The ‘Hit The Floor’ and ‘Dear White People’ actress on fantasy football team names, Allyson Felix — and her whiskey specifics
Logan Browning won’t talk much about who shot her — that is, she won’t talk much about who shot her character, Jelena Howard, on VH1’s Hit The Floor. And while the question of “Who shot Jelena?” — perhaps an homage to “Who Shot JR?” — threatens to outshine the wedding of costars Ahsha Hayes (Taylour Paige) and Derek Roman (McKinley Freeman), the 27-year-old actress’ plate is quite full these days.
Fans of Hit The Floor know Browning’s character as a bit of an, let’s just say, antagonist. In real life, though, the friendly Atlanta native (who relocated to Los Angeles as a teenager) is anything but. Later this month, she begins shooting Netflix’s Dear White People series, based on the much buzzed-about film.
While taking a break from prepping for her role as Samantha White, Browning opens up about her family, her faith, and her growing fantasy football addiction.What book are you reading right now?
Angela Davis’ Women, Race & Class. The role I’m about to tackle [in Dear White People] — is an activist. Playing a character that is so ‘woke,’ I feel I need to be as well. I mean, I feel like I am — but I’m realizing there are always materials I’ve never read. So maybe I’m not as aware as I thought I was.
What’s the one moment when it hit you that your passion (acting) could become your career?
I started so young. I wanted to be a performer. I was 14, my family lived in Atlanta and I moved to Los Angeles. I had like legal guardians and stuff. My parents would visit, but I was pretty much in L.A. working as a 14-year-old. I understood then that I had a responsibility to show up to work on time, know what I was supposed to be doing, finish my school. It was a job, early. Only in the last four years I have reassessed what it is to me. I had my career set at 14. I’ve had to reassess in order to be happy and feel fulfilled in life: ‘Wait, I like this. I can be passionate about it. I can be greater at it.’ Now, I’m kinda doing the opposite and turning what is already my business into a true passion.
What’s your process for maintaining happiness? Especially in a town like Hollywood.
I have consistent joy. I get that through faith, family support, self-worth, self-motivation, but I have my ups and downs. I just booked a show and I’ll still be sitting on my couch trying to self-motivate, to convince myself to have a good day. I’ve learned I’ve gotta take everything in stride, look at my past, look at my present, look at my future and … just kinda roll with it.
Let me lighten up. I didn’t mean to make this a Barbara Walters interview.
I think I just naturally go there [laughs]. Because I could totally just be like, ‘Happiness is going on a hike!’
If you could portray any athlete in a biopic, who are you choosing?
This doesn’t even make sense — first I thought, Tony Gonzalez. But because I’m not a man, I guess I can’t play him [laughs]. Allyson Felix would be someone cool to play. Or Misty Copeland! I’m obsessed with Misty Copeland.
Looking at your pictures again … you do favor Allyson Felix.
We just have like wide features. Like round, big heads. Wide-spaced eyes. Wide mouth. And so we’re kinda like caricature cartoon-looking people. I say it in an endearing way!
How would you rate your sports fandom on a scale of one to 10? One being, ‘I don’t care.’ Ten being you paint your face when you go to games.
So I’m a huge sports fan. I’m from Atlanta. I rep the Falcons. Dirty Birds till I die! My fandom comes from my dad and all my brothers … that was my way of connecting with my dad. A lot of times I had no idea what I was watching. And I was just like, I gotta learn. I was hounding my brother to put me in his fantasy league. This is our third year doing his league. Last year, he didn’t tell me when the draft was!
Don’t tell me that! He sold you up the river like that?
Everyone kept trying to make me feel better like, ‘Logan, you actually have a really good team.’ It’s pointless! This is not the purpose of fantasy! An auto-draft is stupid! I wanna pick my own players.
Like 60 percent of the enjoyment of fantasy football is the draft, though.
Right! It’s fun. It’s nerve-racking. I’m really proud of my team name this year [laughs].
Oh, OK, so you have to tell me what your team name is.
It started off as Field Goal All In My Chainz. But now I just changed it to Field Goal All In My Rangs.
I’ve never finished better than fifth place in any fantasy league. I was only proud of my team names. I had like two in my six or seven years playing. The first was Tony Romo’s BFF and …
Because I am a depressed and maniacal Dallas Cowboys fan.
Yes? I felt some shots coming after that.
No! Just sending love. I’m a Falcons fan. I can’t shoot anybody.
Favorite throwback TV show? And I might judge you depending on your answer.
[Laughs.] Ummmmmm, I watched a lot of cartoons.
Yes. Please. Go ahead. I like where this is going.
Rugrats. I love cartoons in general. Like Hey Arnold, Arthur and even like Family Guy. I don’t know why I like cartoons. Maybe because they live these almost immortal lives. They wear the same thing every day. It’s usually humor and not drama. It’s just lighthearted and makes you feel good.
How did you feel about the explosion of the Arthur memes?
[Laughs.] It’s amazing! It’s probably why I just said it! It’s stuck in my head. Literally every day I’m getting an Arthur meme. And then we’re going into what is Arthur? I always thought he was an anteater. He’s not. He’s an aardvark!
I love when group chats explode over memes. Is there one in particular that made you laugh?
I mean … [laughs] it’s way too inappropriate!
Respect. Respect. Moving right along, what’s the last show you binge-watched?
Stranger Things on Netflix.
Top three karaoke songs?
I’d have to go Beyoncé’s “Crazy In Love,” “Out Tonight” from Rent, and Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats.”
I am like my mom in this way — she drinks all her liquor straight. She doesn’t believe in ruining liquor with fruity additions and sodas. That all adds extra sugar, which aids in giving you a headache. So, I love really clean vodka and really clean whiskey. I love Basil Hayden. That’s one of my favorite whiskeys.
Not to disrespect you or your mother, but there’s not a damn thing wrong with a whiskey and ginger.
[Laughs.] Sometimes I will put in Coke or ginger ale, but for the most part … on the rocks. I don’t like hot liquor.
Any holiday plans, or big trips coming up?
One of my favorite holidays is Halloween. I love dressing up. I do the sexy costumes sometimes, but I love to be unrecognizable, so I’ll do prosthetics and blood and stuff like that. I’ve been Regan from The Exorcist, Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter. But this year I think I’m gonna be Jaylah from Star Trek Beyond. I’m looking forward to some trick-or-treating.
Last concert you went to?
I went with my brother. They sing this song called S.O.B. and I can’t think of what their name is. It’s this random, whiskey drinking, eclectic group.
Yep. We went to see him somewhere in downtown Los Angeles. It was a cool, random little spot.
Where does your courage come from?
My family. My mom. My parents. My brothers. My friends. I’m blessed to have such a strong mom. And I had such a strong, loving, giving dad. They’re just really well-balanced people … hardworking, Christian businesspeople. Family-oriented. They showed me what you need to do to survive in this world. You have to have love and compassion. And you have to have family and support, but you also have to go after dreams and stability — and literally, survival. Physical, monetary, and emotional survival. All of that that I have definitely comes from them.