It says a lot about Yvette Nicole Brown that, when asked for the contact details for her reps, she instead scribbled down her own number.
It's that down-to-earth and approachable demeanor that her fans and followers find so relatable, first on the cult hit “Community” and now on “The Odd Couple,” where she stars alongside Matthew Perry and Thomas Lennon.
With her newly launched website, Brown, 45, seeks to be a “champion of kindness”: She is an outspoken proponent of volunteerism and encourages others in the entertainment industry to get involved in causes that benefit humanity at large.
Why is volunteerism so important to you?
A lot of people have been extraordinarily blessed. But it’s not enough to amass wealth for yourself. Life is about giving back, about lending a hand and helping people who need assistance. I can’t imagine a life where you don’t find a way to use what you have to help others.
Do you think that there should be more of that attitude in Hollywood?
For me, it’s the biggest gift of being in this industry. I’ve always felt that if a spotlight is shining on you, it’s your goal to shine it back on something else. It’s not enough to wear a pretty dress on a red carpet or have your face made up. The question is, “What are you doing to help others? How are you using the recognition you have to serve people?” Otherwise it’s all a waste of time.
What are some of your favorite causes?
I love DonorsChoose.org. Teachers from all over the country present what they need for their students — a reading nook, or maybe winter coats for some of the kids. They put the request up and anyone in America can go on and give $5 or $20 or buy all the winter coats this year. The best thing about it is when you help fund a project, the kids write little thank-you notes, these babies writing, “Thank you for the crayons.” I mean, come on! It’s the best feeling in the world.
You’re also very involved with the Motion Picture & Television Fund, which helps those in the industry who are struggling financially.
The fact that there is this help for anyone who has ever worked in the industry blew my mind. Whenever there is a space of need, they fill it — child care, elder care, food delivery, making the home safe. Whatever I can do to help them, I’m on board.
How do you rally others to follow your example?
I do my best. It’s a personal choice. I’m not married and I don’t have kids so maybe this is my legacy. Everyone has to find that thing for themselves. There are a thousand ways to take part, a place for everyone to fit in. I like to say to people, “I know life is beautiful, you are beautiful, you have money — but what are you doing? Who do you help?” Wouldn’t it be great if, on the red carpet, instead of being asked “What are you wearing?” we are asked “How do you give back?” It might make people think, “Oh my God, I’m not doing anything.” That should become the conversation. I defy anyone to give back and not feel better about it afterward.