"I don't know if I'm as green as I should be. I love nature — I'm always out in nature and playing tennis and all that. I do recycle. But I don't drive a Prius yet," says Brandy, who'll be reprising her role as Elisa Shayne on Lifetime's "Drop Dead Diva" this week (July 8) in a child custody storyline. Having appeared last season in a plot that revealed her affair with Jay Parker (Josh Stamberg) and the son it produced, she returned to the show two weeks ago announcing her intention to leave town, a plan that faces opposition from Parker in court (Serena Williams plays her lawyer).
"I love that she's a family girl. She loves her son, and as a nurse her foundation is taking care of people. I can relate to her heartbreak with Jay and the fact that she loves her son like I love my daughter," says the mother of ten year-old Sy'rai. "I felt like I could completely bring this character to life because in so many ways it's my life."
Brandy plays an entirely different character in a recurring role on BET's "The Game," the "ghetto-fabulous and free" Chardonnay. "She's loud. She says what she wants. She's completely different from who I am in my life. I have so much fun playing her."
On the big screen, Brandy recently completed a role in Tyler Perry's "The Marriage Counselor," due out next March, in which she plays a woman "running from this terrible past. She's dealt with some domestic violence and she's running from it, she's very afraid. It's amazing to see the changes she goes through. She's strong but weak at the same time." The cast includes Vanessa Williams, Lance Gross, Kim Kardashian and Jurnee Smollett in the title role. "I had one scene with Jurnee and the rest with Lance. I wish I could have worked with everyone," says Brandy, calling the shoot "an incredible experience and a great opportunity."
Next month marks her return to the musical spotlight, with a new album "Two Eleven," hitting shelves August 28. The title has a dual meaning: February 11 is her birthday and the day Whitney Houston, a major influence for her, passed away. "I dedicated this album and this musical journey to her. I just want to honor her in everything that I do," says Brandy, who describes the R&B album's theme as "about love, being in a great relationship and being in a not-so-great relationship." The first single, "Put it Down," features guest vocals by Chris Brown, who'd co-written another track and happened to hear the song while in the studio on a day Brandy was absent and unbeknownst to her, sang and rapped on it.
Although she'd be flattered if "Dancing With the Stars" asked her to participate in the all stars edition this fall, she doesn't know if she'd want to put herself through that again "because of the amount of fear that I had. It's the hardest thing I've ever done." Besides, she's got plenty to keep her busy. "I'm doing so much right now and I have so many responsibilities, watching my daughter grow, being a good friend, a good daughter, a good girlfriend and all these things but it's great to have a personal life and have a business life that you're also proud of. When I didn't have a lot going on I felt unfulfilled, even though I felt fulfilled in my personal life," Brandy confides. "I needed that other side too, to be creative. So the balance worked itself out. I'm in a great place, I really am."