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. "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 [her] 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."
She 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 wasn’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." Monica opted to "take the high road" afterward on The Real, to which Brandy responded via Instagram, "#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, 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 (via Madame Noire) 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." 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 Mag (via Madame Noire). We knew she couldn’t stay away.
Her 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, which is her last studio album at the time of publishing. "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 her ex-fiance a liar and cheat
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 an 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 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 wedding 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.
She 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 to 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 New York (via Rolling Out) in 2015, she said career disappointments also had her feeling down.
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!
A Broadway role "saved" her life
The role of aspiring vaudevillian star Roxie Hart in Broadway’s Chicago the Musical 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 kept saying I’m getting ready for something big," she told Parade. "And then I got the call to do a work session for Chicago," she told ShowTickets.com. "When I got the part and 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 Instagram, "#Herstory #History," and she referred to co-star Lana Gordon as her "mentor."
Acting has paid the bills
Thank goodness for TV! 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 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."
She 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 claimed, "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 admitted 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-husband, er, 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. If it was up to Brandy, Sy’rai would stay away from the entertainment industry. But she wouldn’t completely be opposed to it. Brandy has, after all, posted videos of her daughter singing online.