ivynoire: Give us some background history on how you got into acting.
Mo Brown: I have been performing since I was 3 — no lie, I started with the Janet Jackson’s 5…4…3…2…1 Rhythm Nation hand movements! Lol I began acting when my family took me to a Lenscrafters commercial as a little girl. Although I didn’t get the commercial, I knew that’s what I wanted to do when I walked into the studio space. To be able to transform into someone else for a few seconds was fascinating. I also faithfully watched Jim Carey on ‘In Living Color’ and made the decision from there that that’s what I wanted my life to be. So, in junior high school I started putting on plays at the church and performed in plays around NYC until I went to Professional Performing Arts High School to really become a professional. And from there, a day hasn’t gone by that I have not worked on my craft mentally and/or physically.
ivynoire: Tell us about yourself as an actor/producer.
MB: I am an entertainer. I live, love, eat, sleep and breathe this craft so at this point in my life I’m like f*** it… it’s all or nothing. I’ve come too far to turn around. I am a host, voice over recording artist, actress, film director, producer and content creator. In having the opportunities to train with the best, (i.e Melvin Van Peebles, Alvin Ailey, etc.) I have been able to do all and be respected in it. Tears, awards, rehearsals, shows, sleepless nights, being over-looked with networks and all of the no’s, led me to having the courage to just create and produce undeniable content. To be resourceful, keep in contact with the people that I meet and respect structure as a producer and discipline as an actor. I am so grateful that I have supportive friends and family that have held my hand in times where it’s needed most because this industry can rip you to shreds if you don’t have a strong support system behind and beside you rooting for you.
ivynoire: How did Suga Productions come about?
MB: The 2008 recession. Broadway plays were closing down, my musical theater tour ended and it seemed as if films were using the same actors leading us to feel like there was a lack of work for us performers. So, I decided to take my choreographer skills to a new level and really direct a film with 2 friends. We auditioned actors and saw that many actors were looking for work which kept us motivated as we submitted it to a festival and won Best Experimental Short film. From then I knew that I had something special and I needed to continue to create. It was either wait for the industry to “see if they had opportunities for me” or create work for others and myself.
ivynoire: Mo’s Bodega is very intriguing. In your own words, what makes the project new and fresh?
MB: Mo Brown’s Bodega is fun, honest, silly but a sexy show with a message. It’s a walk between commentary and humor from a woman’s perspective.
ivynoire: What challenges did you face when bringing this project to life?
MB: There were many challenges that we had during filming, but of course, we overcame them. Whew! One of them was the bodega that we were shooting in shut down in the middle of the season! Talk about madness. Then an actor ended up having to go to the hospital and couldn’t make the shoot while everyone was on-set ready to go…so we had to call someone from the Bronx to Brooklyn and wait for them to arrive. We also had to shoot a beach scene where I was on my knees in the sand for hours. I had knee bruises for 2 weeks from the sand grains! Youch!
ivynoire: Is Mo’s Bodega based on real experiences in your life?
MB: Yes. In the episodes to come you will see quite a few absurd things but indeed the stories are mostly truth. I have had many jobs while I was working as an actress. I did bag leggos and I did dance as a promotional model for a toilet tissue company. Lol!!! Uggghh.
ivynoire: What do you love about the character Mo?
MB: The character Mo doesn’t put on a facade like people can sometimes do in real life. During the 8 episodes, you see Mo trying to find a way to do what her heart desires. What everyone in the world is trying to do.
ivynoire: What was the biggest challenge about taking on the role as Mo?
MB: Telling truthful stories that have actually happened in my life, but playing a more self-contained character that instead of crying (like I would in real life…lol) she keeps it in and tries to stick out in situations.
ivynoire: What was your favorite part of filming?
MB: Laughing with the team and telling the truth. Being honest without thinking about judgements.
ivynoire: Who were some of the talented people you worked with on this project?
MB: My co-producer of the show is Xavier Francis, with directors of photography Patrice Waite and Jeremy Batchelor. Patrice Waite is also the editor and together we create magic! They have produced for network television and they are great at what they do!
ivynoire: Who are some of your major influences when it comes to acting, producing and directing?
MB: Jim Carey, Mr. Bean Show (actor Rowan Atkinson), Martin Lawrence, Carol Burnett, Lucielle Ball, Dave Chapelle, producer/entertainer Queen Latifah, Will Smith, Viola Davis, Tracee Ellis Ross, Meryl Streep, director Christopher Nolan, and Heath Ledger.
ivynoire: What is your recipe for success?
MB: I don’t really have a recipe, I just do what’s in my heart. If I feel it and get goosebumps and excitement… I do it. I listen to my gut. It tells me things through feelings inside of my body.
ivynoire: What’s next for Mo’s Bodega?
MB: Season 2 of course! There’s sooooooo much that has happened in my everyday life that I can’t waste the shenanigans!
ivynoire: Do you have any new projects coming up you would like to share?
MB: Mo Brown’s Bodega is in full effect.
ivynoire: Anything else you would like to add?
MB: Be patient with yourself. Write down what you want, ask for it and believe that you are heard. Always take action and just start!