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Getting to Know the Incomparable Lily Brooks O’Briant

Lily Brooks O’Briant is an actress and singer/songwriter in Los Angeles. Getting her start in film, Lily has also graced the Broadway stage as Matilda in “Matilda the Musical” as well as lead roles on hit shows such as “The Big Show Show” and “Life by Ella”. Currently Lily can be seen on the long-running daytime drama “The Young & The Restless. 

Most recently, Lily has added singer/songwriter to her already extensive resume. She released her first EP in 2023 entitled “Too Good to be True”. Lily released two more singles to kick off 2024 and is currently in the studio working on more songs for an upcoming EP. Lily had a break in her busy schedule for this interview about her journey for far. 

Your journey in the entertainment industry has been quite diverse, from soap operas to Broadway to your own short film. How do you navigate such varied roles, and what has been your favorite project so far?

My journey has been a whirlwind of diverse experiences, but each has taught me something unique. Navigating these roles involves immersing myself in each character’s world, understanding their motivations and emotions deeply. I started in film, moved to playing Matilda on the Broadway tour of “Matilda the Musical” which was a dream role for me at age 9, then a LOT of short films (over 25) where I was able to learn so much about in front of & behind the camera, then my first series regular role on Netflix’s “The Big Show Show”, my first title role in TV on ‘Life by Ella’, now on “The Young & the Restless” & writing, directing my own short film. It’s all been a process of continuous learning and adapting. Choosing a favorite project is tough, but “Life By Ella” holds a special place in my heart. Ella’s resilience and joy in the face of adversity deeply resonated with me and mirrored the strength I strive to embody.

Congratulations on the success of “Sharing The Floor”! How did the idea for the short film come about, and what challenges did you face taking on multiple roles as a writer, director, producer, and actor in the project?

“Sharing The Floor” was scary but I wanted to share a story that was authentic and let other teens facing a similar situation know that they aren’t alone, which was how I felt when I was going through something similar to the lead character in the short film, Grace. The biggest challenge during filming was juggling multiple roles. It demanded a balance between my creative vision and the practical aspects of production, but it was an invaluable learning experience that has grown my skills in storytelling and leadership. I had a really amazing team with me and was also able to lean on my assistant director, my good friend, Julia Garcia, and my co-producers too. I am excited that “Sharing the Floor” has won so many awards in film festivals (Burbank Film Festival, Catalina Film Festival & so many more!!) and is showing in May at the Beverly Hills Film Festival! 

From soap operas to Apple TV+ series and now into music, you’re truly a multi-talented artist. How do you balance your acting career with your newfound passion for music, and can you share some insights into your creative process when writing and recording your singles.  

Awe. Thank you! I actually started singing before acting. I used to sing and give Taylor Swift cover song concerts in our kitchen when I was 4 years old. I started acting in musical theatre when I was 5. I had the very critical role of ‘bunny rabbit’ in our community theatre’s summer all kids production of “Sleeping Beauty”. It’s almost like I have come full circle now. Singing, musical theatre, film and TV, and now back to singing but telling my own stories this time. I’m not going to lie. Balancing it all can be tough sometimes making sure I am constantly improving my acting skills while also pouring into my music too, but I am a storyteller. I have always loved telling stories whether it is by singing, acting, directing or songwriting. I just am not satisfied picking one lane.

Songwriting is so personal and every songwriter has a different process. Most of the time I start with the concept and the story but because I am writing at least a song a week while I am in school, occasionally the producer has a beat in mind and I write based on that sound. My creative process in music almost always starts with personal experiences or emotions and my own truth, which then becomes lyrics and melodies that resonate with me.

Your debut EP, “Too Good to be True,” garnered a lot of attention. How would you describe the overall theme and inspiration behind the EP?

I didn’t really start writing my own music until October 2022. I had always written lyric ideas down but hadn’t done anything with it. I experienced my first heartbreak in Fall of 2022 and really threw myself into songwriting. The first 4 songs on “Too Good to be True” tell the story of that first heartbreak. The last song was one of new beginnings and hope. I have released two singles ‘Romeo & Juliet’ and ‘How Pathetic’ this year and plan to release a second EP late this summer with about 7 or 8 songs. I think y’all will love the story it tells. I recently played at the iconic Troubadour in LA and I played a lot of unreleased songs I plan to have on that EP – ‘Wait a Minute’, ‘One More’ and two more called ‘But I Don’t Know’ & ‘Telephone’. I’m excited for y’all to hear just a little of what I’ve been working on.  

Having started your career on the Broadway Tour of “Matilda The Musical,” how has your background in theater influenced your approach to on-screen acting, and do you have any dream roles you’d like to tackle in the future?

I technically started professionally in film but honestly, my foundation in theater has been instrumental in shaping my approach to acting. The immediacy and intensity of live performances have taught me the importance of presence, authenticity and always being SUPER prepared, elements I bring to every role, on screen or stage. Dream roles? I’m drawn to characters that challenge me, push boundaries, and tell compelling stories. I would love to tackle an action film, maybe Spider Gwen in the live action version of the Marvel franchise, a horror film or a medical drama.  

Your philanthropic efforts with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital are truly commendable. Can you share more about why this cause is so important to you and the impact you’ve seen through your involvement with Team Young Hollywood and Broadway?

I am originally from Memphis, Tennessee and had several childhood friends who were treated at St. Jude. My involvement with St. Jude’s goes beyond charity; it’s a personal commitment to making a difference and sharing what St. Jude can and has done. The courage and resilience of the children and families I’ve met have been profoundly inspiring. I am so grateful that I am able to support St. Jude and share the impact that St. Jude makes worldwide toward finding cures and saving lives. Team Young Hollywood is a testament to what we can achieve when we come together for a cause greater than ourselves, making a tangible impact in the lives of those battling childhood cancer.

You’ve worked with esteemed actors like Laura Benanti and participated in a Broadway staged reading of “Sinatra.” What have been some key lessons or experiences that you’ve taken away from working alongside such seasoned professionals in the industry?

I am so fortunate to have been mentored by so many incredible actors, working with talents like Laura Benanti on ‘Sinatra’ (I played young Nancy Sinatra), Paul Wight who played my dad on “The Big Show Show”, Kevin Rahm & Mary Faber who played my parents on “Life by Ella” and so many amazing actors on “The Young & the Restless” has been amazing. They have all been so incredibly kind. The key takeaway is the importance of preparation, versatility, and the ability to remain grounded. Every role is an opportunity to learn, grow, and contribute to the tapestry of storytelling.

Transitioning from Netflix’s “The Big Show Show” to projects like “Life by Ella” and “The Young & the Restless,” you’ve showcased your versatility in various genres. How do you approach selecting roles, and what kind of projects are you drawn to?

I’m going to be honest. Professional acting as a 16 & 17 year old is tough because the roles are pretty limited and most are cast by 18+ to play younger. I am super lucky to have been cast as Ella at age 15 and then have been cast on Y&R at 16.  I love creating and telling stories above all so when the roles I want to play aren’t available, I’ve learned to create my own short films.  

In addition to your artistic pursuits, you’re known for enjoying theme parks. What’s your favorite roller coaster, and how do you find time to unwind and recharge amidst your busy schedule?

I’m not great with down time, but I do love going to the beach, trapeze lessons on Santa Monica pier, taking a boxing or hot yoga class and I LOVE theme parks. My favorite roller coasters are the fastest craziest ones. 

As someone with a significant following on Instagram, how do you engage with your fans on social media, and what role do platforms like Instagram play in your connection with your audience?

Social media can be fun and it can also be overwhelming too. I try to add a mix of personal and professional but I always try to be myself. I strive to maintain authenticity, sharing my journey, the highs and the lows, with a community that supports and inspires me. It’s about building connections that extend beyond the screen.

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