Exclusive: Golden Brooks Of “Hollywood Divas” On A “Girlfriends” Movie And Reality Stars Taking All The Movie Roles
While hanging out at the very awesome Circle of Sisters event held by WBLS, WLIB and HOt 97 at the Jacob Javits Center here in NYC this past weekend, I had the chance to stop and chat with quite a few people. One of those individuals was actress Golden Brooks, who, like me, was trying to navigate all the activities, sights and sounds going on throughout the weekend at the expo. While most of us know her as Maya Wilkes from “Girlfriends,” Brooks wants you to know her for more than that. That’s exactly why she is taking part in the new TV One reality show, “Hollywood Divas.” I sat down with her to talk about why she’s turning her sights to reality TV, the state of black women on TV in general, and what’s the deal with all this talk of a possible Girlfriends movie.
Why She’s Doing Reality TV:
I’ve been very traditional with my career. I did “Girlfriends,” a scripted show, for almost a decade. It was such a great opportunity for me as an actress just to grow and play this amazing character. So many people resonate with Maya and I love that. Then after that I did movies and really just did my career the right way. But when this reality show came about I thought, “What a great way to springboard Golden Brooks.” Not Golden Brooks as Maya, Golden Brooks as Ruby on “Hart of Dixie,” but Golden Brooks the person. The mom. The entrepreneur. The writer. And I thought this would be a great way to showcase all of that–being a writer, being a mother, starting a pillow line and doing this project with these other girls who I really didn’t know that well. We’re sort of creating our own venue in a culture like Hollywood where you have to be a Jack of all trades. I thought this would be a great opportunity to kind of show that. And I just went on social media literally like a month ago [laughs]. I’m so private, but I just thought that this would be great to showcase me and to let people know who I am. I have strong opinions about women and black women, that is my first love–how we are represented in this business. This is a great show to kind of voice that and to kind of wake people up. You know, Shonda Rhimes has changed the face of what black women look like on TV. And I’m in awe of her, but there is still work to be done. More roles need to happen and a varied picture of what black life looks like. I think that’s why doing this show for me was so important.
If She Was Nervous About The Possible Drama With Her Castmates:
I was so nervous [laughs]. Cause when you think reality, you think girls pulling each 0thers weaves out and ‘You stole my man’ and all that. Look, I’m not going to lie, there are elements of a little reality in there–a little cattiness–cause you have to keep it entertaining. And as an actress you always think ‘Oh God, is this going to discredit me?’ But I really have to say, I am so proud of what we did. I’m proud of working with the other girls. There are pieces that I’m scared about. I’m not going to lie. I don’t know how it’s going to come together, but I just have to go with God. It’s done now [laughs]. I feel pretty positive about what we did as a whole. But it’s always nervewrecking. Anytime anything is unscripted, it’s that fine line of ‘Oh my God, they can go almost anywhere with that.’
If She Feels Some Type Of Way About Reality Stars Like Lisa Wu Foraying Into Acting:
I feel like, Lisa Wu and I in the beginning, there is that friction. What have you done? How are you really adding anything to this? Yeah, there is that preconception. And here’s the thing. It’s not really the reality star as much as it is the people who are calling the shots. This business has changed. It’s not about where you trained or where you went to college, it’s about how many hits you have on Instagram or how many likes you have on Facebook. It’s all branding. A lot of actresses might feel like that has cheapened or lessened the artistic playing field. So in the beginning she and I, what she represents to me, as an actress who has done it the old-fashioned way, is something that’s less than someone who has actually trained. But I think over the course of the show, you see that she and I unravel some of our issues. Our little kinks [laughs].
If A “Girlfriends” Movie Will Really Happen:
Tracee was basically like, “I think we’re too old. Do we even look the same?” I know I look good [laughs]! But no, um, I think because “Girlfriends” ended in such a way, it ended during the writers strike and so Mara Brock Akil wasn’t able to finish all the storylines. So the fans were kind of left open-ended. As for a movie, I would always be open to a movie. Will it happen? I don’t know. Did we meet with Mara about it? Absolutely. But that is a question for Kelsey Grammer and for Paramount. Jill [Marie Jones] and I talk all the time, we would definitely be open to it. I know Persia would. I know Reggie, the fifth ‘Girlfriend’, he would be into it [laughs]. I definitely think he would be into it. But it would all have to make sense. Mara is busy with all her projects, I’m busy with this and Tracee is now doing “Black-ish.” It depends on everyone’s collective schedules and what the script would be. But I would definitely do it, if it made sense. I know the fans would love it. Like Sex and the City! They did it several times.
The Current State Of Black Women On TV:
I think in terms of–I know I’m going to sound hypocritical right now, but that’s okay because I’m going to go somewhere with this [laughs]. I have to say first, the face of black women in scripted television right now is blowing me away. In a good way. I’m really proud of Tracee. This is what she’s always loved. She loves comedy. Being half-black and Jewish, a lot of people don’t know that that is a huge part of who she is and her comedy. And I’ve heard so much of these jokes over the years and all the things about being half-black and being Jewish and what that meant for her growing up and it’s hilarious. So to have a venue where that’s actually being explored? I’m through the moon for her. And it’s great. It breaks down a lot of stereotypes.
Shonda Rhimes, like I said earlier, I think she’s just changing the face of what the black woman looks like in TV. I was a little concerned about the New York Times interview about Viola Davis, which goes back to my point that there’s still more work to do. In terms of black women and how they’re portrayed in a lot of these reality shows – and I’m going to be very bias here, excluding “Hollywood Divas” – there still is some work. I still think black women in a lot of these reality shows…we’re more than that. We’re worth more than that.
I like “R&B Divas” because I think when reality shows are dealing with a talent and you’re trying to reignite that talent, that’s a lot different than just random people. That’s embarrassing to me. It cheapens that 15 minutes of fame. These people are getting on covers of magazines, and hey, that’s fine because everyone has their journey. I just think in terms of what’s happening to the culture, it cheapens how we look at TV. It’s less marketing. It’s less TV shows. They can go and grab five girls at a mall, put them in a house and make a reality show out of it. This business is now saturated in that. Pieces of it are changing and I think other pieces of it are making it really hard for the quality stuff to rise.
You can tune in this Wednesday to TV One at 10 p.m. and see if “Hollywood Divas” is different from the rest.