New Orleans native Brian M. Sims, a 24-year member of the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club, will serve as 2020 King Zulu. Throughout his membership, Sims has participated on multiple levels and with many roles within the organization, including float rider and his service on several committees, as a former Coronation Chairman and as a member of the Board of Directors.
Sims is a busy medical sales manager for one of the largest biotech company’s in the U.S., but making time to contribute to his community is important to him. He volunteers with Supporting our Youth, is a member of Black Organization for Leadership Development and is active at his church, Franklin Avenue Baptist Church.
New Orleans Magazine sat down with the Zulu King for more behind-the-crown information.
Q: How did you get involved with the Zulu organization? I grew up in the organization. My mom ran the Zulu lounge when I was growing up. I started selling coconuts when I was 14 or 15. I had a lot of mentors growing up in the Zulu organization. This year, in 2020, it will be my 25th year in the organization.
Q: Outside of acting as Zulu King, what role or position has been the most fun and rewarding? One of the most rewarding has been serving on the Board of Directors. It has been an honor and a privilege to be a part of this new building, to see my name of the board out front. Also serving as Big Shot, I was elected at 25 and served at 26.
Q: Why did you decide to run for King? I always had my eyes set on it. I’ve been Chairman of the Zulu picnic for 20 years, and I had a hat that said, “2020.” It got into my head that 2020 would be a good year. So I started three or four years ago getting the seed work done. I wanted it to be an even year. I set a vision.
Q: Who is your Queen? My Queen is a good friend, Dr. Chanda Macias. She is a colleague of mine, and I’ve known her for the past three or four years. Two former kings who also were not married, like me, helped guide me through the process. They helped me find the right person through interviews; someone who shares the values of the culture and spirit like I do. She is someone who will honor it as much I as do.
Q: Do you have a slogan or theme for this year’s parade? I don’t really have a slogan. It’s just a dream. I guess that can be my slogan, it’s a dream come true.
Q: Do you have any other family members that are or have been a part of Zulu? My mom was a part of the organization, and also I have an uncle and first cousin who I brought in around 1997. I became a member in 1997, and was an associate in 1993.
Q: What part does the Zulu organization play in the community? We are a year-round organization. It’s not just about carnival or Mardi Gras. For our toy and bike giveaway, we will have around 1,200 to 1,400 kids that we provide for. We have food baskets that we put together for those in need. We are active all year in the community.
Q: What are your favorite Carnival traditions outside Zulu? I love Endymion. I also go to the parades with family in LaPlace and Gramercy down in the parish. That’s when I can relax. No one knows who I am. I can just relax and enjoy the parade.
Q: What is your favorite go-to Carnival food? I love my family barbecue, and my mom’s gumbo and red beans.
Profession: Medical sales territory manager.
Born/raised: New Orleans.
Resides: New Orleans East.
Education: Warren Easton Fundamental Magnet High School; B.S. in Business Management from University of Phoenix.
Favorite band or musician: I like a lot of the local New Orleans rappers, like Lil Wayne. I really like jazz; down on Frenchman Street. Norman Brown and Boney Jones.
Favorite food: Parkway Bakery and Tavern’s shrimp poor boy.
Favorite restaurant: Blue Oak BBQ, Liuzza’s by the Track, Beachcorner’s burger.
Favorite king cake: Manny Radazzo’s, plain or filled.
True confession: I guess if I wasn’t doing what I am doing, I might be a sous chef for Gordon Ramsey. I like to cook.