As a freshman at the Hollywood High Performing Arts Center, Brandy Norwood had trouble persuading a teacher to send her on auditions like other students. “One day I asked, ‘Why aren’t you sending me out on calls?’ and she said, ‘Because you’re not drop-dead gorgeous,’ ” Brandy recalls. “My heart just dropped.” Undaunted, she carried on, entering talent shows and eventually performing as a backup singer for the R&B group Immature. In 1993, she landed the role of Danesha on the ABC sitcom Thea and was also signed to a solo contract by Atlantic Records after auditioning for the label. Recalls Darryl Williams, then Atlantic’s director of A&AR: “Brandy stood out. She was just energetic and had an incredible voice for a 14-year-old.” The following year her self-titled debut album sold more than 4 million copies and produced three Top 10 hits.