You may remember Cocoa Brown as a finalist on NBC’s America’s Got Talent.
by Jennifer Jonassen
But many of you may not know that besides regularly touring across the country with her comedy act, this dynamic Diva is paving her way as an actress on TV and movies. Get to meet Cocoa Brown…
JJ: What made you want to become a performer?
Cocoa: A little bit of boredom and a strong desire for something different in my life… I was always the little “performer” growing up, putting on shows for my friends and family and writing plays. But the gumption to actually get paid for it came when I graduated college and realized I didn’t want to be stuck behind a desk. The opportunity presented itself to be a stand up comedienne and I ran with it and never looked back.
JJ: How long have you been performing and what are some of the highlights of your career so far?
Cocoa: I have been in the “business” for 10 years, but I started acting at 10 years old with a community theater in Newport News, VA (where I am from). My Mom felt I was an overly creative child and put me in theater workshops and I did my first lead in a play when I was in the 5th grade, (I played a judge).
Some of my memorable moments in comedy have been getting my first standing ovation, winning Apollo, ripping the stage in my first 1/2 hour on BET, winning Funniest Comic in the City, being on movie and TV sets with an actual part in the project, having my own trailer with my name on it, walking the red carpet and having the paparazzi call my name, fan adoration and traveling the world and seeing all the different places and experiencing the cultures –and of course not having to call home for money anymore (smile).
JJ: Do you like the term plus size? How do you describe yourself?
Cocoa: Honestly, I hate the term plus size… I mean why does it have to be that if your dress size has a double digit? I have friends who are size 10 or 12 and they are hardly plus size! It’s just another label that separates women, like we need any help with that! I consider myself voluptuous I have a little extra junk but I still have curves and I like my “bumps.”
JJ: How has being larger helped or hindered you?
Cocoa: Being a “larger” woman has helped me in that people don’t immediately see me as a threat. Then I open my mouth and they quickly realize I am strong, sexy and confident. People, especially men, think if a woman has a little extra going on, we are insecure and begging for any kind of attention. That is bullcrap… sure there are some out there, but some of the most confident and secure women I know are size 14’s and up… But I say it has hindered me a little in Hollywood because when they are casting someone “plus size”, they don’t want them too attractive or too educated, or too confidant — they like putting us in “that” box… Fat, funny, and manless!
JJ: Who are some of your influences?
Cocoa: My Mom & my Aunts for sure… when they get together, get the kids out the room… It’s trash talking time baby!!! I also have always admired women like LaWanda Page, Moms Mabley, Gilda Radner and my girl, Mo’Nique. And no comic is a true comic unless they have studied and admired the great Richard Pryor; he taught all of us that pain and sorrow can make the best comedy.
JJ: What advice would you give to a young girl struggling with body image?
Cocoa: First off, STOP watching music videos, those chicks are lab rats! I have never seen so many women who look the same, are shaped the same and blah-blah-blah. And second, focus on what’s good about you, your character, your heart, your morals… anything that doesn’t focus on your body because in the end that’s what really matters.
And lastly, if you don’t like your body, remember ‘God don’t make no junk’ and He made you exactly as he wanted you to be. Now if you are having a relationship with the fridge and messing with God’s creation, just break up and find something else to focus on. It’s hard, I know, I’ve been there and I have a hard time myself divorcing fried chicken and a good piece of cheesecake, but if your conscience and your heart, NOT other people are telling you its time to make a change, then do everything in your power to make that change. But do it for you and no one else!
JJ: What is your favorite thing about stand up? It seems particularly challenging and scary to me personally!
Cocoa: I love being on stage and seeing the reactions of people when they relate to what I am saying, and I love interacting with the fans after the show. That’s my place of peace, where I can shed my fears, my pain, my joys and everything in between and EXHALE!
JJ: What is your dream role or project?
Cocoa: I would LOVE to play Aretha Franklin in a movie. Her story just moves me. I would also LOVE to play Oprah in a serious way. She is the Queen of breaking the stereotype. I really want more dramatic roles, ones I can let all the junk in my soul out and purge it through the actions of a dramatic character. I can be funny with my eyes closed. I want roles I can sink my teeth and soul into.
JJ: What are your upcoming projects?
Cocoa: I just completed a film with Samuel L. Jackson and Kerry Washington called “Lakeview Terrace”…but when you see it, don’t blink, cuz my part is significant but small as hell. I also am filming two movies now, one called “Urban Ancestry”, a great dramedy in which I get to be funny and serious, and the film “American Carol” with Kelsey Grammer, where I play a schizophrenic security guard LOL.. I also am working on a project called “The Raynecat Show” that’s a lot like the Tracy Ulman show. I play a character named LaTanya, the type of “sister” you never want to piss off. …but with a big heart. I am also touring all over the world performing my stand-up.
JJ: They say dying is easy comedy is hard. Do you agree?
Cocoa: Absolutely!!! It takes patience and skill to constantly come up with new and creative material and be likable when you put it out there in front of people… it’s a full time job!
JJ: Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers?
Cocoa: Just be on the look out for me… like my Grandmother used to say, “The biggest lion in the jungle doesn’t have to roar loud, you know it’s there!”