Faith Helps 'Odd Couple' Star Yvette Nicole Brown Draw the Line in Hollywood
"Community" fans know Yvette Nicole Brown as Shirley Bennett, a mother of three who depended on her Christian faith to get her through divorce, alcoholism and the eccentricities of her fellow study-group members at Greendale Community College.
On CBS' remake of "The Odd Couple," which returns for a new season in the spring, Brown plays Dani, assistant to slovenly sportswriter and sports-radio host Oscar Madison (Matthew Perry). In one episode, Dani said she'd worked as "a missionary ... and a cowgirl."
In real life, Ohio native Brown is a devoted Christian and a devoted daughter, who asked to be released from her "Community" contract in 2014 to look after her ailing father. She's still doing that, but the hours on "The Odd Couple" are more manageable.
To manage the rest of her showbiz life, Brown leans on her faith, as she explained in a conversation with PJ Media last summer at a CBS press event in West Hollywood.
"The best thing about being a person of faith," she said, "for me, in Hollywood, is that I know where my line is. I know where my boundaries are. I've been blessed to work with agents and publishers and other people in the industry that understand what my line is, and here my boundaries are so I never have to have those awkward conversations, like, 'Well, Yvette, we want you to be ...,' and I'm like, 'Y'all know I can't.'
"They understand. They'll call me and say, 'Hey, this offer came in, but you're probably not going to want to do it, because it's ...,' and I'll go, 'Thank you. I am going to pass. thank you for thinking of me.'
"Basically, it gives me a nice little area to reside in. I know what my lane is, and that's good. In this industry, you need to know where your lane is, because otherwise you'll find yourself way off track."
One of the hardest things about being an actor is rejection, and faith also helps Brown there.
"You are never enough," she said, "you are never just right -- and Jesus shows me that I am. There's pieces of the world saying 'No,' but God's saying, 'Yes,' and knowing that my purpose on this earth is not to be famous or to be beautiful or to be thin. My purpose in this world is to help others and to shine a light on Christ, and to be a source of refuge on set.
"That's why I'm here, wherever I am. Source of refuge at this party; source of refuge in line at Starbucks. When you're clear on what your purpose is, you're not tossed to and fro by the ups and downs of a business like this."
Unfortunately, a lot of people in show business don't have that sort of firm foundation, so working in such a volatile industry can take a terrible toll on souls and psyches. As Brown sees it, they're chasing the wrong things, but she knows what her focus is.