November 2021 Issue
By Kelly Hunter
Photography by Mike Force Photography
Brandi Lyde Whitfield and Latasha Rozier graduated Brunswick High just a few years apart, but they didn’t become friends until several years after high school. “She was a senior when I was a freshman, and she was too stuck up then to be my friend,” laughs Brandi. Latasha counters, “Why would I talk to a freshman? I had plenty of friends in my own class.” Let me tell you, chatting with these two is an experience! So much laughter!
Sitting around Latasha’s insurance office with them, their clever banter and ease in each other’s presence belies an awkward beginning. About 13 years ago, not long after Brandi began working full-time in the insurance industry, a mutual friend suggested she get to know Latasha, who was just entering the field. Maybe because of that professional connection, their first few lunches together were incredibly awkward. Once they decided to drop that veneer and get real with each other, the fun really started!
Latasha told me, “We have so much in common!” Talking over each other, which is like their own language, she and Brandi decided that the main things were “fashion, fun and family.” A little later Latasha added, “Politics! We’re both completely addicted to national and local politics. Working on that 2008 campaign together was amazing!” Before long, they decided they couldn’t forget their mutual love for Beyonce. They travel to concerts, seeing some tours more than once. Brandi and Latasha are dedicated members of the Beyhive (a nickname for Beyonce’s fans).
Speaking of queen bees, the conversation often turned to Brandi’s youngest child, Jordan. There are posters about raising strong women, but we have to survive the process first! I asked if she was six going on 26, and both Brandi and Latasha said, “More like 66!” Apparently this is a girl who is not afraid to speak her mind. She loves makeup, and Latasha keeps indulging her.
Both Latasha and Brandi are involved in multiple service organizations. Brandi is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, and Latasha is a member of the Links, Incorporated. Their dedication to their community is just one more thing they have in common.
Just because they have mutual interests, doesn’t mean they are similar in all ways. “Brandi’s always late. Sometimes I feel like it’s my job to keep her in line,” says Latasha. When I ask if she’s kind of like a big sister to Brandi, they both nod. Latasha likes to plan cookouts and tea parties and is always early, while Brandi is more spontaneous. Despite the gentle teasing and rolling eyes, they have an incredibly close friendship. Brandi says, “We trust each other completely. There is no judgment.”
Even though they each own their own insurance business, Brandi and Latasha think of themselves as colleagues more than competitors. “There are certain benefits that I specialize in more, so Latasha will often refer those clients to me,” says Brandi, “We’re like granddaughters to many of our clients. We just want the best for them.” It’s a mutually beneficial professional relationship between two women who can count on each other through anything. They’ve been through a lot together in the last 13 years. Brandi got married and had her two children. Latasha renewed her vows and had her first child leave the nest.
October and November are the busy season in their field, so I was lucky to be able to get an hour with them. “We always make time for each other, even when it’s crazy like this,” says Latasha. And it’s not just the two of them. The besties are part of a large group of professional women who get together and have fun, letting their professional veneers fall away. Granted, most of that larger circle tends to tune out when Brandi and Latasha start talking shop. “Their eyes glaze over when we get into the details of the industry,” Brandi tells me. Latasha adds, “That’s when it’s really like we’re speaking another language.”
It can be hard to believe these ladies have only known each other for 13 years. They are open and vulnerable with each other. They can tease and have fun, because their trust is so strong. They seem more like sisters than just friends, and they are so warm and welcoming. I told them that hanging out with them made me wish I had a sister, and Latasha said, “Come on!”
Maybe I’ll get invited to the next tea party.
To Bey or Not to Bey: After a Beyonce concert five years ago, Latasha and Brandi got matching bee tattoos.
Family Ties: Brandi and her husband Jonas Whitfield, Sr. have a 9-year-old son, Jonas II (Jojo) and 6-year-old daughter Jordan. Brandi considers her 19-year-old stepdaughter Janyah a “bonus baby”. Latasha is godmother to Jordan. Latasha and her husband Rodney have a 15-year-old son, Chancellor and daughter Cariel, currently serving in Japan with the United States Air Force.
High Tea: The whole tea party thing is serious with Latasha. She goes all out. When I asked if she had ever been to tea at the Jekyll Island Club, she said, “They know me by name.”
Who Let the Dogs Out? Latasha has three adorable dogs: Cooper, EB Grace and Chloe