First of all Destinee, you are a boss. You are one of the most passionate women I've come in contact with and your vigor is infectious. Now that we've covered that fangirling.......tell us - what do you do?!
Yes, I AM a boss! I am in actress as well as the co-founder of BOLD, an organization that seeks to build up black women in the performing arts for the restoration of culture. I remember started the Scotty club when I was in first grade. It was a club for all the girls in my recess period and the Boys and GirlsClub that I went to after school. We had applications and a full acceptance process. I would make Lisa Frank Jewelry and sell it to raise money. At such a young age, I didn’t know what being a “girl boss” was, but if anyone asked what I wanted to be I would say an entrepreneur and a singer. I guess you can say I knew from a very young age who I wanted to be.
What's the hardest thing about your industry? How do you stay positive?
I remember going into an audition for the first big project that I really wanted and getting turned down, or "cut" as we say in the acting world. I walked out of the building and I remember being really sad, but feeling like I had to stuff those feelings. I began to down-play my desires to go far in the audition process, down-play the show, down-play the creative team, and in the middle of this wrestle I remember getting divine permission to feel the disappoint, to feel the hurt. I stopped in the middle of Union Square and just sobbed.
Many actors come from the school of thought that, “If you can’t face rejection than this isn’t the right business for you.” And while I totally understand what they are saying (we face a lot of rejection as actors), I realized that if I want to be whole-hearted in my pursuit of a creative life, I have to break down this system of belief that actually keeps me from being fully who I was created to be and give myself permission to feel. With that said, I am constantly having to do a lot of work within in order to be whole. I have great community, mentors, counselors, listen to lots of podcasts, and read many books the help me process through what I am going through in real time. I have found so much joy in seeing that what I was created to do as an actor/entrepreneur is a special invitation to understand the depths of what it means to be alive and human, to step into the mystery and wonder of who I am and what is possible.
What were your expectations when you started your career? How have they changed?
I thought it would be much easier, and I am learning I have always equated success with ease. "If it's easy, than I will know that this is what I am supposed to be doing." "If I have instant gratification than there is no denying that this is my purpose and calling." Coming into the industry with this mindset and not having an easy breakthrough was very hard for me, and I am still recovering from this idea of success I created. I am learning how to redefine what success means to me. In my old way of thinking, half of the actress' I admire would not be deemed as successful. Success for me now is fully embracing every day of my journey and offering it as a gift to the world interpersonally and creatively for the restoration of culture. Success, now is something that I can grasp every day.
Tell us ALL-THE-DEETS about BOLD.
I think I went through my quarter-life crisis much earlier than most (my friends would say, “shocker”). And as I said, I had a really hard time when I first moved to NYC. With acting comes a lot of rejection, the development of scarcity mentality, crisis of identity, jealousy, grief, isolation and envy that keeps you from celebration. As I was wrestling through this as a professional actress, I began to see that the reason it was affecting me so deeply was because I was wrestling through the same thing as a black woman living in America. The sad history of our country is that because of my gender and race, when I walk out of an audition room into the streets of New York City, I am then again experiencing rejection, scarcity, crisis of identity, grief, isolation, jealousy and envy that keeps me from celebration all over again. The discovery of this parallel made me wonder if other women were experiencing these same things, so I began to sit down over coffee with different women in the city and finally was introduced to Tia Deshazor who became the co-founder of BOLD.
We believe that black women will change the world and together we have created an organization that seeks to build up black women in the performing arts for the restoration of culture.
We do this by cultivating whole-hearted community and contributing creatively to the telling our story. As we become whole in our identities, we have the power to creatively inject images, ideas, and stories into the DNA of our culture that re-humanize black women.
I know this sounds like an interview question, but where do you see yourself in five years?
At Martha’s Vineyard, with a house full of BOLD women laughing and sipping sangria.
That’s the fun answer, but the even more fun answer is continuing to disrupt the theatre industry by creating content that helps women navigate through their identities and producing work that tells our stories, all while leading a Broadway show. (Not too shabby girl! - JV edit)
Okay and finally! What advice do you have for other aspiring performers?
The world you have stepped into is a world of unknowns and uncertainty. You don’t know when the next job is coming, or where you will be in the next 6 months. Embrace this gift that you have been given and accept the invitation into mystery and wonder rather than doubt and fear. Find the things that you can be certain of, whether that be as big as your relationship with God or as small as your favorite bodega (corner store) and enjoy the adventure.