With tough times behind her and both her acting and music careers heating up, Brandy was in great spirits when she chatted exclusively with BET.com about her latest projects, including a return appearance this week on Lifetime's Drop Dead Diva as Elisa Shayne. She also discussed her continuing role on The Game, a more dramatic role in Tyler Perry's The Marriage Counselor and an album set to drop in August. We also got the scoop on her surprise collabo with Chris Brown.
Why did you want to go back to Drop Dead Diva?
I love my character and I love [executive producer] Craig Zadan and [star] Brooke [Elliott] and all those guys. I had a wonderful time with Josh Stamberg. We had great chemistry.
What do you like about your character, Elisa?
I love that she's a family girl. She loves her son; her foundation is the integrity of taking care of people — she's a nurse. I can relate to her heartbreak with Jay, I can relate to the fact that she loves her son like I love my daughter. I felt like I could completely bring this character to life because in so many ways it's my life, except that I'm not a nurse and I have a daughter, not a son.
You'll be back on Diva on July 8. What happens in that episode?
All I can say without giving too much away is that Serena Williams plays my lawyer. There is a case, but I can't tell you what it's about.
Will you be back this season after that?
I think that’s what I'm doing for now. But hopefully I can go back.
Are you making more appearances as Chardonnay on The Game?
I plan to do a lot of episodes of The Game. That's my dream. I love that character as well. She's just so ghetto-fabulous and so free. She says what she wants. She's loud. She's completely different from who I am in my life. I have so much fun playing Chardonnay. I love her.
Do you consider yourself a diva?
Not at all, and everyone around me thinks I need to get a little more diva in me. I don't have time to be a diva. Who wants that? There's this stereotype thing when it comes to "diva"; I always think it means you're full of yourself. But there are so many great divas out there who have a humble spirit and are very confident. So maybe I need to get a little more of that.
The BET Awards are coming up. What are you looking forward to most?
I haven't been to the BET Awards in a long time, so I just want to go and see what happens. I know a lot of great artists are going to be there. I want to see the performances and be a part of a great night.
Do you have a favorite BET Awards moment from the past?
Rick James came on stage and had the entire crowd cracking up. There have been a lot of great moments but that was a fantastic moment.
You have a new album due in August, Two Eleven. Details?
It's great to have a new album with a new label, a new journey in music. Two Eleven was the day I was born and also the day Whitney Houston passed away. So I dedicated this album and this musical journey to her. I just want to honor her in everything that I do.
Are you planning to tour?
I definitely want to tour. I miss the stage, I miss connecting with my fans and I would love to go out there and see them face-to-face.
The single is "Put It Down," featuring Chris Brown. How did that collaboration come about?
Chris Brown was actually a writer on the album. He co-wrote a song for me called "Slower." He was at a session and heard the song "Put It Down" and hopped on it. I wasn't even there. This was way after the song was finished. I didn't know that he was going to rap and sing, and when I heard it I was like, "This is hot!" I thank him for jumping on the record. Having the young generation at his beck and call, it was a blessing for me and what I'm trying to do.
You're in Tyler Perry's movie The Marriage Counselor. What was that experience like?
That was an incredible experience. Tyler Perry is an amazing person. And to pick me for this role, it was a great opportunity. I'm one of the leads, not the marriage counselor. It's Jurnee Smollett's movie. It's also with Vanessa Williams, Lance Gross, Kim Kardashian. I have most of my scenes with Lance Gross. I had one scene with Jurnee and the rest with Lance. I wish I could have worked with everyone.
You have so much going on. How are you balancing music, acting and being a mom?
I think I'm in a great place. The balance is definitely a challenge because I'm doing so much right now and I have so many responsibilities, watching my daughter grow, being a good friend, a good daughter, a good girlfriend and all these things. But it's great to have a personal life and have a business life that you're also proud of. When I didn't have a lot going on I felt unfulfilled, even though I felt fulfilled in my personal life. I needed that other side, too, to be creative. So the balance worked itself out. I'm in a great place. I really am.
Drop Dead Diva airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on Lifetime.
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(Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images)