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Yvette Nicole Brown: Expect some big life changes on season 5 of "Community"

Yvette Nicole Brown has appeared on plenty of TV series -- from "The Office" and "Entourage" to a voice guest-spot on "Family Guy." But she now has experienced her longest-running television gig, portraying Shirley Bennett, the sassy-but-sweet divorcee on NBC's "Community."

Brown and her fellow cast members had their first table read for the upcoming season on Wednesday, feasting their eyes on the episode 1, season 5 script for the first time. "The first episode is really good. It's really good," Brown told "So I can't wait for everybody to see it."

And this time, "Community" creator Dan Harmon is back on board. In May 2012, Harmon, who served as showrunner and executive producer of the sitcom, parted ways with the critically-acclaimed series, but in June it was announced that he would be returning for season 5 -- a move that excites Brown.

"It feels like we're getting the band back together. I know it's cliche to say that. But with the table read, we had him [Harmon] back at the helm," said Brown. "When you do table reads, Dan reads the stage direction...and he also reads some of the characters -- like things that happen with the characters. And he's actually a really good actor. So when he's back at the helm, it's like having one of the cast members back."

Speaking of cast members, the gang at Greendale Community College will look a little different. Chevy Chase left the series in season 4, and "Community" fans recently learned that actor Donald Glover, who portrays ex-high school football star Troy, will only appear in the first five episodes of season 5 as he's decided to pursue other opportunities.

"We're so happy to have him even for that...I'm just so glad we had him as long as he did," said Brown. "He's going to go on and do other things. He's talented in so many different areas. How do you hold that back? We're happy to have him for what we have him for and I believe Dan Harmon is going to write an amazing send-off to him. So it's bittersweet."

There will still be plenty of familiar faces though, including Joel McHale, Alison Brie, Gillian Jacobs and Ken Jeong -- and from the sound of it, these cast members are close. Very...ahem...close.

"We can finish each other's sentences now. We're at that 'relationship stage' where people are leaving the bathroom door open now. Everything's open now," said Brown.

Although Brown couldn't divulge too much about the season 5 plotlines, she did provide one clue: "I will say that there are five big changes in everyone's life...It's going to be good."

Viewers will have to wait to find out what Shirley's fate will be, but one thing is for sure: Brown says she doesn't have too much in common with her on-screen character.

"Me and Shirley are both Christian and I think that's where similarities end. As you can tell, I don't sound like her. She's very judgmental. I hope I'm not as judgmental as Shirley is. She's even getting better at that as the seasons have gone on. Just the Christianity, I would say, because I'm not married. I don't have kids. Except that we're both black women -- gorgeous, voluptuous black women," Brown joked.

When she's not portraying Shirley, Brown plays Cookie -- a puppy. Since 2010, Brown has voiced a character on the animated TV show, "Pound Puppies."

"We're in the third season of 'Pound Puppies' and it's been amazing experience for me," said the 42-year-old actress. "I play a dog named Cookie. She's a boxer and she's sassy and sweet -- and the cast of 'Pound Puppies' is Eric McCormack, Michael Rapaport, Betty White, John DiMaggio...These are huge names, huge voiceover actors."

Asked if she had Pound Puppies stuffed animals as a child, Brown said, "Yes," adding, "I still have one or two around my house."

Now many years later, Brown is happy to be part of the "Pound Puppies" cartoon, which kicks off season 3 on Saturday on the Hub Network with a marathon that includes a new episode. The latest season will also have updates on Batman, the winner of the 2012 Pup-ularity Contest for America's happiest dog. Batman, who was handicapped from a traffic accident, used the prize money to help in his rehabilitation -- and he has since been adopted. It's a sweet story that Brown hopes will inspire others to adopt homeless dogs.

"It's been a great experience to get the word out about adoption...the show is all about finding this dog the perfect person," said Brown."I think that it helps kids to watch -- 'If I want to get a dog, instead of going to a puppy mill or a store, I'll go to a pound and get a dog,' which I think is great about 'Pound Puppies.'"

Brown can also currently be seen on the big screen in "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters," the fantasy-adventure film, starring Logan Lerman, Stanley Tucci, Brandon T. Jackson and Nathan Fillion.

"'Percy Jackson' was an amazing experience," said Brown. "We shot it up in Vancouver over a year ago. And there was a lot of prosthetics. I was surprised there were so many prosthetics. You can barely see us in our gray makeup -- no eyes. It was like seven hours of makeup to go on and 2-3 hours to take off, including 7 or 8 hours of acting. So it was like a 15- or 16-hour days and a lot of makeup."

Brown will be wearing a lot less makeup come Monday, when "Community" starts shooting the new season, which is expected to premiere in winter 2014.