My goal is to bring awareness to mental health, addiction, and all the shame we as humans keep a secret. In each episode of the podcast, I reveal more of my own darkness while my guests reveal the shame attached to their secrets. We tackle subjects ranging from addictions, suicide, sexual assault by a police officer, using abortions as birth control, changing genders, or even motherhood frustrations. Guests range from recognizable names to anonymous people, willing to share their truth with the hope our listeners realize they’re not so alone or broken. My mission is to carry the message of compassion and empathy towards ourselves and others because we’re all just trying to do our best in this crazy, unpredictable world.
As a part of our series about “TV & Film Stars Making a Social Impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Brianne Davis.
As a recovering sex and love addict for the past eleven years, actress Brianne Davis has made it her mission to shed a light on an often misunderstood disease. Her debut book “Secret Life of a Hollywood Sex & Love Addict” releases on Amazon on Friday, February 12, 2021. Inspired by true events, the book chronicles the life of Roxanne, an actress based in Hollywood who hits rock bottom in her sex and love addiction. After years of working as an image obsessed actress in Hollywood, she finds herself at rock bottom from a disease that is anything but glamorous. In addition to her debut book, Brianne hosts the popular mental health podcast “Secret Life,” which features inspiring true confessions from an eclectic group of guests, unpacking a variety of taboo topics including miscarriages, eating disorders and rape culture. In television, Brianne most recently starred on the History Channel series “Six” (2016–18), and has appeared in Netflix/FOX’s “Lucifer,” Hulu’s “Casual,” FOX’s “Rosewood,” HBO’s “True Blood,” and CBS’ “The Mentalist. On the film front, Brianne’s first break in the business came with a small speaking role in the film “Remember the Titans” opposite Denzel Washington, Hayden Panettiere, Ryan Gosling and Kate Bosworth. She went on to book roles in “Dawson’s Creek” (CW), “Jarhead,” where she starred opposite Jake Gyllenhaal, and “Prom Night,” alongside Brittany Snow, Kellan Lutz and Idris Elba. Under her production company Give & Take Productions, Brianne has produced three films while also directing “The Night Visitor 2: Heather’s Story” and “Deadly Signal.”
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series Brianne! Can you share with us the “backstory” that led you to this career path?
I have been a working actor for the last 20 years on television and films, including History Channel’s Six, Netflix’s Lucifer, Jarhead, and Prom Night, to name a few. Over the last year, I wrote a roman à clef novel based on my life in Hollywood and 11 years of recovery from sex and love addiction. My book is a hybrid of memoir, chick lit and self-help called Secret Life of a Hollywood Sex & Love Addict. We released it exclusively on Amazon and it hit the best-seller lists the first weekend. I never wanted to write a book, mainly because I struggled with ADHD and dyslexia. I found myself being led to be of service beyond my Hollywood community. I am now on a new path, entertaining and connecting with people through my book and personal journals podcast, Secret Life. My goal is to share my experience, strength and compassion with others on their journeys — it’s a complete 180 from just being an actress. I am beyond grateful because helping others is the best thing I have ever done. It fills me with serenity and purpose.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career? What was the lesson or take away that you took out of that story?
I talk about it in the book; there are a lot of funny Hollywood stories. In one particular story, I was shooting a love scene with a beautiful male star. The director kept yelling at us too, “Bang like jackrabbits,” — right in the middle of a take. We could not stop laughing as he used his hands to demonstrate how fast he wanted us to move. It was kind of ridiculous and hilarious. Plus, I got a horrible bruise on my backside and the male actor’s knees were all bruised. There’s much more revealed in my book, I promise!
What would you advise a young person who wants to emulate your success?
I would say don’t try to be me or anyone else — instead, be your own authentic self. We all have our own paths and career. The hardest thing about Hollywood and being an actor is that there’s no one formula for success. I would just advise to always create, create, create. Don’t wait for someone to hire you — create your own projects. Generate your own opportunities. That’s what keeps me sane and creative in this funky unstable business. While working as an actress, I had to find other things to stay creative. I’ve directed two movies, produced three, wrote the book, started a podcast, developed several TV projects, and… became a mother. I had to find ways to out-create the constant rejection of the business, or I’d burn out.
Is there a person that made a profound impact on your life? Can you share a story?
My husband, Mark Gantt has been the best producing partner a girl could ask for. He is the other half of the Secret Life podcast and our production company, Give & Take Productions. He is supportive and also pushes me to do more in my life. For instance, like I said, I never wanted to write a book. It wasn’t even on my radar, but he kept mentioning this 90-day writing workshop. He could see I had an important story in me that needed to be told. After the 6th time reminding me, I gave in and took the class. I wrote the first draft in 45 days. I guess I would say he is my biggest fan and my best motivator. Sometimes we need someone in our corner who helps silence those self-doubt voices in our heads. Mark is definitely that person for me.
How are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting causes you are working on right now?
I love this question. This is the whole reason for the podcast and my book. I want to help break the stigma and shame of sex and love addiction — especially for women. I want to shine the light on society’s dark corners that contribute and perpetuate the obsession with perfectionism, finding our soulmates and always swiping left or right to find the ONE. Those can be very dangerous ideals to move around in our world, especially when social media amplifies compulsion. My goal is to bring awareness to mental health, addiction, and all the shame we as humans keep a secret. In each episode of the podcast, I reveal more of my own darkness while my guests reveal the shame attached to their secrets. We tackle subjects ranging from addictions, suicide, sexual assault by a police officer, using abortions as birth control, changing genders, or even motherhood frustrations. Guests range from recognizable names to anonymous people, willing to share their truth with the hope our listeners realize they’re not so alone or broken. My mission is to carry the message of compassion and empathy towards ourselves and others because we’re all just trying to do our best in this crazy, unpredictable world.
Can you share with us the story behind why you chose to take up this particular cause?
Having my own struggle with my addiction to sex and love, I felt so broken and alone before I found Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous. During my first year of recovery, I thought I was going to die from the withdrawal. But once I started to work the twelve-steps, did therapy twice a week and non-stop meetings for eight years, I found a new way of life. I realized my best gift was to share my experience, strength and hope with as many people as possible.
Can you share with us a story about a person who was impacted by your cause?
My sponsors. I have had two different sponsors in the last 11 years. They both have driven me to dig deep and deal with my past trauma and stop using people to complete me. Like an alcoholic who uses a bottle, or an addict uses a drug, I use people to have control and power over them. Both sponsors taught me that I am enough just as I am without using anything on the outside to fix me. No man, job, purse, validation (you name it) will complete me. I have to do the inner work to heal myself. Plus, they both helped me find my own God and define my own higher power for myself.
Are there three things that individuals, society or the government can do to support you in this effort?
First, we as a society need to ban internet pornography accessibility. Online porn is really desensitizing our youth. They compare the fantasy-driven sex they watch in porn to what sex and intimacy look like in real life. I believe we are about to experience an epidemic with intimacy issues in our youth. Second, I believe the media is responsible for the inaccurate representation of what healthy sexuality looks like. I grew up watching too many films that romanticized overly passionate and dramatic relationships. I believed that a real love meant fighting, breaking up and then dramatically getting back together — all the while looking like a perfect size 2, with perfect makeup and perfect hair. I would love to have us break down those unrealistic expectations of women in the media.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I think that’s what we’re trying to do with the Secret Life movement. Encouraging people to let go of their shame, guilt, and secrets to transform, change and be of service to someone who still suffers. I mean, think about it, if everyone let go of their baggage and learned to truly love themselves just as they are, there might not be any more suffering. There would be no compare and despair. The message would be clear — you are not alone and there is a way out of your internal pain. Then carry it to the next person and so on and so on. What a beautiful, caring world that would be. Because in the end, all humans want the same thing; to be loved, understood, and not abandoned. That’s the movement I’m trying to start.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you explain how that was relevant in your life?
Let go and let God! That is a twelve-step saying and it helps me let go of anything that is not meant for me. That I can turn my will and my life over to something bigger than me. That I will be taken care of and whatever is supposed to be mine will be mine. So, there is no reason to worry and fret over something that is not meant to be for me.
We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Politics, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
Jamie Lee Curtis. She is also an actor/recovering addict. I love having conversations with professionals that are also in the twelve-step world. There is just this overwhelming compassion and connection between two former addicts that are now in recovery. Plus, her being a writer and director like myself. I just adore her strength and fortitude in her career. That would be a very enlightening conversation I would want to partake in.
Thank you so much for these amazing insights. This was so inspiring, and we wish you continued success!