Family First

Actor Yvette Nicole Brown sat down with The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk in the third episode of “On The Edge,” a new podcast spotlighting stories of opportunity, discovery, and courage. In the newest episode, Brown talks about her early experiences as a singer, her work with Kevin Hart, her activism, Emmy nomination, and more. “On The Edge” is a capsule podcast series that is part of the “At Home With The Creative Coalition” podcast.

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Highlights from “On The Edge” featuring Yvette Nicole Brown —

On her struggles with weight and her decision to advocate about obesity:
“I’ve been obese. I may obese again. You know what I mean? Like, I ate myself into diabetes when I was on the ‘Community’ set. I talk about it all the time, and I don’t have to talk about my weight struggles. You can just go to Getty Images and take a nice, long walk through my ups and downs with weight. I know that you can exercise every single day and restrict what you eat and still be bigger than people think you should be. I know that you can eat all day and not exercise and be as thin as a rail. It is how your body processes the food that goes into your body. It’s how your body uses energy, either effectively or not. That’s it. It is a health issue. It’s not a willpower issue, it’s not something that should be shameful. You know, you have no control over the body that you get when you get here. You have no control over it. And I think, a lot of times, people that don’t grasp that, they end up doing their bodies more harm by over-exercising and starving themselves to achieve some ideal that, just, their body may not be capable of. And every time we shame someone because their body doesn’t look the way we think it should, we’re adding fuel to a fire that is already destroying people’s lives and spirits, so it was very easy for me to step in to be a part of things and discuss what obesity really is, what the causes are, and provide a soft space for people to land who are dealing with it, because, like I said, I’m one of the people that, in my life, I have dealt with it.”

On her roots as an aspiring singer and her early motivation to be a performer:
“I loved the group New Edition, and I loved Malcolm Jamal Warner when I was a kid, and I thought, you know, ‘Only way I can meet him is if I’m famous too.’ So I was like, ‘I’m going to become a famous singer, and then I can go on tour with New Edition and I can meet them, and I can meet Malcolm Jamal Warner.’ And it’s crazy now that I know all of them and I was in the New Edition movie, and Malcolm is one of my dear friends, so it’s just funny how it all came full circle.”

On working with Kevin Hart:
“Kevin Hart is delightful. And it’s so funny, he and I began our careers together. ‘The Big House’ was my first pilot season, the first pilot I ever booked, and it was his first television show ever. We didn’t get the love we deserved, I think, from our network at the time, and I think we were a little bit ahead of our time, so we only did, like six episodes, but to watch Kevin at the beginning of his career, everything he is now was in him at 23 years old. I remember Kevin was the first person I ever heard in my life talk about a 401(k). And he was 23 years old, talking about, he had a meeting with his lawyer because he wanted to set up his 401(k). And I’m thinking ‘you got 40 years before you retire.’ And he was like ‘well this is how you make that money.’ He was always a businessman, he was always a mogul even before he became that. And ‘The Big House’ failed and he had a movie, ‘Soul Plane,’ both were at the same time, both were supposed to make him a household name, and both failed, and bombed. For him to rise from that in the way that he’s risen for that, I think says a lot about his belief in himself, his understanding of how his industry works, and his ability to shift and bob and weave, and I learned about that watching him as well.”

On her advocacy and how she responds to haters:
I have never cared about fame, and I mean it with my whole heart and soul. I don’t care how many followers I have, I don’t care if people think I’m amazing, it’s more important that I use whatever platform I have for good, and I am never going to not say something that needs to be said, or fight for something that needs to be fought for because I’m concerned about what some company I work for thinks or what someone who follows me thinks. I may be the only person that will be able to speak that truth to whoever that person is. Now, if I lose them, I pray that God blesses them as they go. But I will never not speak about what matters because of what someone else may think. Never, and that’s why I do my research and I make sure that what I’m speaking up about, I know. That’s why I apologize if I’m ever out of pocket or wrong, but I’m never going to apologize for fighting for what’s good. Never, ever.”

On the packed audition for ‘Community’:
“‘Community’ was, every black woman that has ever acted in the world was at that audition. When I tell you, an entire parking lot and office was filled with amazing black actresses, most that had been on series, every face that I saw was someone that I respected. They cast a very wide net, and I mean every age from like 60s and 70s down to 20s. It was every black actress. And, I think that’s what gave me an edge up, if I say that, because there were so many amazing actresses there, I was like ‘I’m never going to get it.’ So I had no nervousness, I wasn’t nervous at all. I was just going to go in there, you know, do my best, and just have a nice time, and hopefully make a fan in the room that would bring me in to be a guest star on the show at some point, because there’s no way I’m booking this if her and she and her and her and she, if they’re all here, it ain’t going my way. And it was a long audition, like, I was there, like, two or three hours, and I remember one of my friends who had already auditioned (I always wanted to say that), I asked her ‘Do you think that I should stay?’ And she said ‘No girl, you should go.’ Now she had already auditioned, so she was trying to get the competition up out of there. By this point, I had already put in, like, two hours, and I was like ‘I’m not going to give up now, I’m coming up soon.’ And I’m glad I stayed.”

On finding out she was nominated for an Emmy:
“I was in Ireland, still. I was finishing up ‘Disenchanted’ for Disney, and I was in a dressing room of a department store called Brown Thomas with Maya Rudolph and our friend Jo, an Irish lady named Jo, and we were all just trying on clothes and having a ‘Let’s get out of our apartments for a day’ thing. And Maya nor I even realized that it was Emmy nomination day. She had her phone off and mine was on vibrate, and I got a text from Robin Thede from ‘Black Lady Sketch Show’ and all she had in the text was ‘Omg’ and I’m like ‘Oh gosh, I hope Robin’s okay, what’s going on.’ And I open the text and it’s like ‘You got nominated!’ and I was like ‘For what? What awards show?’ I was so discombobulated I didn’t understand, because we were eight hours ahead in Ireland, and I was like ‘What is happening?’ And then I read further and then my agent popped in and then my texts started going crazy and that’s how I found out. And then I was the one that told Maya Rudolph that she was nominated because we’re nominated in the same category. And we spent the rest of the day drinking Guinness and bouncing from pub to pub, because we’re in Ireland, that’s what you do!”


THE CREATIVE COALITION is the premier nonprofit, 501(c)(3) nonpartisan charity of the entertainment industry dedicated to using the power and platform of the arts and entertainment communities in award-winning public service and advocacy campaigns. Founded in 1989 by prominent members of the creative community, The Creative Coalition is dedicated to educating, mobilizing, and activating its members on issues of public importance. Actor Tim Daly serves as the organization’s president.