There are few names in Hollywood as unique as Golden Brooks, and that applies to all areas of her life. A well-educated actress and classically trained dancer, Brooks became a household name as the spirited Maya Wilkes on Girlfriends, and has appeared in various theater, film and television productions in her 15-year career.
Golden has applied her formidable education – a Bachelors from UC Berkeley and Masters from Sarah Lawrence – to her creative endeavors, and is very serious about expanding her craft on every level. That’s not to say that she can’t have a little fun though! On April 12, 2011, you’ll be able to get a good scare from Golden Brooks in The Inheritance, a DVD film releasing via Image Entertainment.
The Inheritance tells the tale of five people who convene to get their part of a fortune. When they start disappearing one by one, it’s apparent that there’s more to the ‘inheritance’ than meets the eye. Golden Brooks co-stars with Darrin Dewitt Henson, D.B. Woodside (24, Hellcats), Rochelle Aytes (Desperate Housewives, Detroit 1-8-7), Shawn Michael Howard (Next Day Air), Lanre Idewu (Ghost Whisperer) and veteran actor Keith David (Requiem for a Dream, ER, The Cape).
UrbLife.com recently took a few moments to chat with Golden Brooks about her new role, future endeavors and more. Did she have any scary dreams working on The Inheritance? How will she feel if her daughter wants to follow in her footsteps? What does she want you to really know about her?
Read on and find out in this UrbLife.com exclusive interview!
You were on Girlfriends for years, and you’ve done movies and various television spots… but this looks like the first horror film you’ve ever done.
Golden Brooks: Yeah! I keep telling people I like to refer to it as a psychological thriller…but it is, I guess, a horror film.
But yeah, Girlfriends was such a great run – It was almost a decade of my life, and I enjoyed it, it was so much fun! I loved playing that character, I loved working with the girls. After it was done, I just didn’t want to get right back on to a tv show, I wanted something completely different.
My manager brought this script for The Inheritance to me and she’s like, “You’re going to love it – it’s a horror film, it’s so different, so smart!” I’m like, “Nope – no horror! Black folks are probably going to die in the first five minutes, like before the credits are even [rolling]– before my name comes up, I’ll be dead! No, I don’t want to do it!” She’s like, “Golden, trust me, you have to read it, it’s great!”
Then I found it was from Effie Brown, producer from Real Women Have Curves, Stranger Inside… I really respect her, so I was like, “Okay let me just give it a try,” and I read it and thought it was completely different from anything I’ve ever read.
This is a story pretty much about Generation X, these five best friends-slash-play cousins and their ancestors. Their elders are trying to teach them about the sacrifices that past generations have made for this future generation, and to make them wake up and look at the freedom that they have because of those sacrifices.
It’s under the umbrella of horror and thriller. They’re being haunted by this slave named Chakabazz, which was just thrilling to me. It was something that I never even read before, and especially dealing with the slavery aspects of it – you don’t usually see that in a pop-culture film, unless you’re dealing with a story like an Amistad or a biopic about our history. This is a great way of bridging all of that…the horror, the funny, and the history in a thriller film.
Yeah, true I think the only movie I ever saw mixing the history of slavery with horror was The Skeleton Key, because they had Voodoo or something..that was crazy.
GB: Oh yeah, I do remember that! That’s interesting because there’s lot of that aspect in The Inheritance, a lot of magic and dealing with bones, blood, roots, and herbs… In fact, my character is given these roots and herbs to eat that are made up by the elders; basically it’s poisoning me to get me ready to turn me into one of them. That is definitely a huge part of the film too.
Some actors say they love the danger aspect of working in a scary film, and there are others that say they couldn’t sleep at night after they did scenes because it really messed with their head. What was your experience?
GB: We were in Minnesota during the dead of winter, so I was so cold… I was so cold and it was negative zero. All I could think about was how cold it was! All I could dream about was snow falling from trees…It wasn’t so much that the scary scenes as opposed to that I’m such a wimp, I hate the cold, I hate snow.
I’m sorry it’s beautiful on a postcard, or when you’re out in the inside by the fireplace looking out, but being in it was just… ughhh it was so hard for me! So no, I didn’t really have a lot of scary dreams.
Are you a very big horror fan? Do you watch them yourself?
GB: I’m not – I’m more about psychological thrillers. I love Rosemary’s Baby, it’s one of my favorite movies. I like the thriller as opposed to like the slasher film where the guy is running through the woods with a knife. I’m not in to that. I thought The Inheritance was a different take on that, so that’s why I found this particular script very interesting.
You have a really good cast in there too. You have Darrin Dewitt Henson in there. You’ve got Keith David, who’s a very well polished actor. How well did you all work together on it?
GB: Oh it was great! I loved working with the whole cast. Of course Darrin and I have worked together before, it was great working with him again. I love Darrin and D.B. Woodside, Keith David and Rochelle Aytes. They’re just some people who had an amazing talent range. That’s the beauty of working in these independent films as well, because you get to work with these sort of actors off the beaten path and learn about them, their journey and their talent range.
It was so much fun for me, and I loved the whole cast and the director Robert O’Hara, who is from theater. It is great to have a theater director direct you in a film, because he’s not going to sacrifice the craft for a shot. It’s always going to be about the actor first and I love that, it’s very rare.
What are you working on in the next few months that people can look out for?
GB: Well I just finished a show on TV Land – they keep playing with the title, but I’m guest-starring on that with actor Donald Faison from Scrubs and Kristen Johnson from Third Rock from the Sun. It’s really funny…so you can catch me on that. Then I’m finishing my own writing projects and reading a bunch of scripts right now, and I’m just getting back into the swing of things.
I took a year and a half off because of the baby, and I’m so glad I did because it really just helped me to think about ‘me’ as opposed to just Golden Brooks the actress. What can I do for the world and for my community as opposed to just being an actress, you know?
It just made me look at everything differently, so yeah I’m really, really excited about everything that’s happening now.
That’s really awesome, and good that you have that quality home-time with your child too. What will you do in a few years when your daughter says “Mom, I want to be an actor…” or dancer or entertainer?
GB: I’m going to say, “That’s not going to ever happen and [laughs], you can pack your bags and move out of my house!” I would hope that Dakota won’t want to get into this business…I mean it’s a hard business…It is no joke out here.
But if she really wants to do it, you know there are no grudges over here. I know I’m hardcore, but education is so big in my family. My dad is a professor, my uncle, my aunts – I come from a world of Academia so if she really wants to be an actress, she’ll have to finish school and do theater first. Then if she really wants to get into film and TV, she’s going to have to do it the real way, and is going to have to learn the craft.
To me, no matter what happens in this business, if you know your craft, no matter if you’re working or not working, no one can take that away from you. This business sometimes isn’t about the craft, but there are pieces of this business that still are about the work.
I would want her to focus on being a well-rounded, smart actress who knows about method acting, and Meisner, and movement and theater, and stage direction. That’s something that is important, I want her to know the education of theater, not just the glamorous part of being an actress.
Looking at your own career and life thus far, what do you feel that people should know about you? When they hear your name, what do you want people to understand about who you are?
GB: That I’m a creator, and I care about the world of creating. That I’m not just someone that is going to pigeonhole herself in something just to be out there and to be seen. That I’m going to take my time, and I want to make this career and make the world for the actor and for the creator better.
I want to create opportunities that are going to broaden the creative palette for all of us. I’m writing, I’m thinking about how to make our world better, and that’s what I want people to think. I always want to be someone that is creating, and creating for the better good of future women of color, and that’s my goal.
Also to [let people know to]constantly educate yourself, and educating yourself doesn’t always mean like taking a class here or a class there, but educating yourself in being a better creator, whatever that means [to you]. Writing, taking time off and just kind of being one with the world – not just getting stuck into a certain way of doing things…
Take in people, take in your environment, go travel, go look at the world and, so that each time you create a character you have more to draw from.. That’s kind of my mantra in life, just to always create, always stay open, and always learning.