If history has taught us anything, it's that important people need only be known by their first names. For many families (and especially black families), Brandy Norwood was a household name during the '90s. As a child, I did not realize the magnitude of the impact that Brandy made when she graced the screen as the first black princess when she played Cinderella in 1997, across from her idol Whitney Houston. Obviously, it mattered in my own little world, but what Brandy accomplished was more monumental than that. Brandy wasn't the exception—she was the example for girls who looked like me. She demonstrated what we could achieve if we believed in ourselves. With her in the spotlight, we shined too.
Throughout her career, Brandy has accomplished countless commercial successes—she starred in television shows like Moesha, The Game, and Dancing with the Stars, became the face of mainstream brands like CoverGirl, DKNY, and Candie’s, and even had her own Barbie doll. (I cannot remember exactly how old I was when I was given this doll, but I still have it sitting on the dresser in the bedroom of my childhood home.) Brandy's music has earned her a Grammy Award, three American Music Awards, and seven Billboard Music Awards. ("The Boy Is Mine" is a forever favorite.) As far as philanthropic endeavors are concerned, Brandy created the Norwood Kids Foundation with her brother Ray J in 1996, became the first international spokesperson for youth for UNICEF in 1999, and was named honorary co-chairman of the Unstoppable Foundation in 2014. Brandy managed to do it all, and she did so, while wearing her signature hairstyle: box braids.
"At the end of the day, I’m proud to be black, I’m proud to be a woman, I’m proud to have access to the magic that is God," says Brandy. "It’s bigger than that, though. It’s about expression, it’s about beliefs, it’s about faith, it’s about work ethic, and it’s about seeing yourself where you want to be and realizing that where you want to be is really where you really are. It’s having the faith to be patient with the process. We all have access to that. It’s that faith that can take us anywhere that we need to go or where we want to go."
In 2015, Brandy made her Broadway debut as Roxie Hart in "Chicago." Last month, she broke her silence by announcing her return to music with the release of "Beggin & Pleadin." Naturally, more music is on the way to follow up the single, but that's not all! Brandy recently wrapped up production for the first season of her new sitcom Zoe Ever After on BET. All of this at age 37, while raising her teenage daughter, Sy'rai, who she absolutely adores.
Read more about the legacy that Brandy continues to build and observe how her perspective has changed through the years in the interview, below. We couldn't think of a more magical way to close the Black Girl Power... The Future Is Bright series.