The Untold Truth Of Brooke Elliott

If you've watched Sweet Magnolias on Netflix, then you might recognize actor Brooke Elliott as Dana Sue Sullivan, the headstrong chef and owner of Sullivan's restaurant in the fictional town of Serenity, S.C. In the series, Dana Sue and her two best friends, Maddie Townsend (JoAnna Garcia Swisher) and Helen Decatur (Heather Headley), juggle new relationships, family, and their careers while living in the quaint and small neighborhood.

Besides appearing in Sweet Magnolias, Elliott has made quite a career for herself. The actor is probably most known for playing Jane Bingum — an aspiring model who dies and comes back to life as a lawyer — on Lifetime's hit show Drop Dead Diva from 2009 to 2014. Elliott also made two appearances on Broadway — one in Taboo in 2003, and one in The Pirate Queen in 2007. Not to mention, Elliott's first movie was What Women Want with Mel Gibson in 2000, and she recently starred in Dolly Parton's Netflix series, Heartstrings, in 2019.

While Elliott was in high school, she "got into drama" and "found that [she] really belonged there," she told My Entertainment World in 2011. "So, I pursued that in college and then professionally. I always knew I would do something in the entertainment field, that was my calling."

Clearly, Elliott isn't going anywhere. Keep reading to find out more about the Netflix star.

Rosie O'Donnell gave Brooke Elliott her big break

When Brooke Elliott was younger, she "wanted to be Barbra Streisand," but once she entered high school, she took a liking to the drama club. Later on, Elliott starred in Taboo on Broadway in 2003 — a role she would have never gotten without Rosie O'Donnell's help. "She gave me my first job on Broadway," Elliott told My Entertainment World in 2011. In fact, O'Donnell "plucked" Elliott "from the ensemble and gave [her] the lead role," Elliott told CTV News in 2010.

It was a full-circle moment, though, since Elliott looked up to O'Donnell as a young girl. "In college, you had to do a senior recital sort of thing, and I did The Brooke Elliott Show, which was based on Rosie's show," she explained. "So, it's really funny that I ended up meeting her later, but she was a big mentor of mine."

Fortunately, the two struck up a friendship, and O'Donnell even made an appearance on Elliott's show Drop Dead Diva in 2009 and 2010. "We asked her to come on the show, and she generously said yes and so it was really fun," the Netflix star told CTV News in 2010.

Another added bonus? O'Donnell gave Elliott unforgettable advice while working together. "Rosie said, 'Don't forget who you are. Don't let them define who you are.' That's in my head more and more as I go into the project," she told in 2010. 

Brooke Elliott faced a tough rejection

Not only is Brooke Elliott a talented actress (as seen on Sweet Magnolias and Drop Dead Diva), but she can sing and has even starred in two shows on Broadway — Taboo and The Pirate Queen. The Minnesota native always knew she wanted to entertain people — whether on-screen or onstage — from a young age.

However, Elliott's career didn't take off right away, and she had to get rejected to make it in Hollywood. "I remember when I was going to college, I was really a singer," she said on the I Love My Wife podcast in 2020. "But I didn't know really that the voice department is more opera, and I wasn't trained in that, so I didn't get in."

Afterward, Elliott cried because she thought she was ignored because of her voice, which was hardly the case. "My mom — I don't know how she knew — but there was some flyer and it said, 'Auditions for musical theater performance,' and she handed it to me and she said, 'Honey, I think this is what you want.' And then it was like everything opened," she recalled.

Elliott even got the chance to sing on Drop Dead Diva, which is something she enjoyed. "It's a little bit of home in this new home I'm creating," she told in 2010. "I like that we don't necessarily do it all the time, but throw it in every once in a while. I love those moments."

Why Brooke Elliott was drawn to 'Drop Dead Diva'

Brooke Elliott role of Deb Dobkins is probably her most well-known role to date, and the actor was hardly upset about being cast as the plus-sized lawyer in the Lifetime series — in fact, it was quite the opposite. "We're conditioned to believe that beauty comes in one specific package, but this project is dispelling that myth, saying that beauty is everywhere, in every body type, in every type of person," the actress told the New York Daily News in 2009. The Sweet Magnolias star explained why the project was appealing to her in the first place — it's inspiring "message" and how everything is "dealt with in such a fun, but also emotional, way."

At the end of the day, Elliott wants audiences to understand that women and men come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. "The most important thing is that we get across to people that you don't have to be a size 0 to have worth, to like yourself, or to love your body," she explained. "As Deb tries to find that, as she tries to accept this new body she's in, that's what keeps me going."

Clearly, Elliott can do it all and that's drop-dead gorgeous.