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Spirited Woman Interviews by Nancy Mills
Nancy Mills : Roz Browne Interview

Interview with Roz Browne

By Nancy Mills

Roz Browne makes me laugh. From the moment that I met her at her first LA Spirited Woman Workshop (she's now taken one more) the woman puts a smile on my face. An actress / comedienne / storyteller / writer / producer, she is a one woman band that has written, performed, and produced the very successful one woman show, "Fried Clams With Bellies."

She is also a CPA. You got that right. Yes, during the day, she counts numbers. But at night, she counts laughs. A native of Boston, she's lived in Los Angeles ever since she graduated from USC in accounting. Now in her forties, she says, "a high school teacher told me I can make a lot of money as a CPA. So that's what I did. Then I found out later that the teacher was just kidding."

Roz has appeared on ABC's "The View" in their Hilarious Housewife Contest, on America's Funniest People show, and many more TV comedy specials. She's well known in LA for her stand-up routine at such clubs as the Comedy Store, The Improv, The Ice House, and others. I've seen her perform several times, and I laughed until my sides ached at her autobiographical one woman show.

Married to the love of her life, her husband Thomas, Roz is a black woman who has made it in the land of Hollyweird. Which is a tough feat. Not only is she funny, but she has what it takes — guts, determination — and the willingness, as she says to keep her eyes always on the prize. She's a great inspiration to us all, with a great story to tell. I urge you to read on.

Q.
Which part of you do you relate to the most — the actress, the comedienne, the storyteller, or the writer?

A.
That is a difficult question because all of them could be considered one. The actress is also the storyteller. I'm always funny. The writer is a necessity if you want to be a good comedienne you have to know how to write your own material. I like doing all of that. I think I like to be considered more of the actress than the comedienne or the storyteller, but like I said you can't take one away from the other. I've had the most exposure in the comedy field — I think it's easier to get onstage than it is to get a part — to get onstage all you really need is a comedy club or a place and you can go do your thing. Most actors and actresses wait for an agent to call them to go out and act. But I didn't do that. I did my own solo show, "Fried Clams With Bellies," because I learned and was told by some good people that if you want to make things happen for yourself you have to do it yourself. You can't wait for other people to do it for you. I wrote "Fried Clams With Bellies" and produced it. In fact, I took it to Martha's Vineyard last July — now it's a national show before it was just a local show. The first time I did it in 2002 here in Hollywood for six weeks.

Q.
When did you know, or was there a particular moment or an experience when you knew you were funny?

A.
You know, I always knew I was funny but I had a smart mouth. I would say things when I was younger and people would tell me "be quiet, you shouldn't say things like that." A lot of times I would not say things because it might not be the most nicest thing, but I spoke my mind. So, now it's paying off for me — I can speak my mind and it's funny and I get paid for it. Whereas before it was like shut up. Don't say things like that.

Q.
You've been a professional comic since 1992 — where did you perform and what was your first gig like?

A.
The first time I hit the stage — it was at The Improv in Hollywood. Dave Chappelle was the host at the time — he was pretty new himself — and I was petrified. I was shaking in my boots and I had invited a lot of people that I know. My family came and they were all there rooting for me, cheering me on, and when I delivered my lines, my face was shaking. Then once I started getting the laughs it was like "oh" I can do this. You get addicted to the laughs. Oh yeah this feels good, this feels right.

Q.
What gave you the courage to go on the stage as a comic?

A.
Actually, I was taking an acting class and my acting teacher told me that whatever I had a fear of doing, that what's I should do. And the only thing I was really scared of doing was stand-up. So I thought — okay. I should do stand-up.

And that's what I did and I'm still at it. By facing that fear it opened up so many doors. It made me go outside of my comfort zone because sometimes I think that's what keeps us back from our dreams — that we are afraid to take that leap. Sometimes you just got to jump.

Q.
In your one-woman solo show — "Fried Clams With Bellies" you talk about your life and your family. Tell us a little more about that.

A.
Well I met my husband Thomas about twelve years ago, when I started to act. I was a CPA at the time — I'm still a CPA — and one of my friends told me that a good place to meet men was at the roller-skating rink. Who would have thought that you could meet your guy at a roller-skating rink? I'm like — that's crazy, that's for kids. And I went — I had nothing else to do, I needed to lose some weight, and it's good exercise. And I met my husband. He was not my cup of tea when I met him, but I looked at him and we skated. Well, I didn't know how to skate, so he rolled me around the rink, and two years later we got married. He has four kids, but when I met him, he told me he had one kid. Then I saw him a second time and he said he had one kid. Then the third time I saw him he said he had one kid. And the fourth time he said he had one kid. I didn't know I was supposed to add all those times up. It took him about two to three months to tell me about all four.

Q.
You've also appeared on "The View" television show. What was that like?

A.
That was wonderful. "The View" flew me to New York. It was for the Hilarious Housewife contest and it was a lot of fun. They put me up in this swanky hotel. I got a chance to meet Star Jones and even Barbara Walters was there, and I won the semi-finals. So I had to come back again for the finals. Originally, they found out about me through a comedienne friend of mine. I submitted a videotape of my act and they said we love you, we'd love to have you come out for the show. I had like three days notice. I'm like okay I'll come.

Q.
Are there a lot of opportunities in Hollyweird land for black middle-aged women comediennes, who are CPA's during the day?

A.
That's funny. To be honest I think the opportunities are limited for black middle-aged females. There is not as many roles — in television, theater, movies — out there for us so a lot of times we have to create our own. I feel I have more control as a stand-up comic. Right now I'm developing a sitcom based on my stand-up and I'll be able to shop that around in 2006. Yes it's frustrating, but you can't dwell on the negative — what good is it? You have to be positive and know who you are and what you have to bring to the situation — to the industry. You have to know you are enough and that you don't have to sit back and wait to make things happen to you.

Q.
What inspirational words of wisdom would you like to give other women who are following their dreams?

A.
Oh wow. I would say — this is one thing that has kept me going — I am such a determined person anyway — I would say my favorite quote or saying is to keep my eyes on the prize. We tend to look just at the immediate future, but if you look at the long-term goal of what you want and then when it's there, it keeps me going. Because sometimes we don't see what's going on. We think nothing is going on in our lives and our goals. There is a lot going on — we're just not seeing it.

Q.
You've taken the Spirited Woman Workshop twice. What do you like about it?

A.
It's so much fun. It's like playing to me. It's like oh I get to play in the school playground. And just to be around other people with a very positive energy and just a very loving environment and feel. You know when you go to the Spirited Woman Workshop you're going to have fun. You get to let your hair down, and be there, and enjoy it. Which is what I love. I feel a lot lighter afterwards. I feel empowered.

Q.
Roz, why do you feel that you are a Spirited Woman?

A.
In the beginning of the interview you said that I was born a Spirited Woman, which I believe I was. I am a Spirited Woman because that's what's in me. My mom is a spirited woman. I think I got those genes down from her. We all are spirited women, a lot of us are not in touch with it though — that piece of us that makes us spirited, but I try to keep mine at the forefront of my life. I do that by remaining focused on my life and just be centered on who I am, on what matters in life.

© 2006 Nancy Mills

Nancy MillsNancy Mills is the Creator of the Spirited Woman Approach to Life, a self-inspirational writer for women, and the publisher of the highly successful Spirited Woman Blogger Team. More »

3/7/06