December 2003
Honey: An Interview with Joy Bryant

Interviewed by Wilson Morales

HONEY An Interview with Joy Bryant

From modeling to acting, Joy Bryant seems to be on her way up. After an impressive debut in Antoine Fisher with Derek Luke, Joy hasn’t stop working. Trying different things to get different parts has so far work out. Next year, she will be featured in 3 films, with each role different from the other. But for now, Joy is enjoying playing the role of Gina in her latest film, Honey. She plays the best friend to Jessica Alba’s character. In an interview with, Joy talks about her character in Honey and giving back to her community.

WM: How is it going from doing a deep film like Antoine Fisher to doing a lighthearted film like this one?

JB: It was a nice refreshing change there. I want to be able to mix it up and do different things. This was lighter and fun and just different.

WM: Your role is like the voice of reason in this film. Is this character anything like you in real life?

JB: Actually, I’m not really the voice of reason. I try to see both sides a little crazy though but Gina is based on a good friend of mine from high school, who is from Harlem and Gina is like my ode to her cause she’s exactly like that. She’s the tough girl with a heart of gold who’s your friend to the end who’s going to tell you when you are wrong, whether you like it or not. No nonsense. That’s Gina.

WM: Sometimes the role of the best friend is somewhat a thankless role, but you have to make something out of it.

JB: Yeah, it was really important to me, and that was the great thing about everyone that worked on the film with Billie and Marc Platt and the studio. They let me do my thing and it was really important that she was real and authentic and not just a “chicken head” ghetto whatever. She has something that little girls can go and look up to. No, she doesn’t have the aspirations of being a dancer, but she’s a good person, she’s a good friend. She’s smart, she’s intelligent, and she’s sharp. That’s really what I wanted to create with her. That’s really important to me. It could have easily been that I’m the friend with nothing to offer. I didn’t want her to be perceived as a hater. My friend who I based Gina on, is not like that, no matter what’s going on in her life, you have to be happy for everybody else. You do your thing and I’ll do my thing. But then again, I have friends who just hate. How are you going to be my friend and hate? So I didn’t want Gina to be like that. I wanted Gina to be like, “Honey, this is your thing, you do your thing. I’m your girl. Don’t worry about what the hell I’m doing, but I’m here to support you and help you.”

WM: Let’s talk about the outfits in the film.

JB: That was all my idea, the braids and the outfits. I didn’t want her to be slutty but sexy and saucy and I thought it would be a nice change to have corn rolls that would be a different look. They were a pain in the butt. I had corn rolls for 3 months, and I was like, “I wish I had thought about this some more.” I definitely had an idea of how I wanted her to look so when I went in for my fittings and everything, I pretty much brought to the table how I wanted the look, from head to toe. I told Billie I wanted braids, and he was like, “Great.” They pretty much let me do my thing on everything so it was cool.

WM: In real life, how it tuned are you with the hip-hop community?

JB: I know a lot of people. I love the music. I grew up in the Bronx, tomboy, dancing, graffiti, everything, so that’s part of my life. That’s how I grew up. Being in the business, it’s cool to make friendships with people who I used to watch and listen to their music. I’m very involved. I haven’t done any videos but that’s okay.

WM: Although you’re young in your career, have you felt the need to give back to your community?

JB: Yeah. I started doing it last year. That’s why I’m excited to do films that young kids can go out and see. The last 2 films I did is not really for kids but last year for Antoine Fisher I did a screening at my high school in the Bronx by 161st St. by Yankee Stadium and I will be doing it again with this film. Universal Pictures was so gracious to rent out a movie theater so the entire school can come and they are also donating computers to the school. I want to make a point of at least once a year, hopefully I have a film they can see, but if not, coming in with some stuff. I’m part of a program called Computers For Kids, that’s based in NY, where we’re getting corporations to invest and adopt New York Public Schools; not so much high schools, but elementary schools and junior high schools and equipping every child with a take home computer and also creating a computer facility at the school, and also offering instructions for parents and kids to learn how to use computers. I’m just trying to do what I can for now and I would love to do more but I’m really excited for that. When I first started, I was think, “What can I do?” You start thinking on a big scale and there are so many things and I had to just focus in and make it really small, and I would start from where I know, the people I grew up with. The people in the neighborhood I grew up in and I decided to make it small and start from there.

WM: How do you deal with being a role model to some people?

JB: I think that’s pretty cool. Whenever you are in the public eye and people respond to you, especially kids, you sort of are a role model, whether you like it or not. Especially for young black girls, they definitely need role models. I don’t recall growing up and looking up to anybody, besides my Nana. If there’s anything that anyone can learn from me in my life is that regardless where you come from or what cards life has dealt you, you can still dream and still achieve the things you want to achieve. You might harder than some people but so what’s a little bit of hard work. So it just a matter of staying positive, and having goals and having dreams, and just fighting for them.

WM: What’s next for you?

JB: I’m doing a movie called “Haven” with Gabriel Bryne, and Bill Paxton. I’m Gabriel’s secretary and Bill Paxton is his client and we sort of have a little fling. I’m just really excited to be working with all these great people in the Cayman Islands, for free, and I’m getting paid. It doesn’t get any better than that. I also did “Three Way Split” with Gina Gershon. I think they may change the title. I shot that right after “How To Get The Man’s Foot Outta Your Ass”. That film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and it got bought by Sony Classics as did “Three Way Split”, which was picked up by Screen Gems. “How To Get The Man’s Foot Outta Your Ass” is directed by Mario Van Peebles it’s about the making of Sweet Sweetback’s Baad Assss Song. Mario plays his dad and I play his secretary, and David Alan Grier is in it, and he’s just hilarious. He and I shared a trailer and he just cracks me up all day long.

WM: How steamy are you willing to go as an actress?

JB: I’m all for to go if it’s not gratuitous. When I got the script for “Three Way Split”, it didn’t read as gratuitous to me. If it fits the part, if it fits the role, it’s all good. You can go too far, but some people don’t like to show nudity. I think it’s a matter of where you are and what you like or whatever, and preference. I definitely didn’t want to show too much, I was like, “Only from the side.” My career is just starting, let me just take it easy with the “full-on-ness”. That might be a couple of years down the line if it calls for it if it’s necessary.

WM: Is there a perfect role for you?

JB: I’m just excited to do good work and get my feet wet in all different types of work, but I think if there’s one thing, I’d like to do a romantic comedy. The great thing about Mario’s movie is that I got to be a bit comedic cause I’m silly and I want to be able to show that on camera. When folks met me after “Antoine Fisher” and they didn’t know me before when I met the director and producer of “Three Way Split”, they thought that I was this serious, innocent, sweet girl. I am that but I want to be able to show the other side of me. The silly side.