Yvette Nicole Brown, who plays Shirley the Christian housewife on NBC's Community, took time out earlier this week to stage an epic, two-day "Ask Me Anything" session on Reddit. It's all available to read there, obviously, but since there are literally hundreds of comments, many of which are off-topic, we've brought you some of the highlights below, including Brown's desire to see the series do a Muppets-themed episode, and the revelation that her character was not originally intended to be a black woman in her thirties, but a white woman in her fifties.
bryanb440: Is there any type of episode you'd like to do next season? (Like the Law & Order episode)
Yvette Nicole Brown: I've been begging for a full on Muppet episode where we're all made of felt and bounce around instead of walk.
Caael: Can you please clear this up for us: who is Jeff always texting?!
YNB: HA! We jokingly said his therapist at the Comic-Con panel!
rvlution: What does Joel's hair smell like?
YNB: Sunshine and morning dew.
imhereforthemeta: Hi Yvette! Im not sure how often you get this, but Shirley started off as a character I wasn't very interested in, and has since become my absolute favorite. I guess this is sort of a nerdy question, but do you have any thoughts about how Shirley has evolved since the pilot? Especially in regards to her really dynamic and awesome friendship with Jeff (which is by far my favorite relationship on the show)
Also, can I just say that you are such a lovely and courteous woman. I feel like you really go the extra mile to get involved with fans, and every time I see you in an interview, you are always so open and insightful about the show and the culture surrounding it. Thank you for everything!
YNB: Thanks so much for that awesome post!
I think Shirley has calmed down and settled into being a part of the group. She's less judgmental and more fun and game for their shenanigans and I think that's been the biggest shift. I don't think she was ever a buzzkill but maybe being a mom made her more structured and focused initially than she is now. And I love her dynamic with Jeff too! I hope that continues in season 4And thanks for your comment about my manners. It's important to me to be kind to folks. I feel like life is hard enough without being a jerk. LOL! So I do go out of my way to make folks feel welcome and supported. I'm glad that comes thru when you see me. God bless!!!
Dorkfish71: Quick question...which of Jim Rash's costumes did you enjoy the most?
YNB: His Tina Turner was EPIC
chrouble: Because I know that questions about Dan Harmon are inevitable, I am just going to ask if you are able to speak at all about your perspective on working with him, and the situation surrounding his exit. Thanks!
YNB: Harmon is very dear to me. He gave me the job of a lifetime and from my first audition was my biggest supporter. I don't know if this is known but Shirley wasn't written to be a black chick in her thirties. She was originally written to be a white woman in her late 40's or early 50's. She was to be a love interest for Chevy. Hence the early episodes where Pierce kept hitting on Shirley. But Dan saw something in my take on the role and gave me a chance. I don't know much about his exit except for what I've read like you guys. I think it was a business decision NBC or SONY felt they had to make for whatever reason. Dan's comments about it will surely be more insightful than anything I could speculate about. But that said, he is loved and will be missed by us all.
Lemec21:Will we see Evil Shirley appear with Evil Abed in a feature episode?And how much of your character did you create versus the writers/director telling you how to act as her?
YNB: Ooh! That would be GREAT!!! I like Evil (drunk?) Shirley she's takes no prisoners. I think it's probably a 50/50 situation. They write the words...except for "That's Nice" I initially ad-libbed that which apparently I do a lot when I'm acting.
Someone on Twitter posted a link of me saying "that's nice" randomly on an episode of Entourage I did...and I get to interpret them however I like. I made the choice to give Shirley two vocal ways to express her thoughts. And the writers and directors have let me choose which to use on any given line. I was shocked to find out her "miss piggy" voice is her sexy/seduction voice. And if you look back on previous episodes, Shirley has tried to seduce a LOT of people in strange situations. "Why do you hate me and Jesus" from the first season comes to mind. LOL!!!
Leeny500: Hey Yvette! If there's one kind of episode that you hope you'll have the chance to do in S4, what would it be?
YNB: My dream since season one has been a storyline with Donald. I think this season it's going to finally happen!
ClumsyOne: Which cast member makes you laugh the most when the cameras aren't running?
YNB: Donald Glover for SURE! He's very naughty, though. I couldn't share ANY of his bits or jokes. And most of them time, since I'm Prudy McPrude I'm ashamed of myself for laughing. LOL! But Donald is hilarious!
TARDIStaxi: Do you ever say "I'll make your ass sense" in everyday situations? I thought that was the greatest line ever.
YNB: Ha! I can honestly say that I never have. Maybe someday!
some_random_ninja: What do you love about each cast member? It seems like you guys are truly a family, so there should be something that you love about everyone right?
YNB: I love Gillian's decency and intellect. I love Alison's talent and drive. I love Donald's creativity and gentleness. I love Danny's heart and joyfulness. I love Joel's commitment to family and generosity. I love Jim's fearlessness and kindness. I love Ken's playful spirit and loyalty. Did I miss anyone?
kingofwukong: Gillian's intellect?
YNB: Gillian is a GENIUS. Britta is an idiot. Don't get it twisted!
ryanisadood: I love Alison's boobs.
YNB: And I'm supposed to do what with that information?
BlueWhipped: Yvette, what's it like being a Christian playing a Christian character on television? Have you ever tried to push back against a bit or storyline? Thanks, love the show!
YNB: It's been a true privilege.
And I pushed back a bit on the Shirley/Chang hook-up story because I know that if I was in my last moments on earth facing a zombie apocalypse I would spend that time praying not having sex on a bathroom floor with the person I hate the most. LOL! I, Yvette ADORE Ken Jeong, but Shirley hates Chang. I don't care what she was facing, hooking up with him just didn't seem like something she would do. But the needs of the story won out and I think that how it played out ultimately deepened the entire story.
johncoxon: Who's your favourite bit-part/side character?
YNB: Good question. Hard to answer. They are all so delicious. I love Danielle's "Vicki" and Charley's "Fat Neil". They both bring so much to those roles and now that their love affair is out in the open, watch out world! I of course love Richard Erdman's "Leonard", he's a TREASURE!
whitemamba83: First off, I just want to say, that on the outside, Shirley seems like she would be the one of the most boring characters on the show as an older, Christian mother, but you give her so much energy and positivity that makes us all love her. You do such a phenomenal job, and I couldn't imagine anyone else in that role.
Can you give us a little preview as to what we can expect to hear from any of the commentaries you are on in the upcoming season 3 DVD? Those commentaries are without a doubt my favorite part of the DVD releases. Really the main reason I've bought them.
YNB: Thanks so much! Whoo, that's a tough one, we recorded the commentaries so long ago. Expect a lot of Dan Harmon he did quite a few of them. And expect a lot of me and Stink (Gillian) we were the cast members who's scheduled allowed for the most commentary drop ins. I hope that's good news. LOL!
Taybabe76: Yvette! Who is your favorite person on the show? Character and/or real person.
YNB: Danny Pudi is one of my favorite human beings (see what I just did there) on the planet and on set. And I think every Community cast member would say the same.
pejorate: If you could be anything other than an actress, what would you most like to be and why?
YNB: I always wanted to be a singer. But if we're talking non-industry related I've always wanted to be a kindergarten teacher. 5&6 year olds are so awesome. I was a day camp counselor for two summers when I was a teenager and my time with them to this day is the most fun I've ever had. They're open, fun-seeking little bandits. Truly free of the stresses of life and full of imagination. Just love that age to pieces!!!
aredditor: What's an aspect of Harmon you think will be missed in the upcoming seasons?
YNB: His heart. He's a truly a beating heart of a man. The sweetness in each Community episode is Harmon.
re0508: Will we ever hear you on a Childish Gambino track?
YNB: I hope so! I've been begging Donald since Cul de Sac. We're lucky to hear what he's working on before everybody because he does his music between takes on set when we're in production. Every time I hear a beautiful melody...and he has LOTS... I always beg to sing it. LOL! So far no bites, but hope springs ETERNAL!!!
keagmcG: I love you. I'm curious, how much of Shirley comes from you? Are you two similar in any ways? Thanks and keep being amazing.
YNB: Shirley and I are similar in that we both love Jesus, say "that's nice" and call people pumpkin and sweetie. LOL! I hope I am not as judgmental or violent as her. Other than that she is her own person.
applecheekedgoon: I hate to be that person who brings up shipping, but if the Shirley/Andre situation hadn't panned out, what would be your favorite pairing for Shirley?
YNB: I'm thinking Shirley and Abed would be an unexpected pairing. Danny and I used to joke about that all the time when we first got cast and ages hadn't been defined. Danny always wanted Abed's age to be unknown and for it to be revealed somewhere in season 6 that he was actually 58 years old. Making everything he did...even a romance with Shirley...totally understandable or even more weird in retrospect.
jules5636: Yvette, I love you as Shirley! Which episode from the first three seasons has been your favorite to film?
YNB: The flashback episode was the most fun. All of us, cast, crew, writers, production staff all had to be on the top of our game because we were everywhere all at once and there were like 70 some scenes in all to shoot. Finishing that and seeing how great it all came out is one of my proudest moment as member of the cast.
anepicname: What's it like working with Chevy Chase?
YNB: It's like a fountain of joy!
Fuqwon: Who takes care of Annie's Boobs in between filming?
YNB: Crystal's trainer, Tom takes care of her. She's on Animal Practice now... we've lost her to another NBC show.
And yes, I know what you were trying to do with that question.
Smileyrob: If you could get Joel to sing more on community like when he did "Kissed By a Rose." What song would you choose?
YNB: "Ebony Eyes" by Smokey Robinson and Rick James.
jado06: Hey Yvette so happy to see you on reddit!
How much do you think the show will be affected now that Dan Harmon isn't on the team anymore?
YNB: We all love and miss Harmon as much as you guys do. But here's the thing, the new guys are really nice and very dedicated to keeping the show EXACTLY how we all know and love it. I've met them for a one on one and they couldn't be cooler guys. We're all gonna be okay, even Dan. I promise!
TheKingOfBadgerHill: How good are you in real life at foosball?
YNB: HA! Nowhere NEAR as good as Shirley!
prod44: Love you in Community. Also wanted to say I liked you in one of my fave movies, The Island.
YNB: So YOU'RE the one who saw it! Thank you!
wookiepanda: 1) I remember you mentioning that you wanted to treat yourself with a trip to Paris if Community got picked up for its 4th season. So have you travelled during the break? 2) Are you doing any other projects besides Community? 3) What do you look forward most next season? We already know that Shirley is a foosball pro. What secret skills do you want Shirley to have?
YNB: 1) Ha! No Paris yet. Does my trip home to Ohio to talk to the kids at my old High School count as traveling? Had a blast at Warrensville Heights High though!!!
2) Yes! A cartoon called Pound Puppies on the HUB network. I play Cookie and I have a part in the new Percy Jackson sequel, which comes out in March!
3) I think Shirley is academically smart...this was hinted to in the sandwich shop episode. She really knows her stuff. I hope she puts those smarts to good use in season four. Somebody has to graduate! LOL!
snowball17: I love the songs sprinkled throughout Community. What is your favourite musical moment from the series so far?
YNB: "Sensitive Night" from the first season Christmas episode. The lyrics Dan Harmon wrote are so funny to me.
johncoxon: Out of your co-stars (the other six study group members, plus Chang and the Dean), who's your favourite to work with?
YNB: Hard to say. They're all awesome for different reasons. If it's an emotional scene, Gillian, hands down. She gives you SO much to work with even when the camera's not on her. Alison, Danny, Donald and Ken are just FUN! 100% fun all the time. Joel and I focus when we have Shirley & Jeff scenes. We become Meryl Streep and Denzel Washington. LOL! He makes me wanna be better and I hope I do the same for him and that's always fun. And Jim just exudes love. What's not to love about that?!