Meet Brandee Steger – African American actress, writer, and filmmaker. Brandee truly is a badass who does it all. Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Brandee lives the life of a typical actress, where she writes, produces, and acts in productions produced by her and her husband, Michael Steger, and their production company, Book 11 Productions.
Brandee started acting when she was 13, but had a recurring relationship with it. Since her mother was an actress, she pushed her away from the art. However, after college, traveling, and minor success in the entertainment industry, she decided to pursue her acting career. Brandee and Michael started Book 11 Productions in 2008 because they felt that not enough people resembling them were being represented enough in film.
Growing up with a single mother, they spent many weekends diving into romantic comedies. She grew up adoring these actresses and was hell-bent on becoming an actress and finding her real life Billy Crystal; but it didn’t take long for her to realize that black women didn’t get these types of roles in films.
Now, Brandee, with a two-year-old daughter, Poet, finds it difficult to find movies with princesses that look like her, nor any romantic comedies where the lead actress happens to be black and gets the guy. There is a need for more diversity in the film industry. We should see different types of black women on screen with various roles, rather than stereotypical roles. In Brandee’s real-life love story, she did get the guy. However, in film, she doesn’t feel represented. She’s the black woman who married the boy next door. Brandee and Michael met when they were 12 and color was never an issue for them. If we saw these types of stories rather than hearing unwarranted commentaries about her not acting black, perhaps people can push the ignorance aside, after having seen a more educated perspective in film.
“I will take my rightful place on stage and I will be myself. I am not a cosmic orphan. I have no reason to be timid. I will respond as I feel; awkwardly, vulgarly, but respond. I will have my throat open, I will have my heart open, I will be vulnerable. I may have anything or everything the world has to offer, but the thing I need most, and want most, is to be myself. I will admit rejection, admit pain, admit frustration, admit even pettiness, admit shame, admit outrage, admit anything and everything that happens to me. The best and most human parts of me are those I have inhabited and hidden from the world. I will work on it. I will raise my voice. I will be heard.”
~ Elia Kazan, The Actor’s Vow
Unlike many people who just talk about it, Brandee goes and makes a difference. She is currently raising money for a film she wrote called, White Like Me. It’s about a black woman who gets so frustrated with where she is in life that she decides to make herself look like a white man to see if things work out better for her. This film is not intended to make fun of any race or attack anyone, nor is it in your face. The film will be funny, but it’s a dramedy (drama and comedy). There’s a lot of truth and pain in this film; but, there are moments where you may laugh out-loud but you may also cry. White Like Me is an honest conversation about race using the power of comedy. They are halfway to their financial goal and hope to go into production in Spring 2019. To learn more about the film, go to www.WhiteLikeMeTheFilm.com or to make a donation, head over to:
1. First thing you do in the morning? Look at my husband and my daughter’s beautiful sleeping face and breathe in gratefulness.
2. Best advice you’ve received? Don’t quit.
3. Dream vacation to escape to? India! I spent two months there in 2005 and it really changed my life and perspective. I practice Kundalini yoga most mornings and dream about going to India just to meditate.
4. Everything tastes better with... chocolate! BUT, I recently developed an allergy to it; so now, everything tastes better with D’vash (date syrup).
5. How do you stay organized? I stay organized by having funky-fun compartments for my swag. I like to collect vintage suitcases in all sizes and each one holds different things… toys, receipts, greeting cards, children’s books, etc. This is very helpful!
6. What can you not live without? I cannot live without my daughter! She’s a beam of light. The biggest piece of joy I’ve ever seen. An angel.
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Photo Courtesy: Brandee Steger