Golden Brooks: 'I Will Be the Al Sharpton for the Image of Black Women'

Golden Brooks: 'I Will Be the Al Sharpton for the Image of Black Women'

The actress sounds off on the unfair treatment of African-Americans in Hollywood.

Published October 9, 2014

Golden Brooks is best known to TV viewers as the outspoken and take-no-mess Maya Wilkes on the long-running sitcom Girlfriends. Since the San Francisco native’s time with her on-screen BFFs ended, she’s kept busy on CSI: Miami, The Exes and as a series regular on Hart of Dixie.  When the actress spoke to BET.com recently she had plenty to talk about. From being angered over The New York Times's insult of Viola Davis's beauty to making the move to reality TV to the latest update on the highly anticipated Girlfriends movie, Brooks let her inner-Maya flag fly and left no subject unturned.

After building an onscreen career in scripted film and TV, why did you make the switch to reality television?
Coming from my background in theater and then going into scripted shows like Girlfriends and doing movies, my career has been very traditional as an actress. I thought reality television would be a fun and smart opportunity to break outside of my comfort zone. I always like to face my fears and I thought what a great platform to show people who Golden Brooks is. Not just Golden Brooks the actress, but who I am as a person. 

Did you have any concerns or trepidations about airing your gripes with the entertainment industry on reality TV?
There’s always the level of, “My gosh, did I say too much?” or “Oh gosh, will this hurt me?” But I would say the same thing if I were on the Tavis Smiley show or a panel at a college. If you’re talking about the tone for the Black woman in Hollywood, I don’t think it’s any secret — we all know it’s tough. We all read The New York Times article that was horrible towards Viola Davis, calling her a less attractive version of Halle Berry and Kerry Washington. This woman has two Oscar nominations; this woman is renowned in the era of Michelle Obama. Black women are one snap and head roll away from being the angry Black woman. If I have to get on a reality show and talk about it, then I will be the Al Sharpton for the image of Black women. I will do that because it’s important to me. It’s my passion. I think we need to talk about it because it’s alive and well. That New York Times article just proves to me that we have a long way to go.

Fans of the series want to know, how often do you see your former Girlfriends castmates in real life?
Jill Marie Jones and I just saw each other at a mutual friend’s wedding. She and I are always talking, and we speak a lot in the mornings. She’s so funny. Jill’s the only non-mother I know whose up at 6 a.m. Tracee Ellis Ross and I are more like texting buddies. We text each other a lot, I congratulated her on Black-ish last week. Persia White just got married and she’s living in Atlanta now. She’s such a great musician. Persia is one of the most talented, well-versed people I know and so very kind.

When we last spoke to Tracee and Jill they each said they would be on board for a Girlfriends movie. Would you be interested in a feature film version of your hit show?
There was talk of a movie last year. We all met with Mara Brock Akil at her loft — me, Tracee, Persia, Jill and Reggie Hayes — and we discussed it. Right now, Mara’s busy with Being Mary Jane and all of her other projects. I have no ownership over Girlfriends, I don’t even have ownership over, “Oh, hell no.” [Laughs] That’s a Paramount and Kelsey Grammer thing and I think on the business end Mara’s figuring all of that out. But I think the Girlfriends movie will happen. When, I’m not sure. But I will absolutely be on board, we all will, and I know the fans will love it. 

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 (Photo: Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Warner Bros.)

Written by Ronke Idowu Reeves

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