So think about the last film you went to see at the movies. Good plot? Well acted? Kept it movin until you were on the edge of your seat, curls dancing on top of your crown? What about the actresses? How many were African-American? Sadly, even though there’s a plethera of black actresses who are beasts when it comes to breathing life into endless scripts, their cinematic opportunities seem to be on the downtrend. For quite some time now. If they’re not on Tyler Perry’s payroll, it almost ain’t happening!
That’s what makes me elated to share this inspiring story with you today: She didn’t let limited options decide her destiny….she created OPPORTUNITY! She embraced her natural tresses, spinning them into solid works of art. Her confidence & style were so striking, even Disney had to stand up & pay attention – paving the way for her to provide the persona, essence, body movements & facial expressions of Princess Tiana, the film giant’s first African-American princess in the Academy Award ® nominated movie: The Princess & The Frog! (I adore that movie!!!!). And September 16th, she will star in a new one woman show “3” as part of the Nappy Hair and Other Black Girl Blues Series. She is actress Danielle Mone’ Truitt, a gorgeous natural armed with a truly inspiring journey!
Greetings! Tell us about yourself and your one-woman show, “3”. What is its foundation & where was it birthed from?
I’m originally from Sacramento, California but I currently live in Los Angeles. I am an actress and a singer and I am happily married to my Husband of 4 years. I gave birth to our first son, Jackson, this past March. He’s an Angel. Lol. He’s totally changed my life. His birth mirrored a rebirth for me and really inspired me to really make this show and series a reality.
In 2007, a friend of mine was playing in my hair and found a bald spot the size of a silver dollar. I was completely horrified! I was shocked, terrified, and embarrassed all at the same time. For a moment I even thought I had a terminal illness (I am very dramatic). Fortunately, that wasn’t the case. In the meantime, my hair continued to shed because I was stressing about the fact that I had a bald spot. This unexplained hair loss made me so insecure and I realized that I have quite a love affair with my hair. I began to think about how important my hair has always been to me – how the many different ways I’ve worn my hair were based on where I was in my life or who I wanted to be at the time. It still amazes me that at almost every major event in my life I can remember how I was wearing my hair!
It baffled me that something as fragile as hair could be so tightly knit to my self-confidence. I didn’t know whether it was a good or bad thing, but I knew that I wasn’t the only woman who felt that way. So with this revelation, the idea for Nappy Hair and Other Black Girl Blues was born.
About 6 months prior, I was talking to a friend about writing plays and providing opportunities for artists to express themselves, and she came up with the title Nappy Hair and other Blues Black Girls Got. I loved it, and while dealing with my own hair issues the title came back to me. I decided I wanted it to be a one-woman show that spoke to the issues of self hate, self-love, and identity, all centered around hair. I called my long time friend and fellow theatre geek, Anthony D’Juan and asked him to help me write this show.
We came up with so many drafts and characters over the years that this concept grew into an actual series. “3” is the first installment of the Nappy Hair and Other Black Girl Blues Series. “3” takes a look at the lives of three women connected by friendship and history, while delving into the breakdown, growth and resurgence of female esteem rooted around hair.
There are so many fresh, stunning images of natural models/actresses in print & film at every turn! Do you find your opportunities as an artist are limited, or strengthened by your “natural identity”?
Well, opportunities for minority female actresses are declining at an alarming rate. Being a woman in entertainment is hard enough, but being an African-American actress is even harder. There just aren’t as many opportunities. In my experience, casting directors have loved my natural doo, but it has become a fad so there are at least 30 other sisters at the same audition rocking the same look. The thing I LOVE about not having a relaxer is that I can rock it kinky curly one week and then flip it up and rock a flat ironed look if I want. I think our strength as African-American actresses, other than talent of course, is our versatility in the way we can present ourselves.
Tell us a little about your “Princess Tiana” experience.
Princess Tiana… I feel so blessed to have been a part of History! No, I wasn’t her voice, but I was her essence, her movements. I helped bring her to life. It really was a great experience and it was really important to me for the cartoon to have the essence of a black woman. There is a certain grace about us – a strength that I wanted to shine through and I believe it did. The animators that were drawing my facial expressions and body movements really allowed me to make her who I wanted her to be. The process was amazing – one I will never forget!
Now, about that hair…….
How long have you been rocking your frizzness?
I have been relaxer free since 2003. So 8 years. It was the best decision I made.
Did you desire a second date following your BC/End of transition, or did you make reservations for a party of ONE?
I chopped it into a short flip style (like Halle Berry in Sword Fish) and let my relaxer grow out from there. It took about 1 or 2 years for all of the relaxer to fully grow out.
Natural Hair doesn’t define who you are BUT…
it makes you confront WHO you are and gives you a wonderful self confidence if and when you embrace it.
What was the moment of epiphany in your journey?
Well mine was more of a slap upside the head… MY HAIR KEPT FALLING OUT!!! I was a poor college student giving myself box relaxers and my hair became over processed. I had no choice but to cut it into a short style. Once I did, I decided I would never relax it again. As I got familiar with the real texture of my hair again I realized that I have a beautiful head of hair. My hair is not “bad” and it is not “unmanageable.” Many times we try to manage our hair according to how others manage their hair. The problem with that is we have totally different textures and grades of hair!! HELLO! Lol. I embrace my mane. I wear my hair however I want. I do not limit myself. My only concern is keeping my hair as healthy as possible!
Because natural manes are so unpredictable, how do you combat feeling defeated on days when your crown seems less than stellar (based your OWN criteria)?
Oh man… this JUST happened to me this past weekend. I went to a wedding on the beach. I had just flat ironed my hair and put a pretty wavy curl to it. It was super windy and humid so by the end of the ceremony my hair was a poof ball. It made we wish that I wouldn’t have flat ironed it at all. All that work for nothing… lol. I was so irritated, but I got my handy bobby pins and pinned my frizz up into a cute lil doo and enjoyed the rest of the wedding. Bobby Pins really are a girl’s best bud!
Do random people attempt to lay hands in your mane?
When I rock my curly fro people think it’s a wig and the hands start reaching. When I flat iron it people try to be slick and try to do a “Weave Check”. That cracks me up. I think that irritates me more than people just wanting to feel the texture of my fro. You trying to be slick, running your fingers thru my hair looking for tracks is just wack!!
Do you find your mane becoming the grand topic of conversation?
Mostly around white people! Lol. They can’t believe how often I change it and how it always looks so nice. I think it’s pretty cool! I also get to hear about how they feel about their hair. It will surprise you how unhappy some of them are with their own mane.
CONFIDENCE CHECK: Has natural hair allowed you to dance as if no one is watching, or has your aurora remain unfazed since your relaxed days?
I feel so much more free with natural hair, and I have more money! I can manage it on my own and keep it healthy without having to go to the hair salon every 2 weeks!
Share some secrets leading to a fabulous, happy, HEALTHY mane…promise we WILL tell!
Paul Mitchell Moisture is awesome! It keeps my hair shiny and I don’t even have to add much oil if any to my hair. Get your hair trimmed every 6 weeks!!!
What was the WORST mistake you’ve made along the way?
Putting heat on my hair constantly. It can damage your hair more than a bad relaxer.
What advice can you bless new, transitioning or frustrated kinky curly queens with?
GET CREATIVE!!! Try new things and don’t limit yourselves to one look. Try knots, twists, wash and wear, braids… The more styles you try the more likely it is that you will come up with some really cool and unique looks!
What natural experiments put the glam in your crown? Which ones ended up filed under Campaign EPIC FAIL?
Knots are my best friend! The twists don’t do much for my hair. I looked like a 10 year old when I tried that look!
What’s the most fabulous part of your journey to frizzness?
The confidence I gained in accepting my hair for what it is! Looking in the mirror and saying “Hi Danielle Moné, this is YOU! Love you lady… God does.”
Outside of your gorgeous mane, what inspires you?
My son, Jackson has to be my biggest inspiration right now. He is 5 months old and beautiful. I look at him sleep in my arms and I realize that the peace that he has is what I need. The way he depends his dad and me for love and provision is how I need to depend on God. Just to be secure in His love for me and convinced that He only wants to give me what is best! My son has also inspired me to reach for more – to push harder in all areas of my life. Many women become mothers and abandon who they are. I realize that I would actually be doing my son a great disservice by giving up on my dreams. He needs to see us striving and achieving so he knows that anything is possible. I love the song by Mali Music that says “So the sky ain’t the limit no more. No cuz the sky is way way to low… Nothing’s impossible. Sorry if you think so. All things are possible.” My Little Man changed my life, and all for the better!
How can our beautiful readers find you on the web?
Check out my website www.daniellemonetruitt.com
follow me on twitter @danimonetruitt
or Facebook “Danielle Mone` Truitt”
What’s next for you?
I’ll be performing “3” next week and then we will be preparing to do a tour. I am also currently performing in a concert series called For The Record in Los Angeles. Check out my website for some other cool news that I’ll be sharing in the next few months.
Many thanks & blessings for getting down to frizzness!
Thank YOU!! So great chatting!