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INTERVIEWS

Novi Brown Speaks On Her Advocacy For Natural Hair, Normalizing The Presence Of Black People In Astrology, And More!

By Jade Solomon

Novi Brown is an actor, writer and producer who is using her platform to enact change in all realms of her life – professionally, personally, and beyond! The 35-year-old stars as “Sabrina Hollins” in Tyler Perry’s Sistas, executive produces and hosts her own astrology talk show, “Conversations and Constellations,” and is set to star as the lead actor in three films poised to release this year.

Outside of commanding the spotlight, Brown is a huge advocate for natural hair and delves deeply into the realms and teachings of astrology. Read as she shares why she consistently chooses to embrace her natural hair on the big screen, what initially sparked her love for astrology, the biggest piece of advice that she holds close, and more!

First and foremost, I want to start off by saying congratulations! Tyler Perry’s Sistas is back for its fourth season on BET. What inspired you to pursue a career in the acting world?

So many different things inspired me to pursue acting. The number one thing was basically how black women’s stories are told on a global level – and I just really wanted to be a part of that.

At this point of the show’s success, what does Sistas mean to you? Especially with it also being your first role as a regular on a television series?

Sistas means everything to me. It’s the beginning of my real career – or the beginning of what people see that I’m doing, because I’ve been doing a lot of stuff behind the scenes. But it’s my first big platform.

And it’s to an audience that I’m really grateful to not only be a part of – because I am a Black woman and person of color – but also be introduced to. There’s a lot of different audiences that I could have been introduced to for my first go round, and I feel as if I pulled up to the barbecue, you know what I’m saying? And people love the show – it’s like a ‘What’s up cousin? What’s up sis? Hey auntie! Come join us!’ kind of energy. It’s so communal. And as an artist, growing up, I didn’t realize how amazing it would feel to be a part of a production that has such a large community and is part of an overall group discussion.

And it’s really powerful because the stories are just amazing. Women have said they’ve reconciled relationships with their own mothers because of our show. Some young women have said they’ve learned a lot about what not to do when watching the show – which I think is just as important. And there’s just so many pillars to this – me being a part of this community, being introduced to this community, and feeling like I’m a part of this family. And now as an artist, I feel like I just have to continue doing the hard work, and keep getting invited back to the cookout.

I love that you mentioned the notion of the cookout and BET is a platform that definitely feels like that for us as Black people. But so is Tyler Perry and his work. How does it feel to be a part of that creative umbrella of his?

I’m so grateful. There’s no feeling that could be better. I used to take my mom to his plays when I was in my early twenties at the Beacon Theater in New York City. And I witnessed when he was growing his career. So it’s kind of just kismet.

I also feel like it’s a spiritual thing because I was hired four days beforehand – I was the last person hired to be on this huge show and I had actually auditioned for the role of “Karen.” And I just feel as if it was very much ordained. There’s been moments where Tyler has looked at us and said ‘Take this as far as you can.’ So that’s really what I want to do. It’s not about the recognition. It’s about highlighting the stories that are necessary within our experience, and being a part of that creatively.

You are a huge natural hair enthusiast, beauty guru, and strongly believe that “women with natural hair need to be seen on screen.” Can you tell us more about why this is so important to you, especially as someone who is not just a viewer but an insider in the film and television industry?

Humans learn through visuals and we repeat what we see. That’s what the beginning half of our life is about – just a lot of repetition and regurgitation. And when I was growing up, there was not a lot of imagery of how you and I look. It was not a part of what is deemed to look “normal” or “professional.”

And I think this is a constant conversation when it comes to the Black diaspora, and how we’re able to show up in the world. I feel like a lot of us are always code switching. We’re downplaying ourselves. We’re dimming our light. We’re spending so much time trying to tame our image so that we can make other people feel comfortable. And the unfortunate part is that it’s really for our safety because we’ve been taught that the way we naturally look is not safe. And It’s not okay. We can be in danger looking this way – whether that’s socially, economically, professionally, and even physically. And so this is an act of revolution.

The straight hair is cute. It’s snatched. But rocking my natural hair, to me, is a promise to God that I’m going to learn myself first before I’m willing to dress myself as something else. And it affirms that I have to be comfortable in my natural skin. We don’t have to listen to the opinion or perspective of the media. Natural hair is fly, and we need to see more of it on the screen in any professional manner.

Even with “Sabrina” being a bank manager and having the passion twists or dreadlocks is an important example of representation. And it can be a complex conversation, but advocating for natural hair proves to me, and many other women, that we’re more than worth it. We deserve to be here, and we don’t have to explain our natural appearance to anyone. It affirms that we can show up in the world in the way that we’d like to show up.

You have a large social media following across Twitter, Instagram and TikTok. And most people in today’s day and age are most active on Instagram in particular, but I noticed that you don’t follow anyone on that platform – which I’m sure limits how much of other people’s energy and experiences you take into your own everyday experience. Was that decision intentional and can you tell us more about the reasoning and importance behind it?

Absolutely, it’s an intentional decision. And two things inspired me. First, my co-star Ebony uses Instagram in that same way. And I love her professionalism. I love the way she’s using it for her career. I’m always trying to look towards my peers and predecessors to see how they’ve been able to shape their careers.

In addition, it’s mental health. We’re not meant to be in touch with so many people at all times, and have access to so much information. I read this book called “Digital Minimalism” and it let me know not to be afraid to protect myself in that way. I had to explain it to a few like ‘Hey, don’t get alarmed. I’m doing this for business purposes and mental health purposes, but you have my phone number.’ And it was quite interesting to see some people react in a very confused way because they couldn’t understand or accept it. But I’m really just trying to normalize that conversation and keep doing this social experiment because I want quality relationships, and I want to know people beyond social media.

We know that spirituality plays a large role in your life. You even have a web-series called

“Conversations and Constellations” which delves into the realms of astrology, and touches on the spiritual views and experiences of you and your guests. What inspired you to create this unique series, and fearlessly delve into those meaningful conversations from that angle of astrology in particular?

I feel like everybody’s talking about energy, right? And I feel as if these conversations about energy have been piecing themselves together in my personal life for so long, and I wanted to share how much I understand the astrology behind it. The concepts behind it. And the archetypes behind it. I understand those stories about mythology because these are stories that I heard when I was a child. And on top of that, I’m also going through my own spiritual journey.

I remember a time when I thought that I was doing all the right things. I had a job, I was going to school. I was in college. I was doing improv – I was doing all the things, but nothing was working and I didn’t understand why. But then I started doing the research and I had to tap into my more observant side. And my curious mind started making me ponder on why people or life was treating me a certain way, even though I feel like I’m showing up in the best way.

So I remember watching a YouTube video about Scorpios and it really piqued my interest to start doing my research. And after that I fell in love. I started reading people and studying by myself for a while, in secret – like Scorpio’s do. And one day, while me and my mom were on a cruise, I read these women. I had never met them, and I told this woman about her love life, her boyfriend, her mom, and all this other stuff. And She looked at me and said, ‘You’re right. That stuff happened. That’s real. That’s how my life is.’ And I couldn’t believe her. I thought maybe it’s just a one time fluke. 

I kept studying. And to see the relief on people’s faces when I start putting the pieces together for them was amazing. And then those people started piecing it together and letting me know that they didn’t feel crazy anymore. They felt like they now were able to redefine their purposes in life. And astrology can really help everyone with that. It doesn’t tell you what to do but it’s going to redirect you to the course of action, and the energies that you should be implementing in this lifetime. And so that’s just really what got me into it.

And then there was also the factor of seeing a bunch of people that look like me, who wanted to hear about it but there’s not a lot of people of color in the astrological space that speak about it. That pushed me to connect with people in ways that relate to them, and really help them get past what they’re going through.

Yes. I love that – and I love how you acknowledged that there’s not a lot of Black voices in that realm of astrology. We definitely need more of that. You also share a lot of insightful lessons and helpful advice with your followers via Twitter and Instagram. What would you say has been the biggest piece of advice that you carry everyday along your journey of growth?

One day at a time. One day at a time because it’s hard. It’s hard when you feel like you’re not doing enough, or you’re not keeping up with everyone else. And I would also say, rest. Rest is where a lot of the work really gets done – a lot of the dreaming, a lot of the forgiving, a lot of the coming back together. So just one day at a time, rest, and just give yourself grace. There’s no perfect way to live life. There’s no right and wrong. Nothing is better than the next thing. When we make distinctions like that, we’re just creating room for more division. And I want us to see how we can come together – how we can each use our energy for the greater good.

But one day at a time is the best advice I’ve gotten. And ironically, I learned that from my father – who I don’t have a good relationship with. And it’s been really interesting having that nook of advice from someone that I don’t have a good relationship with, but also understanding how much that piece of advice has changed my perspective on life.

You’re already a creative person who balances so much. You’re of course an actor, writer, storyteller, astrology connoisseur and natural hair advocate. What’s next for you? Are there any other creative realms that you haven’t yet tapped into that you would like to?  

No, I’m in all of the realms that I want to be in. I just need to master what I’m doing – that’s where I’m at. I want to master my craft of acting, so when people hear about anything that I’m working on, their immediate response is ‘Oh, Novi is going to be there? I’m about to pull up.’ I want to master that.

I’ve already produced a lot of content, and I want to master producing. I feel as if I’m a great conduit for the community, and I love getting people paid – I love putting money in someone’s pocket. And obviously astrology is my passion. It’s how I give back spiritually to the world and the community, so just continuing to master that.

But all in all, I feel good about the choices I’ve been making in my life as I’m saying these things out loud to you, and the realms that I’m living and existing in. I just want to be a great resource for people in all of these realms, and in the world.

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