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- Played by: Michael Hyatt
- Appears in:
- Season one: "Cleaning Up" and "Sentencing".
- Season two: "Collateral Damage"; "All Prologue"; "Backwash" and "Stray Rounds".
- Season three: "Straight and True"; "Homecoming"; "Moral Midgetry"; "Slapstick"; and "Mission Accomplished".
- Season four: "Margin of Error".
Brianna Barksdale is D'Angelo's mother and Avon's sister. Brianna grew up in Western Baltimore and her family has always been involved in the drug trade. With her brother Avon controlling narcotics on the Westside Brianna acts as an advisor and helps to manage their profits and receives a healthy income, nice home and new car for her efforts. She raised her son to manage the tough streets and got him working in the family business as soon as he was old enough. D'Angelo was quickly made a lieutenant in Avon's operation despite some misgivings. She first appears bringing food to D'Angelo at work. Later she is fiercely protective of her son when he is arrested for drug trafficking, insisting that Avon was in the wrong for sending him to pick up narcotics. Her brother promises to do everything he could to help D'Angelo.
When D'Angelo is ready to turn against his family, Brianna visits him and changes his mind, convincing him to accept a lengthy prison sentence to protect Avon. When D'Angelo once more begins to withdraw from his family in prison, Brianna visits him to try and talk him around. This time D'Angelo insists that he did not want to see her any more. When D'Angelo appears to have committed suicide in the prison, Brianna is distraught. She is comforted by her brother's second-in-command Stringer Bell, the man who had actually ordered D'Angelo's death. Brianna argues with Avon to allow Stringer to manage their business his way while Avon is imprisoned.
When Avon is released, she continues to advise both men. After Jimmy McNulty, having done independent policework, told Donette that there is a chance D'Angelo had been murdered, Donette passed the information on to Brianna. Brianna, suspicious, meets with McNulty and is convinced by the evidence. She asks Avon, indirectly at first, if he ordered D'Angelo's killing. He truthfully denies any involvement (although Stringer has, by this point, admitted to Avon that he ordered the murder). Brianna is not convinced and begins to hold Avon responsible for D'Angelo's death.
Brianna is left at the helm of what remains of the Barksdale empire when Avon is arrested and Stringer is killed. She is responsible for distributing their funds to family members of crew members in prison. For example she pays for De'Londa Brice to raise Wee-Bey's son, Namond. She eventually decides to cut off the families, rationalizing that she has no further income, and no need to protect Avon because of the rift in their relationship. She calls Namond and De'Londa to her home to give them the news and tries to make sure that Namond knows that his mother has received more than enough to live on already.
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