Author and former Wattpad Star Brandy Davis—aka brandywrites—ignited a serious Twitter firestorm involving multiple Wattpad Stars and big-name users of the platform.
Who is Brandywrites?
Author Brandy Davis (known to her Wattpad fans as "brandywrites") has amassed a following of over 19,000 with three very books. Her book, Write Me Off, has over 6-million reads on Wattpad. As of a couple weeks ago, she was part of the Wattpad Stars program, a special Wattpad-run opportunity which nurtures and supports promising writers.
The Tweet That Started It All
For a while now, fans have complained about a lack of diversity and inappropriate racially-charged plot lines in Brandy's books. She's received criticism in the past for not addressing these issues and actively blocking anyone who brought them up.
In a tweet discussing one of her stories, Brandy implied that she used DACA as a plot device to move the romance forward. Users complained that this was incredibly insensitive and didn't treat the issue with the appropriate gravity. Comments asking her to address the issue sparked a chain reaction in the Wattpad community. Users also questioned why Brandy's characters were mostly white and if she would be writing non-white characters in the future.
When her response went over poorly with the community, Brandy proceeded to block several of her critics, most of whom were women of color. Brandy's censoring of her critics was seen as tone deaf by many and sparked a series of negative reactions.
At this point, her friend and fellow author Miaya Lynn decided to get involved, replying to critical comments with personal insults and attacks. It is unclear whether Brandy knew about this or was involved in any way as she did not seem to comment on it.
Brandy's Questionable History Comes to the Forefront
In light of Brandy's brewing controversy, dozens of Wattpad users took to Twitter to share stories of an alleged history of abuse of power. Many said that Brandy had unfairly accused them of plagiarism and used her position and influence to pressure other writers to take down their stories. Several users reported similar instances in this vein, though these were difficult to individually corroborate.
Readers were also quick to point out that Brandy's own stories bore a striking resemblance to those by New York Times Bestselling romance author Elle Kennedy. Many Goodreads reviews of Brandy's novel, Write Me Off, mention a clear relationship between the two writers. One reviewer mentions "uncanny similarities to Elle Kennedy’s series", while another says the book is "Stylistically...pretty identical to EK's books." Another reviewer even says it is "LITERALLY a copy of the off campus series. Each of the characters have something similar to one of Elle Kennedy’s characters."
Users on Wattpad also came forward to point out questionable behavior from Brandy toward her fans and the manipulative nature of her marketing tactics. Readers claimed she would encourage fans to perform embarrassing tasks in exchange for spoilers. Brandy was also known for posting then quickly deleting content so fans would have to constantly check her social media for updates. Critics also mentioned her habit of taking her books offline (multiple users said she did this"monthly") before putting them back up again.
Brandywrites Apologizes, Then Deletes Her Accounts
After a bit of a Twitter firestorm, Brandy posted an apology on Instagram.
"I never thought I'd be writing one of these," Brandy begins. "Mostly because it seems like something celebrities do when they get canceled and I'm not a celebrity. But I did get canceled, so I guess it's fitting that I write one."
Brandy went on to apologize for any hurt she had caused and said "this is me taking responsibility", although critics disagreed.
Here is the full text of her apology:
Brandy seemed to know that her apology was hitting the wrong notes, admitting she expected it to go over poorly, though she speculated it would be because people took pleasure in "hating" her.
"I have a gut feeling that this isn't going to go well. And that's going to suck, because this is as vulnerable and authentic as I can possibly be. But there's a lot of people who are hurt. Who find comfort in hating me because it's easier than the alternative. There's some who found enjoyment, entertaining [sic], excitement in hating me."
Perhaps unsurprisingly, her critics were not impressed with her apology, which they claimed failed to take responsibility for her most problematic behaviors, including censoring the complaints brought up by people of color. Several users pointed out that many of the people who she owed an apology to were still blocked on her social media, and thus couldn't receive it.
Many felt that her focus on "moving on" was just a way of quickly moving past the issue without truly addressing the underlying problems. Others thought that the apology shirked responsibility and instead put it onto the people of color she was supposed to be apologizing to.
"I hope that you read this with a lens of growth and healing and compassion and empathy. I hope that you want to find closure and comfort in this too."
"I want to do whatever I can on my end to heal and mend what I broke in my wake, and then I'd like to move on. I'd like to keep growing as a person and learn from this, but before I can do that, I want to try to mend this. And I know this is easier said than done, because it's not just me owning up to how I let you down, but you being open to receiving that."
Brandy posted a series of tweets to say she was "moving forward" following her apology.
Brandywrites Loses Her Wattpad Star Status
Likely due to her waning popularity and disastrous apology, Brandy disappeared from social media, pulling down her Twitter and Instagram accounts. Her friend Miaya Lynn switched her own accounts from public to private.
At this point, users took to Twitter to reach out to Wattpad directly and request Brandy be removed from their Wattpad Stars program. Without public comment, the star icon was quietly removed from her profile, which most took as confirmation that she had been removed from the program. She also removed her profile bio and all her books from the platform.
Things Go South in the Wattpad Community
In the midst of the brandywrites drama, a conversation about racism and representation began in the Stars community. A popular Wattpad TikTok influencer posted a request for recommendations of books by creators of color.
V. S. Santoni, author of the I'm a Gay Wizard series, commented that the post was more performative activism than it was genuinely helpful to the community. He felt that she was asking people of color to compete for attention and she should have done her own research. Friends of the influencer came to her defense and more of the conversation happened off Twitter in the Wattpad Stars private discord channel. Since this channel wasn't a public forum, most of what was discussed there is unknown.
A Mass Exodus from Wattpad Stars
While multiple writers mentioned internal drama within the Wattpad Stars private Discord channel, few details were shared about the actual discussion, but many Stars walked away unsatisfied.
In a now deleted tweet, Santoni called the Wattpad Stars program a "cesspool".
In another deleted tweet, Santoni claimed to have also left the Stars program, but his Wattpad profile still shows the Stars badge.
Other popular authors Arden Hall (aka YABookPrincess), Ivey Choi, KR Wright, Milo Nelakho, Simone Shirazi, and Emily Slough also publicly announced they had left the Wattpad Stars program over what they considered poor treatment of creators of color on the platform. Many of those who left claimed that Wattpad staff wasn't willing to offer concrete solutions to address the issues of unequal treatment within the program.
Time will tell if this mass exodus is ultimately enough of a problem that Wattpad changes its program or policies.
How do you feel about the controversy? Tell us in the comments...