Sandra Varner’s Celebrity Profiles
Perhaps you know her smiling face from TV commercials or the numerous roles she’s had on situation comedy shows, among them, NBC’s The Office, HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm and Entourage. Maybe you recognize her trademark scowl and eyebrow roll or tune in each week to see her hilarious character, Shirley Bennett, on the popular NBC primetime sitcom, Community. It might be her familiar voice as “Cookie” in the animated series, Pound Puppies.
Either way, funny lady Yvette Nicole Brown is someone you won’t soon forget. I spoke to her about the fame she’s enjoying and her road to stardom.
Sandra Varner (Talk2SV): You are becoming one of the most recognizable faces on TV with a penchant for unique character portrayals, not to mention your role on the successful sitcom, Community. What makes Yvette Nicole Brown standout in the most competitive industry there is?
Yvette Nicole Brown (YNB): I never knew that I was a standout so I’m really happy to hear that and thank you. I think if it’s anything, it’s probably how grateful I am and the joy that I have to be an actor. There’s not a lot of us with my skin tone or my body size that are allowed to have a shot at this so the fact that I was able to be on a show (Community) that has lasted three years is just a great blessing. Maybe it’s the joy that I feel every day going to work; people see it and maybe that’s what makes me stand out, if I do at all.
TalkSV: Gratitude and appreciation for one’s work does speak volumes. One particular character trait I’ve noticed is your ability to communicate through a range of hilarious facial expressions. Is this a characteristic that you’ve worked to perfect or are they just instinctive reactions?
YNB: I think they’re just instinctive reactions. I have a very expressive face and a big old apple head so I think that everything I’m thinking crosses my eyes and my eyebrows– it just kind of shows up. I come from a funny family. My mom is hilarious. Growing up, she always made our lives so much fun. I think many times it’s just me hearkening back to the things that I saw her do as I was growing up. So, it’s probably a little bit of mom along with having an expressive face.
Talk2SV: How did growing up in East Cleveland, Ohio enhance your sensibilities as an actor?
YNB: I grew up in a single parent home with my mom and my brother. We didn’t have money when I was coming up so we had to be creative, especially around Christmas time. When it came time to entertain ourselves we would put on plays, write songs and that kind of thing to entertain my mom because she was always working so hard. And, on her part, she was always trying to make ends meet. She didn’t want us to see the struggle so she would always come in the house with a big smile on her face. Whatever play or skit we had created after an eight or nine hour day of working, she’d come in excited to see it even though she was probably very tired. I think that informed my work ethic now: put a smile on your face no matter how you feel. That little performing spirit was in me as a kid because we were performers for my mom and I think that’s how it has colored my acting now.
Talk2SV: You started performing as a kid. When did you know that you were good at it?
YNB: I still don’t know that I’m good at it…sometimes I can’t believe they’re letting me work (laughter). I don’t think I’ve ever given a performance and thought, ‘yeah, look at me.’ I don’t think I’ve ever done that. I know that I am at least doing the bare minimum that’s required because I keep getting a paycheck and I haven’t been fired. I always try to be better. I hope that I make people laugh; I hope that I lighten their load in these strange times and that’s all that I could ask for as a performer.
Read more at www.Talk2SV.com.