The return of Kelly Pitts has stirred up quite the reaction for fans of The Game. In addition to Brittany Daniel's re-emergence came the inspirational behind-the-scenes story of her bout with cancer. The ordeal led to a two-year hiatus, which was referred to publicly as a leave-of-absence as Ms. Daniel felt it would be best not reveal the true nature of her departure. Since then, Ms. Daniel has made a full recovery and returned to form as the beloved first wife of Jason Pitts. In this multi-part article series, she shares with us what went on in her mind after the diagnosis.
As told to Jordan "YR" Yue and JP Lespinasse.
I didn't think about my acting career. That was the furthest thing from my mind.
I was so in survival mode that I didn't think about it. As an actor, that's normally in the forefront of your mind all of the time; you're constantly looking for your next job. But for the first time it was the last thing on my list.
There were times while I was healing that I had thoughts like, "Are people wondering where I went?" Because I chose not to talk about it. I think it was within a month that I was supposed to go back, so I needed to have a conversation with BET. I said if you wouldn't mind, if you could just make an announcement, if anybody were to ask, [tell them] that I just decided to take a leave of absence for personal reasons.
It was challenging at times.
There were times it was hard because I loved playing Kelly so much.There were moments that I was like, if I don't survive, if I literally don't live, I'll never be able to finish that character. Or if the show gets canceled at some point before I get back to health will I ever be able to finish this character? Will I ever finish her story? That was hard for me.
People asked me, "Was it hard to watch your friends on the show continue on with great success?" I was so happy for my other cast members — I want them to be successful. I wanted the show to always be successful.
For me, if there was ever any sadness it was more so because I wanted to complete my story. So when I got back to complete health and then to get the call from Mara Brock Akil to say, "Hey we're thinking of bringing Kelly back," it was just such a blessing, because it would allow me to finish her story.
I found myself literally at my house almost speaking out her lines, like, what I would say if I have to continue her character. I know her voice so well that she became a part of me and I felt like I needed to finish her story. I think if you're an actor you understand what I'm saying. For her to just go away and not to come back — it felt weird not to finish that.
The first person [from the production team] that I told was Mara and then I called each cast member and told them. And then Mara told Charlie and Loretha. I told my cast members that this is something I'm keeping private, so if we could just keep it among us... and in two years it never got out. I know a lot of the cast members were asked during talk shows and they just said I was taking a leave of absence for personal reasons, so that was really cool of them.
Everybody was just shocked. They were very supportive and emotional about it. I felt bad calling them like, "I'm sorry I'm not going to be able to be there." They were like, "Do what you need to do. We love you."
In part 2 of this article series, Brittany reveals how she felt upon her return to the set and the emotional experience she had right before the taping!
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