Stanley J Browne is an actor, writer, musician and artist. After a troubled childhood spent mostly in care homes, he discovered a passion for acting at the Anna Scher Theatre in Islington — a drama school for working-class students — at the age of 23. Browne then took a break from the arts to train as a counsellor, working with prisoners and young children with behavioural issues for many years. He retrained as an actor at the age of 37, winning a rare scholarship for the Mountview Acting Academy and performing in various works of television, film and theatre. His debut memoir, Little Big Man, tells the story of his experiences with mental health, addiction and crime, as well as the redemptive power of creativity. The book will be published by Jacaranda Books on October 14 and can be pre-ordered now.

These are a few of Stanley J Browne’s favourite things…

Slippers

I don’t wear shoes in my house. As soon as I come home the first thing I do is slip on my slippers. There is something about changing into slippers that makes me feel homely, safe, peaceful, tranquil and comfy. My slippers have to have a proper sole on them too, so I can wear them out in the garden. I change into my comfy clothes when I get home as well, but slippers are the highlight and the very first thing I do.

Afro comb

I don’t know what it is but as I have gotten older, something about combing my hair has become so therapeutic; it’s like getting a head massage. I find myself, not out of vanity, but for the feeling, coming home and combing my hair for a little while. I have a specific afro comb that has a fist on it, old school — so when I’m working or travelling, I carry that comb with me. I also wash my face, three or four times a day. It is the first thing I do before I eat — wash my hands and face. I like to feel clean and cleansed to relax and release stress. Combing my hair when I get home is part of that. 

 Vitamix

A Vitamix is not just any blender, it is a top-of-the-range blender. When this thing goes on it sounds like a Ferrari starting. I can’t be on the phone in the kitchen when it’s turned on, that’s how powerful it is. But what is great about the Vitamix is that you can throw ice in there or even make your own peanut butter in it. I play a lot of tennis so to get the electrolytes back I make smoothies for breakfast using watermelon, celery and avocado. The Vitamix makes it smoother than a normal smoothie. 

Guitars

I have two beautiful guitars: One is a Spanish guitar and the other is an acoustic guitar. I don’t get to play them as much as I would like but I still like to have them here. I couldn’t live without them. I taught myself to play when I was in my teens, I was inspired by Tracy Chapman after I saw her perform on Live Aid in the 1980s. She played “Talking About A Revolution” and then went and bought a second-hand guitar straight away and learnt to play by ear. One of the first songs I learned to play was Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”. I found my way and started gigging, recording an album (which is on iTunes and Spotify) and have even rubbed shoulders with the lovely, wonderful Ed Sheeran — before he got famous. 

Autobiographies

I read a lot of autobiographies. I have recently finished reading David Harewood’s Maybe I Don’t Belong Here and have just started Viola Davis’. I have read a lot of self-help books too, I like to know what has happened to a person, why they are where they are, and what was their journey — whether they’re famous or not. My autobiography, due out in October, is called Little Big Man. I started it about 15 years ago and then just before lockdown, my inner voice told me it was time to pick up the book again and get it finished. I had met a ghostwriter so I sent her my draft during the lockdown, we wrote the proposal and sent it out for feedback and I got offered a publishing deal! They gave me a year to write it during the second lockdown, I wrote it in five months. 

We have so many reality television shows now and I feel like people want to hear your truth, they’re tired of Hollywood. I come from the other side of the tracks, the book is about a young man’s journey through his mum’s mental illness, children’s homes, foster parents, detention centres, prisons, drugs — you name it. And yet, I ended up at the Globe Theatre playing Romeo and Juliet and Othello. Not everyone comes out the other end and I am ready to share my story to hopefully help others. I am 51 now, I feel like I have lived enough life that the power of helping others is far greater than my fear of sharing my story. 

Enjoyed Stanley J. Browne’s favourites? Explore last week’s Favourite Things here.