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Story / Phil Gomez

Photos / 36NEEX

In the dynamic world of entertainment, few artists manage to carve out a space as uniquely their own as BRE-Z. From her compelling performances on television to her evocative music, BRE-Z has consistently demonstrated an unwavering commitment to authenticity and creativity. Her journey from the streets of Philadelphia to the spotlight of Hollywood is a testament to her talent, resilience, and dedication to her craft. In this exclusive interview, BRE-Z opens up about her dual passions for music and acting, the pressures of maintaining an authentic identity in the industry, and the personal growth she continues to pursue. Join us as we delve into the life and career of an artist who truly embodies the spirit of creative expression.
What inspired you to pursue careers in both music and acting? 

Music has always been a passion of mine. I felt sound before I understood words. Sound brought on emotion I was too young to understand. By the time i was old enough to explore this phenomenon of a feeling, it dawned on me that I could be expressive in the same way. I began to study sound, target emotion within the music, and read lyrics. Understanding various concepts, and ways of creating, it became a safe space for me to have a voice. I began to see my music as a diary. With acting, I immediately understood that it was similar to what I knew about music, only through a different medium. I believe a lot of my purpose lives in the space of my creativity. With that said, I only want to produce meaningful, truth telling, and authentic content in whatever way I’m meant to.

What is something you are currently passionate about or obsessed with?

Becoming the best version of myself, and operating at my highest level is my current passion. I’ve had such a range of experiences throughout my life, really high-high’s, low low’s of course, and everything in between. I’ve realized how big of a role outside factors play into how we process and receive information, how we see the world, and the relationship we have with our thoughts and our emotions. Whether it be the many places or environments I’ve lived in, personal relationships, career settings, it’s all given me the clarity I needed on what I do and do not want my life to look and feel like, and how I want to show up in the life I’m creating. I’m no longer making room for any person, place, or activity that doesn’t serve my highest self. Additionally, I want to give a special shout out to the person in my life who has held, and protected me, amidst the realization, at such a a pivotal time in my life.

Your character on “Empire,” Freda Gatz, resonated with many fans. How did you prepare for such a complex and intense role?

Between the time I knew the role was mine, and the day we started shooting, didn’t allow for much prep. But because Freda and I had so many personal similarities and our lives had so many parallel’s, my life had been all the prep I needed. When I first started reading deeper into the character, I knew this was the strength of my personal faith, and my purpose intersecting in the form of an opportunity. I was able to draw directly from my real life pain and desires to bring Freda to life. I will forever be grateful to Lee Daniels, Leah Daniels, and Robin Simms for believing in me.

Have you ever felt pressure from the industry to conform to a specific image of what a gay woman on TV should look like?

Initially, no. I always showed up as myself. It wasn’t until we started to prep for press run’s and I heard a lot of ” You need a stylist, you need a make up artist” etc My personal style never involved make up, feminine clothing, but was always absolutely confident and certain of who I was and was not. I was very unfamiliar with the politics involved in the industry at that time, and being the newcomer

that I was at that point, I made the choice to allow the people who I perceived as industry experts to heavily weigh in on my public appearance. From 2015-2018 you’ll see so many images of me that reflect that choice. As I became more comfortable with my now, very public presence, I realized how important it was that I do show up as my authentic self. Because the truth is, we are all so different, and the importance of other masculine presenting women seeing themselves portrayed in a way they can relate to, became far more important to me than the opinions of anyone who didn’t understand what my true purpose is. Which is why anytime you see me now, red carpet, TV or otherwise, I’m gonna always be BRE Z.

“All American” showcases your talent in a different light. What drew you to the role of Coop, and how do you relate to her character?

I was drawn to the role of Coop because it was a lighter version of a character I’d played before. More complex, more personality shown, and more emotion. Only this time relating to a way bigger audience. Coop reminded me of myself in high school, funny, knew everybody, but not a lot known about her. There’s this thing about me where a lot of people know me, but no one really knows me. Coop has been a mirror for me in many ways. One particular thing playing the role has allowed me to do was, look in the mirror. I was seeing some of my behavior in the script. Some situations were direct reflections of what I was dealing with in my real life. And the character arch in Coop has been great to see play out, she actually makes the very hard decision to change the trajectory of her life, and accomplishes the even harder task, of following through.

Your presence in the entertainment industry inspires many aspiring artists. What is the best piece of advice you have received in your career?

Recently, I was told ” You represent a group of people who almost never see themselves represented in an authentic way, especially at a high level. These are stories that you specifically are meant to tell, because you’re BRE Z” I would share that same sentiment with any aspiring artist. What you’re here to express, truly only YOU can do that. So by being who you really are, you’re attracting opportunities that are meant for you, and you alone. Whatever I am specifically meant to do in this life, can only be done by me. That advice allowed me to stop overthinking my process and also allowed for more comfortability in my creativity.

You’ve worked with some incredible talent. Is there anyone you’re dying to collaborate with next, and why?

Respectfully, as someone who is very mindful of the words I speak these days, I’m not dying to work with anyone. I do believe it would be an absolute pleasure to work with Angela Bassett. Her poise, dedication, and attend to her art has always been inspiring to me. I’ve crossed paths with her a few times, and she was

as pleasant as I’d imagined. To share a screen with her would truly challenge me in ways only meant to elevate my art. I have a strong desire to do comedy so I’d also have to say Kevin Hart. We’re both from Philly, we are the same height lol, and I just think it’ll be something great to watch! 

How do you handle criticism and negativity, especially when it comes from within your community/ industry?

AAhhh. This is a tough one. I genuinely wish our society was a kinder place, but since it is not, I look at the criticism through a pretty narrow lens, I know people are commenting on either the very small part who I am that I make public, or a character I’m playing. If I ever see anything worth taking a look in the mirror over, I will, but the blatant negativity, I block that out entirely. Toxicity has no space in my life.

What’s the most rebellious thing you’ve done in the name of your art?

I’ve always done it exactly in a way that was true to me.I don’t think it gets more rebellious than that. People think that they can dictate how a artist paints, writes, plays, or performs, and the truth is, thats not art. Art is to be expressed in whatever way the artist sees it. Although, I think my boldest choices, are ahead of me, and you’ll see that in the coming years.

How do you balance maintaining your privacy with the demands of being a public figure?

I used to be a very private person. I, at some point allowed myself to get caught up in the industry look of it all. Doing things that weren’t authentic to me and who I was, for the sake of applause. Sharing what I thought I had to and fulfilling a joy that was for others and not me. I stopped considering myself for a very long time. These days I keep what’s most sacred to me, mostly private and only share when I’m truly moved to. I mean it this time, and it will stay that way.

Looking back, what’s one risk you took in your career that completely paid off?

I took the risk of staying true to my own beliefs and not hiding who I am. This industry will certainly turn you into what it wants you to be, if you’re having any confusion. At my core I’m a big, creative, nurturing, funny, beautiful brown girl from Philadelphia. There’s things I just wouldn’t do, famous or not. This type of standard that one holds for themselves, could absolutely have you shut out, uninvited, and many other things. To say the least, it’s risky just being yourself. I am who I know I am and because of that, I take risks everyday.

How do you see the future of representation in “Hollywood”, and what role do you want to play in shaping it?

I truly believe in the near future that the representation in Hollywood will change majorly. I see true authenticity finding it’s way back to the forefront in smaller pockets of the industry. But speaking specifically to me and my purpose, we haven’t seen masculine presenting women represented without trying to soften them up, or tweak them in a way that’s more “digestable” for people who don’t understand certain walks of life. Although, I intend to play many different roles, I developing stories that will allow viewers to look at the screen and see

themselves. My goal is to completely wipe away the ability for anyone to say “I’ve never seen myself represented (properly).”

Can you share a moment when you felt you truly made an impact, either through your work or activism?

I am reminded daily that there is so much purpose in the work that I do. The messages I receive are beyond inspiring. The stories shared with me about overcoming, coming out, identity, and more are all breathtaking. These haven’t just been moments, there are thousands, possibly millions of people that have been moved in some way by the work that I do. The work I’ve done internally has yet to be expressed fully so I’m excited to see how this new, more positive version of myself, resonates with those watching me.

As BRE-Z continues to break boundaries and redefine norms in both music and acting, her story serves as an inspiration to many aspiring artists and fans alike. Her commitment to authenticity, her dedication to self-improvement, and her vision for the future of representation in Hollywood highlight her as a powerful voice in the industry. We eagerly anticipate the release of her upcoming EP and the exciting projects she has in store. Stay tuned for more from BRE-Z, an artist whose journey is far from over and whose impact is only just beginning. Thank you for joining us in this intimate look at the life and career of BRE-Z.



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