When the economy took a downturn and the film industry was grinding to a halt, actress Brooke Lewis took the opportunity to improve herself: she went back to school and earned her certifications as a life coach. Her lifelong desire to help young girls navigate the tough years of puberty was being realized. Since that time, she has written a book and set up a practice.
We managed to get this ball of energy to sit down for a conversation about her journey… which is really just beginning.
BLUMHOUSE.COM: What did you have degrees in prior to getting into “Ms. Vampy” and life-coaching?
BROOKE LEWIS: I went to college at Temple University for Acting and Theater. Then I was convinced very early on by family and friends that I needed to go to Law School. I needed to have a legitimate stable career. I bought it for a bit, so I had a minor in Theater and I have my regular degree in Rhetoric and Communication, Speech Communication, Interpersonal Communication and Debate.
This is so ironic — cut to all these years later — that I would end up using that as a life coach and on television and in speaking. It’s so crazy the way life works. So I have that degree, with a minor in Theater and a minor in Criminal Justice. I got into Law School and then I went, “Who am I trying to please here?” Ever since I was a little girl I wanted to be an actress. So I decided to quit Law School and took off and went right to New York and became a working actress.
That’s what this book for young women is about: making powerful choices. It’s about, “Am I going to live my life for everybody else and their approval and what they think I should do? Or am I going to follow my heart and passion and dreams?”
BH: Do you think that your height and the fact that you are a good-looking female actually worked as a roadblock in your career, because people might not have taken you as seriously?
BL: To this day I have struggled with my height. I love being petite. We all know I have a very big mouth, so I am powerful within. I’ve learned to cultivate that and really make that work for me. But there are roles I have missed out on, and still do, because of my height. However, now that I am an adult and can play roles 10 years younger than I am, it kind of works for me… so I’m happy about that.
As far as the “attractive” question… that hurt me the most in producing. I was never taken seriously when I was on sets; they did not give me credibility. As an actress it has hurt me, the sex appeal thing. I talk about this with a lot of my older actress friends. I have no problem with pulling back the hair and taking off the makeup. But I’m voluptuous by nature, and where it has hurt me was that, especially in sitcom auditions, I would hear “She’s amazing and funny, but sexier than our lead actress.” The lead actress was the girl next door, blonde usually. You have to be lucky enough to get just the right role for it to work for you. I’m actually feeling that as I’m getting older, I’m growing into the right roles. So I’m hopeful. But it did hurt me.
BH: Is that one of the things that stuck in the back of your mind that led you to the Ms. Vampy thing?
BL: Absolutely. The thing that led me, besides being a crazy horror fan as a kid through my entire life, was when my film KINKY KILLERS came out and everybody was saying “Scream Queen” and bestowing that title on me. I was won over by the horror fans’ sense of community. All the things I had been chastised for were [now] embraced. The horror world said “We love women of different ethnicities, different body types, and different races.” To this day, I shout out to the horror community for that. It felt right.
Then a marketing company came to me with an opportunity and said “We want you to be ‘Brooke Lewis, Vampire Goddess,’ and you’re gonna push your big boobs up to here, maybe do a little nudity, be bimbo-ish.” I said no. That was not who I was. If I’m going to do a character, it is going to come out of my past body of work. That’s how Ms. Vampy was born.
BH: What made you want to get into that whole life-coaching thing and reach out to teens and tweens?
BL: Once I became known and was embraced in the horror genre, we created the Ms. Vampy character. We started her out as an Elvira-type character — I love Elvira. I started getting fan mail with the first web series: families, teens, mothers saying things like “My teenage daughters love you.” I thought this really could be something positive for young people. I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to have positive messages for women, families, teen girls. So, with my partners, I ended up writing Vamp It Out, which was sort of a movie-of-the-week thing, with music and all. When I was pitching it to the networks, they weren’t getting it. “How could a new Elvira character be a positive role model?” So I took my own money and shot the Tween Talk, Teen Talk and In-Between Talk talk show. I wanted to have positive messages for young women, and show that horror icons could be a positive role model to women all over, especially teenage girls. I wish I’d had a positive role model to guide me along the way… and maybe I wouldn’t have made some of the mistakes along the way.
BH: What made you write the book?
BL: I had written a book that someone had requested of me about 3 years ago. They said to write something that inspired me, based on the Ms. Vampy series. It was going to be a big thing. They put me in lockdown for about 5 days. I didn’t leave my apartment, literally… I just kept ordering food.
In the talk show, we had talked about several things: body image, anti-bullying, self-esteem. The one surprising through-line was the young girls’ fear of making the wrong choices. They didn’t know how to make the right choices. They were afraid of disappointing family and friends. I chose to pick one topic out of all the different ones that were on the show and write a full flushed-out chapter and introduction. I chose making powerful choices… I called it “There’s a Lotta Power in Ya Choices.” I wrote it out and sent it in, and I didn’t hear anything for about a year. Who knows if anything they told me was true or not.
Recently, I’ve started doing a lot of talk shows again. People keep asking where my book is, and “Where is Ms. Vampy?” There was no way I had the wherewithal right now to sit down and write a 200-page book. My friend Staci Layne Wilson inspired me as she was talking about her e-book releases, and I realized I had a fully fleshed-out chapter that I had been sitting on for about 3 years… and thought that I could put these e-books out as a series, topic by topic. She did the cover, I did some updating, and there’s Book One in the series.
Brooke can be reached at Be You and Be Fearless.