‘Miami Vice’: How Olivia Brown’s Career Went After Playing Trudy on ‘Vice’

It isn’t easy for actors to move on after working on a groundbreaking show like Miami Vice (1984-89). Just ask Philip Michael Thomas, who co-starred with Don Johnson in each of the show’s 111 episodes. Thomas never really found a niche for himself as a performer in the post-Vice years.

You could say the same about Michael Talbott, who played Stan Switek for the entirety of Miami Vice’s run. Though he found the occasional acting gig, Talbott never caught on with a hit show again. But the actors who played Det. Gina Calabrese and Det. Trudy Joplin did enjoy success after Vice.

In the case of Olivia Brown (Trudy, or “Big Booty Trudy”), that success carried into the 21st century. Following Miami Vice’s ’89 cancelation, Brown landed recurring roles on several top shows of the ’90s, including Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and Beverly Hills, 90210.

Olivia Brown landed roles on ‘Designing Women’ and ‘Dear John’ after ‘Miami Vice’

Olivia Brown as Trudy Joplin on 'Miami Vice,' circa 1985
MIAMI VICE: Olivia Brown as Detective Trudy Joplin | NBCU Photo Bank

RELATED: ‘Miami Vice’: When Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas Reunited On-Screen After ‘Vice’

Prior to joining the cast of Miami Vice, Brown worked on a mix of movies and high-profile TV shows. Her pre-Vice credits include 48 Hrs. (1982) and Hill Street Blues (1983). And that didn’t change much once she started playing Trudy.

In the middle of Miami Vice’s run, Brown guest-starred on a two-part Love Boat show (“The Spain Cruise,” 1986) and worked on Throw Mama From the Train (1987). After Vice went off the air, Brown appeared in one-off roles on TV series and worked on Melvin Van Peebles’ Identity Crisis (1989).

She kept rolling in the early ’90s. A recurring role (Vanessa Hargraves) on Designing Women led to a total of five appearances on the hit show in ’90. Then she had a 13-episode run (’90-’91) as Denise on season 3 of the Judd Hirsch comedy Dear John.

After guest-starring roles on shows such as Roc (’91) and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (’93), Brown got her next recurring on season 3 of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (the Dean Cain one) in ’95.

Brown had recurring roles on ‘7th Heaven’ and ‘Moesha’ in the 2000s

Olivia Brown as Lola looks at Will Smith and other 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air' characters in a scene from the show in 1993
THE FRESH PRINCE OF BEL-AIR: Olivia Brown as Lola, Will Smith, Riddick Bowe, Alfonso Ribeiro as Carlton Banks | Alice S. Hall/NBCU Photo Bank

The late ’90s didn’t look different for Brown on the work front. After Lois & Clark, her next recurring gig came as Patricia Hamilton on 7th Heaven. Brown made four appearances in season 1 (1996-97) and five more on the show through ’03.

A turn as Professor Langely on Beverly Hills 90210 came around that same period (1997) for Brown. And she later logged four episodes as Barbara Lee on season 6 of Moesha (2001). Around ’03, screen work slowed down for Brown, but she’d already put together a solid career in the business.

If you want to see Brown on Miami Vice, Starz may be the best place to watch the classic show in 2021. You can head straight to her featured episodes, which include “Dutch Oven” (directed by Abel Ferrara) and the epic “Missing Hours,” which might be the most notorious Vice episode of them all.