Over the course of its two seasons, Netflix's southern drama Sweet Magnolias has been warming our hearts with the fictional town of Serenity, S.C. The series follows three lifelong friends as they face love, loss, and everything in between with each other to lean on along the way. Brooke Elliott stars as one of the show's leading ladies, Dana Sue Sullivan -- a restaurant owner and mom who couldn't get through any of the chaos in her life without the help of her friends. If Elliott looks familiar, that's probably because you've seen her before in another popular series. But that might not be the only place.
Here's everything you need to know about Sweet Magnolias star Brooke Elliott.
Theater + Broadway
Elliott has an infectious energy on television so it really shouldn't come as a surprise that she got her start on the stage. She told MyEntertainmentWorld.ca that as a child, she actually wanted to grow up to be Barbra Streisand.
"At first, when I was growing up, I wanted to be Barbra Streisand. That's what I wanted to do, I would be another Barbra Streisand. Then as I got into high school, and the option is drama club, not Barbara Streisand club, I got into drama. And I found that I really belonged there. So I pursued that in college and then professionally. I always knew I would do something in the entertainment field, that was my calling."
Elliott graduated from college with a degree in musical theater and went on to become a Broadway star. She toured with the national cast of Wicked, made her Broadway debut in Taboo (thanks to Rosie O'Donnell giving Elliott her big break), and also appeared in The Pirate Queen. But, like many stage actors in New York City, she started to dabble with acting in front of the camera.
It's kind of crazy that Elliott only appeared in a small role in Mel Gibson's What Women Want and an episode on Law and Order before landing the lead in Lifetime's loveable dramedy Drop Dead Diva. For six seasons, Elliott starred as Jane Bingum, a plus-size attorney whose body is taken over by the soul of a fashion model. It really was a sweet series that developed a passionate fan following while it was on the air and kind of had everything you'd want in a good TV show -- moments of comedy, drama, and lots of heart. Not to mention, Elliott was able to be a strong example of body positivity in Hollywood.
Another cool thing about this show is Lifetime totally leaned into Elliott's Broadway past, and there are some really fun musical episodes that let Jane show off her incredible vocals. After the series ended, Elliott told The Hollywood Reporter how much she loved playing her character for so many years.
"I love playing Deb in Jane's body. I thought she was so much fun, and I loved finding the places in the script where I could really bring out some of Deb's soul. It was always Deb's soul in Jane's body, with Jane's characteristics influencing Deb's decisions. I always loved those little moments that I could put in there were especially Deb-like. I love playing that character. And what was fun about her is that she didn't have a sense of propriety, like "I have to behave this way." She behaved the way she wanted and loved life and loved herself, and I love that about her."
Outside of her two big series, Elliott has also appeared in an episode of Dolly Parton's Heartstrings and will be executive producing and starring in a new Lifetime Christmas movie this year, A Country Christmas Harmony.
While Drop Dead Diva first endeared Elliott to TV audiences, her biggest role yet might be Sweet Magnolias due to the popularity of Netflix's original content. The series, based on the Sherryl Woods book series, was an instant hit, and it's easy to see why. The Sweet Magnolias trio is impossible not to love and Elliott was the perfect choice to bring Dana Sue Sullivan to life on the screen. She's a working woman with her own restaurant, a daughter to take care of, and a complicated love life. She's one of the most interesting characters to watch, largely thanks to what Elliott brings to the role.
"Reaching No. 1 on Netflix as quickly as we did was really thrilling--and for me very heartwarming and touching that people were so excited for us to come back," Elliott told her alma mater, Western Michigan University. "In this business, you just never know; you can pour your heart into something and people respond to it or they don't, and you just never really know. So it was very, very exciting to see people flock to it so quickly and seem to really like it."
"The stories are so filled with truth, and the truth of life that I think you'd be able to identify and relate to many people in the show," she adds. "That's what I imagine people like about it; you want to see your own journey and your own self represented, and it's a really powerful thing when you do."
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