AH: What is your daily mantra?
MPB: Sometimes it’s just saying I am, I am, I am — a meditation from Deepak Chopra. You close your eyes and say your full name: I am María Pérez-Brown. Each time you repeat it, you drop something. Saying my full name brings up an image in my mind of who I am today now. When I say, “I am María Pérez,” I’ve dropped the Brown — I just dropped my husband, my child, my family. That consciousness is now “I am María Pérez.” That’s the young me that was in college, in law school, striving to be a producer and a TV writer. Then when I say, “I am María,” I am now a child, my mother’s daughter, the kid who ran around school, who lived in Puerto Rico.
When I drop María and say, “I am,” it’s a very weird, powerful, and almost scary feeling because I’m naked. I just am. So, with this mantra, you are this energy and it takes you back. You say it a few times until you are comfortable going backwards, backwards, backwards, and when you get to the “I am,” you are so in tune with just pure energy. That’s the point where you start feeling powerful and connected with the source, whatever that source is in your life. Then there is no judgment, no feeling; it just is.
AH: How would you describe beauty?
MPB: When I was a child in the Caribbean we would always have these torrential rains. And it was a warm feeling because we would go inside and have great family time. But then I grew up in the inner city in Hartford, Connecticut. We were poor but the churches provided outings for the inner-city kids. I went on a camping trip with them one time. Everyone kept saying we couldn’t go outside because it was raining.
But then our mentors said, “we’re still going to do everything we were going to do outside — we’ll just do it in the rain.” The smell was so wonderful and I remember feeling such joy. The weather was so beautiful with all that green around me and the smells of the dirt and rain. It was amazing to be able to experience beauty in what others may consider horrible or something to hide from.
AH: What is love?
MPB: Love is a verb. It is definitely an action word. It’s not something that is static. It grows with you and you redefine it as you grow and become stronger and more evolved. Love is what propels you to keep growing. Everything is guided by love.
AH: What gives you energy?
MPB: The possibility that you can create your reality. Because once you have a desire and you go for that desire and you manifest that desire in your life — it’s like an onion — it opens up another layer of what you want.
AH: How do you make room for loss, disappointment, or grief — these things that come to us even when we don’t want them to?
MPB: Sometimes we are just forced to do it. Life has a way of abruptly making you stop and acknowledge it. My aunt recently passed away. We held her hand until she took her last breath. It was a primal thing to witness someone leaving. It forces you to think about life and death. I really meditated the day before and had asked for a sign. And the image of a white butterfly came to me. Not even an hour after she passed, I was sitting in the yard and this white butterfly flew through these purple flowers and it landed on a flower and it stayed and it stayed. And the butterfly never left. It just stayed on that flower. And butterflies move! I knew it was a sign that she was ok.
You do have to make room for those moments.
AH: What is the soul?
MPB: It’s really powerful to be able to understand that we are still connected to the source that we came from. And that connection, when your body is no longer in the way, you can just connect to. The understanding of what the soul is and how you are still aware of that soul, or how you implement that in your life, is crucial to understanding how you can, in fact, create and change your life and pursue whatever it is you want to do.
AH: What piece of advice would you give your 5-year-old self?
MPB: Use your imagination and be as fantastical as you want to be. The more outrageous your thoughts, the more possibilities you’re going to have in life.
AH: Tell us about your charity.
MPB: I designated Black Filmmakers Foundation because they helped me when I started out as an attorney wanting to pursue a creative career in television writing. There was no outlet for people of color to pursue opportunities and networking events and scholarships and all the things they provided an entire generation of filmmakers. They were able to show us by example that there was room for black writers, producers, and editors.
Named one of the most powerful women and minorities in the cable industry for 2012 and 2011 by Cable Fax Magazine, María Pérez-Brown is a nationally recognized leader in media with over 20 years of experience developing and producing content for leading media brands including Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., ABC, CBS, Nelvana, Sesame Workshop, and NuvoTV. Pérez-Brown was the creator and executive producer of Taina, a live-action comedy series for Nickelodeon that was named Best Children’s Series by the Imagen Foundation and the National Council of La Raza. Pérez-Brown also created the landmark pre-school series Gullah Gullah Island, which was recognized by TV Guide as of the nation’s “Top 10 Television Shows.” The series garnered three Parent’s Choice Golden Awards, a National Association of Minorities in Cable Award, and four NAACP Image Award nominations. Pérez-Brown is the President of her own production company, Dorado Entertainment. She is also the author of several books including, Latinos Leaders Speak (Arte Público Press, 2017); Zuri Pi Wonders Why, (Zwoosh Media, 2015) and Mamá: Latina Daughters Celebrate Their Mothers (Harper Collins, 2002). She is currently an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University School of the Arts, where she teaches “The Art of the Pitch”. Pérez-Brown holds a JD from New York University Law School and earned her B.A. at Yale University.
January 18, 2018
Originally published at journal.mindmeet.us on January 18, 2018.