Press Play Podcast Features Local Celebrity | Thomas Nelson Community College

Press Play Podcast Features Local Celebrity

December 10, 2020
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Cocoa Brown, a movie and TV actress who was born in Newport News, spoke with Thomas Nelson students for a recent podcast. (

Thomas Nelson students Debra Godette and Iyanna Tucker know how important homework is to their success in the classroom. They recently discovered how important it is in the real world, too.

Alicia Riley, the College’s Special Events manager, arranged for them to interview actress and Newport News native Cocoa Brown for one of the College’s Press Play podcasts. Godette and Tucker had heard of Brown, but weren’t that familiar with her work. As with their academic studies, they did their homework and learned a lot more about Brown before the interview.

The resulting podcast, according to Riley, “was excellent. Debra and Iyanna, they were very prepared. … They were very professional.”

Tucker said once she saw a photo of Brown, she recognized her.

“I looked her up and was like, ‘Oh, okay She does look familiar.’ I’ve seen her on a couple of shows,” she said.

Added Godette: “I found out that she did some very interesting projects in television shows and movies.”

Among Brown’s credits is a six-year run on Tyler Perry’s comedy series “For Better or Worse,” which was on the Oprah Winfrey Network. She also was in “The Single Moms Club” and “Ted 2.” In addition, she starred as a guest on “ER” and “Breaking Bad.”

They research Godette and Tucker did helped in at least two other ways: to decide what questions to ask her because they were limited to one each, and to help them avoid the butterflies that could come with interviewing a celebrity.

“Before the meeting started I was (nervous), but the fact that we rehearsed, everything fell into place and it happened like it was supposed to,” Godette said. “I think we did a good job at it.”

Tucker agreed she wasn’t as nervous as she anticipated.

“I was a little nervous, but I think since I had (time) to prepare beforehand, I wasn’t really nervous because I know she’s famous but I can still talk to her like an individual,” she said.

And Tucker saw it as a practical experience also: “She can probably help me in my life, too, if I need advice.”

Even though they were limited to their questions, both said it wasn’t difficult narrowing it down. Godette said that since Brown is from the area, she wanted to know what struggles Brown encountered on the road to success. Tucker asked Brown, who is an actress, writer and comedian, how she determined which she wants to concentrate on or do full time.

“There were so many interesting questions that we had or that we had come up with,” Godette said.

Tucker said the best part of the interview was discovering Brown is a genuine person.

“She wasn’t over the top. She was just like a regular person that you could actually talk to,” Tucker said. “She was nice and she was happy, just being herself.”

Tucker got a kick out of it when Brown described herself as “famous enough.”

“She knows she doesn’t have to walk around with a security guard, but she’s happy where she is in life,” Tucker said. “She’s happy with famous enough. She’s still able to pay her bills and still getting recognized.”

Riley thought Brown would be a good subject because of her ties to the area. She also attened VCU and likes to give back.

To listen to the podcast, go to