Jerrica Brooks Makes Her Own Claim to Fame on Hulu and Beyond

Mount Vernon native Jerrica Brooks, the daughter of comedian J.B. Smoove, snagged second place on Hulu’s hit reality show, Claim to Fame.

She may boast a famous father, but Jerrica Brooks is proving that she is a star in her own right. Taking second place on Hulu’s reality TV show Claim to Fame, Brooks has lived in both Mount Vernon and White Plains.

“I didn’t really get into entertainment until I was a lot older,” says Brooks, whose father J.B. Smoove is known for his roles on Curb Your Enthusiasm and Spiderman: Far from Home. “I ended up working in the business-development space, but growing up with a dad who is a comedian, it’s almost impossible not to end up in the industry.” Brooks got her start in entertainment at United Talent Agency, and then worked as a business-development manager for Sofía Vergara before beginning work with her father, following the pandemic.

However, Brooks’ life really changed with Claim to Fame. Airing its second season finale on Hulu this past June, Claim to Fame is a reality competition series in which 12 contestants attempt to conceal their identities as the family members of big-name celebrities in order to win $100,000. During the show, Brooks assumed the moniker “Monay,” so people wouldn’t connect her to J.B. (which stands for the entertainer’s given name, Jerry Books). “Monay” ended up as a central character on the series, constantly throwing out witty one-liners and funny quips as she slayed her competition and nearly took the top prize.

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“It was my first time doing reality TV at all, so I was definitely pretty nervous because I didn’t know what to really expect,” says Brooks. “This was season two, so I knew it was going to follow the blueprint of season one, but I didn’t know if they were going to change the games up, and what people would be there.”

Brooks looks back on the show fondly for the way it stands out from other reality fare. “What I loved about the show was that it wasn’t focused on love or dating. It’s a real game show that people can play along with and have a good time, so it made us different.” And when she returned home as a runner up, Brooks’ famous father was predictably pleased. “He was so proud,” says Brooks of J.B. “My dad was always so supportive; he was like, you guys are so smart, you had such great strategy.”

Beyond her stint on TV, Brooks has plenty of irons in the fire. “[Fellow Claim to Fame contestant] Shayne and I are working on trying to do an Anthony-Bourdain-style documentary, where we travel and eat food. I also have a podcast called Kin of Comedy. Me and my two co-hosts are all the kin of comedians — our dads are all from the Def Comedy Jam era — and, basically, we just show what it feels like growing up, sharing the mic with comedians. Those come out every Wednesday.”

Jerrica Brooks. Photo courtesy of ABC and Hulu

“What I loved about the show was that it wasn’t focused on love or dating. It’s a real game show that people can play along with and have a good time, so it made us different.”
— Jerrica Brooks

Yet, when it comes to the current trend of spotlighting celebrities’ family members, Brooks views it as a good thing. “For those that are sons and daughters and brothers and sisters of celebrities, sometimes it is tough because we are all trying to find our own way and shine our own light. So, it feels nice to see that people are getting a chance to do that,” says Brooks, “and I think that’s why Claim to Fame was pretty cool, because a lot of the contestants had the same story or issue growing up, where they were always under their dad or mom or aunt, thinking, I just want people to see me for me. And that is another reason why I liked the show, because without taking away from our celebrity relatives, we all got our own spotlight in our own way.”

Related: Anthony Rodia Dishes on His Comedy Career and Westchester Roots

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