Back in 2016 and 2017, Joanne the Scammer was everywhere. Played by Branden Miller, the character is known for scamming people, petty activity, and wearing her signature fur coat and Caucasian-inspired dirty blonde wig. The videos garnered Miller a major following (more than 1.8 million followers on Instagram), including with celebrities. Teyana Taylor dressed as Joanne for Halloween. Miller and his popular character were profiled by numerous major publications, including Paper Magazine, Buzzfeed, PEOPLE and New York Magazine. And Joanne was snapped canoodling with Solange Knowles, featured in Amber Rose’s SlutWalk, and was in a Fergie music video. A Netflix show was even on the way.
But by 2018, Miller started posting videos less and less. He eventually announced that he was going to be taking some time away from social media and his character to be by his mother’s side.
“I wanted to let everyone know, real quick, because I’ve been so silent — and really I’m just doing it just to give people answers. I’m not doing Joanne right now,” he said in a since deleted video on Instagram. “Not because of whatever, but because my mom is dying of cancer. I didn’t know how to tell anybody, and she was dying for a while. I can’t tell you or explain it in under a minute, so to sum it up, I’m not playing Joanne right now because I’m focusing on that, and that’s my last parent.”
For those who were concerned, Miller said he was doing OK.
“I’m in a good place and I’m trying to stay there,” he said. “Mental health is a tricky, tricky thing. I’d like to keep that good, and I’ll come back when I’m ready.”
His return though, has been sporadic. He posts about once a month here and there, and it seems fans were wondering how he’s been and what’s happened to the character of Joanne the Scammer. So Miller answered that question on Wednesday, to everyone’s surprise:
“Those who get it, get it,” told PEOPLE of the character’s appeal in 2016. “One of my strategies was to try and make her an icon, even down to the look. Joanne is a hit.”
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