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Let Your Light Shine

B is for Brély

Take a moment and pull up the image of the person who selflessly champions your squad. Who shows genuine concern for your life? The one who surrounds you like a shield with the Word of God. The person who speaks that thing into existence, and can see a “no” as a “not yet, something immeasurably more.” Ok, do you see that person in your mind’s eye now? If you do, cool. If you don’t, that’s cool too because without further ado, allow your new bestie, Miss Brély Evans, to introduce herself to you! This dynamic jill of all trades sat with MB Mag and gifted us with the following conversation that will make the ambition inside of you spring forth with a renewed fervor. 

What’s in a Name?

A name gives you an identity, a sense of who you are, your purpose. It gives a glimpse of those you belong to, a peek to your place in this world. Names are the introduction to the totality of who you are, distinguishing you from another and, therefore, should be respected and treated with the utmost respectable care. Our very first question for this ordinary woman doing EXTRAordinary things through Christ had to first touch on the correct spelling and story behind her name.

The Conversation

BE: Hello? It’s Brély!

MB Mag: Hi, Miss Brély! How are you?

BE: Very good.

BE: My original name does have an accent, but I don’t use it. ‘Cause most people don’t know how to put it properly. It’s “an aigu” [an accent mark over the e] and not an apostrophe. I just usually don’t use it ‘cause most people get it wrong. Thank you for asking . . .  I’m going to go out on a limb and say let’s use it. 

MB Mag: What does your name mean?

BE: Actually? Um, it was a typo. I was supposed to be Kimberly at birth. When my mother received my birth certificate, it said Kim“bray-lee” and she said, “They spelled her name wrong!” Then she settled in her spirit and said, “Well, perhaps it’s serendipity and this is what God wanted her name to be.” So my name became Kimbrély at birth. And everyone called me Kim as a little girl. Then in college, my roommates and my boyfriend, who I had in college, were calling me Miss Brély. And that was like the thing. “Hey, Miss Brély!” And so Brély has been my college to adulthood years name. 

MB Mag: Okay, we first want to know who is Brély Evans? Who are you?

BE: Wow. I am a spirit having a human experience, and it’s been so fun to lean into my gifts. To learn that I can live by them and I don’t have to work a job that I don’t like. And so who am I? I am a spirit here on earth, urging people to get to know who they are spirit-wise. So that they can really take this journey in and make it be a fun, fulfilling thing. You literally came to this earth with all the tools you need, and you are fully equipped to do what you desire. That’s who I am.

MB Mag: Will you say that you’ve always been confident in who you are?

BE: Um, no. Cause I didn’t know who I was at first. I just thought I was a girl from Oakland who could sing and dance real good. And you know, who was cute. That’s who I thought I was. But when I realized there was a deeper purpose for my existence here, I was like, oh! You know, I thought I had to lose weight to be in the industry that I am in. I sang before I became an actor. I was always told to lose weight, you know, things like that. So I always thought I wasn’t good enough, but something clicked. And when I realized that, oh, I am perfect, just the way I am, I haven’t stopped working since. And the word “working” is beginning to irritate me because I don’t really work. I get to play for a living. Most often I’m like, you guys are going to pay me for this?! It’s ludicrous! I get to go laugh and have fun. And even when I have to cry, you know, it’s still fun that I get to make this magic and get money in return. So yeah, no, I didn’t know who I was.

And when I did come into that, I said, oh, I’ve got to let the curvy girls, especially, you know, people who are listening to me know that accepting yourself, where you are, is your power. That is your superpower! Saying like, ooo, I love me. And ooo, I’m the bomb! I got one set of fingerprints that nobody has, I’m unique, I’m special, you know? And then, you know, using that specialness of yourself to create a paycheck, you know? 

MB Mag: You have so many gifts and talents. What’s the origin story of how you developed and cultivated your different gifts? When did you recognize your passions?

BE: I was about three years old, sitting in the congregation of Berkeley Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Berkeley, California. I kept nudging my grandmother, telling her I wanted to go and sing in the choir, but I wasn’t old enough. I think you had to be five to be in the choir, but I kept going, saying I wanted to go up there, and I was pointing, kicking, and acting a fool. People were like, dude, let her go. You know? So I ended up going up and just standing up there, and I was looking at the people in the audience, you know, uh, clapping, and they were just enjoying the choir. Something struck me like, whoa! I was a little girl, like three, and I just loved the energy of the people singing behind me and looking at the people and how it was affecting the people. Mind you, I didn’t know what was going on. I just knew I liked it. So they let me join the choir early. I got my first solo the next year when I was about four, and it was, yes, “Jesus Loves Me,” and when people got up to clap for me, it felt like it was like for me, not for everybody else. I got bit by the performance bug very early. My aunt, who plays the organ there at church, took me under her wing to develop my singing abilities. Then I started to join little girl groups as a teenager, and I was in every talent show and just always performing when I could, and that turned into getting a record deal by the time I was 18. Then I toured with the Backstreet Boys. I was in a group called Emage. If you go to YouTube and put in Emage (“The Choice Is Yours”), you’ll see our music video. You can even pull up our whole album. We opened up for the Backstreet Boys at one time. I did that as a teenager. Most people don’t know that I have a musical beginning, it’s like, I’m totally reinvented to another girl as an actor. 

MB Mag: How did you get into acting?

BE: One of the girls decided to leave the group. And so the other two of us were like, uh, what do we do now? So I went back to college. I went to college in LA. Cal State LA is where I graduated from. Once I graduated, I was still kind of doing the music stuff. There was this neighbor in the apartment building I was living in, and I was so excited when I saw him bite into the Big Mac on a McDonald’s commercial. And he said it’s just a commercial … I tell everybody that I live next door to that famous actress. And I was like, well, I’m not an actress. Then he said, but I see you with the makeup and everything. I said, yeah, I’m going places to sing. And he’s like, what? Oh, you should act, you’re an actress. So he took me to meet his agent, and I literally started working and I haven’t looked back. I’m so grateful that the God in someone spoke to the God in me and I tried it and it worked. That’s how I started acting — someone told me “you’re an actor.” He was my neighbor and there’s like a whole family of mom and dad, cousins, uncle, you know, they had like a large family there. So I felt comfortable. And I always caveat that conversation with, Hey, don’t get in the car with strangers. I did know this guy, I had been living there for over a year. We had been saying hello. I had no idea he was an actor. So seeing him in that McDonald’s commercial was a big deal. You know what I mean? 

Let me tell you something, what God has for all of us, we will be led down a path that way. It was me seeing the commercial, to me walking outside to my car one day, catching him at the same exact time he’s going in his house. Do you understand? It was already set up, you know? Like what were the chances? Oh my God! I just saw you on the McDonalds commercial so that he could respond I live next door to a famous actor, I’ve been telling people. I said, you’re getting me mixed up with someone. He was like, oh my God, I am on my way to my agent’s office, you should come. And I just went. And so with that, on my 10th audition, I was able to get the Twix commercial, which is also on YouTube. It was the first thing I have ever done in television in my life. When I got the check for that, I said, oh honey, I’m an actor! One day of work? 40K? That’s what people make in a year of working. I was like, why did I go to college? Now I do have my degree, so don’t try to get out of school because I said that, lol!

MB Mag: What’s one piece of advice for those considering being in the entertainment industry that you wish you would’ve known, that you could give a word of advice to.

BE: I would say you are good enough. It doesn’t take the best singer. It doesn’t take the skinniest or most fit person. It doesn’t take the most handsome or pretty face. It takes a desire that is unwilling and relentless to hear “no”! Look, I don’t mean to call her out in any kind of negative way, but there are people who have graced us with their talents that may not have been the prettiest or may not have been the best sounding, but they found themselves in a special way. And then we begin to like them. I don’t know why she’s coming up in my spirit, but Macy Gray is coming up — she had a really different type of sound and I liked it! So I want people to know that I wished somebody had told me, Brély, you are perfect, honey. You don’t even need a girls group, go solo. And actually, you want me to be honest with you? Mona Scott. Mona Scott who is the head of Monami Productions. She happened to be our choreographer for the group that I was in at the time back in the day. She used to tell me to go solo. She used to say, you’re the one, you’re the one. And I’d be like, no, I’m not. Because I was not the skinniest, I was not the most talented singer. I felt like I was the one that was kinda the glue. Like I was an in-between, you know? One could sing really, really well and could do all the runs, have the high notes. And the other one was very fit and lean and skinny. And I was right in the middle. I felt like I wasn’t this one and I wasn’t that one. So I’m just the okay one. But Mona would tell me, Brély, you’re the one. Go and do your own thing. I just never believed in myself. People along my journey would tell me, your voice isn’t great. You can’t even sing high notes. There were people along my journey that would make me feel less than, and they told me your song writing ability is not that great. It’s so interesting how we’ll have those negative naysayers. But I also had the people that told me you’re the bomb! You’re the one! I’ll never forget. Jamie Foxx pulled me aside and said, “When you realize who you are, you are going to blow!” I’m like, what do you mean? And he was like, “If you just knew what we see.” It was just a self-confidence thing. And I think now that I’m a little older, I’m like, forget what anybody thinks, you know? And so now I see myself doing all these wonderful things. Like just coming back from Africa, shooting a movie!!

I said that I wanted to be a part of Nollywood, and merging Hollywood and God brought it right to my doorstep. I just got back from Ghana. I was there a month shooting a movie called Single Not Searching. And I’m a producer on the film as well. I’m so looking forward to being a gatekeeper in this industry. I want to ignite other people’s dreams. It’s time for me to produce. That is the big secret … Brély is producing!! However, I can help those who are coming behind me. I’m about to open the gate. 

MB Mag: Talk to us about producing. What does that mean specifically? How does one develop this gift of producing?

BE: What it means for me is that I realized that on certain sets that I’m on, I know how things go. I know that I can team lead, and I know how to put other leaders in position to get things done. And that’s what producing is. You have an idea and you can produce it into the manifestation of it. But you realize you can’t do it alone. You realize it takes a village. You realize that I need to pull these people in to make this thing happen. The first thing I directed recently was my first music video. Go on YouTube, put in Ambitious by Brély. My first single came out in the first quarter of the year. And I produced and directed my first video. When I got finished with that, I was like, if you can do a video, Brély, you can do a movie. So I started telling people, Hey, I want to produce. I want to produce in anything. I’m all in. I need to be a producer on it. How can I help the production? Producing is an act of service. How can I use my gift, my resources, and my Rolodex to bring what you guys need to complete this project? That’s what it is.

MB Mag: Tell us about “Ambitious.”

BE: The reason why I named that song “Ambitious” is because I was on a show called Ambitions on OWN. Everyone loved it, but when it didn’t get picked back up, I felt like the world needed to hear that when your ambitions (the name of a show) don’t work out, you have to stay ambitious

Listen to the lyrics in the song, I was just listening to it. It says that this girl should be all on her grind. I’ve got success on my mind. I’m making moves. Don’t waste time. I’m already thinking about what I got next for me. It’s time to get another bag. I’m talking about all these things in the song. And then I said, I stayed in first-class. I want you to know I flew to Ghana in first-class!  Ghana was nowhere in my sight when I wrote the lyrics.When I sang it in the studio. Ghana was nowhere. First of all, we were doing COVID. I did it in 2020. We were at home, locked up. I was singing about what I wanted for myself next. I wanted to be able to walk into a Bentley car dealership and pick one. I want it to be in first-class. I wanted to be international. I wanted money coming out the kazoo so that I could then help other people facilitate their dreams. I was talking about the things I wanted. Now I realize, you have what you say. And only say what you want to see.

MB Mag: Talk to us about your book The ABCs of I AMs.

BE: I kept hearing. write a book and I was like Lord, I wasn’t the girl in English class, I’m not her. And he just kept on me and it was on me so tough one day that I sat down at my girlfriend’s desk and said, Lord, if you want a book, then what is it going to be? And I heard ABC. ABCs? That doesn’t make sense. ABCs of I AMs. I was like, what is that? That doesn’t make sense. I just kept writing what I was hearing. I used to do my I Am’s on Instagram, and I really thank my Instagram followers for the book. I would get up in the morning and say, I am healthy. I am wealthy. I am happy. I am whole. I am a wife. I am a mother. I am abundant. I am a multimillionaire. I am a producer. I am a sought after actress. I am, you know, I would say these. Then something said, go live (on Instagram). And I was like, Lord, I do this with you. He was like no, go live. I went live. Then people start saying, could you do this tomorrow? Can we do this again? Where can I read these? And I said, no you guys, I’m just saying these off the top of my head. I’m just zoning out. And they’re like, no, we want to read it. And I was like, but there’s nowhere to read it. They were frustrated with me. But would you know that one of my followers typed out everything I said on one of my lives? Then sent it to me in an email and said, here’s the beginning of your book. I was like, okay, Lord, I still don’t know how to put these I Am’s in a book form. And literally, I kept hearing that small voice. He said, do the ABCs. And I said there’s only 26 letters of the alphabet. That’s not a book. And He said, do five words per letter. I said, okay, now that’s a few more pages. And then after I said, Lord, you give me the five words. And He said, well, don’t judge them after I give them to you. You’re going to think, oh, that’s a dumb word. Like, I am nice. Somebody needs to hear that one day and they’re going to have your book in their hand. Just write down what I say. So He gave me five A words, five B words, five C words, all the way through, but I still felt like it was too thin. And He was like, well, put the Scripture to go with each one, so that they are standing on the word for what they say. So there’s a Scripture for every I am that is in my book so that you know you’re not just saying something to say something, but that you have Scripture to stand on when you’re saying it! There’s a section in the book where you can write in it, you could add more I Am’s to that letter. Or you can confirm in your spirit the manifestations for saying that I Am.

*The ABCs of I Ams can be purchased via Amazon. You can also join Brély in the room she created on Fanbase where she’ll ask you if you said your I Am’s.*

MB Mag: Have you ever struggled to share your faith?

BE: Never! It’s because of God that I have this talent. It’s because of God that He has opened doors. I call it sweatless effort. This industry has not been hard for me. What was hard was me being in my own way, thinking I wasn’t enough. The moment I said I’m enough, I got what it takes, then doors just started opening. Phone calls started. There are so many times that I didn’t even audition. Do you know that I didn’t even audition for Just Wright with Queen Latifah? My phone rang. It was a phone call. Like, this is what I’m saying. People think, oh, I need an agent. I need a manager. I need. But I haven’t had an agent or a manager in the beginning of my career. I’m now looking for new team members. But my point is, you don’t even need all that. What you need is confidence in what God has given you and walk towards it.That’s it!

I love Issa Rae’s story. She was like, I wasn’t getting casted, people weren’t being receptive to me. So she started Awkward Black Girl. I love her for that. I’m looking at her and I’m like, wow, she has created her own lane because she realized her fingerprints. She realized who she was. It was like, I Am Enough! I don’t need the okay of a manager, an agent or a producer. I can just create my own and God will provide. Who are we trusting? Are we trusting the producers of this industry? Or are we trusting God? As I speak these words, they’re hitting me right back in my spirit.

MB Mag: When did your walk with the Lord become personal for you?

BE: Well, I have been going to church since I was three, I grew up in it. But it became personal when I was baptized at twelve. That has been my family’s staple, knowing who God is.That’s how we were raised. Everyone in this house shall praise the Lord, you know? I’m grateful for that. This is my thing! I am sexy and saved! I say that in my song “Ambitious that I wrote. People can’t even understand that, but do you understand? I can be sexy. I can have fun and still be SAVED! Being fly and having swag and all that stuff, you can still be saved and have all of that! You can still love the Lord. It’s not an “either or,” it’s an “and.” God made all of this. Let’s love on each other and have a heart for people over money.

MB Mag: It’s evident that you are very intentional about edifying, empowering, and encouraging others. Who would you say has inspired you to live out your purpose?

BE: I have had the support of my family with everything I’ve ever done. Having their support has always made me feel like I had a launch pad and a safety net. No matter what I did. Whether it failed or it didn’t fail. I was going to be successful because I knew I had a launch pad and a safety net, you know? I’m so grateful for my mom and dad who have supported me every time I thought of something new. My friends as well. I’ve been blessed to have good people around me at all times.

MB Mag: What’s a challenge that you have had to overcome to make it to where you are today?

BE: Judging myself. And that I had to eradicate the words “comparison” and “competition.” I took those words out of my vocabulary. I took the words “aspire” and the phrase “I want to be one day” out of my vocabulary. Then life started happening. I learned the power of language. We’re the only species that God gave the power of speaking things. We have to take that so seriously. Even though there are times where I slip up, but what’s cool is that I have surrounded myself with a group of girlfriends who are just as dynamic. So we can then shape each other. We can say, hey hey, that’s not how we talk. We don’t even say, oh, you killed it. The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Why are we telling people that we are killing it? I say, ooo girl, you gave that thing life! I take the words off of a page of a script and I put them in my spirit. And then spew it out of my mouth, which has air. That’s giving life to the words on the page. That’s not killing anything. I dare you not to say that phrase anymore and when you hear someone say it, lovingly say, ooo we don’t kill stuff, we have God, we speak life.

MB Mag: Actress, Singer, Director, Producer, Business Owner, and Sexy & Saved … What else, what else is going on in your world?

BE: I’m single. If anybody needs to know. I am single, ready to mingle. I definitely have a heart open for love. I still want children. I am working on myself daily so that I can be prepared for all that’s coming. I’m excited about having a partner in life. I’m really excited about that. 

MB Mag: You’re really big on self-care. What’s your favorite self-care activity?

BE: I get a massage almost every day. We use our bodies as actors. We have to know that our bodies are our instruments. Getting that massage, getting things well oiled, is important, and drinking your water. I probably get a massage five times out of every week. That is my little secret. When my friends call me and they can’t reach me, they’re like, oh, give it an hour, she’ll answer.

MB Mag: Do you have any tips or resources that you can share with those embarking on a career in the entertainment industry?

BE: The Power of the Actor by Ivana Chubbuck. Make sure that you get into good acting classes. It is necessary. Don’t rely on your God-given talents. Please go hone your gift. I went to TSAW, which is Tasha Smith’s workshop, early on. It still goes on in Los Angeles, California.

If you need virtual training, my girlfriend Kinniksky.com is an amazing virtual talent/acting coach.

Just go do it, stop aspiring, and get busy. Quit the job, make the job your first investor, you know, and if you’re going to stay at the job, just make sure that you realize that God is your investment. That’s the only reason why you’re there. The job is going to help you pay for the headshots, the acting classes, and such like that, but really go for it. There’s enough room for all of us. God didn’t run out of any resources for any of us.

MB Mag: What is your favorite verse?

BE: It’s Mark 9:23. Jesus said to him, “If you can? Everything is possible for the one who believes.”

MB Mag: Last question, you talked about being in your bag earlier. What’s your favorite go-to bag to carry?

BE: Right now I have this Louis Vuitton on my arm. But the new bag that I really want to buy that I  haven’t purchased yet is a Balmain. I love it because it has a big old B on it. It says Brély to me.

MB Mag: Ok, follow up question, does that mean that you have an interest in being a designer? A fashion industry on the horizon?

BE: Okayyy, so you’re speaking that into existence and I’m receiving it. And those people who will help me get that together are seeking me out right now! You will be one of the first to know about it, cause that’s coming. I feel it.

Brély Evans is a multi-talented, faith-speaking powerhouse of a woman who is truly a leading light. This conversation allows us a glimpse into her purposed faith walk and the faithfulness of God at work in and through her life. May you find the encouragement to not only speak life over your dreams, but to step out in faith, shedding the fear and doubts to live out your dreams.

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