The Next Brandy

Brandy Norwood Chicago

Photography by Jason Bell

Out: You seem to have so much fun on stage in Chicago. What has been the most challenging part of performing on Broadway?

Brandy: I am. For me, the challenging part has changed. I’ve never been this focused or this disciplined in my entire life. It’s really about adjusting to the pace of the kind of work that it takes to do a good job on the show. It’s really about waking up in the morning and getting to the gym, eating right, drinking a lot of water and tea, not talking so much. It’s just adjusting. That has been the challenge because I’m so used to doing something else. Change is always a little bit challenging.

This is your first musical since Cinderella, in which you starred opposite your mentor Whitney Houston. Did it bring back any memories of working with her? 

Of course, I’ve had flashbacks and thoughts about what it was like working with Whitney, being on set with her, just singing with her. I’ve been feeling her energy a lot since I’ve been in New York doing Chicago. I know that she’s with me, and I know that she’s proud, and she’s always there watching over me. She’s my angel. One of the best things that she’s ever said to me was to always be myself. I didn’t understand what that meant, until now. I know what she means now.

What does she mean?

She means to be me. Don’t be anybody else. Be me. And that’s ok, that’s enough. That’s all I need to be, because I can’t be anybody else. And I love being me, now. It’s a beautiful feeling to be comfortable in your skin, and to be comfortable with what you’re doing. I feel I believe in myself, finally.

Brandy Norwood Chicago

Since your latest album, Two Eleven, you've been working on a lot of acting projects, with a recurring role on The Game, Drop Dead Diva, and 90210. Recently, Jussie Smollett said that you'd be one of his dream guest stars on Empire. Is that likely to happen?

We’ll have to see! Empire is definitely on my mind. I’m very connected to Lee Daniels, and I’m very connected to Jussie. That’s family, there. I’m also starring in my own television show on BET, Zoe Moon. It’s a sitcom in which I play a cosmetics mogul who’s the mom of a 10-year-old. She's a strong business woman who’s restarting her life, and doing her thing. I’m so excited to get back to that world, because Moesha was such a great experience. I just can’t wait to get back on set. And then there's my music. I’m really focused on my music and being an inspiration...

Earlier this week, DJ Camper (a producer who's worked with John Legend and Nicki Minaj) said you're working on a new EP together.

Yes. We are very magical together, he and I. We have a great connection. And we are going to make magical music together. I can’t wait for everyone to hear it.

What's going to be the vibe of the album?

You’ll have to see. You can’t really explain the vibe. All I know is that it’s special, and it’s real, and it’s raw, and it’s going to be classic. That’s what I know.

Brandy stars in Chicago at the Ambassador Theatre, 219 W. 49th St, NY, through June 21. For further information and tickets, visit ChicagoTheMusical.com

Brandy Norwood Chicago

Photo: Jeremy Daniel

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