Joel Brokaw’s first book came about as a result of tenacious persistence. In 2004, he had attended a performance of a play by a new public relations client named Tyler Perry at the Beacon Theater in New York. At the time, Tyler was breaking box office records but known only to African American theatergoers. What impressed Joel the most about the play was Tyler’s opinionated ad-libbing in the guise of his character Madea. At a lunch meeting the next day, the first thing out of Joel’s mouth was, “You’ve got to do a book!”
Every few weeks, Joel repeated the same message. After several months, Tyler turned to him and said, “Why don’t you do it?” For several weeks, Joel met up with Tyler on the road with his digital recorder and asked Madea for her politically-incorrect opinions on everything from tips on dating to the do’s and don’ts of personal hygiene.
Don’t Make A Black Woman Take Off Her Earrings unseated Marley & Me on the top of the New York Times bestseller list for three weeks in 2006. It remained on that list for more than six months and won the Quill Award as Book of the Year. It went on to become a New York Times paperback bestseller for several months as well.
Joel also assisted Florence Henderson on her New York Times-bestselling memoir Life is Not a Stage, published by Center Street/Hachette in September, 2011. Publishers Weekly called it “a genuinely introspective memoir.” Library Journal wrote, “An inspiring story of faith and survival by one of television's beloved performers.”
Other works he has co-authored include civil rights legend Dorothy Height’s last book Living With Purpose with an introduction by President Bill Clinton (self published by the Dorothy Height Education Foundation in 2010) and There’s No Traffic on the Extra Mile by Rickey Minor (music director of American Idol and the Tonight Show) published by Gotham Books/Penguin in 2009.
Joel is the fourth generation of his family to work in the entertainment and media business. His father Norman Brokaw was the Chairman Emeritus of William Morris Endeavor Entertainment.