"I would see that she was tired. … I think she felt responsible for carrying the show Moesha. To the point that, if it wasn't right, she would exhaust herself to make sure that it was," Young said.
The desire to be flawless was what drove Brandy to success. It also drove her to starve herself.
Ever the perfectionist, Brandy thought she could look better. Her weight plunged to about 105 pounds — about 20 pounds below average for her height — and Brandy said she saw food as the enemy.
"It was destroying me. … But I looked great and that's what mattered. And that was crazy," Brandy said.
Believing she still didn't measure up, she says she became vulnerable enough to fall for an abusive lover. Brandy says he called her "b--ch" 13 times in a single day, and said the mistreatment escalated to physical abuse as well. "It was very bad, very very bad," she said.
It's hard to believe that someone as successful and vivacious as Brandy would put up with someone who she said brow-beat her and brutally shook her. But like so many who suffer from abuse, Brandy said she was emotionally trapped in the relationship.
"I just felt like that's where I belonged and I deserved it to be like that. And I blamed myself for everything. ... I thought that no one else would want me," she said.
The abuse, the grinding schedule and the excessive dieting all came to a head on the set of Moesha.
"She just said 'I need another break.' And for Brandy to say 'I gotta have a break. I need to go outside' — I think that was the clearest handwriting on the wall that this is going to be the day and we are going to have to say that's it," Young said.
She walked off the set and drove home. Brandy says she felt giddy and nauseous. Then she began hallucinating. "I think I just kind of snapped," Brandy said.
Brandy was hospitalized for three days. Doctors said Brandy was suffering from exhaustion and dehydration. Brandy said she wasn't suicidal, and she wasn't doing drugs. She said she just had an old-fashioned nervous breakdown.
Norwood knew that the stress of Brandy's career was aggravated by her painful love life. As her manager and her mother, she blames herself for letting Brandy take on too much. "As the adult, regardless of whether she wanted to do it or not, you have to take responsibility," she said.
Turning It Around
Brandy stopped starving herself and started eating healthy, as a vegetarian, and she finally found the courage to get rid of her abusive boyfriend.
But she didn't just fix her love life. She worked on all of her important relationships. She told her mom that she didn't want to have a business relationship with her anymore, if it affected their personal relationship.
Prince Charming may not exist for this real-life Cinderella, but in terms of nurturing, Brandy says she's found the next best thing. She fell in love and married Robert Smith, a shy, soft-spoken record producer.
Her latest CD Full Moon has topped the charts since spring, and this past summer MTV documented Brandy's pregnancy and the birth of her daughter Sy'rai in its latest reality show Special Delivery.
Brandy says she no longer tortures herself for other people's approval. She says she's borrowed lessons from her modest childhood in Mississippi.
"I'm just a down home person … I like to be around my family … I'm just really a homebody, and I like being like that."