We had the good fortune of connecting with Hannah Brown and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Hannah, what’s the most important lesson your business/career has taught you?
The most important lesson my career has taught me thus far is what it really means to “network”. That word used to give me anxiety and chest tightness every time I heard it. I think so many of us are incorrectly taught that networking means reaching out to someone completely randomly, kissing their ass in a cringeworthy way, and hoping they’ll give you some sort of opportunity. When I thought that’s what it meant to network, I was both bad at it and completely terrified to put myself out there. Throughout the years as I’ve built my brand and worked on my acting career, I’ve realized that real networking, and (in my opinion) good networking has everything to do with making a human connection first and a business connection second. I think it means leading with your authentic self and not putting any pressure on the result of the interaction. I’ve tried to remove the word networking from my vocabulary entirely because even saying it makes me feel like a slimy used car salesman– big Harry Wormwood aka Danny Devito in Matilda vibes. Now, I think of it as simply meeting someone or saying hi, the way I would with any new person I meet, which takes a lot of the pressure off and allows me to really be myself. I find real things outside of acting-related topics to talk about too, including but not limited to my love for Bravo. There are so many things to talk about that are a potential source of connection and show my personality in a way more organic way than listing off my credits. If we hit it off, great! If not, there are lots of other people out there to potentially work with. As long as you’re being kind and authentic, no bridges will be burned, and there are always new connections to make!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am an actor and a podcast host with a pop culture obsession! What excites me the most about the entertainment industry is the constant opportunity to collaborate. I come from a theatre background where collaboration is the basis of everything, and there’s truly nothing I love more than nerding out over acting or pop culture with people who are as excited about those things as I am. It’s been really amazing to see many of my professional relationships evolve into friendships. The road to where I am professionally today was a LONG and complicated one to say the least. I graduated from Illinois State University in 2013, where I then went on to become an acting apprentice at Actors Theatre of Louisville. About three months into the nine-month program, I found out my mom was ill, and I went home to spend time with her and help out during her treatments. I didn’t end up going back to the program, but I did end up becoming a casting intern at Paskal Rudnicke Casting in Chicago, which allowed me to learn about acting and auditioning from an entirely new perspective. From there, I got cast in the revival of Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding as Tina Vitale, which was a dream come true. I got to channel Fran Drescher and all my favorite Real Housewives in a cupcake of a wedding dress every night, and it was a total blast. After my mom passed in 2016, I honestly lost direction. I got really enveloped in trying to distract myself from grieving, so my career took a backseat for a while. During that formative but extremely tough time, I started my pop culture podcast “Not Aspirational with Hannah Brown” (formerly known as “Brown-Eyed Jewnicorn”). I honestly don’t know if I’d do that again, because I’m a lot more private now than I was then. At that time I recklessly put it all out there in a way I definitely wouldn’t now, but looking back I’m both totally proud and fully cringing. My podcast started as an idea that was executed in a really manic way when I was at my lowest and evolved into a path to so many amazing opportunities. I moved to LA in May 0f 2018 with the intention of pursuing acting and podcasting here in LA, and after a few years of pretty major hustling, I’m finally starting to see momentum and really feel like I have a place here. It certainly wasn’t easy or linear, but amongst all the missteps and bumps in the road, I did a LOT of necessary growing as a person and as an artist. I’m much more humble now than I was when I first got out of college, and both my self-care and my work ethic are things I’ve honed in on and am very proud of. I also learned how to pick myself up when I’m at my worst, take responsibility for myself, and not be afraid to put myself in the way of opportunities. It’s a constant growth process, and while I’m currently giving acting a bit more of my attention, I think it’s so important to follow any impulse you have to try something new creatively. I love hosting and acting in different ways, and I’m constantly so grateful I took the time to explore both. If you go with what lights you up creatively, you can never go wrong!
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 my GOSS! I love this question! Admittedly, my idea of a trip is focused solely on eating, drinking, and shopping, but I’m gonna try to get creative here… Okay, I would definitely take them to Beachwood Cafe during the day. It’s my favorite place to take friends for a bite and a chat. I spent many days there writing or daydreaming while I found my footing here in LA, so it holds such a special place in my heart. Not to mention everyone who works there is fantastic and seeing them makes my day! I also love Figaro Bistrot for happy hour. It feels so authentically Parisian, and the wine selection is amazing. For dinner I love Messhall (can you tell I used to live in Los Feliz?). It’s the most delicious upscale comfort food, incredible artisanal cocktails, and the most stunning selection of oysters ever. It’s an elevated experience with a cozy, laid-back feel, amazing service, and zero pretentiousness, which is one hundred percent my vibe. I also have to recommend Pace in Laurel Canyon for dinner. It is the dreamiest, tucked away Italian spot and truly makes you feel like you’re in another world with its dim lighting and homey aesthetic. I always fall in love with LA all over again whenever I drive through the canyon, and I think for someone who’s never been here it’s pretty magical. As far as activities go, I think googling thrift stores and finding some sustainable treasures is one of my favorite things to do wherever I travel. I’m a huge fan of Out of The Closet! Or any of the local flea markets! I’m currently trying to find a new pool to frequent this summer because The Standard Hollywood closed (*weeps dramatically*). I’m not a beach person so I won’t be recommending driving to the Westside. As far as pools go, I’ll have to report back! If you want to go for a hike, I always recommend Griffith Park. For the “more athletic” people (lol) I recommend mini-golfing at Castle Park in Sherman Oaks! I love a warm night out mini-golfing, each hole is so unique, and you can pretend you’re Natalie Portman in “No Strings Attached” (that’s where they shot the mini-golf scene!), which is a win for me. Finally, you can’t go wrong with karaoke, and Pharoah Karaoke Lounge in Koreatown is fantastic! It has great ambiance, service, and boasts a wonderful selection of songs to show off your singing chops with! Not to brag, but I nailed Lovefool the last time I was there.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are SO many amazing people who I love both as content creators and as humans, so this is thrilling and honestly could be an endless list. First, I have to shoutout my friend Taria Faison. She hosts an awesome podcast called “What Else Is Going On?” (aka “WEIGO”) where she discusses Bravo, interviews various guests, has meaningful conversations, and informs on important current events. I love any podcast that both educates and entertains me at the same time, and Taria’s podcast is absolutely one of those! She’s a fantastic host with an infectious laugh and energy, and listening to her podcast makes you feel like you’re at lunch with one of your besties. I also have to shoutout my friend Maggie Winters (@SaggieSplinters) who makes some of the most hilarious original content I’ve legit ever seen on the internet. Her perspective is so specific, she’s a killer writer and performer, and her posts make my day. Her “Girl Boss” video will change your life. My friend Troy McEady hosts one of my all-time fave podcasts called “Dunzo!”, where he deep dives into every pop culture topic you could ever imagine. Whether he’s sharing his love for Britney Jean Spears or explaining the origin of The Pussycat Dolls, his research is unparalleled, and his passion for pop culture shines so brightly. It’s such a blast to listen to. Finally, I have to shoutout my friend Danny Pellegrino for being an incredible friend and mentor as I’ve navigated pursuing a career in Los Angeles. He’s such a wildly talented writer and host (his podcast “Everything Iconic” sparks ALL the joy!), and he believed in me and gave me a chance early on out of the kindness of his heart. I’m so glad our love for Practical Magic could evolve into such a meaningful friendship!
Other: Although my podcast “Not Aspirational with Hannah Brown” is currently on hiatus, check out my Gossip Girl recap podcast “You Know You Love Us”, hosted by both myself and my friend Tyler Meredith! We are having a blast recapping season 2 and are MAJORLY looking forward to diving into recapping the HBO Max reboot in July!
Photo Credit: Ian McLaren, Stephanie Nelson, Kelly Jean