August 15, 2023

Four Seasons of Brooklyn: “Love to Love You, Donna Summer” Director Brooklyn Sudano

Ambassador Digital Magazine Editor-In-Chief Musa Jackson sits down with actress, filmmaker Brooklyn Sudano.


She is no stranger to being on camera. As an actress she’s appeared in Taken, My Wife and Kids, Cruel Summer, Rain and Ballers. But it’s her behind the camera moment that’s getting well deserved buzz with her co-directorial debut of HBO’s Love To Love You, Donna Summer. Co-directed with Oscar winning filmmaker Roger Williams this documentary dives pass the facade to explore the nuanced and often complex life of her mother, the late superstar Donna Summer.

"My parents really tried to instill in us a work ethic and appreciate what it means to be in a family. We were all participants. We were all supportive of my mother and my father’s careers but it was really about what was best for the family."


MUSA Tell us what your childhood was like?
BROOKLYN My childhood was as normal as you could get with having a mother who is quite well known by the world. ( laughs) We got to go on tours in the summer but during the school year we were having dinner all together as a family. You had to set the table. Although we had help around the house I grew up doing laundry. My parents really tried to instill in us a work ethic and appreciate what it means to be in a family. We were all participants. We were all supportive of my mother and my father’s careers but it was really about what was best for the family.
MUSA Who were some of your musical influences?
BROOKLYN At the end of the day both of my parents were songwriters and artists at heart. Obviously you’ve got the big pop icons like Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey but I also grew listening to a lot of singer songwriters like Joni Mitchell, Don Henley and Tracey Chapman. They were big hits for me. Those were impactful kind of storytellers, writers and singers. So I had this whole spectrum of music from a very early age.
MUSA You’ve been an actress for many years. Having appeared in Taken, My Wife and Kids, Cruel Summer, Rain and Ballers. Was acting something you’ve always wanted to do?
BROOKLYN Growing up in a very artistic household I assumed that I probably would do something in that world. But I also had this idea I’m going to be a diplomat. I’m going to work at the UN so I had this Ying and Yang aspects of my interests. But fundamentally I grew up in a household that fostered so much of that creative spirit. So it’s just like going into the family business. I wasn’t really sure what form that would take when I was younger. I did musical theater so I was acting, writing, singing songs. The acting thing just started paying the bills a little bit earlier than the rest of them. So I was like this is what I’m going to do.
MUSA What made you decide to direct Love to Love You, Donna Summer? How long did it take make this amazing documentary?
BROOKLYN I decided to direct this film because I just felt that there was so much more to my mother than what people really understood. The complexity of her as an artist, as a woman, a black woman. I really wanted something that would go beyond the moniker of Disco Queen or First Lady of Love. Show people just how multifaceted she was. On a personal level I had just become a mother, a working mother and didn’t have my mom. I was really processing that relationship and what that means and how to balance it all. There were many layers in wanting to Love to Love you, Donna Summer. I also wanted to direct this because it didn’t start off with this idea which was about seven and a half years ago. But as I started having conversations with people. This was before Roger came on board. I realized that people felt comfortable telling me their stories. They would be like I’ve never told anybody this before. I realized that they trusted me and that was going to be impactful to the overall project. Being able to craft the story and the vision of the piece on a more structural level. I really wanted to be a part of that. So for those reasons I felt that it was really important for me to be a director on this film. I am so glad I was able to partner up with Roger Williams, on this film. He was completely on board with the sense we both had the same vision. We both wanted to tell the story in the same way. We got the film that we got because we were such partners in lock step with that. We were able to push for some of the really more nuanced choices because this film isn’t a typical music documentary. We both felt that this was the best way to tell the story. We were able to get it done in this way.
MUSA The documentary explores your super star mother Donna Summer and father Bruce Sudano’s intense and creative relationship. Was there something you learned about them that you didn’t know?
BROOKLYN I think the one thing I understand better about parents in terms of their creative relationship was just how important and intrinsic it was to their overall relationship. That other than the amazing chemistry that they had for one another, passion for one another. Their relationship was grounded in the fact that they were both real artists. They loved their lives creatively. They were not in competition with each other but more in collaboration. They looked to each other’s strengths to grow as artists. That was a real part of their relationship all the way through. And that was just one of the deep facets of the love and appreciation for each other.
MUSA You co-direct with the Oscar winning Roger Williams. How did that come about and what did you learn from that experience?
BROOKLYN Roger and I were connected through our producer Julie Goldman who Roger has worked with previously many times. When we first sat down together for lunch by that time I heard so much about him. I was so honored that he would even be willing to co-direct with me because it’s not something he had ever done before. When we sat down we really established that our vision was really the same. We had a similar perspective on how we wanted to tell the story. It really was my desire to tell an honest story and to go where this story brought us . To be as transparent as possible was really the thing that allowed us to work well. Because it was just an honest experience.
MUSA You mother was one of the most iconic singers of the disco era for which she helped define yet she was so much more than that. Do you feel she got the recognition of her vast eclectic talent?
BROOKLYN They made specific choices when to engage with the industry and when not too. We moved out to Thousand Oaks, California which was in the boondocks. People were like where are you going. So we could have some sense of groundedness. We spent a lot of time outside. Even though Sophia Loren was our neighbor. ( laughs) We would go to Auntie Sophia’s house. That’s who she was to us. We would be out in the garden picking flowers and playing with frogs. They made a very conscious choice not to be so engaging. But at the same time very much include us in what they were doing creatively. We would go on tour. Be on video sets. My mom would include us in all of these things. “This Time I Know It’s For Real” you see me dancing at the end of the music video. We performed on stage with her. Mimi ( her older sister) was on covers of magazines with my mother. She included us but didn’t make us a slave to that schedule. Those dynamics of the industry.
MUSA “Love to Love You, Donna Summer” was extremely personal. Did the project make you want to continue directing? If so what’s next?
BROOKLYN This is my first film. It will not be my only film. I have enjoyed the process from beginning to end. I’m very grateful to the collaborators I’ve been able to work with. I learned so much from them. To be on this side of the camera has given my an opportunity to use my creative spark and my vision in very much deeper way then I have to as an actor. As for my next project, I’m trying to figure out what I can be just as passionate about. I’m different now after having this project. So I feel very empowered in my creative voice. So I really want to be very mindful about what my next film is about. I know just how much it takes so I’m currently circling the wagon on his.
MUSA Will it be a documentary or scripted feature?
BROOKLYN Could be either. But right now my experience has lent itself to the documentary world. I do feel in terms of the narrative I haven’t directed anything in that way yet. I want to make sure that when I do I’m as prepared so I know how to do that. Obviously as an actor I’ve been on many sets and know how to deal with them. So both of them are in my future. But I do think a documentary film will probably come first.

"God will give you everything you need to succeed especially if he put that in your heart to do it. This film is a testament to that. I didn’t have all the credentials when I started this process. But I took a step of faith and just started."

MUSA How do you balance being a mom, wife, actress and now filmmaker?
BROOKLYN It’s a juggling act. We started filming a month before the pandemic started. I had a kindergartner doing online zoom and a one and half year old son. I’m doing zoom interviews and also doing archival footage. So what it taught me was to be very present in the moment that I’m in. You have to compartmentalize all these things. I try to be as present with my kids even when I working or doing an interview I try be as present in the moment. Otherwise you feel all over the place.
MUSA What advice would you give aspiring filmmakers?
BROOKLYN Just start. Giving yourself the permission to start. You can think about it and think I need this and I need that. Or I need more experience here. All those things may be true but I really believe when you put forward motion and energy into something. God will give you everything you need to succeed especially if he put that in your heart to do it. This film is a testament to that. I didn’t have all the credentials when I started this process. But I took a step of faith and just started. So I would just tell who ever has an idea to just start. See where it leads. It will lead you somewhere. The process will inform you.
* This cover feature pre-dates SAG/ AFTRA strike.
Talent: Brooklyn Sudano @brooklynsudano
Photographer: Reese Sherman @ReeseShermanPhotography
Creative Director: Andrew Irving @AndrewcIrving
Photo Coordinator: Jamarr Ferguson @Thegentlemens_happyhour
Lighting Wizard/Digitech Anthony Avellano @AnthonyAvellano
Graphics Art Director: Paul Morejon @paulmorejon
Stylist: Terry Tocci @everythingtocci
Marc Littlejohn @marcalittlejohn
MakeUp Artist: Suna Myles @Sunamyles_mua
Hair: Marcia Hamilton @MarciaHamilton
Spring Showroom: The HER Group @TheHerGroup (
Description: Iridescent Crystal Gown
Designer: Fancy By Francesca Watson • @fancybyfrancescawatson
Showroom: MAISON PRIVEE PR @maisonpriveepr_la
Description: White/Cream Sheer wide leg pants with sheer long sleeve crop top
Designer: Atelier Ndigo • @AtelierNdigo
Showroom: MAISON PRIVEE PR @maisonpriveepr_la
Description: Orange pleated crop bustier/bra with matching shorts
Designer: Atelier Ndigo • @AtelierNdigo
Description: Orange Ruffled Sheer Cape
Designer: TERRY TOCCI DESIGNS • @everythingtocci
Showroom: MAISON PRIVEE PR @maisonpriveepr_la
Description: Blue ombre feather dress
Designer: Charles & Ron • @charlesandron
Founder & Editor In Chief:
Musa Jackson @iammusajackson
Art Director: Paul Morejon @Paulmorejon
IG: @ambassador_mag

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