This week’s fearless feature features host, film maker, actress, voice-over & recording artist, Mo Brown.
From reciting long monologues to countless auditions, theater stages, voice-over recording, touring- Entertainment has always been a part of my life. Growing up, we always loved to believe that the person with the most lines was the “main attraction”. But it isn’t always so. Meryl Streep, Denzel Washington, and other great actors, can make us believe that a scene is in a movie can be so real. But what the moments when they’re acting in silence? Where no words are said but the emotion, story and feelings are there.
I wasn’t always a scholar student, so math problems and memorizing formulas wasn’t me. I constantly asked myself, “Mo how are you going to memorize all of your lines as an actor if you can’t even remember a formula in class?” It was depressing as students aced their math and science tests and I was barely making it through. But I was determined to make my dreams come true whether I had the sharpest memory or not. So I studied people and their body movements, habits and behaviors. I danced and watched Mr. Bean on HBO faithfully. Mr. Bean was this great actor that was a MUTE. He used his physicality to execute every scene and it was sooo engaging. I said hmmm… maybe I can be a MIME?!!!
But I didn’t want to paint my face white and hide behind the beauty that my parents told me was beautiful. So I continued to perform using all that I’ve gathered over the years. But I would get the comments “Calm down, why do you always have to move around?” “Be still”, “Shut up and look pretty”, “Chill Out”, “Don’t you ever be quiet?” I experienced people trying to dim the light that shined, and I was in denial. I thought people didn’t like me and as I began to close up my shell and settle for something more “CALM.”Then I got the part in Melvin Van Peebles play “Ain’t Supposed To Die A Natural Death” Directed by Alfred Preisser.
I was sooo excited because the play looked WILD and I was READY. I saw that my character,Lilly, was a prostitute! I gasped as we sat at the table for the reading. All the cast members were so engaging as I saw my dance numbers as the characters kept referencing me over and over… but I was so confused. We were on the last page and I asked myself, “WHERE ARE MY LINES? I worked so hard to get here and I have no lines? My character is amazing but she doesn’t say a word!” WHAT?!!! So when wrapped up the script reading the Director Pressier pulls me over and says” We’re gonna make you a star” I laughed in confusion but trusted that God would lead me. I showed up to rehearsal nervous and defeated but nonetheless in dance attire.
And to my surprise… I barely left the stage. I was in almost every scene playing this raunchy, character that had to take every movement to the 10th power.
Now, graduating from college, I thought that I had all the tools. But the Director shouts “Mo Brown I need you to stare at him with disdain”. I paused. I knew what it meant but I had to deliver with NO VOICE. No shout. No cry or disgusting words. I had to give my physicality to this moment. We took a 5min break and I went backstage to pull my thoughts together. Thinking about the little girl in me watching Mr. Bean, so I googled the word ‘DISDAIN’ on my smart phone. I took a deep breath in and exhaled the word to get it in my body.
“AAAND WE’RE BACK” the stage manager says. Here it is… my time to work my eyes, body, and breath into this emotion that is so easy to verbally communicate. And as I walked across that stage… listening to the monologue about me. I goosebumped into Lilly. Lilly, the prostitute who made a man fall in love with my moves, love making, booty shaking, almond eyes.Lilly, the sexy street runner who was loyal to her pimp and would shake for a dollar while running from the police.
New York Times, Black Star News, Starz in Black, and among others wrote about this character named ‘Lilly’. I used my face, breath, hands, feet, eyes, fingers and more to execute. Mr. Bean never left my thoughts. I breathed life into this character ‘Lilly’ and I will never forget it. The standing ovation without saying a word, that’s when I became… fearless.
Mo Brown, Mobrownsuga.com