We had the good fortune of connecting with Brandy Brooks and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Brandy, was there something or someone who had an outsized impact on your career?
I’m steadfast about utilizing my significant relationships within my written work. Call me “crazy,” actually don’t, but usually, the significant relationships that lead to the inevitable heartbreaks, the ones that make you feel like someone’s pulled your heart out from your throat, change YOU forever. The people we choose to have in our lives, especially romantic partners, are phenomenal indicators of our current mental stasis. My written work is heavily influenced by this idea of “cognitive state,” in which I continually question. That’s what keeps me interested in exploration within my creative work. That’s what gets me out of bed to type away at my keyboard.
The last time we spoke (Voyage LA interview), I was almost a year out of my “heaviest hitting” breakup of any season (including winter season, cause you know those hit differently during the holidays). I was actually three Adderall(s) high when I answered those interview questions; I have no idea what I wrote and have no intention of re-reading that interview… like ever. On this side of it, I’m two years sober on July 21st. I’ve gone through a loss of a job, a loss of another relationship, and the inevitable heartbreak that comes with it, including significant family changes. I have a pretty nifty blog that’s mostly become an online diary, a podcast called Basic Instincts, hosted by myself and my creative partner, comedian, Rachel LaForce. At the beginning of the year, pre-Ms. Rona, we teamed with Merman Production and Entertainment Company to develop an unscripted series that goes by Basic Instincts as well.
About a year ago, I REALLY got into the outdoors around the same time I went through a breakup. I had already been revving up to becoming the woman who said, “Fuck it!” and lived off the land for months. That breakup sent me into this frenzy of infinite potentiality when it came to me and ME being out in nature. The day I took to the outdoors without a man leading the way was the day I changed forever: there’s my life before that trip and my life after that trip. I remember thinking to myself, “I’m a woman. I can pitch a tent (without a helping hand). I can build a fire without store-bought wood. And I can survive the outdoors by myself with sixty pounds on my back without that presence of a man looming over me to make me feel quote-unquote, calm. WOW!” If you’ve ever ventured off into nature, like, no-wifi-no-cute-van-hours-
At this point, I don’t necessarily feel that I’m an outdoor athlete, but an “outdoor aficionado” is how I would describe who I am and continuously aim to be. I find that I shine the brightest away from human-made structures and systems. Nature is where I can hear my most significant internal dialogue. I can visually see the goddess in me come out and take over, and honestly, as a woman, it’s necessary to experience. Especially right now in these unsettling times.
My experience as a woman in the outdoors has notably influenced my writing and the types of shows I’m interested in telling as a television writer and creator. But it’s also given me the ability to let go of any idea I have in my head of what my career should like. It’s given me the ability to slooooowwww down. Also, that just might be Rona.
Biggest advice to date: Highly advise major breakups – HIGHLY ADVISE IT. They’re great for the whole “phoenix rising” thing to jumpstart a thriving career, especially for us women.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
The hardest thing about being a writer of any kind are the sacrifices you will inevitably realize you have to make to accomplish your dreams. No writer is immune to this, whether they live impoverished lives or choose the pen over quality time with friends and family. Writers must choose the red pill or the blue pill: life with “9-5’s”, dinners at 6 with the family OR a world of unknowns and adventure often had in solitary. Unfortunately, I’ve always been a “red pill” kinda gal. For the last two years, I’ve focused my attention on the outdoors. I’ve gone on solo trips, I’ve hiked up mountains that have peaked at 12,000 ft above sea level, I’ve taken a wilderness course to really solidify my skills outdoors. This new passion has naturally put me in a different bracket than most women. I mean, you’re not seeing many women of color out in nature. And honestly I’m cool with that because I’ve never liked following the crowd or doing the societal “womanly” thing that’s asked of women every day. The hashtag #blackhikersweek enabled Black people to see more Black people out on the trails while connecting us to each other. Yet, it’s still a small pool of Black women adventuring outdoors. The only Black woman that’s really making waves in the outdoor industry in a commercially successful way is Rue Mapp, founder of Outdoor Afro. A nonprofit that supports and creates outdoor experiences for the Black community. I aim to be more like her but in my own lane.
My journey is not for the faint of heart, but it’s worth it. It will always be worth it because, honestly, who wants to live a predictable life? My best friend texted me yesterday, “God laughs when you make plans.” And I like that a lot, it’s spot on more than ever today. Right now I’m focused on the continuation of developing the Basic Instincts universe with my partner and our team at Merman Productions in the capacity that we can amidst a pandemic. This series was created from our very personal need to help women, women who need a little light, but like in a fun new way… it ties everything I love into one powerful show. I’m also super stoked about coming on board as a contributing writer at Field Mag, an online outdoors magazine that focuses on great design and the great outdoors. If you haven’t already, check it out immediately. Graham Hiemstra is doing major things with this publication, and it’s on the road to undeniably becoming the most dynamic outdoor magazine out there.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
OH! I LOVE THIS QUESTION! First off, we’re getting the hell out of this freaking city! Not because I don’t love LA; Los Angeles is my BOO. It’s my favorite place on earth, but we’re in quarantine. All I want to do is drive to the mountains at least three times a day. My best friend, Jenny, lives in St. Louis; the climate and topography are drastically different from those of sunny California. I’ll need to give us a three-day itinerary because HOURS. Day one, we’re waking up at like 6:00 am, okay, I’m waking up at 6:00 am to pack the car. We’re stopping to get the best coffee in the city at Bourgeois Pig in Franklin Village. Their lattes are super creamy and super dreamy. My favorite area of California to adventure in is Sequoia National Park. We’re definitely camping. We’re definitely building a fire. And you best your ass, I will be doing all of the work for the both of us. She’s a Taurus; think, “hygge.” We’re taking the Timber Gap/Sawtooth Trailhead up to Crystal Lake because you’re able to build a fire at 9,500 feet above sea level in the National Forest. I want her to experience a California night sky, full of stars, lakeside. Day two, we’re headed back to breezy LA. I’ll be taking her to Bestia for the best bowl of pasta she’ll get in Los Angele– at me, bro.
We’ll share a bottle of wine at our favorite place, Chateau Marmont (yes, it’s everything you want it to be and more). Chateau Marmont is expensive, but it represents everything I love about this city and the industry. It stays true to old Hollywood and doesn’t hold pretension within its walls. The last time we were there Gerard Butler eye fucked the shit out of Jenny, so she’s due for another magical moment with him. My wallet can only handle Chateau for an hour thirty, so we’ll pop over to a funky little place called El Condor. El Condor’s margarita’s slaps! And I love Sunset Junction on a breezy LA night. I’m an eastside girl all day, every day.
There are great places like The Friend Bar, where the bartender’s wardrobes remind you of 1930s sailors while hip-hop beats play almost religiously. The juxtaposition is real and alive. I also love Edendale and Tenants of the Trees (the only semi-club on the eastside where you can find every race, creed, sexual orientation under one roof wearing large brimmed hats). However, the Tenants of the Trees crowd has gotten WAY younger over the years, or I’m getting older. I’m not sure. Day three… day three is PACKED. We’re doing food, we’re doing drink, we’re doing coffee (LOTS of coffee), we’re doing art, and we’re doing a possible beach day… NO.. we’re definitely doing a beach day. We’re going to one of my favorite beaches in Los Angeles County; Zuma Beach. Zuma Beach is located in Malibu, and it reminds me of a beach my mom and I would go to when we were stationed in Hawaii. Everything is just quieter on Zuma Beach.
Then we’re headed to Downtown LA. We’ll be eating at Orochon Ramen, in my opinion, their bowls are most reminiscent of those I ate as a girl in Japan. We’ll then head over to Hauser & Wirth, one of the most influential galleries in Los Angeles besides Underground Museum and Hammer Museum. That evening, we’ll see an improv show at UCB (Franklin NOT Sunset, because OG’s are always the best). And to end the night, we’ll stop at Taco Delta located on Sunset near Sunset Junction to get one of the best shrimp burritos you’ll have in your life and then The Roof Top at The Standard, because she’s what you call “high maintenance,” to drink cocktails and enjoy the cityscape. Also, Taco Delta closes at like 8 pm but I had to throw a shout out their way.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My mother has always been incredibly supportive; however, this year, she’s taken it to the nth degree and has stepped up as a grandmother in ways I had not thought possible. My daughter is continuously growing and changing into the young woman with a remarkable amount of patience and empathy. It is not easy having parents who are artists. She blows me away with her maturity and makes it easy for me not to feel as guilty as I probably should. My best friends are incomparable. Especially this past year. They’ve never once judged me on my “road less traveled” journey. It’s easy to go on social media and post a smiling picture, but when you’re going through the shit behind closed doors, and you have friends telling you that they are proud of you amongst all the heavy stuff you’re going through, it helps more than you know. My writer’s group – My two best friends in Los Angeles, and I started a writers group about a year ago. I encourage every writer, entrepreneur, what-ever-you-do, to have a writers group. We inspire each other to keep going and never to give up. We’ve individually accomplished a lot of our goals within a short amount of time because of having each other’s backs. My exes – You know who you are. Your post-breakup behaviors have been my liquid courage to jump off the deep end and make my wildest dreams come true. Kazeem Famuide (@kazeem) once said on Twitter, “I truly believe no level of greatness is achieved without extreme pettiness.” The great outdoors – No amount of words will never do justice as to what you’ve done for me. We should all thank the National Parks Service (NPS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for spending endless hours keeping our National Parks and public lands safe and healthy from corporations.
Other: For more information about Basic Instincts podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/basic-instincts/id1493357802 https://www.instagram.com/basic_instincts_audio_series/?hl=en
Photographer: Latoya Katherine Shaw Instagram: @lovechild.la Email: firstname.lastname@example.org