Golden Brooks may not be as “sassy” as Maya Wilkes, the single mom she plays on the CW’s Girlfriends (Mondays at 9 pm/ET), but she can definitely relate. Just like Maya, Brooks went through her own long-term relationship, which she recently ended, and thus knows how hard it can be to figure it all out. But Brooks has a good feeling about Maya and Darnell â€” her on-screen husband played by Khalil Kain (The Tiger Woods Story) â€” as well as for the continued success of Girlfriends. Here’s what she shared with TVGuide.com about her show’s on-set chemistry, and the thrill of trying Something New in last spring’s romantic feature.
TVGuide.com: You’re in the seventh season of Girlfriends! How does it feel with all the changes the show and the cast have gone through?
Golden Brooks: It feels good. I think everyone was a little bit scared and unsure how the public was going to take to Jill [Marie Jones, Toni] leaving, but our ratings are even better this season. We weren’t sure what kind of support we were going to get, but it’s been an amazing ride. For a show that’s in its seventh season, you would think that this is the first, because everything is so recharged and everyone is so fresh. It’s been an interesting transition.
TVGuide.com: How did you feel about the time-slot switch to Sundays, and then back to Monday nights?
Brooks: I’m glad. They tried it on Sunday night, but for the last six years we’ve been pretty consistent with our Monday-night audience, so I think it fits.
TVGuide.com: And how is the chemistry between you and the other ladies on the set? Because it definitely flows well on camera.
Brooks: Oh, it’s so great. Tracee [Ellis Ross] and I were friends before the show, so that was a plus. And Persia [White] and I are kindred spirits â€” we were, like, sisters in another life â€” so it’s really good.
TVGuide.com: The characters offer a great mix of personalities. Maya has these funny lines that she spouts out, and then she has moments where you can see her strong backbone, and others where she feels vulnerable.
Brooks: Thank you. You know, it’s a testament to the writers that they allow me to find those moments. It’s great to play the sassy, but it’s also nice and wonderful to find those vulnerable moments.
TVGuide.com: Yeah, in the episode where Darnell was in Florida, and they thought he had been in a pit crash, we saw this other side of Maya. Meanwhile, Joan was hilarious, making all this tea…. I just couldn’t stop laughing. It’s a good balance.
Brooks: [Laughs] Sometimes it takes that long to get to those moments when the audience will allow the character to go there. I didn’t understand that, because as an actress you’re like, “OK, I want it all today. I want to be sad, I want to be happy, I want to cry, I want to laugh.” You want to do it all in one episode, and they â€” the producers and [series creator] Mara Brock Akil â€” were like, “Just pace yourself. These characters have an arc and a journey.” Once you gain the audience’s trust and those moments happen, it is more heartfelt.
TVGuide.com: From your perspective, how has the show â€” and Maya specifically â€” changed over the years?
Brooks: The show has changed drastically, it’s grown so much. You can’t keep doing the same jokes, you can’t just be a one-hit wonder with the same punch lines. It’s now about finding the joke within the joke and staying clever, and changing some of the writers so it always stays fresh. That’s what has kept the show constantly evolving and changing. [Maya] came from the road of hard knocks â€” not too hard, but she got pregnant at 16 and overcame a lot of obstacles within her demographic â€” and that’s a testament to herself, her hard work, her instincts, her foundation, her strong-willed perseverance. Being around Joan has helped Maya find who she really is, and she’s definitely more in touch with her emotions. She was really impenetrable the first and second seasons. It was like, “Don’t talk to me like that,” and now she can say, “I’m sorry, I was wrong.” For some people, that’s years of therapy. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: Do you think Maya and Darnell will really last this second time around?
Brooks: Yeah, I think so. It’s like any relationship. It literally took them six years to get them where they are today. It’s funny, I just broke up with somebody who I was with for six years….
Brooks: No, no, no, it’s good. I cried already, I’m over it! [Laughs] But it’s interesting because just as I went through a relationship with that person for six years, [Maya] went through a relationship with Darnell for six years â€” got divorced, figured each other out, realized that they grew up together. And even though they were growing apart, they still found a way to make the growth both their own, whereas some people grow apart and that’s it, the tie is gone. I felt like Maya and Darnell…. It was destiny.
TVGuide.com: Are there any surprises coming up?
Brooks: Yeah, there are a lot of fun little surprises. I don’t know if I can say, but there’s a big wedding coming up. Maya and Darnell have been trying to have a baby, and there’s going to be some surprises as to why it’s not happening. And there’s a big surprise at the wedding.
TVGuide.com: Well, I also have to tell you that I loved Something New. I can imagine that being a fun cast to work with as well.
Brooks: Oh, my gosh, it was so much fun. I had worked with Alfre Woodard before, on Beauty Shop, so it’s always fun to work with her. Interracial dating is such a heavy topic, but it’s kind of nice to be able to play the funny in it, too. It was very political, but it was a nice transition to the big screen. I love films.
TVGuide.com: Do you have any more coming up?
Brooks: I have one that I’m just about to sign on to, so I’ll let you know once it’s all finalized.
TVGuide.com: I read in your bio that you’re also a trained dancer. Do you take classes or perform when you’re not acting?
Brooks: I used to, a lot, in New York. I used to take this Katherine Dunham technique class, and I used to perform for the arts. I take classes here in L.A. â€” a modern-dance class or a ballet class â€” and that keeps me in shape. I feel so much better when I’m actually doing something that’s movement instead of just working out repetitively.