Patricia Sheridan's Breakfast With ... Brandy
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She's adding star power to Lifetime channel's season four of "Drop Dead Diva." Brandy Norwood, known simply as Brandy, is an actress and singer who plays the recurring role of Elisa Shayne on the popular series. Her career took off when she was just 15, as the lead in the television series "Moesha." The pressure to be perfect built up to an eating disorder and a breakdown. The 33-year-old is the mother of a 9-year-old daughter and has been busy with a new album set to release in August. Her single "Put It Down" is out now. She also has a role in Tyler Perry's movie "The Marriage Counselor." The complete third season of "Drop Dead Diva" is now available on DVD. Brandy's first appearance this season airs Sunday at 9 p.m.
Is it more challenging to do a reoccurring role like you are doing on "Drop Dead Diva" than when you are a regular in a series?
I think it's a little bit more challenging because when you are a series regular you get into a rhythm, a groove and the character just becomes second nature to you. But when you take breaks and you are in and out it is a little bit more challenging for me, definitely.
So I understand you will be in a Tyler Perry film this summer. What about him and his work attracted you?
He is just real. He deals with real issues that people are experiencing all over the world and he is really passionate about what he does. When I got on the set, he just made me feel like we have known each other all of my life. He really cares about his actors and actresses and wants them to give great performances. He steps outside of his fame, his talent, his money and whatever he has accomplished and is completely down to earth to make you feel comfortable.
Did you get to work with Kim Kardashian in the film, and are you still friends?
I didn't see Kim Kardashian on the set. We didn't have scenes together, sadly. I love Kim and I would have loved to work with her.
How did being famous so young define how you viewed yourself?
Well, I identify with success and fame and that was one of the things I had to grow from and learn from to pull myself from that place. Because what I do is not who I am, it is just the way I express myself. When I was able to take a step back from my career, I was able to really focus on who I really was as a person.
When you're 15 and 16 you don't really know who you are. So when you are growing up in the public eye and you have this image to uphold, you start to believe the false about you -- you know, this is who I am. I'm Brandy! That's my name, that is not who I am on the inside. That is not who I grew into as a woman.
So what did you discover about yourself that was different than the brand "Brandy"?
I am not perfect and I don't have to be perfect. I am not above mistakes. I can make them and it's OK. I don't need to beat myself up for making a mistake. What people think about me really is none of my business. It's what I think about me. So it's just about giving yourself those positive affirmations every day. You know, telling yourself you are beautiful, telling yourself that there is a greatness in you that is ready to express itself.
I beat myself up a lot as a teenager, wanting everything to be perfect. [I'm] absolutely a people pleaser, trying to please my fans, trying to please my family, trying to please my record label -- anybody that I worked with. I wanted everybody to like me. You know that will drive you into the grave. So I was able to cut that out before that happened.
What did all that teach you about being a mother?
I think the key to being a good parent is to remember that you were once a child. A lot of parents abuse their authority -- you know, I'm in charge, I'm in control and it's my way or the highway.
I'm just not like that with my daughter. It's my job to guide her to make the best decisions possible and to let her know that mistakes are a part of life. I try to lead by example. I'm not perfect ... and if I do make mistakes toward her I apologize. We have a great relationship, a great friendship. I think that's really important to have a friendship with your children and have that open line of communication where they can feel comfortable telling you what they want to know and what they are doing and what their life is all about outside of you when you are not with them.
You accomplished so much so early. How does that impact your goals for the future?
Now it's about the love of what I do and the passion. Of course I still have goals. I think there is a purpose that I still have to fulfill. I was born to sing. I was born to inspire and to entertain. You know, if I'm not doing that then my life is unfulfilled. Even in the break that I took -- of course it was great for my spiritual journey and personal self -- but there was a part of me that wanted to be on stage. There was a part of me that wanted to reach out and touch people and sing to people. That's a big part of my destiny so I'm back at it.
You have an album coming out.
I do. "Two Eleven" is coming out in August. I'm really excited about that. It's just great to be back in music and do what I love to do consistently and full time. This project means so much to me. I've worked very hard on it. I feel like I have found that right place and the right people are in my life to help me fulfill this dream that I've had for a while.
Why are you so driven?
It's the passion for the music. It's the passion for just inspiring people and waking that greatness up within other people. You hear people say all the time, "You are one of the reasons I want to be an artist." I want to continue to do that. I want to continue to be an example of fulfilling a dream, you know? Also, my daughter loves music. She loves what she sees and these stars she looks up to. I want to make her proud.
A lot of people out there are rooting for me, a lot of people who believed in me when I didn't believe in myself. I owe this to them.
You have been very open with your fans about your struggle with an eating disorder and exhaustion. It's hard work even after you make it.
Absolutely. It's a lot of hard work and this type of work needs balance and that's what was missing for me before, the balance. Everything has to have a balance. You fall hard when there's no balance in your life. Like right now, I'm kind of in between pushing the single and doing the video and all the other stuff. I'm like, "Maybe I should be doing more?" Then that voice inside of me says "No, let things happen. Take it easy." So it's like balance is naturally forcing itself into my life [laughing]. That's a good thing because I need to work. I need to work!
Speaking of balance, you have said that Whitney Houston was who inspired you. Do you think it was a lack of balance in her life that led to such a tragic end?
Um, I think it was a number of things. I can just say that her life will never be forgotten and her life has inspired so many people, so many artists, and it's awakened so many things inside of so many people.
You know, it's unfortunate some of the things she had to experience, but at the end of the day she blessed so many people. She completely blessed me and changed my life from the moment I saw her open her mouth to sing. I was like "Oh my God! If I can just do a third of that, I would be doing something special."
You know, my whole life is dedicated to her. It really is -- everything she has ever taught me and to live in that purpose. Yeah, I get shaken up every time I talk about it.
She was amazing.
She was and I wish people would focus on that instead of anything else. No one knows what she went through. No one really knows. So I just wish people would focus on what she meant and what her gift meant and that's it.
First Published June 18, 2012 12:00 am