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Golden stars as "Maya Wilkes" on UPN's comedy series "Girlfriends." Born in San Francisco, Golden Brooks was raised both there and in Los Angeles. She earned a bachelor's degree in sociology with an emphasis on media representation of minorities from the University of California-Berkeley, as well as a master's degree from Sarah Lawrence College. Brooks has used her extensive training from Berkeley, where she also minored in theater, to win roles in numerous feature films, including "Time Code," directed by Mike Figgis, "Hell's Kitchen," and "The Imposter." She will be seen next as an outspoken stylist in the feature "Beauty Shop," starring Queen Latifah. Brooks' television credits include a role in the series "Linc's," and guest starring roles in UPN's "The Parkers" and "Haunted," as well as "The Jamie Foxx Show," "Adventures of Pete and Pete" and "Promised Land." Brooks is also active onstage alongside Danny Glover with the Robey Theater Company, a nonprofit company dedicated to developing plays about the black experience as well as interpreting established works. Her other theater credits include University of California-Berkeley productions of Ntozake Shange's "For Colored Girls," Chekhov's "The Brute," as well as Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," among others. In 2003, Brooks received the Multi-Cultural Prism Award for Best Actress in a Comedy and was nominated in 2002 for a NAACP Award for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series. This year, she made history with her cast mates when they co-hosted the "2004 NAACP Image Awards," which marked the first year any woman has hosted the program.
A dedicated volunteer, Brooks has worked with inner city youths to help improve their performances in school through English, poetry and empowerment training, as well as dedicating her time to the Pediatric AIDS Foundation and AIDS Project Los Angeles. Brooks is also a classically trained dancer, both studying and teaching ballet, jazz and modern dance. She lives in Los Angeles with her cat, Saeku.
Golden Brooks: The Basics
Who Is She?:
This actress' name, like her future, is Golden. Having studied at the University of California-Berkeley and Sarah Lawrence, the brainy Brooks easily tosses off references to smart people whose names are hard to spell, like Nietzsche. So how did someone this smart also get a great sense of humor, free-spirited attitude and unapologetic sexiness? Who cares? This curvaceous cutie -- whose grandmother was also named Golden -- is money.
What Has She Done?:
Brooks plays streetwise but straight-laced Maya alongside Diana Ross' daughter Tracee Ellis Ross on the hit UPN comedy Girlfriends (Mondays, 9:30 ET), in which four twentysomething African American women talk careers, politics, family, friendship and...there's something else. Oh yeah, lots of sex. She also starred as the sexually brazen bartender on TV's Linc's and as the sexy, no-nonsense movie exec in the digital film Timecode. She soon will be seen as a plague victim in the upcoming big-screen sci-fi film Impostor.
Why Do We Care?:
She's got beauty, brains and talent, and she's not afraid to take on Spike Lee. For her youthful penchant for running naked on the beach, Brooks wins our Oscar for sexiest newcomer.
Golden Brooks: Girlfriends
"I'm not a private person when it comes to discussing sexuality with my friends. We're all very open and expressive when talking about what is going on in our sex lives. I think that's real! That forum let's you know that you have allies out there that are going through the same things as you,” says Golden Brooks.
Brooks, the sexy sharp-tongued legal assistant on the UPN hit series Girlfriends, has been hailed by Time Magazine as "one of the most watchable women in the world."
"I don't consider myself this bombshell, I come from the world of academia; my father is a college professor, so I've always been focused on what is inside. Believe it or not, I still see this little girl when I look in the mirror. I guess I'm pretty happy with what's looking back at me most days,” she laughs.
Brooks spent her childhood in Daly City just minutes from San Francisco and spent her high school years in Los Angeles when her parents divorced and her mother, who worked for the I.R.S., remarried and moved to L.A. As a child, Brooks dreamed of being in front of the cameras, but was unsure of which direction she wanted to take.
"I wanted to be a newscaster, like Barbara Walters, because I loved the way she could get to the core of who people are. I never thought of becoming an actress, it just sort of snuck-up on me.”
Appearing in front of an audience came naturally for the young actor whose diverse extra-curricular activities included athletics as well as the performing arts.
“As a kid, I was into athletics, running track, gymnastics, and competitive figure skating,” Brooks notes. “I love to dance and there were always lots of dance classes. I finally got into community theatre through my church and then in high school.”
Brooks continued to explore theatre at U.C. Berkeley and then moved to New York, where she did off-off-Broadway and attended graduate school at Sarah Lawrence. Brooks got her first break in Spike Lee's Girl 6 while at Sarah Lawrence.
"An actor friend of Spike Lee told him about me. He gave me an audition and offered me a role. It ended up getting cut from the film, because he changed the ending, and I thought my career was over. I didn't know what it meant to be cut from a film, but that really was my big break and from there, I ended up getting a manager and started auditioning."
Since her endeavors with Lee, Brooks has acted in movies such as Time Code 2000, Hell's Kitchen, and the recently released The Imposter, which starred Gary Sinise and Vincent D'Onofrio.
Besides the big screen, Brooks has accumulated an impressive list of television credits which includes her regular role on Showtime's critically acclaimed Linc's, and guest spots on The Jamie Foxx Show, The Parkers, The Adventures of Pete and Pete, and Promised Land.
Acting is not Brooks’ only creative outlet, when she is feeling down she puts pen to paper.
“I write poetry,” Brooks explains. “As weird and inaccessible as that may be to some people, it really works. A poem doesn't have to be this major Walt Whitman, iambic pentameter, award-winning work. It's just a matter of writing things down and dissolving that mental blockage. I think it's a healthy way with dealing with issues.”
Brooks’ slender and sexy physique has made her one of TV’s most beautiful women, and she takes staying fit seriously.
"I have a fitness trainer and I go to the gym twice a week. It's not something that I have to do, but I was an athlete growing up, always running track, and doing lots of dance, so I'm used to my body being a certain way. I expect to be toned, so if I'm less than that, it is just not acceptable."
While Girlfriends discusses the characters’ steamy love life, Brooks says that there is more to the show than just locker room gossip.
"It's a very racy, edgy, sexy, funny show. We deal with sex, but we also deal with a lot of class issues, race issues, and social issues that are going on around us. We've been called this little sleeper hit and it's because we are intellectual, sassy, seductive-all the things that make a cool show."
The show’s audience includes a variety of people, and Brooks notes that men could benefit from watching it too. ”It's not just for women of color. A lot of men are responding to the show and learning a lot about women from it. When you watch it, we really break it down to the core of what women want and expect."
In its second season, Girlfriends has developed from a straight-shooting comedy to a show that explores a range of other emotions as well.
"When we first started it was more about pushing the joke, because at the end of the day we are out to make people laugh,” Brooks notes. “In our second season, the jokes have minimized a bit and we are able to stay more in the "real," without having to always end it with a punch line. It's allowed us to be a little looser with the story and the rhythm, because we are not so dependent on a joke to make it all work. If my character is crying at the end of a scene, that's okay. Now we’re more the show that will make you, laugh, cry, get angry, and feel the full range of emotions."
Brooks’ on screen persona, Maya, is following the same trend as the show and is developing into a profound character.
“My character is more multi-layered this season. Maya is having this really emotional affair and it's getting really close to my husband finding out. It gives her a storyline with a lot of risk. It's getting pretty close to the edge!”
Beautiful, sexy, intelligent, and single, Brooks has a world of men after her. When asked about her own love life she reflects on the on again, off again nature of relationships. Then she looks up with those radiant brown eyes and sighs, “Yes, there is someone who is still in my heart.”
Golden Brooks: One on One
Playboy.com: Linc's was sometimes called "the black Cheers," and now many reviewers refer to Girlfriends as the black Sex and the City. What do you think of that comparison?
Golden Brooks: It bothers me. It shows you that African Americans have a long way to go in terms of showing who they are without their color in America. It's almost like we're playing catch-up to white people. It's so sad that it's so segregated that a black show has to play second fiddle to quote-unquote a white show or be compared to a white show in order to get some public recognition.
PB: How is it different from Sex and the City?
GB: I don't think the show's anything like Sex and the City, other than that it's about four women and we deal with issues that involve sex. But we also deal with racial issues, and class issues, and health issues. My character wants to get pregnant, and can't, because she has this fibroid, this little tumor that a lot of African American women get on their uterus. It's just a publicity gimmick to compare it to Sex and the City.
PB: Do you and your girlfriends in real life talk about sex like the women on the show?
GB: We do. It's funny, because Spike Lee was quoted saying the show was unrealistic and black women in reality don't sit around talking about sex. I wish I knew when Spike Lee was a black woman. He doesn't know. Of course, all women sit around with their girlfriends and talk about sex. We talk about sex, hair, bunions...menstrual cramps. Everything from A to Z.
PB: You had one show about a toe-sucking fetish. Did that come from your real-life experiences?
GB: No, unfortunately not. [Laughs] Although I love toe-sucking men. That wasn't my brilliant idea.
PB: Is that the weirdest sex fetish you've heard of?
GB: I've heard of stranger sex fetishes....
PB: Such as....
GB: [Laughs] Like, this'll be the first sentence of the story. "Golden Brooks loves men who...." This is kind of boring, but I'll say it anyway. My old boyfriend...this wasn't really him having a fetish in terms of my body...but my old boyfriend used to love for me to be in bobby socks. Little white bobby socks. I don't know what that was, maybe a schoolgirl fantasy or something.
PB: So any personal fetish you have?
GB: Not really.
PB: Send you some bobby socks?
GB: Yeah, send me some bobby socks. Some really warm, fuzzy bobby socks.
PB: Your character on Girlfriends is the moral, married one who tries to keep her single friends from doing stupid or slutty things. What character on the show is most like you?
GB: I think I'm more like Lynn, the student one. The natural, idealistic one. I think I'm a cross between my character, Maya, and Lynn.
PB: Now, Lynn's the one who's into group sex?
GB: Group sex, but really free, always about the cause.... Free love, very political, and a little bit of a contradiction in ways. And I'm always doing something kind of "off." Because I can preach that black women need to present ourselves in a dignified light, because we've been represented as slutty or promiscuous. But yeah, I'll pose in a really short miniskirt, and maybe show cleavage. I love feeling sexy, and being sexy, and looking sexy. And I don't think that doing that means that I'm giving up what I believe in in terms of how I want to be perceived.
PB: Hey, no argument here. And back to the free-loving, group sex thing...just so there's no misunderstanding with our readers.
GB: Well, I'm not into group sex, no, I'm not into group sex. Lynn is a little bit of a tease. Have you ever seen her with a man? No. It's just always talk. I mean, I love black men, white men, Asian men...it doesn't matter.
PB: Just one at a time, right?
GB: Just one at a time. Exactly.
PB: On one show, you all came up with a dream partner. Who's your dream guy?
GB: I love musicians. My dream guy would be either a musician or a poet who's independently wealthy.
PB: Well, there's a lot of poets like that. You sell one sonnet, and you're set for life....
GB: Oh, yeah. Omigosh, you should move to the Hills. It's a very lucrative business.
PB: Anyway, back to the dream guy....
GB: Really, my dream person is someone with passion, who really believes in something, who has no inhibitions. I can't stand someone who's so aware of everything he does. Someone who isn't afraid to look goofy. I'm not afraid to do something like that. As an actor, I don't think you should be. I'm a free spirit, and I need a man in my life who's like that. I don't want just a loose cannon, I do want someone who has some stability. Just someone who is open and has as much energy as I do.
PB: What was the silliest moment you've ever had?
GB: This was long ago, I lived in Berkeley and I was young and free. My boyfriend and I ran across the beach completely naked. Everyone was staring at us.
PB: During the day?
GB: Yeah. He dared me, and of course I had to prove how brave I was. He had to do it with me. He was like that, he would do anything.
PB: What the most outrageous thing you've done to get a guy, besides the beach stunt?
GB: Well, I already had the guy then....
PB: Well, you probably had a few more guys on the beach interested in you after that.
GB: Oh yeah, oh, definitely. [Laughs] It's not very often that you see a chocolate woman running across the beach stark nude.
PB: Is that the proper word now?
GB: Oh, chocolate? I could say it, but I don't think you could say it. [Laughs]
PB: I'll keep it out of the headline.
GB: That's right, honey. You don't want the NAACP coming after you.
PB: Are you always dating someone?
GB: That's me. I'm that girl. I left Berkeley and had a committed boyfriend. I moved to New York and met someone the second month. I'm always the girl with a boyfriend, but yet I'm always breaking up with him and getting back with him and breaking up with him. I don't know if that'll ever change.
PB: Your current boyfriend must hope that it will, if you have a boyfriend.
GB: I'm kinda seeing someone. I'm really into spending a lot of time with someone. I don't want a man living with me yet, but the guy I'm seeing spends a lot of time at my place. Almost marriage, but not really. I don't like him to spend the night either. I like him to stay here, and we watch TV, we watch movies, dance around, eat Indian food. But when I get really sleepy, I want him to go.
PB: Any insane pickup lines you've gotten?
GB: Yeah, on my birthday. I was running late to meet my friend at a restaurant. This tall, lanky, dreaded black guy -- real cute -- says, "You'd look really, really, really good in my clothes." I'm like, "Uuuh, OK." He said, "I'm a designer. You should let me design something for you. We can do the whole fitting, the whole nine. You can come to my loft downtown." I thought it was kind of interesting.
PB: So, did it work?
GB: No no no no nuh no. Cuz I was seeing this guy, you know.
PB: Otherwise, you might have?
GB: I may have. It could have worked. It could have happened. He seemed really smart. Can't stand a dumb guy.
PB: Do you think most actors are dumb?
GB: No, but I do think sometimes people feel you don't have to be knowledgeable on different subjects other than acting if you're really good-looking and you're coming here to do one thing. That you don't have to know about Nietzsche or James Joyce or whomever. But I think it behooves you to know those things. No one wants to work with a dumb actor.
PB: What sex plot on Girlfriends was the most fun to do?
GB: The Joan character was dating a sex addict, and it was horrible. She said he had no rhythm. And all the girls were talking about what we liked in bed, our fetishes. My character said she enjoyed her husband whispering her name in her ear and keeping her socks on when they had sex.
PB: The bobby socks....
GB: Honey, it came back. Cyclical!
PB: What were the other women's fetishes?
GB: Toni, the sort of promiscuous one, talked about how she wanted a man to ride her top to bottom.
PB: I don't even know what that means.
GB: I don't get that either. I don't really get it. [Laughs] You know, look. I don't really remember. But Joan was complaining that this sex addict wasn't good in bed, and how was that possible, because he was supposed to be a sex addict. But he was abstaining from sex for a long time. So my character says, "Maybe he was just rusty." And they're like, "There's just some things that shouldn't be referred to as rusty."