Actress Brely Evans Talks Latest Film, You Can’t Fight Christmas, Using Her Gift To Help Others Find Theirs, & Music Career
Renowned actress, singer, and producer Brely Evans, also known as Brely Evans-Eddings, will be lighting up your TV screen, this weekend, with an all-new film, You Can’t Fight Christmas. The TV One-exclusive captures Evans in the starring role of ‘Leslie Major’, an interior designer, who visits the great Chesterton Hotel, annually, to put her exquisite holiday decorating skills to use. However, this time around, the Christmas spirit isn’t the only thing in the air. Love is. During her stay, Leslie falls into the arms of the owner’s nephew, Edmund James (Andra Fuller, Black Jesus), and she becomes instantly smitten at the sight of him. But, after realizing that Edmund may be one of the biggest Christmas scrooges ever, Leslie makes it her duty to change that, as she does everything in her power to make this Christmas at the Chesterton Hotel a one to remember… for everybody and for Edmund.
Aware of the financial crisis that the hotel is currently undergoing, Edmund and his uptight business partner, Millicent (Persia White, Girlfriends), set out to renovate the establishment and turn it into an upscale business resort, sacrificing its holiday legacy. With enough joy for everyone to go around, Leslie aims to save the old traditions of the Chesterton Hotel, but she soon finds herself in a swirl of love that she just can’t seem to shake.
You Can’t Fight Christmas–which also stars Richard Gant, Marla Gibbs, Porscha Coleman, and Travis Winfrey–will premiere on Sunday, December 10th, at 7/6c, only on TV One!
A native of Oakland, California, Brely Evans is most known for her roles in BET’s Being Mary Jane, alongside the honorable Gabrielle Union, The Man In 3B, and the 2012 version of the 1976 film, Sparkle, among a plethora of others.
Aside from acting, Evans has since found a way to shine her light through others, as she is also a motivational speaker and founder of Water Walkers Worldwide Inc, a life-coaching organization dedicated to offering guidance those who aspire to turn their dreams into reality and goals into plans.
An immense talent with the God-given gift of storytelling, influencing, and encouraging others, without a doubt, Brely Evans certainly embodies the gift that will always keep on giving, and she gracefully continues to unravel the box, time and time again.
Check out our sit-down interview with Brely Evans below!
Parlé Mag: You Can’t Fight Christmas is your latest film, which will be premiering on TV One, this Sunday! The perfect way to kick off the holiday season. You portray the leading lady, Leslie Major. So, what can we know about your character, Leslie, and her role in the film?
Brely Evans: My character, Leslie Major, I like how someone wrote that she brings in all of the Yuletide cheer one can handle. [laughs] She just exudes Christmas; she exudes the holiday season. She lets that come out to the world through her designing, and she’s much more than just a decorator. Honey, she designs Christmas, okay! [laughs] Chesterton Hotel happens to be one of her biggest clients. So, she puts her all in all into designing the Chesterton Hotel. She’s full of joy, full of happiness, full of love. And, then, when kind of the scrooge-type of character, Edmund, comes in and tries to redirect all of that love and happiness, she’s like, “Oh, hold on, homeboy! We gon’ need you to get yourself together!” So, she really puts her all into keeping that Christmas cheer going on at the Chesterton Hotel.
Parlé Mag: When first reading the script, what were some of the things that immediately drew you to this character?
Brely Evans: Well, actually, I didn’t read a script first! I was offered this role.
Parlé Mag: Wow!
Brely Evans: Yes! It’s a true testament to say that there are no small roles in Hollywood. People say, “Oh, I just said one line.” or “I was walking in the background.” Don’t deny humble beginnings. Three years ago, for Poke Productions, they cast me in a very small role. They were shooting this movie, and when I was on set with them–hanging out for the entire day, they actually ran out of time to shoot my small part in the movie. It wasn’t such a pivotal role that they couldn’t have the movie without it, so they had to forgo my part in the movie. I did get to hang out with them and Romeo [Miller], the whole time, on set and everything. So, we’re all hanging out and stuff–we had a great day, and they’re like, “Brely, we’re so sad that we didn’t get to get to your part.” I’m like, “No problem! I enjoyed myself, anyhow, with you guys.” Literally, I thought no more of it. Three years later, who would’ve thought that they would say, “You know what? Remember Brely? Let’s write a film for her.”
Parlé Mag: Truly a blessing.
Brely Evans: That’s how it came about! I could not deny this, even if I wanted to. For them to remember me, three years later, was amazing. And, how they remembered me was by just being a pleasant person, behind the scenes and behind the set, waiting my turn! So, I think it’s a true testament to not denying your humble beginnings and embracing them. Also, being kind, you know? People remember how you make them feel. I think that is one of those gifts that I have, making them feel great! I didn’t choose this role; this role chose me!
Parlé Mag: What did you enjoy most about working with your co-star, Andra Fuller, alongside the rest of the ensemble cast, and just overall being a part of such an amazing and heartfelt project?
Brely Evans: Working with everybody was so fun! The cool part about this is, we got to shoot two movies at the same time! Which is unheard of. Our director, Kenny Young–he’s out of Chicago, and he’s fantastic, he was just so innovative in shooting. We shot Miss Me This Christmas and You Can’t Fight Christmas. This is the first time that I had ever heard of two main characters, in two different films, actually collide, at the Chesterton Hotel. So, we were both in each other’s movies. Erica Ash is the lead in Miss Me This Christmas, along with Eva Marcille. They were the leads over there, and we got a chance to work together a little bit. It was just fantastic! We shot this movie in like April or May, with all of the Christmas trees, the Santas, and the lights. We were in the Christmas cheer way, way early in the year! It just did all of our hearts good. We got to shoot right here in Los Angeles; that was surprising! At the time, I was a newlywed. I was like, “I don’t even have to travel anywhere else to shoot a movie?!” So, it was just a blessing, all the way around.
Parlé Mag: You Can’t Fight Christmas not only spreads the holiday cheer but it’s also a beautiful love story! In what way do you feel the film depicts the beauty of black love or love, in general?
Brely Evans: You Can’t Fight Christmas depicts the beauty of love by way of showing you that you just might encounter love in the most unsuspecting way, with the most unsuspecting person. Every time you are looking for love, and you’re making yourself available for love, it may not come in the package that you had dreamed of. It might come in something completely different. You might’ve thought, “I’m going to be with a tall, dark, and handsome.” or “I’m supposed to be with a model woman who looks like she can walk on the runways.” But, it might be just a little curvy girl from Oakland! [laughs]
Parlé Mag: [laughs]
Brely Evans: You’re like, “Wait a minute! She has caught my attention, this little curvy thing right here!” So, it just reminds the audience that love comes in all types of packages. Don’t deny it! When you get somebody who sparks something in your heart, peek into it, because that might be the person for you who may not have came in the package that you were looking for.
Parlé Mag: I completely agree! Love is love.
Brely Evans: Yes. You guys are going to get to see how I use every tactic up in the book to get Edmund to love Christmas again and just to find love, in general.
Parlé Mag: So, quite often, there is this stereotypical image of the everyday black woman that makes it seem as though we’re angry, we don’t want to give love, don’t want to receive love, and so on. So, as an actress, how does it feel to get to take on roles, as such, that kind of help rid that poor representation of us?
Brely Evans: Well, that’s one reason why I love TV One. They are amazing at showing African-American women in different lights in their programming. Just African-Americans period. Not just women, but the experience in a different light. The Chesterton Hotel is owned by a black man! It’s like, come on! We’re owning hotels?! Let me find out! Where we doing like the Hiltons?! You know what I’m saying? [laughs] And, to have a black woman, who’s an entrepreneur and owns a design company, and she comes in and brings this Christmas cheer like she does, I think it’s just awesome that we’re able to show ourselves, and show our kids, that you can be more than a singer, an actress, or a basketball player. There are other jobs out there to be grand at, to be noticed, to be in the news for!
Parlé Mag: Most definitely.
Brely Evans: So, I think TV One is doing an excellent job at that, and I’m just so happy to be a part of it. On-screen and off-screen, I realized that I’ve signed up for a job that makes me a role model, whether I want to be or not. So, I must live my life in a fashion that exudes that, on-and-off screen. It’s one thing to go, “Oh, I just love Brely Evans on-screen!”, and you have an experience with me, off-screen, that’s like, “Ugh! That wasn’t cool!” You know what I mean? I’m not saying that I’m always ‘on’ and that I haven’t probably rubbed people the wrong way, somewhere in my life, but I’ve done what I could do to clean those things up and be the most authentic and loving person I can be. This is God’s calling for me; this is beyond me trying to be famous, wanting to make a lot of money. This is more like what I was born to do. My purpose is to show people that you can take what God put inside of you, inside your heart, and you can live by it! Like, literally. Somebody might like to make shoes or make hats. You can literally live by that gift and not go get a nine to five job. I just keep my purpose in front of everything that I do, and that is just reminding people that it’s possible. That’s what it’s all about for me.
Parlé Mag: I have to ask, how do you always stay so happy and upbeat? On your social media, you’re always so positive about everything. What has really contributed to you getting to that place in your life?
Brely Evans: I think what has contributed to me being a happy-go-lucky person, most of the time, is my family life. I was raised with so much love, hugs, kisses, and gifts!
Parlé Mag: Aw!
Brely Evans: I have so much love to give. That’s why, when I was single, I talked about being married and wanting to have children so much. I have so much love that’s been poured into me, by my family, my friends, strangers! Once I put myself on a national platform to be an actress and singer, so much love gets poured into me that I just exude all of that love! So, really, it’s just a residual effect of what you guys are giving me. I’m overflowing! As I talk to my water walkers, we talk about being hiccups and making sure that we’re overflowing so that the people around us, the saucer, they get to get some of that overflow. You know? Whether it’s funny, whether it’s opportunity– whether it’s just love, kindness, happiness, you get to get that overflow. So, I’m here to be anybody’s saucer, as my cup runneth over, as well. If you’re under me, and you’re getting my overflow, I want it just to keep running over. You know, like one of those chocolate things at weddings?
Parlé Mag: Yes! Those chocolate fountains. [laughs]
Brely Evans: [laughs] Exactly! I’m just trying to be a fountain. That’s it!
Parlé Mag: That’s it! So, being in this industry, for as long as you have, and learning the ropes of Hollywood, what is it like to still have people loving your work and wanting to see more?
Brely Evans: It’s refreshing! I’ve been in this industry for eleven-ish years. My very first time on television was a Twix commercial. It’s so funny, but if you go to YouTube, and put in ‘Twix booty’–I know that sounds crazy [laughs], you will see my very first commercial, as an actress. I didn’t watch TV growing up and say, ‘Oooh, I want to do that! Oooh, I want to be an actress!’ I didn’t do that at all. I kept saying that I want to be a singer, singer, singer. Someone told me, “Noooo, you move as an actress!” I believe that happens to a lot of people. People have a multiplicity of gifts, but I think people in your life are telling you which one you should focus on. I just got done talking with my group of water walkers about this. If you focus on one of your gifts, that one gift will be the catalyst to open up opportunities for the other gift. Here’s my case in point, someone told me, “Brely, you should be an actress. I see it in you. You move like an actress.” The moment I tried it, ten auditions later, I got that ‘Twix booty’ commercial, okay? So, I got that Twix commercial, and I’ve been working ever since then–in commercials, films, TV; it’s been going on and on. Now, here I am in You Can’t Fight Christmas. Do you know that the producers said, “Brely, we know that you can sing. So, we want you to sing in the film, and we want you to record a song for the movie.” I was like, “What?!” At the end of You Can’t Fight Christmas, when the movie is going off, the end title track is me singing a song, called “Finally”. I was able to sing and write with The Trackheads! This is my first time recording a song for a movie.
Parlé Mag: I know that had to be a wonderful feeling!
Brely Evans: Yes! If you stay true to one thing, it will open up the doors to the other thing. But, you don’t have to tell the people, “Oh, I can do these fifteen things.” No! Just tell them you can do the one, and if you do the one well, other opportunities will be afforded you, period.
Parlé Mag: Amen! So, talk to us about your experience recording that song. How was it?
Brely Evans: I hadn’t been in the studio for many years! I had just kind of given up on the music industry and all that’s going on with it. I was so focused on the acting. But, to get in the studio with everybody, we had such a good time. They made the experience so easy. We literally got in there, we picked the tracks that we wanted to write, and then the words just kind of fell off of us. I began to recount some of the story about my husband and me, saying, ‘Finally!’ Some of the lyrics are, ‘Never thought this day would come. Other girls, they dream of rushing into true love.’ It’s like, “I didn’t know you were the one!” It’s so amazing how when you finally find love, you’re like, “Wow! This has really happened to me. Finally!” So, you guys, check that song out! I really want the take away to be that your dreams are real, and all of your gifts will be used. Just please focus on one first.
Parlé Mag: Would you ever consider venturing off back into the music business or releasing an album?
Brely Evans: I honestly have no choice. I feel like the music industry is calling me back to it. So, yes, more music to come.
Parlé Mag: How do you feel you’ve grown, personally and creatively, throughout the years of your acting career?
Brely Evans: I believe that I’ve grown in my acting career because I’ve become more confident. I’ve become less worried about what people think. When I go into a meeting–which the world calls it an ‘audition’, but I call it a ‘meeting’, I have a different sense of self when I walk into the room. I’m here to give you my interpretation of your lines. This is my stage; I’m not waiting to be hired by you to be on your stage. We all might die tomorrow, so I’m going to have to live in my gift, today, and give you the best performance in this room, right now, in case this is the last time you get to see me! So, I believe that the confidence, really being okay with myself, and really being okay with my gift have grown over the years. It just came with time, and it came with getting my feelings hurt, a few times, and realizing to stop performing for people, but if you perform for God, who gave you the talent, then you can care less about what any casting directors, producers, or what any of them think. You’re doing it for a higher purpose. If they don’t like it, that’s okay! God does.
It doesn’t matter if they like it or not. What comes from the heart always reaches the heart. When I come in there, I’m giving my heart because I studied to show myself approved, I know my lines, I understand the character. This is my interpretation! You leave that energy in the room, and they’re wondering, “What just left up out of here?” You might not even be right for the part, and they’re like, “Ooooh! I felt that energy!” Energy, it connects. It connects us. So, I encourage everybody to really get comfortable with yourself. Stay true to your authentic self, and stop being worried about people. We are all the same, at the end of the day. No one can make or break your career. You can make or break your career. There’s no competition. Just focus on what you came do.
Parlé Mag: I couldn’t agree more. It all goes back to the saying, “Just be yourself. Somebody’s going to feel it, one way or another.”
Brely Evans: Do you, boo! Yes! [laughs]
Parlé Mag: What’s next for Brely Evans?
Brely Evans: Well, in the months to come, more music! Definitely more music. More producing. I’ve been traveling the country doing Water Walkers Artist Workshops. I’m taking my light and shining it on our artists. We had a wonderful time in Chicago. We were able to shine some light on some amazing talent there, and we’re just going on to the next city. Everybody can’t get on the big shows–American Idol, The Voice, and all that. So, I said, “You know what? I’m going to bring the old school talent shows to some cities around the country.” That’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m cutting it into a web-series where you’ll get to see some of the talents that I’m seeing across the country. I also have some of my friends in the industry–music producers, television producers, managers, and creative directors, sitting down with me and watching the talent, and we’re going to discuss how they can better their brand. We’re not here to put anybody down, but what we are going to do is help them with constructive instructions on how to make their career pop.
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