Whatever Happened To Brandy?

Brandy went from sittin' up in her room to sitting on top of the world. 

The R&B superstar with the ear-to-ear smile was a force in the music industry from an early age, releasing her quadruple platinum, self-titled debut album at the age of 15. There would be no sophomore slump either, as Brandy's second album, "Never Say Never," achieved quintuple platinum status and earned her and duet partner Monica a Grammy for the mega-hit "The Boy is Mine."

In between albums, Brandy ventured into film and television, including a starring role in her very own sitcom, "Moesha." And then there was the night she attended prom with an up-and-coming basketball star by the name of Kobe Bryant. Needless to say, it was good to be Brandy in the '90s. But what has the "I Wanna Be Down" singer been up to in recent years? Here's a look at what happened to Brandy.

She put on her dancing shoes

When things cooled off for Brandy, the former R&B sensation did what many celebs have done to give their career a jolt: She joined "Dancing with the Stars." Brandy was paired with Maksim Chmerkovskiy in 2010 and established herself as a favorite due to her high scores. But the dance competition voters weren't as enamored with Brandy as the judges and surprisingly sent her home in the semifinals, ironically after she'd earned her first perfect score. Hey, nobody ever said "DWTS" was fair.

Brandy took the elimination pretty hard, holding back tears after the announcement. "I don't know how to feel right now," she said on "DWTS." "It hasn't processed yet for me." Clearly, the show ended up being more than just a paycheck for her. 

Brandy later said on "The View" that "DWTS" "completely changed my life." She added, "I feel like I've tapped back into my confidence and into my power. I didn't believe in myself for a long time. This show has definitely brought the best out of me."

Brandy reunited with frenemy Monica

Fourteen years after they argued over the same guy in "The Boy is Mine," Brandy and Monica reunited to release the female-empowering "It All Belongs to Me." The 2012 track saw the two R&B singers kicking their respective boyfriends to the curb for being bums. Brandy told The Hollywood Reporter, "We [have] both been through a lot of different things in our lives, and we just wanted to say something completely different than the boy is mine ... "

Unlike "The Boy Is Mine," which spent a whopping 13 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1998, the follow-up failed to hit the top of the charts. And if that weren't bad enough, it seems the two starlets aren't exactly on the best of terms either. 

When asked in 2016 if she would take part in Monica's #SoFarGoneChallenge, Brandy responded, "Chile bye" (via Bossip). Monica opted to "take the high road" afterward on "The Real," to which Brandy responded in a now-deleted Instagram post, "#IKnowTHEREALStoryThatEverybodyDoesntKnow." Whatever #THEREALStory is, Brandy has kept it to herself.

She was over reality TV ... until she wasn't

Reality TV made the Osbournes a household name, but, alas, it couldn't do the same for the Norwoods. "Brandy & Ray J: A Family Business" — which revolved around Brandy, her brother and fellow R&B singer Ray J, their momager Sonja, and dad/voice coach Willie — lasted only two seasons on VH1. One possible reason the show didn't catch on: Brandy felt her personal life lacked the juicy drama you would find on "Basketball Wives" and "Love & Hip-Hop."

Brandy told Sister 2 Sister in 2012, "I don't want to do reality shows. ... I don't think I work well on reality shows. I think I'm too boring for reality" (via That Grape Juice). But she hasn't completely turned her back on the genre. 

Brandy went on to serve as a mentor on "Majors & Minors" and to compete on "My Kitchen Rules." Then in 2013, she backtracked on her earlier statements. "I said I wouldn't do reality TV again but ... I would consider it if it were centered more on my career," she told PYNK in 2013 (via That Grape Juice). We knew she couldn't stay away.

Brandy's comeback album wasn't much of a comeback

Brandy wasn't offended that many were calling her 2012 album "Two Eleven" a comeback. In fact, she agreed. It was her first album in four years and the follow-up to 2008's "Human," which, ahem, Brandy would rather forget about. "I am definitely calling it a comeback," she told Reuters. "I know for a fact that I've been gone for a while and I couldn't find my way. I couldn't get it together."

Critics gave "Two Eleven" rave reviews, with Billboard calling it "her most focused album" since "Never Say Never." Fans, however, weren't as enthusiastic about the album, which peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 but sold fewer first-week copies than "Human."

Brandy told Da Vibe, "Am I happy with the sales of 'Two Eleven'? Um, honestly, no. But it doesn't mean that I don't appreciate everyone who supported it and appreciated it." Unlike "Human," Brandy remains proud of "Two Eleven." "I say this humbly, the work is just so great," she told Da Vibe. "I think everyone that was involved in the project really brought their A-game."

She called out her ex-fiance on stage

Brandy thought she had found "the one" in Ryan Press. She told Us Weekly she had just about given up on love until she met the music producer. 

"He just loves me for who I am," Brandy gushed in another Us Weekly interview. The couple got engaged in 2012 but, sadly, called things off in 2015 before ever walking down the aisle.

Brandy's rep told Us Weekly at the time that the couple ended on amicable terms, but the singer's public remarks since then seemed to say otherwise. She called the engagement ring a "cheap ... cubic zirconia" in a 2017 tweet and that same year sang about getting cheated on and lied to at a concert. Many took this as a message for her ex, who had been spotted with model Selita Ebanks at the Grammys months earlier. "I'm not even mad. I'm not even mad," Brandy sang. You could have fooled us.

Brandy stopped believing in herself

Depression doesn't discriminate. The wealthy and famous struggle with mental illness, just like so many others. Brandy has been open about her bouts with depression and revealed on "Dr. Oz" in 2016 that she was in a dark place for about a year and a half, in part due to her failed engagement. In an interview with NewYork.com in 2015, she said career disappointments also had her feeling down (via Rolling Out).

Brandy stopped being active and praying and had lost her appetite. "I didn't want to do anything," she told Dr. Oz. "That's not a good place to be. I stopped dreaming." 

Some say you never truly overcome depression, but you can learn to live with it. And it appears Brandy has done just that. She said the key was to "do the work." Brandy told Dr. Oz, "I started to do something different. I got out of bed and I went to the gym and I started meditating and writing down my thoughts every morning. And then slowly but surely my life started to change." Keep fighting the good fight, Brandy!

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

A Broadway role 'saved' her life

The role of aspiring vaudevillian star Roxie Hart in Broadway's "Chicago" came around at just the right time for Brandy. Her spirits were starting to pick back up again and she was beginning to think positively again. 

"I knew it would take a lot of discipline," she told Parade. "I knew it was going to be a lot to do eight shows a week. So I was always afraid of it. But then I couldn't turn it down ... I kept saying I'm getting ready for something big." She added that the role helped alleviate her depression: "When I walked on stage everything I felt before went completely away. She saved me."

Brandy made her Broadway debut in 2015 and would go on to play Roxie in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., before returning to Broadway in 2017. The latter stint marked the first time that two Black actresses played leads Hart and Velma Kelly on Broadway. Brandy was visibly emotional after her first show back and wrote on a now-deleted Instagram post, "#Herstory #History," and she referred to co-star Lana Gordon as her "mentor."

Acting has paid the bills

It might be true that Brandy's music career isn't what it once was, but she has remained relevant thanks in large part to her steady acting career. Her impressive resume includes recurring roles on shows such as the "90210" reboot, "Drop Dead Diva," "The Game," and Lee Daniels' "Star." 

In 2016, Brandy starred in "Zoe Ever After," which was her first starring sitcom role since "Moesha" was canceled after six seasons in 2001.

Brandy told "Entertainment Tonight," "There were a few different steps I needed to take in order to get back to the space where I could carry and hold my own on a show again." The show — which saw Brandy play a single mother starting all over again after a divorce — only lasted eight episodes but brought back some of those oh-so-special feelings she had for "Moesha." Brandy told Variety, "I wanted to feel what that was like again."

Brandy lost consciousness on a plane

Brandy made headlines in 2017 when she suffered a bit of a health scare aboard a Delta flight. She was set to fly from Los Angeles to New York when she reportedly lost consciousness. Medical personnel was called in, and Brandy was rushed to the hospital, where she was released hours later. The explanation given by her people: exhaustion.

A statement posted on Brandy's Twitter account said, "She has been traveling extensively," and noted that she'd "taken more than 10 long haul flights including internationally." It also stated that she pulled an all-nighter in the studio the night before.

This wasn't the first time Brandy has been hospitalized. Production on "Moesha" was halted for weeks in 1999 when Brandy was sent to the hospital for what her people at the time said was "dehydration." She later revealed to O, The Oprah Magazine that she struggled with an eating disorder as a teen.

She prefers to be her daughter's friend than her mom

Brandy's approach to motherhood might not be popular, but she insists it works. She has opted to take more of a friend role than an authoritative role with daughter Sy'rai, which is a different approach than the one she was raised with. 

"I believe that just being there for my daughter as a friend more than 'I'm in charge ... ' causes her to be more open with me as a person," Brandy told Parade, adding, "If I have an authoritative wall up, she's going to rebel and not come to me and I don't want that."

Brandy and ex-boyfriend Robert Smith wanted Sy'rai to have as normal of a life as possible, which is why they made it a point to keep her off "Family Business." But Brandy has, since then, posted videos of her daughter singing and dancing online.

Brandy embarked on a TV comeback

In 2021, Brandy made a return to television in "Queens," an ABC drama series set within the world of pop music. She played a singer/rapper named Naomi (whose stage name was "Xplicit Lyrics"), one of four members of a once-successful 1990s girl group, Nasty B***hes. In the series' storyline, Naomi returns to the fold, two decades after launching what turned out to be an ultimately unsuccessful solo career, when the group is offered a chance to reunite for an award show. Setting aside their history while embracing their shared musical legacy, the women make the most of that opportunity by attempting to regain a foothold in the music biz. Starring alongside Brandy were rapper Eve (who had recently exited CBS daytime show "The Talk"), actor-singer Naturi Naughton (who had been a member of an actual girl group, 3LW), and actor Nadine Velazquez ("My Name Is Earl").

For an artist who'd experienced so many hills and valleys, portraying a musical artist making a comeback attempt in hopes of recapturing past glory definitely resonated with her. "I want people to realize that no matter where you are in life, if you have a dream and a desire, that the universe is ready to back you if you're ready to take another shot at something," she told Distractify. "There's always second chances."

Unfortunately, "Queens" didn't prove to be the comeback vehicle that she'd hoped; ABC chose to cancel the show after just one season.

She's still trying to launch a reboot of Moesha

More than 20 years after endings its six-season run, "Moesha" remains beloved by fans — and is arguably the most popular project in which Brandy was ever involved. Given Brandy's ongoing quest for a comeback and Hollywood's seemingly unending desire to reboot old TV shows, it shouldn't be surprising that she's floated the idea of reviving the series. "Yeah! Absolutely," Brandy said onstage at a 2019 DIVA Foundation event when asked by former "Moesha" co-star Sheryl Lee Ralph — who played Moesha's stepmother, Dee Mitchell — whether she'd be down to revive the series. "I'm here to solidify that we're gonna bring 'Moesha' back," Brandy said.

That wasn't just an idle boast; the following year, Brandy revealed she was involved in discussions about a potential reboot. "I'm completely open to it. I would love to experience that," she told Rap-Up during a 2020 interview. "I just want for everyone to know that I'm open to it and I'm in discussions with the right people to make it happen."

Those "discussions" were apparently taking quite some time. "I am in talks right now with the right people for that to happen," Brandy told "Entertainment Tonight" in 2020, using similar phrasing to what she'd said previously. "I don't see it not happening ... It just makes sense. I mean, I want to see what Moesha was up to."

She's producing her daughter's new music

The old saying about the apple not falling far from the tree certainly applies when it comes to Brandy and her daughter, Sy'rai Smith. A talented singer-songwriter in her own right, she made her debut in the single "Nothing Without You," a duet with her mom that was featured in the soundtrack to the Disney+ movie "Cheaper by the Dozen."

In a 2022 interview with Vibe, Smith admitted that she embraced comparisons to her famous mother. "I love when people compare me to her because I mean, who wouldn't want to be compared to my mom?" she said. Of course, Smith also recognized that those comparisons can also present disadvantages for an up-and-coming musical artist. "If I sound like her then I must be doing something right, but at the same time, it is a lot of pressure to exceed someone's expectations when they already set something so high," she added. "I just don't want to disappoint anybody."

Smith revealed to BET that her mother was taking a hands-on approach to her debut EP by stepping in as the project's executive producer in addition to spearheading the songs' vocal production. "Her music is fire," Brandy told E! News, "and I've just been listening to that and trying to help her decide what songs she should come out with." In May 2023, Smith announced via Instagram that her EP's first single, "On My Own," had just dropped. 

Brandy revived an iconic role

In 2022, Brandy revisited one of her most memorable roles when "20/20" aired a reunion special celebrating the 25th anniversary of "Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella," in which Brandy played the title role alongside a star-studded cast that included the late Whitney Houston, Whoopi Goldberg, and "Seinfeld" alum Jason Alexander. "I had no idea that my destiny would take me to a role, Cinderella, be the first woman of color to play her, and then for Whitney Houston to be my fairy godmother? You got to be kidding me," she said in a promo.

Just a few months after that special aired, ABC News reported that not only would Brandy reminisce about playing Cinderella, but would actually be stepping back into the role. According to the report, Brandy had joined an upcoming film in Disney's "Descendants" franchise, which focuses on the teenage progeny of classic Disney characters, to play an older, wiser Cinderella, a quarter-century later.

A 2023 Twitter post featured a video filmed on the set of the movie, "Descendants: The Rise of Red." In the video, Brandy can be seen costumed in a regal blue gown while reviving Cinderella for the Disney+ movie. She was joined by "Cinderella" co-star Paolo Montalban, reprising the role of King Charming, now Cinderella's husband. 

She hilariously clapped back at Jack Harlow for not knowing who she was — which led to a surprise collab

Rapper Jack Harlow made a 2022 appearance on Hot 97's "Ebro in the Morning" show, where he was played an assortment of songs in order to test his musical knowledge. One of those songs was Brandy's 1998 hit "Angels In Disguise," with both the song and its singer completely unknown to Harlow. "Brandy and Ray J are siblings?" Harlow marveled when learning that particular nugget of information. "Nobody's ever told me that in my life."

Brandy replied by tweeting a hilarious response. "I will murk this dude in rap at 43 on his own beats and then sing [his] ass to sleep," she wrote. She then took things to the next level by performing her own freestyle rap on Harlow's hit "First Class." "Allow me to reintroduce myself/My name is world-famous, one of the greatest/Living legend, did I mention my résumé is amazing?" rapped Brandy. 

Harlow not only learned all about Brandy, he then teamed up with her for a surprise performance of "First Class" during the 2022 BET Awards, shocking the crowd when she joined him onstage. "First of all, I can't believe what just happened," Brandy told "Entertainment Tonight" after the performance, thanking Harlow for the opportunity to cross "rapping" off her bucket list. "Like, I've had a rap dream for years," she added. "I've been wanting to rap forever."

Music has helped Brandy through some difficult times

There's no denying that Brandy has experienced some extreme ups and downs throughout a showbiz career spanning four decades and counting. And while she's branched out into other areas — ranging from acting to judging contestants on "America's Got Talent" — music has always remained her touchstone. 

While discussing the music she was working on during a 2014 interview with That Grape Juice, she explained that she was in a different state of mind than she'd been in the past, which was pushing her music in some new directions. "I'm in a completely different mental space, and I want to sing through that space," she explained. "Music is therapeutic for me, so I have to respect where I am, artistically, and create from there."

When the album she'd been working on, "B7," finally arrived in 2020, she was still insistent that creating music was ultimately a healing experience for her. "Music is my therapy," she told The Guardian. "I don't know what my life would be without it."