Yvette Nicole Brown Talks About the New Community Showrunners, ‘Call Me Maybe,’ and Her Newsroom Fantasy

Yvette Nicole Brown.
Photo: Rob Latour for LE /Splash News

NBC is making us wait until nearly the end of October for new episodes of Community, perhaps wanting to give new showrunners David Gurarascio and Moses Port plenty of time to get things right (hope, people!). For the show’s stars, however, class is just around the corner. So before things get too busy, we caught up with series star Yvette Nicole Brown for a quick chat about what she’s been up to during her hiatus, how she’s been dealing with Dan Harmon’s departure, her tough love attitude on Twitter, and her obsessions with “Call Me Maybe” and The Newsroom. Sadly, talk did not turn to the Muppets, but we did get in a couple of questions about … Pound Puppies.

So when do you officially head back on set to Community?
We go back August 13. That’s when we’re back to that daily grind. It’s a target coming right at me. The show is great … but the hours. 

You met the new showrunners at Comic-Con. First impressions?
They’re really nice guys. They won over the Comic-Con crowd. You can’t fool a Comic-Con crowd. It’s like winning over a roomful of critics. If you can do that, you might be okay. They’re easy-going, fun, nice guys who actually adore the show. The perception was that there were some guys coming in who had no conception of how Dan did things, or how the fans felt, and they were going to come in and run roughshod over everything, run it into the ground. I have no idea how the season is going to turn out, but I do know that their hearts are in the right place, and they have a desire to keep the show exactly the same. And that’s all you can hope for in this difficult situation … It’s just bad all the way around. But there can be good things that come out of awkward situations. I’m hoping that will be the case.

What would you like to see with Shirley this season?
I’m hoping she’s finally found a way to do home and career and school … and that she won’t revert to just being just a housewife or just a student or just a business owner. It’s a good image to put out there for women. You can’t have it all all. But there’s a lot you can have.

Have you talked to Dan Harmon recently?
I saw Dan at an art show not too long ago. We had a great conversation. And he said, “If anybody asks about me, make sure they know I’m okay.” There’s this perception that they put Dan in a box and shipped him to Siberia. The last time I looked, he just sold his third show. Dan is doing fine! He’s okay. He’s happy he created a great show that has a great legacy. We all still keep in touch with him. He hasn’t been ostracized and left to die somewhere in the wilderness. He’s still a part of the family. It was a business decision that was made, and there’s nothing we can do about it but continue to do the best show we can.

How’d you spend your summer hiatus?
I did a part in the Percy Jackson sequel. I got to work with Missi Pyle and Mary Birdsong. We play sisters. Try to figure that out. [Editor’s note: We did.] I did an episode of Soul Man for TV Land. And the best thing I did this summer was I went back to my old high school and talked to the kids there. That’s, like, highlight of life stuff there. I didn’t have a role model growing up in Ohio that was in entertainment. And I thought coming back, it would show them: You matter. I see you. You can do this. It’s one of my greatest joys to have achieved enough where they would let me come back. Because you’ve got to do something to get an all-school assembly! It was an honor to get those babies’ attention for an hour. That was the highlight of my summer. 

You also bought a house, right?
I also bought a house. I have a town home, but this is my first backyard, got-to-pay-the-water-bill-and-take-the-trash-out house. My favorite part is: It has a covered patio. I wanted to be able to eat out there, to see my mom out there in the morning have some tea and talking to her best friend. 

So you will be entertaining.
I will be entertaining my momma, my brother, his dog, and a couple of friends. I’ve never been “House party at my place” person. I’m such a homebody.  

Maybe a home theater with a 70-inch TV screen, then?
What?! What do you do with that much television? I don’t want to see myself on a 70-inch screen. I’m 100 percent sure of that. That’s a movie theater. That’s too big. That’s waaaay too big. I’ve got a 42-inch screen, and that’s way too big.

You mentioned before that you went to Comic-Con.
I love, I love, I love Comic-Con. I wish I had more stamina for it. Comic-Con whips my butt. I feel like such an oold lady there. My body’s like, “Lay me down, doggone it. Lay me down!” We were just everywhere in like one compact day. It was fun, but it was really exhausting.

Did you get to do anything in San Diego not related to the show?
We got to meet Joss Whedon. I was like, “Kill me now.” But you’re really there to work. It’s hard for nerds like me, because I want to hit the floor and find a new Yoda for my collection. But there’s no time to slip away. 

From your Twitter feed, it’s obvious you love all sorts of pop culture. What have you been soaking in lately?
I’m obsessed with everything on HBO: Veep. Girls. The Newsroom. Love it. And I love Scandal. I live and breathe for that show. I won’t even DVR it. I have to watch it live, because I need to talk about it with people. I’m all over the Olympics. And that Carly Rae song, “Call Me Maybe”? That song has become a real problem in my life. Not only do I listen to that song on repeat, I listen to the parodies of it on repeat. I watch the videos of people singing it. It has become my life. I cannot shake that one. Did they mix crack into that song? 

How about movies?
I loved the chemistry in The Amazing Spider-Man between Emma and Andrew Garfield. I know it wasn’t a love story, but every time they were onscreen together, I was like, “KISS HIM!” And I loved The Dark Knight Rises. Everyone in that movie was 100 percent on their game. And Christian Bale? Before now, I didn’t get it. I mean, I knew he was talented. But now? I get it. I mean I. Get. It. I’m one step away from starting a fan club. 

If you could do a guest spot on any show on TV right now, what would it be?
It would probably be The Newsroom. I’d say Scandal, but I don’t think I’m worthy to work with Shonda Rhimes yet. I’m not worthy to work with Aaron Sorkin, either. But I’m foolish enough to say The Newsroom. It would be a challenge to learn all that dialogue. And if not The Newsroom, I love me some Walking Dead. I’d like to be a badass who takes the zombies down.  

You do a kiddie toon on the Hub called Pound Puppies. And as part of the network’s upcoming “Dog Days of Summer” week coming up, they’re having a, um, “Pup-ularity” contest  to promote shelter adoption. How does it work?
They can submit a picture to Hubworld.com and then viewers get to vote who’s the cutest. There’s a great charity component where they give $5,000 in the winner’s name to Petfinder Foundation. It’s a fun way to do something good.

I understand you’re planning to adopt a dog of your own soon.
I’ve always wanted a dog. But because I was either working sixteen hours a day or in an apartment building where I couldn’t have one, I never did. Sometimes we’re selfish when we get a pet. We get a pet because we want love, we want that connection. But we don’t think about what that pet’s life is like. Yeah, you have someone happy to see you when you get home at seven o’clock at night, but that sweetie-pie was home alone all day. If you have a job like me where you’re gone sixteen hours a day, that’s a quality-of-life issue for the dog. So that’s the reason I held off. But my mom is moving in with me now, so she’ll be home all day. She’ll have company, and the dog will have company. It’s a win-win.

If your alter ego on Community were a dog, what sort of pup would she be?
Shirley would be a mix of a Rottweiller and a Poodle. I don’t know if such a dog exists. She’s got that sweet side and that surly side.

You love the Twitter, and it’s a very funny feed. But you can be strict about how people interact with you on it.
I do love Twitter. I’m completely honored and humbled that that many people actually let me pop up in their day. However: I believe decency and kindness are a lost art in this world. And I was committed to making my page a place where people were kind and respectful. Not just to me, but to each other. Life is tough enough. So we don’t do any name-calling on my page, or cussing, or promoting your negative agenda. When someone pops up who didn’t get the memo, I find a polite and respectful way to [correct them]. I get people told. If there’s some manners you didn’t learn at home, we’re gonna learn it at @yvettenbrown. We’re gonna talk about it on here. We’re gonna get it right. Because if you’re being rude or crazy on Twitter, you’re probably being rude and crazy in life. So let’s work it out here, and you can go out and be palatable to the rest of the world. I’m like everybody’s mom on Twitter. Those who don’t like it are free to unfollow. But we got to get right.

I think there needs to be an Yvette! talk show.
Aw, thank you! That was a dream of long ago. But I do love people, and I do love talking to people. Maybe that will be a dream for later.

Community’s Yvette Nicole Brown on Dan Harmon