Independent Film’s superhero of breaking ceilings and stereotypes producer Effie T. Brown (Real Women Have Curves, Dear White People, But, I’m A Cheerleader, The Inspection) sat down with The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk in the latest episode of “Hollywood at Home,” a podcast featuring unplugged and uncensored conversations with entertainment industry’s who’s who. In this episode, Brown talks about how she got so good at making movies with very little money, why she focuses on telling the stories of disenfranchised populations, working with a young America Ferrara on Real Women Have Curves, and much more. Highlights below.
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Highlights from “Hollywood at Home” featuring Effie T. Brown –
On how she makes movies on a tight budget: “The Effie Brown Secret– before, it was youth. It was youth and enthusiasm. Now I’m old and tired. You know, like, now I don’t want to do those movies anymore. They’re very– you have to really believe and you have to have an exorbitant amount of energy and chutzpah to make it, you know what I mean, to make it work, you know. And you have to believe. But what’s fortunate now– like, I have one more movie that I’m doing, that’s a little horror movie that I love that we’re doing for, you know, for a price. Because when something has a lower budget, you’re able to give someone an opportunity. And a lot of my work has been about giving people– not giving, being a part of people’s first opportunities. Like, I’ve been really blessed. And that’s been sort of a mission for me as a producer and has for my company, you know. So usually they’re not going to give like, ‘Here’s $20 million, it’s your first film,’ they’re going to be like, ‘Here is five cents, make it work,’ right? You know, and we’re like, ‘Whoo!’ And then unfortunately, unfortunately, we do know how to make it work on a little budget… That’s all I’ve ever done. So it’s hard to say, like, ‘How do you do it?’ I’m like– and this is not, like, a ‘woe is me.’ But people weren’t giving me big budgets to make movies. They were giving me no money to make movies. And it was usually the movies that people didn’t necessarily believe in until it made money, like “But I’m a Cheerleader.””
On her focus as a producer and why it’s important: “And you know, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out– like, if anyone looks at my filmography. My filmography has always been about women, people of color, LGBTQ+ and people with disability. Like I, from my very first movie to what I’m doing now, I’ve been about one of those groups, you know? That’s where I feel most comfortable and that’s where I feel that the most amplification of stories need to be told, you know. And then I was like, ‘When do we ever get to see a Latina, you know, coming of age story”…. Now maybe but like back then, like, no. America Ferrera, like, literally, she was like one of the first people that we saw. Came in, and then we’re like, ‘No, we couldn’t have found our person.’ You know what I mean? On the first draw. And we looked for, like, nine months more, and then we’re like, ‘No, this is really– the girl that we saw the first week is the girl.’ Right? And now she’s America, right? You know what I mean, she’s amazing. But it was such a long time ago. 20 something years ago. I mean, it was one of those moments where, you know, I’m grateful to have been a part of the Academy Museum. And when looking at the Academy Museum, and being like, ‘Who’s that young person sitting in “Real Women Have Curves”?’ And I was like, ‘Oh, shit, that’s me.’ Like, you know what I mean, to be able to look back and be like, ‘Wow, it was a long time ago. It was, like, 50 pounds ago, and 20 years ago.”
On working with America Ferrera: I mean, I think sometimes when you go into casting of a movie, you always are really, really hopeful. I know a lot of times, actors are feeling like we’re, you know, like we’re ready to rip them to shreds. But we’re really, really hopeful. And we’re really hopeful that they’re the ones that can make it. And she came in. And she was sophisticated, and innocent, naive, but yet worldly. Like, all of those things that, when you were a teenager, you think you are. Right? Like, you know, you think you’re all that, you have it together, but literally also, you know, that like, you know nothing, you’re scared to death and all of that. And she was able to show up, she was a consummate professional, but also show up, you know, that sort of vulnerability, you know, which I think is really important. It’s so hard– I mean, I love it when an actor is able to do that. But that’s one of the bravest things and she had that in spades.
More about “Hollywood at Home”
Hosted by The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk, “Hollywood at Home” brings listeners intimate portraits, key moments of discovery, and “art and soul” conversations with iconic entertainment industry personalities from the big screen to the boardroom, from L.A. to D.C. Listen now at http://thecreativecoalition.org/podcast.
Previous guests include Jason Alexander (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Shiri Appleby (“UnREAL”), Iain Armitage (“Young Sheldon”), Justin Bartha (“The Hangover,” “National Treasure”), David Alan Basche (“The Exes”), Asante Blackk (“This Is Us”), Carly Chaikin (“Mr. Robot”), Aaron Cooley (“The First Lady”), Wilson Cruz (“Star Trek: Discovery”), Alan Cumming (“Schmigadoon!, “The Good Wife”), Ethan Cutkosky (“Shameless”), The Creative Coalition President and actor Tim Daly (“Madam Secretary”), Lea DeLaria (“Orange Is the New Black”), Colman Domingo (“Euphoria”), Griffin Dunne (“This Is Us”), Kerry Ehrin (“The Morning Show”), Wayne Federman (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Frances Fisher (“Titanic,” “Unforgiven”), Michael Fishman (“Roseanne,” “The Conners”), Jim Gaffigan (“The Jim Gaffigan Show”), LaMonica Garrett (“1883,” “Sons of Anarchy”) Willie Garson (“And Just Like That…”), Judy Gold (“The Other F Word”), Nicholas Gonzalez (“The Good Doctor”), Clark Gregg (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”), Tony Hale (“Veep,” “Arrested Development”), Evan Handler (“And Just Like That…,” “Californication”), Patricia Heaton (“Everybody Loves Raymond,” “The Middle”), Jon Huertas (“This Is Us”), Jason Isaacs (“Star Trek: Discovery,” “Harry Potter”), Susan Isaacs (“Compromising Positions”), Richard Kind (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Nathan Kress (“iCarly”), Jaren Lewison (“Never Have I Ever”), Chad Lowe (“Supergirl”), Aasif Mandvi (“The Daily Show”), Rachel Mason (“Circus of Books”), Marlee Matlin (“CODA”), AnnaLynne McCord (“Let’s Get Physical”), Eric McCormack (“Will and Grace”), Wendi McLendon-Covey (“The Goldbergs”), Katherine McNamara (“Shadowhunters”), Melissa Manchester (“Don’t Cry Out Loud”), Molly Smith Metzler (“Maid,” “Shameless”), Marta Milans (“Shazam!”), Rob Morrow (“Billions”), Kathy Najimy (“Younger”), Ken Olin (“This is Us,” “Thirtysomething”), Haley Joel Osment (“Future Man,” “Entourage”), Joey and Daniella Pantoliano (“The Matrix,” “Memento”), Ross Patterson (“Range 15”), Bill Prady (“The Big Bang Theory”), Kyla Pratt (“The Proud Family”), Jessica Queller (“Supergirl”), Sheryl Lee Ralph (“Abbott Elementary”), Anthony Rapp (“Star Trek: Discovery”), Yolonda Ross (“The Chi”), Reid Scott (“Veep”), Paul Scheer (“The League,” “Veep”), Mona Scott-Young (“Love & Hip Hop”), Alena Smith (“Dickinson”), Julie Taymor (“The Lion King”), Lea Thompson (“Back to the Future”), Tramell Tillman (“Severance”), Krista Vernoff (“Grey’s Anatomy”), KT Tunstall (“Black Horse and the Cherry Tree,” “Suddenly I See”), Matt Walsh (“Veep”), Alfre Woodard (“Clemency,” “Luke Cage”), Constance Zimmer (“Good Trouble”), and David Zucker (“Airplane!,” “Scary Movie”).
More about The Creative Coalition
The Creative Coalition is the premier nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) social and public advocacy organization of the arts and entertainment community. Founded in 1989 by prominent members of the creative community, The Creative Coalition is dedicated to educating its members on issues of public importance. The Creative Coalition also creates award-winning public service campaigns including #RightToBearArts to promote the efficacy of the arts. Actor Tim Daly serves as the organization’s President. For more information, visit https://thecreativecoalition.org.
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