Novi Brown is an actress, producer, photographer, model and writer currently starring as “Sabrina Hollins” in this year’s hugely successful BET show, Tyler Perry’s SISTAS.
With each episode written, directed, and produced by Tyler Perry, SISTAS has debuted to large ratings and a social media cult-like following. The already beloved show revolves around a group of single black females as they navigate their “complicated” love lives, careers, and friendships through the ups-and-downs of living in a modern world. Brown’s character Sabrina, a stylish and smart bank teller, reminds viewers to love one’s community and that good things come to those who step outside their comfort zones.
I had the pleasure to chat with Novi about her acting journey, what it takes to be a great actor, the art of staying motivated, and other creative women she admires.
What inspired you become an actor?
NV: “I feel like my endless curiosity and life’s limitless options led me to acting. Also, the power of being moved by a stranger is fascinating. To know I am able to make someone laugh, cry, or argue with a character I play on-screen, creating a dialogue is so dope to me.”
What do you think it takes to be a great actor?
NV: “Trying, trying and trying again is what I feel makes you better in life overall. Acting is about listening and taking chances, as well as inner-standing how a person moves. It’s relating in a pure form because there will always be someone who gets it. Dive into the character and listen to their choices and watch their actions. Let your imagination take over and have fun!”
What’s the best piece of advice you received when you were starting out in your line of work?
NV: “You belong here”. It doesn’t matter in what capacity you are there, you are summoned to be there for a reason. Keep your eyes and ears open to see why you are there. It really made me feel calmer in rooms.”
What is a typical day like for you and what keeps you motivated?
NV: “My days before this show consisted of figuring it out, lol. I was working all types of odd jobs to make it work and going to as many auditions as possible. Now, I am networking inside the industry as a new leading actress & making sure I meet other creatives in the business. Therefore, my day changes all the time, but it begins always with walking my dog, Castor Troy. Then my day will be followed by promoting the show via various online, radio and tv interviews, as well as attending media events. I’m really enjoying the business aspect of it and showing up to support my peers.”
Tell us more about the journey of landing the role of Sabrina on ‘Sistas’ by Tyler Perry. What was your reaction towards it?
NV: “I’ve been auditioning for about 13 years. I’m a theatre grad and began as a model and did lots of commercials . SISTAS was my first audition for Tyler Perry and the team at Tyler Perry Studios. I don’t know. I just felt like it was MY TIME. God put everything into perfect position for me and I was paying attention to the task at hand. When I got the initial invitation to audition in person in Atlanta, I knew something good was happening, at least. I auditioned and didn’t hear a thing for 1.5 months. It wasn’t until a week and a few days before filming that I received the call to come back and read for Sabrina (I read for Karen first). I landed in ATL 4 days before filming. After I got the call, I felt free. I felt that all the years of work finally led me to where I needed to be. I finally felt that I was on the pathway of my purpose beginning to be fulfilled. I was and am eternally grateful.”
What advice do you have for someone who hasn’t figured out their purpose yet?
NV:” You know your purpose, you just haven’t pinpointed it yet. Most likely, people have told you what it is, but you (1) might not believe them or (2) aren’t listening to the signs. There are not really too many categories in life that we find our careers in. If you like writing or speaking then you might become a writer, journalist, orator, public speaker, teacher or songwriter. If you enjoy healing you might become a doctor, therapist, tarot reader or doola. I suggest to let your curiosity guide you. You don’t have to do one thing forever – I don’t even think that’s healthy. Your purpose is a constant evolution, so keep exploring it!”
What’s the biggest sacrifice of being a boss that isn’t obvious to the public eye?
NV: “Privacy to grow. I feel as if we are in a time when it is almost volatile and unsafe to make mistakes and learn from them. We have to be careful with that.”
Who are some creative women whom you admire?
NV: “Rihanna is a never-ending chameleon. Lupita chooses really dope and interesting work, so it’s cool to see her artist evolution. Cicely Tyson is a longevity maverick and I have so much to learn from her. Regina King is another Queen I enjoy watching since I was a child. I can’t wait to work with all these women.”
What’s your personal affirmation or a quote/scripture that never lets you down?
Positivity yields productivity.
Progression over perfection.
The quality of your thoughts becomes the foundation of your life.
I have many, lol.
What can we expect from you in 2020?
About Novi Brown
Born in Berlin, Germany, Novi Brown spent 12 years traveling between Germany and the United States, first attending the Young Actors Program at the world-famous Lee Strasberg Acting School in New York, and then graduating Magna Cum Laude from the City College of New York’s Fine Arts program.
While balancing her studies and a growing international modeling career, Brown also developed a passion for photography and has since had her work published by outlets such as Essence Magazine, Scholastic, The Lifetime Movie Network, UP! TV, ID Channel, HBO Shorts, and E! Networks.
After graduating, Brown began her career on stage with roles in productions such as The Vagina Monologues, The Dutchman and Boston Marriage. On screen, she’s also been seen in Sleeping with My Student (2019), #blessed (2018), Concepts and Tools (2018), Same Sex (2016), My Dad’s A Soccer Mom (2014), and many more.
Brown is also passionate for philanthropic outreach through the arts. She currently serves as the Creative Director of the charity Saving Our Daughters, an organization that works with girls from multicultural backgrounds through theater, film, culinary and literacy, to help them overcome the many obstacles they face growing up.