The Unshakable Yvette Nicole Brown

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The last time I interviewed Yvette Nicole Brown, the most controversial things we discussed were her very serious addiction to Carly Rae Jepsen’s then-omnipresent “Call Me Maybe?” and people who used profanity on Twitter. Simpler times, the summer of 2012. Back then, Brown was getting ready to start production on season four of Community, while Barack Obama was weeks away from securing a second presidential term and Donald Trump was just the host of a past-its-prime reality-TV show. It was easy to have a discussion with an actor such as Brown where the focus stuck mainly to her latest movie or series. Five years later, the world is a much different place — and Brown has a lot to say about it.

Anyone who follows her on Twitter knows precisely what animates Brown these days. Like so many Americans, famous or not, her feed is now dominated by politics and all things Trump, be it the Russia scandal or the myriad ways his administration is trying to change the country’s course. It’s not that Brown has given up her TV and film obsessions (like The Walking Dead), or that she isn’t also eager to discuss whatever project she’s involved with at the moment. (Right now, that would be ABC’s freshman family comedy The Mayor, which, airing Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. and available to stream on ABC.com and Hulu, has generated arguably the best reviews of any new network show this fall.) But as much as Brown loves to both consume and contribute to pop culture, in 2017 she feels compelled to use her platform for bigger things. “We are in an all-hands-on-deck moment,” Brown says. “If I got followers, and all I’m telling them what lip gloss I’m wearing? I’m doing this wrong.” What follows is an edited transcript of an hourlong phone conversation with Brown in which she tackles everything from resisting Trump and fighting back against prejudice in Hollywood to the crucial role faith plays in her life.

Where am I reaching you right now? On set? At home?
I’m actually at home. We had some days off so I went to work out. I’m trying that. Thought I’d give working out a try. [Laughs.]

What are you doing? A few years ago, you talked about losing some weight because of a prediabetic diagnosis…
I might get a trainer because I’m getting older, and sometimes the little side bends you do yourself are not effective. I’m still just trying to keep my glucose numbers low. So it’s really low-key, not really intense exercise at all. I don’t want it to seem like I’m on a fitness kick ‘cause I never have been and probably never will be.

I always love how, in articles where you’ve talked about diet and exercise, you’re like, “I have a number I look at, my glucose number.” It’s not about weight or clothing size, but the state of your health.
Yeah, because that’s very vanity focused — you know, “How small is your waist? How big is your butt?” And no shade: That’s great if that’s what floats your boat, God bless. But I’m a simple kid from East Cleveland. I’ve never been the Halle Berry type, and I’m not trying to be Halle Berry. I’m just trying to lose the diabetes. I always make sure I make that distinction because I was fine being chubby. I was never someone that hated being chubby, and I never hated my body or any of that. I just was sick. And when you’re sick you need to try to get healthy. So I just want to make people focus on that, because it doesn’t take a lot of weight loss to affect a diabetes diagnosis. It really doesn’t.

I want to talk about an interview you did with the Los Angeles Times, where you mentioned a conversation you had with The Mayor creator Jeremy Bronson. You said he told you, “I know what I don’t know.” As a white man, he knew there would be things he couldn’t write into your character. He encouraged you to speak up if needed. You said that’s something no other showrunner has done with you before.
I hope that didn’t come off as if I was shading any previous showrunners. I think that funny people really do believe that they know what’s universally funny. And a lot of times, that’s true. But then there’s certain little things that make all of us individuals. What part of the country you’re born in. What your race is. If you’re short or tall. There are certain experiences that are very unique to that particular person, or that particular body type, or whatever. And until Jeremy, I had never run into a showrunner that understood that a white Jewish guy may not fully understand what it is to be a black woman. I’ve never seen one admit that. They always just feel like they can universally write jokes.

And you can. But there are some things that are very unique to my experience, and to your experience, and to their experience — and it probably would be a richer experience as a creator of a show or as a writer if you allow the people that live the life to inform you on what we would say, or wouldn’t say. What we would wear, or wouldn’t wear. I would never talk to my kid that way, or I’d never let my kid talk to me that way. There are certain cultural things that are very unique and specific. If we give the audience a taste of that, everyone might not get it, but the ones that have lived it, it will be an extra check mark under the “this show is dope, this show is amazing” list. So Jeremy impressed me … It blew my wig back. I know I don’t wear a wig, but whatever. [Laughs.] I had never heard a Harvard comedian and showrunner say something like that to anyone.

So many — maybe all — of the shows in which you’ve starred have been created by white men. Even if you had a great experience on those shows, how do you think that fact influenced the ways your characters evolved? I’m not trying to get you to put down any of your past employers, many of whom are really smart and funny people. But it makes a difference, doesn’t it?
I feel like entertainment is a microcosm of society. There are experiences that are unique to people of color that only other people of color understand. I’ve also found, via my Twitter page, that even when people ask you to explain it, they still don’t believe you. They can say, “Well, I want to understand. What do you mean that you can’t walk through a boutique without being followed? I can’t imagine anyone would ever do that.” I can’t walk through a boutique, no matter how I’m dressed — certain boutiques, not every boutique — without someone assuming that I’m there to steal things. That has been something that is universal for black people our entire lives. We all know it. There’s certain stores I don’t go into unless I am dressed to the nines, and I still am often followed through them.

Now, that sounds foreign to someone who’s never been followed through a store. And they can’t imagine how someone would assume that I would steal. They assume, because they either are not around a lot of black people, or they believe certain things that our president has said about black people living in war zones and being downtrodden. They believe that we’re always trying to hustle our ways to a come up. But when I try to explain that to people, they don’t get it.

So I could imagine that anything a person of color would say about their paths through the entertainment industry would also seem to be a little foreign. “Well, what do you mean you don’t get the same money other people get? What do you mean that you can work 18 years and still be fighting for a certain number on the call sheet, or to be a part of the ad campaign for a new show or a movie? What do you mean you don’t make as much as whoever is your contemporary of another race?” It seems foreign. All that said, I’m extraordinarily blessed. From the time I entered the industry, I have not stopped working. So I want to be clear that I don’t speak up about these things as sour grapes. I speak up because I can speak up. I don’t want anyone coming up behind me to suffer some of the things I may have had to go through because they don’t have a voice to speak up about it.

Going back to your question about the showrunners — I’ve been blessed to work with Dan Schneider on Drake and Josh and Dan Harmon on Community and Jeremy Bronson on The Mayor, and Bob Daily on The Odd Couple, and a thousand other wonderful people in all the shows that I’ve guest-starred on. I’ve never felt disrespected. I’ve never felt like I didn’t matter. I’ve never felt that I was not an important member of every show that I was a part of, and that also needs to be said. The problems with the industry in regards to pay disparity and being seen as more than the magical Negro, or the helper of other people, is a nationwide issue. It’s the way people of color are perceived in our nation. That is not something that just resides in executive offices of Hollywood.

Our nation is not fair. You can see what’s happening with Colin Kaepernick right now. This man is taking a knee to protest unarmed black people being killed, but the narrative is, “He doesn’t like America. He doesn’t like the flag.” That’s not what it’s about. He’s taking the knee because he spoke to veterans and found out that a knee is more respectful than sitting. He didn’t want to disrespect the troops. But again, when you explain it, there’s certain people that still won’t believe it. So as a person of color, you learn in life, not just in entertainment, to just stay in your lane, play your position, and speak up when you can. And that’s what I do.

You mentioned the “magical Negro” trope. In past interviews, you’ve been asked about the idea that producers see you as playing another trope, the “sassy black woman” role. Do you think producers and casting execs have overlooked you for parts because they’ve put you in that box?
The sassy black woman trope — I don’t think it’s a black thing. I grew up watching Bea Arthur, and there’s no one sassier than Bea Arthur. No one. Maybe Marla Gibbs. But the gold standard for sass for me is Bea Arthur, and she was a white woman. I have always been frustrated by the idea that a white woman can be sassy and that would not define her, but black women are stamped with that, and that’s something that’s expected of us. Everyone can be sassy. Everyone can be frustrated or fed up or joyful, whatever emotion you need as an actor. It’s in your toolbox.

I don’t think that the roles I’ve played are sassy so much as “don’t suffer fools gladly.” I hope the characters I play are loving as well as tough. I think that every character I’ve played, I think that’s who I am as a person. Some people are tough, but don’t show the sweet side. I don’t have a problem snatching somebody. I’m going to snatch you with love, because I’m also kind. But sometimes people got to get told. Does that make me sassy, or does that make me honest? Does that make me sassy, or does that make me direct? I don’t know.

The other thing I don’t do is sit up and wallow in whatever is happening in Hollywood, or in my life, in a given moment. I think that’s a waste of time. I think it’s better to figure out possibilities and plan your next mountain to climb than to sit and bemoan whatever form you find it on any given day. I don’t think that’s productive. I also don’t think anyone’s out to get me. If you think something’s stacked against you, you end up in the space of a victim, and I’m no one’s victim. People of color I know are survivors, and the people of color I know in this industry are definitely survivors. We play the hand that we’re dealt and we do the best that we can with it, and we live to fight another day. I’m not diminished by someone putting me in a box. I know that box doesn’t fit me. They may think it fits me, but I know it doesn’t fit me.

In other words, there are more important things to you than whether some people in Hollywood want to typecast you.
We as a people — not just people of color — are in the fight of our lives right now. We have people with nuclear warheads threatening to detonate them. We’ve got people denying that climate change exists. We got people walking with tiki torches saying Jews don’t belong and black people need to die. This is a mess that we’re in. Entertainment is supposed to uplift and encourage and take people’s minds off the garbage they’re facing every day. I’m going to focus on that, and I’m going to focus on reminding people that love is what we’re supposed to be doing with each other.

I’m a person of faith, and the Bible says that when they asked Christ, “What are we supposed to be doing?” he threw all the Commandments to the side and said, “Just love each other.” If you love each other, you’re not going to lie, you’re not going to commit adultery, you’re not going to take people’s stuff, you’re not going to kill somebody. If we love each other enough, we’re not going to want to destroy each other. I don’t care what race you are, what gender you are, what nation you are, who you have sex with — if you love each other, none of this stuff will matter. So yeah, I’m called sassy. That is not the end of the world. [Laughs.] It’s my job to be more than that in every interview, every time I’m seen, every time I tweet. There are bigger fish to fry.

I got a little choked up there.
Did I hit you with feels? [Laughs.]

I’ve followed you on Twitter for years, and you’ve always spread a message of kindness and inclusivity. We talked about that back in 2012, but I don’t recall you speaking out on politics and current events as much as you have the past few years. Have you become more politically active of late?
I have voted in every single election I’ve been able to since I turned 18, and not just presidential. I vote for everything. My mother instilled in me that it’s very important to do your civic duty. I do jury duty when I get called. I was not politically vocal publicly five years ago because there was no need to be. Years ago, we weren’t in the fight of our lives. We are in an all-hands-on-deck moment. I understand that everybody doesn’t have the time to read the Washington Post or to watch MSNBC 24 hours a day. As an actor, I have time. There’s time where I’m off work for a couple of weeks or months at a time. I will sit and digest the information that I can, and I feel like once I get the information, it’s my job to let people know what’s happening.

Do you worry about fans who might not want to hear the message?
I say this all the time on Twitter: At the end of this, if three people are following me, and one is a fan and two are family members, but we all have health care and we ain’t been bombed by North Korea? God bless. I’m fine. [Laughs.] That’s why I had the platform in the first place, to fight the good fight. I don’t believe God has given me anything that is just for me. If I got followers, and all I’m telling them what lip gloss I’m wearing? I’m doing this wrong. [Laughs.] It’s not about that.

A lot of celebrities not known for talking about politics are speaking up lately. Jimmy Kimmel is the most recent example.
Jimmy Kimmel has enough that his son can survive whatever health issue he has, if it’s within the doctor’s hands to do it. He was not okay with just his son surviving. He wants to make sure that every baby gets to survive, and it was within his power to use his platform to let people know what was happening. That’s what I mean when I say “all hands on deck.” Climate change alone should have everyone terrified. This many hurricanes and Category 5 storms back to back? We’ve never seen this! The water is too hot! Something is happening to our world! I don’t even have kids and this terrifies me. If you have kids and grandkids, you should be marching in the streets about this! Everyone has to pick up their sign and get out there. Everybody has to pick up their phone. Now is the time.

Earlier this year you also talked about your own experience with salary inequality. You found out that, as a series regular, you were barely making more than a white male guest actor. What was the reaction to your speaking out?
There’s been a lot of support. I didn’t see any backlash, actually. My Twitter feed didn’t light up. I think people knew I was speaking from love. I’m not ever trying to tear anyone down. I believe honesty is the best way. I believe people’s hearts are good and they’re not trying to be not good. If anything feels unfair, it’s because a person’s not aware. That’s why you have to speak up. I do it because I can. I always do it from a place of love and respect and understanding so no one thinks I’m just trying to burn the town down. What’s that quote? “Evil prospers when good men do nothing.” It’s not enough to be okay if other people aren’t okay. I want all of us to be okay! I want everybody to be able to eat. I want everybody to be able to help their parents and have health care. I don’t understand how you can sit in your ivory tower and pat yourself for making it. It’s not enough for me to make it. We’ve all got to make it!

You’ve been vocal about the importance of faith in your life. How do your religious beliefs guide you?
I don’t have a career without my faith. It doesn’t exist. Just go on the red carpet once and have one wayward nail-color issue, or wear the wrong length skirt, and everything is dissected by strangers across the world. It’d be a very tough industry if I didn’t know there was a reason for all of this. I was not put on this Earth to be an actor. I was put on this Earth to love, to celebrate, to support. I was put on this Earth to be a cheerleader of other people. Now, God has blessed me where I can do that on the set. I’m doing that currently on the set of The Mayor, on ABC. But I also did that as a legal secretary at Showtime. I also did that as a cashier at Toys ‘R’ Us, right? So me knowing why God put me on this Earth has made the navigation of any of the ups and downs that come in my personal life, in my public life, in my health — I’ve known it’s all for a purpose.

There’s a scripture, Jeremiah 29:11, that says, “For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, says the Lord. Thoughts to prosper you and to give you a future.” I don’t care who you are or if you know God yet — there’s something comforting about the idea that he says, “No matter what you’re going through, I know the plans I have for you. My goal is not to do you dirty. My goal is not to destroy you. My goal is to give you a future and hope.” If I’m going through this career, if I audition for something and I don’t get it, he knows the plans he has for me. If I get asked a question in an interview and it spins out in some PR nightmare? “I know the thoughts I have towards you.” So it centers me and brings me back to the understanding that no matter what is happening today, the purpose of my being here is bigger than awards, or ratings, or which network I’m on, or what magazine I’m in. Everything makes more sense. It also helps me be someone who can celebrate other people because no one has my stuff. My blessings are not in anyone else’s pocket. No one’s stolen from me. No one’s keeping anything from me. Anything and everything I’m supposed to have will end up in my hands. So to go all the way around the block to answer your question, without my faith I wouldn’t be here talking to you right now. I’d be, I don’t know, crying about some role I didn’t get. I would be just lost. I would not be able to cope without my faith.

The way you talk about faith differs from what I’d call the Fox News version of faith, where religious people are painted as being under siege. Or where all discussions about religion and faith center on restricting reproductive rights or LGBTQ rights.
This is the other thing I want to say about faith — because of the actions of people, Christ gets a bad rap. Christ told us to love. Period. He told us not to judge. He told us not to cast stones. He told us just to love. So anybody doing something in Christ’s name that is judgy, or you dirty rat-y, or you’re going to hell-y, or whatever, that ain’t the Christ I serve. The Christ I serve says I’m supposed to love everybody. And he also says that I’m supposed to take care of the plank in my eye before I [worry about] the splinter in someone else’s. Which means I’m not supposed to stand in judgment of anybody on this Earth because I’m not equipped to. I think a lot of people forget that part of what Christ told us to do, so I want to be very clear. My faith is one of love and kindness and acceptance. That’s what Christ wants us to do.

These days, when a lot of folks hear that someone is faith-driven, they jump to the conclusion that that person is conservative, or judgy, as you said. That’s clearly not Yvette Nicole Brown. But I’m wondering if you’ve ever had to think twice about expressing your faith because of that perception?
No, it never makes me be careful about expressing my faith. I have no shame about claiming Christ. I also know that the scripture says, “You will know them by the fruit they bear.” My fruit is good. Anyone that’s met me knows that I love. No one’s ever confused me with the other type of Christian. I’ve never had anyone think I am judging them or that I hate them, because I don’t. They can see my fruit.

When you meet someone that says they know Christ and you feel condemned — there’s no condemnation in Christ. The Bible says that. People walking around acting like it’s their job to tell people where they’re going? I don’t know where I’m going when I die! I pray to heaven. I would love to see the Lord face-to-face. But honestly, I ain’t got the energy or the brain space to tell you where you’re going. We’re all falling short. People forget the Ten Commandments is one law. It’s not like, “Well, you’ve committed adultery, but I lied, so you’re going to hell and I’m gonna be all right.” No, if I lie, I might just as well have committed adultery because I broke the law. It’s one law! There’s no, “You dirty rat, you’re worse than me.” No, we all have fallen short, all of us. So spend your time trying to become a better person yourself, and stop worrying about what other people are doing.

Let’s get back to The Mayor, where you play the mother of the title character, an adult man. I think that’s new territory for you as a series regular.
If there’s any vanity in me, it’s the vanity of, “’I don’t want to be the mom of a grown man!” [Laughs.] Once you move into the mom-area of your career, all that’s left is grandma and then it’s off to pasture. So that’s where the one bit of vanity came in, where I just said, “Well, I’m just too youthful and vibrant to be…” But I’m actually glad I said yes to this part. I love that she’s not perfect. I love that she’s fierce about her love for her son. [In the end], I love that I get to play a mom of an older person. I have a very maternal nature anyway. I’m kinda like a mother hen, and I don’t mind that. I’ve reached a certain age and a certain place in my career where I am kind of the elder statesman. So I like that this job has afforded me that.

What about the character herself, Dina? What’s her appeal to you?
I love that Dina is smart. She has had a life that has been difficult in a lot of ways because of some choices that she made when she was younger, but none of that has defined her or defeated her. She’s resilient. She’s fiercely loyal to her baby and his friends, and she wants the best for him.

I got that same sense of family in real life, when I saw you on the set of Community five years ago.
The biggest detriment to being a decent person in this industry is ego. As soon as you start believing that you’re magically delicious, you have lost any ability to do any good for anyone else. It’s a tough needle to thread, because the moment you get in, everyone wants to tell you, “You’re beautiful and talented and you’re amazing.” The trick is not to believe it! [Laughs.] You’re still the same person! You’ve got a great job and you might be wearing great clothes, but you’re still the same person. Just because you’re on television doesn’t mean you’re special.

Your first big break in series television was a two-episode guest arc on Girlfriends, a show created by Mara Brock Akil. Around the same time, you got a job on a short-lived show starring Kevin Hart, The Big House. Were those roles pivotal for your career?
They changed everything for me. Right before I booked Girlfriends, I was dropped by my agent. And I mean the ugly dropped. Like, “Pick up your pictures at the front desk, don’t even come up to the floor … and boo, we hate you.” It was right before Christmas when they dropped me. Pilot season was starting, and I didn’t have an agent. So I sent out postcards with — this is how long ago it was — with my pager number. It was like 2003. And one of those postcards went to [casting director] Robi Reed, and to this day Robi is like, “I don’t know why I brought you in either.” But she does that — she brings in new actors. And she said that it was something about my face that made her go, “I want to meet this girl.” She brought me in to audition for Girlfriends, and it was every black actress I had ever seen ever. These were the most talented group of women I had ever seen. And I was like, “Well, I’m not going to get this.” And for some reason — I say Jesus — Mara Brock Akil and Robi gave me the shot.

What was it like once you got on set?
I was terrified. I didn’t know what I was doing. But the four women who played the girlfriends were so kind and welcoming. And I say this to the boys on The Mayor all the time: “How you start is how you finish.” They created such a lovely warm environment on set that I thought to myself, “If I’m ever blessed to be a series regular, I’m going to make sure that everyone that visits — I don’t care if it’s someone bringing paper towels to the bathroom — everyone feels as welcomed and as loved as this crew and these women made me feel.” I’m still friends with Tracee [Ellis Ross] to this day.

Getting the Girlfriends guest spot led to the Kevin Hart show, then?
I booked Girlfriends in February, and the next month, I had an audition for Big House, the Kevin Hart project. And I still didn’t have an agent. I was like, “This has got to be God. This is nothing but God.” Right after [Big House], I booked my first movie, which was Little Black Book with Kathy Bates and Holly Hunter and the late Brittany Murphy. I was like, “Wow, I might be able to do this. This might work out for ya girl.”

Community was also obviously a big turning point for your career. But there was a lot of backstage drama. Now that a couple of years have passed, what’s your takeaway from the whole experience?
Community was one of the greatest blessings of my life and my career. It was a great learning experience for me. People think that learning is always about figuring out who you want to be or what you want to be. The greatest lessons are often demonstrations of what you don’t want to be and who you don’t want to be. If you can see a cautionary tale and steer clear of it, you’re ahead. So Community taught me a lot of things and showed me a lot of things that I don’t want to do and I don’t want to be. For that reason alone, it’s one of the greatest lessons of my life.

But besides that, our family, the cast, crew, and writers — there’s something about the Community experience that was unique because we worked such long hours together. We could finish each other’s sentences. We all knew each other intimately with 16-hour days, 18-hour days. I don’t know that I will ever have an immersive experience like that again. At the start of a Community season, I would say good-bye to my family and friends, and they understood that I would not see them or talk to them again until we wrapped.

I remember talking to other people on that show, and they often seemed to have mixed emotions about it. Harmon’s pursuit of excellence made for an amazing series, at its best. But it also meant the work-life balance got really thrown out of whack.
That was a gift, for various reasons — learning good things and learning bad things. I worked with one of the finest casts of actors that have ever been assembled. The idea that every one of them has gone on to do amazing things says so much about Dan and the casting director’s ability to see something in people that may not have been evident. Like, Donald Glover alone. Donald Glover alone!

But I don’t have any bad memories. It was not a dark time in my life. It was not a miserable time in my life. The hours were tough, and anyone who says they didn’t mind the hours, they’re lying to you. But to do 16 to 18 hours with people that you adore, it kind of makes it okay. If you’ve gotta do the hours, you want to do it with Danny [Pudi]. Or Jim Rash. If you’re going to do it, that’s the group to do it with.  And I’ve formed lifelong friendships with all of them. I don’t see any of them as much as I would like to, but whenever I do see any of them, it’s like a warm hug from home.

I don’t mean this as a slam against Dan, but the way he worked was a big reason the show was so taxing. That didn’t lead to any tension on the set?
This is the thing that I think sometimes people forget — the actors’ interaction with Dan was not the same as the writers’ experience with Dan. Dan would come down on set and watch what we’re doing a bit, and he’d come in and tell us some jokes and tell us what he did that weekend. He was just the fun buddy who would come to set. I adored Dan Harmon. I don’t know the one that was like, “We’re staying all night!” That guy didn’t affect my day-to-day life aside from, like, “Is the script ready? Are we going to have the table read today?” That was the only time Dan ever affected what I did from day-to-day. Otherwise, it was just the fun uncle coming to set.

The show got to six seasons, but what about the movie? Any talk of that these days?
We talk about it all the time. I don’t know how you get Alison Brie from GLOW and Lando Calrissian from the new Star Wars movies — how do you get these people back together? I don’t know how you find the time. I would totally do it in a heartbeat. We’d probably have to do it like Arrested Development did their season, where each person would work a certain amount of time, because everybody’s careers are just blowing up. But I don’t know anyone that wouldn’t want to do it. I don’t know anybody who would be like, “Agh! I’ll never go back on the Community set!” Even though we had to fight through the hours, the love for each other and the love for what we created and the love for Dan Harmon is so strong that we all would go back. It’s just the scheduling would be the issue.

Let’s talk cultural influences. What inspired young Yvette Nicole Brown?
Ooh, okay. I’m going to rattle off some movies for you … Star Wars. Anything John Hughes. Sixteen Candles changed my life. Changed. My. Life. To this day, if I hear the first few notes of “True” by Spandau Ballet, I am a child again thinking of Jake Ryan. Different World was the reason I went to college. There was no example of college life in my community, in my family. Our generation was the first generation to go to school. To this day, one of my greatest regrets is that I didn’t go to a historically black college. I got into Howard and my mom didn’t let me go because it was in D.C. She thought it was too far away. But A Different World just opened my eyes. Same thing with The Cosby Show.

I also loved Carol Burnett when I was a kid. That a woman could be that wacky unapologetically? I grew up loving Kim Fields on everything. She and I are friends now, and I pinch myself every day I get a text message from her, or some sort of, “Hey sis, how you doing?” I grew up admiring everything she did and just wanting to be as good as her, as an actress. Never dreamed it was possible, but wanting that. Same thing from Janet Jackson. Loved her in Fame, loved her on Good Times, love her as a musician. I’m actually in the middle of a campaign to try and meet her. If anyone wants to help me meet Janet Jackson, holla at your girl.

Hollywood is filled with so many cynical people, but whenever I’ve talked to you, you’ve never shied away from your optimism.
I’m really corny. I’m nerdy. I’m kinda like Pollyanna about a lot of things, and that’s not cool. The cool kids are usually not the ones going, “Let’s love everybody!” That’s the one who gets put into the garbage bin. But I decided that my love and my nerdiness and my support of people are my superpower, because everybody wants to be loved and accepted. That’s my gift. I love and accept people and I celebrate people, so instead of trying to pretend to be cooler than I am, I lean into my nerdiness. I’m like, “This is me.” And look where it’s taken me. The thing you think exempts you from love and success is the thing that will make your entire career — and your entire life.

The Unshakable Yvette Nicole Brown