Actress Golden Brooks Talks New Movie ‘The Inheritance,’ Life After ‘Girlfriends’

Most people know Golden Brooks as the feisty Maya Wilkes from Girlfriends, which had an eight-year run on UPN. However, shortly after the popular show ended, Brooks discovered she was pregnant and decided to take a break from the acting world. Now learning how to balance motherhood with her career, Brooks is back at it. Her latest film, The Inheritance, is out on DVD but she’s also reading scripts and even wrote one of her own. VIBE Vixen caught up with the busy mom to chat about what life is like these days. ⎯Starrene Rhett

The Inheritance got a lot of critical acclaim at various film festivals but it’s still obscure to a lot of people. What’s it about?

It’s about five friends, play cousins, if you will, that actually go back to their home in Minnesota for a family reunion, and actually, they are going back to get this inheritance that one of the elders had left but in the interim they go back to learn. Their big uncle, which is played by Keith David is there to hold a ritual with all the elders who are much older and they’re there to teach us about our past lineage, about our African lineage and to learn something. It’s not to just go back there to get this inheritance, it’s about learning about our past and our roots and they have this whole ritual kind of performance that they’re putting on⎯a whole weekend of this to sort of educate us and of course all the other cousins are like I don’t want to do this, this is crazy, this is ridiculous we just want the money. My character is probably the only one there that really wants to learn something from the elders and learn about our past history and lineage and it kind of turns out to be Rosemary’s baby. My character becomes the host and because she’s the good girl and rigid and the doctor and very a emotional she kind of turns in and pretty much becomes like one of them what happens is this spirit this slave called Chakabazz from the slavery time has come back and haunts this generation and it’s very scary and very spooky but it taps into our African lineage which is what makes the story far more layered than just your typical horror film or thriller film.

Sounds fascinating.

It is it really is. It has a completely different twist and tone than most horror films. When my manager at the time sent me the script she said it’s a horror film and I was like, “Whoa, black folks, I’m thinking we’re gonna die in the first 5 minutes, I’m like “I’m not trying to do that.” [Laughs] But I knew the producer, Effie Brown, who did stranger inside she has such amazing taste. And she did such a great job with this. And when I read it I was really intrigued and impressed.

It also seems like based on your theater background you might be slightly more picky about the roles that you choose. But with that how has it been for you finding work as a black actress in Hollywood, especially post Girlfriends?

It’s not easy. I’m not gonna sit up here and glamorize anything. I am very picky but I’m also like open too. I come from a world of academia. My father was a professor, my uncle was a professor, I was raised in Berkley so I was raised in a very political environment in a world that had to do with education and then I was also thrown into the arts. So, I love the black culture. I loved playing that role of Maya on Girlfriends, because it was so opposite of me and I loved going to work and playing a character that was gonna make people laugh, make people cry, make people think, and I want to continue on with that. There aren’t a lot of roles for African American women. I think things are changing. I think TV is really opening up and broadening the spectrum for the African American actress. I’ve been picky because doing a show like Girlfriends⎯it was on for almost 10 years and I loved it but after it was over I wanted to do something completely different. I wanted to just go into the world of independent film. You don’t do an independent film because you know you’re gonna make a lot of money, you go into it because you know that you’re gonna get your creative palate satisfied and that’s what it is for me. I love the work. I love doing the work, I come from theater, I love the journey of independent films and of playing characters that are flawed and not perfect. It’s challenging finding those kinds of roles and not just reinventing the character that you been playing and sometimes you have to be patient and wait but I think it’s opening up it’s getting better. I’m writing. I have a script that’s making the studio rounds and I think TV is really producing some great stuff for the woman of color and not just African American, but Asian and Indian and Latin too. It’s a road that is long, there’s a lot of work to do but things are getting better.

What’s the script you wrote about?

I wrote it a while ago but now I’m just starting to really get it out there but it’s called Summer’s Moon and it’s about a 13-year-old girl growing up in San Francisco during the 70s and she’s basically trying to catch up to her older self so it kind of plays with time like in the Memento, so she’s basically running to catch her older self. It deals with the Jim Jones situation in the 70s. I had a friend a best friend growing up where she and her mother passed away in that so that’s something that’s really heavy in this film and it’s a coming of age story and it’s a touching story. There’s so many stories that I want to tell, that I feel like need to get out there in regard to the African American woman and our voice and what that means. We’re more than just being funny, we’re more than the sassy girl we’re more than all of that so and in the world of film I just feel like there’s a lot to do.

Speaking of work to do, what else are you working on?

Well, movies right now. I’ve wrote that screenplay that I’m shopping around, I just finished another independent movie called the The Mudman and also one called Polish Bar, which is opening in Berlin and then TV-wise, I did a new show for TV Land called⎯we keep playing with the title but right now it’s called The Exes, and I’m guest starring, recurring on that with Donald Faison from Scrubs. I play a sportscaster and Donald Faison’s on off again girlfriend. I’ve taken a good year and a half off with the baby and now I’m just reading scripts and getting my feet whet again. It’s exciting.