Yvette Nicole Brown has achieved a curious type of celebrity: Everyone recognizes the 37-year-old East Cleveland native, but few people know her name.
The recognition comes from her more than two-dozen commercials for everything from Time Warner Cable to Fiber One. She’s also had small roles in a slew of movies and television shows, including Nickelodeon’s Drake & Josh.
But her days as just a familiar face may be numbered. She’ll appear this month in The Ugly Truth, a comedy starring Katherine Heigl. This fall, she’ll also share the small screen with Chevy Chase and The Soup’s Joel McHale in Community,an NBC sitcom.
“Fame kind of scares me,” says Brown. “The idea of no one being able to call my name out was a safe way to be recognizable. Now I’m just realizing that it might be a nice ride for people to know my name as well.”
A daughter of a secretary and school custodian, Brown grew up dreaming of an acting career, but she didn’t pursue it until after graduating from the University of Akron. The first jobs she landed were commercials, and it’s work she still embraces. “When I was a kid, I would act out commercials,” she recalls. “They’re little bites of heaven — 30 seconds of comedy or drama.”
Brown attributes her success so far to her upbringing. “I grew up kind of poor,” she says. “When I got here, I was prepared for things to not be easy.” She also says her curvaceous figure has helped keep her employed in a city and industry where being super-thin is the norm.
“There are very few of us out here who are normal-sized — like size 12, 14,” she explains. “So those of us who are, we work all the time. In fact, if I get smaller I think I’ll stop working. Then I’m competing against Halle Berry.”