has appeared on numerous television shows and has been cast in lead roles on a number of films, traveling as far as India to shoot them. These credits can be found below or on IMDb.com
Austin played the role of MATH for two seasons on the critically acclaimed CW drama “Life Unexpected.”
Currently, he plays J.T. Forbes on The CW’s “Beauty & the Beast”- winner of 3 consecutive People’s Choice Awards.
He is also a published poet & artist. Austin’s first collection of poems & drawings “An Actor Without An Audience: Poetry For Artists, Lovers And Everymen” can be found on iTunes, Amazon, Smashwords & BarnesAndNoble.com, among others.
In his spare time, Austin is an ambassador for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. The JDRF is the world’s leading fundraiser for Type 1 Diabetes research. Since being diagnosed with T1D at the age of nine, Austin has lead a healthy, successful life- and hopes to use his accomplishments to inspire kids & others with Type 1 Diabetes to reach for the stars & to know that anything is possible.