Brittany Daniel gets candid with BET.com about how she broke the news to the cast.
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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