It’s not a question of whether or not you know Yvette Nicole Brown. It’s just a matter of where you know Yvette Nicole Brown from. For some people, Yvette Nicole Brown is Helen Dubois from the hit Nickelodeon series, Drake & Josh. For others, Brown is Shirley Bennett from the classic comedy series, Community. Not to mention, she’s appeared in Avengers: Endgame, Dreamgirls and Entourage. While Brown may be a major film and television star, this wasn’t always what she envisioned.
During this week’s episode of One Hundred: The Ed Gordon Podcast, Ed Gordon spoke to Brown about her roots in East Cleveland, Ohio. Growing up in the midwest, Brown had several dreams. At one point, she thought she would be a teach and at another point life, she thought she may to sing professionally. She even auditioned for Michael Bivins and signed to the East Coast Family. Ultimately, she landed at Akron University where she pursued a degree in communications with the hope of becoming of newscaster or a talk show host. After graduation, she seemingly returned to the dream of becoming a singer and move out to Los Angeles. While she didn’t become to a full blown singer, she found her way into acting along the way. Brown got her feet wet in acting by appearing in commercials.
“You did a whole lot of commercials before you jump full fledged into acting. What do commercials do for you in terms of getting you ready? You know people miss the steps it takes to get where you finally land. I would suspect just getting your feet wet in commercials helps,” Ed Gordon asked.
“When I was coming up, you really had to pick what you were going to do. Nowadays, most people start with commercials in the hopes that they [can] maybe leapfrog into movies and television. Some people get to do that, [but] not everybody does. [When I was coming up], I do remember there being a stigma. If you were a thespian, you didn’t do commercials unless unless you were in Europe. You would go to Europe, do them and make you money but you wouldn’t do it here,” she answered.
“I think that that is incorrect in every way. I think that commercial acting is some of the toughest acting you will have to do because you have 30 seconds to create a character, make it real and sell a product. You know? There are a lot of moving parts to it. There is a way to do it right and there is a way to do it wrong. If you do it wrong, you might be the reason that somebody doesn’t buy Arrowhead Water. Right. So, there’s a lot of pressure throughout the day. When you get on set, you’re running. You’re running. You’re running. It is a perfect learning ground,” she continued.
Brown took those commercial acting skills and transferred them to several major television and film projects like Girlfriends and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Now, she’s using her platform as a star actor to speak out against social injustice and much more. The Ohio native talks more in-depth about her career, activism and upbringing with fellow midwestern native Ed Gordon below in the latest episode of One Hundred.