Stepping into Divine Moments with Denise Boutte
Denise Boutte’s path to acting may have been unconventional, but it’s a lesson in the power of stepping into the door open in front of you. Best selling author Erwin Mcmanus wrote in his book Chasing Daylight “ When you choose to become stuck in a moment, you become incapable of seizing divine moments.” Denise’s acting career started by stepping out and saying yes to what the moment offered her. And she continues to do so with her new ventures.
This interview is not just a glimpse into Denise’s life, It is a revelatory lesson in living a purposeful life. It is filled with practical wisdom for whatever field you aspire to succeed in, creative or otherwise.
Tell me a bit about your background, and how you got into acting?
While working in Dallas, Texas, I was an Account Director in the world of advertising, overseeing commercial and photo shoots for a range of clients’ campaigns. It was then that I was introduced to life on set and, on several occasions, asked by the client to step in front of the camera to replace the person who was originally cast. The initial resistance eventually faded and, after being approached by a local talent agent, I found myself in front of the lens for a variety of print and commercial campaigns. A chance introduction landed me a Los Angeles-based talent manager who I'm still with to this day. I then decided to throw caution to the wind. With the support of my husband, I took a leap of faith, packed my bags and headed West!
Trust me, no one is more surprised by my career choice than me!
What are some ways you’ve seen the industry change since you began acting?
On the positive side, I’ve definitely noticed increased demand for a broader range of ethnicities. Thanks to the Netflix and Amazon’s of the world, opportunities for hire across the board have also increased.
On the not so positive side, depending on personal preference, Social Media presence and number of followers can occasionally be the deciding factor for hiring. Personally, I’m not the person who will “let it all hang out” or “smoke and mirror” folks in the hopes of enticing more followers. If it works for some, great, but I’d rather climb that talent ladder the old-fashioned way…by allowing my work to speak for itself.
You’ve worked with Tyler Perry a number of times, Meet the Browns now syndicated on BET (congratulations!) what impact has working with him had on you?
The beauty of Tyler Perry is that he makes his own rules and trusts his intuition. He didn't allow my lack of credits or experience influence his decision to offer me the prominent roles of Trina in Why Did I Get Married? or Sasha Brown in the now syndicated Meet the Browns. He instead, recognized my potential and provided a safe environment in which I could learn, grow and eventually, thrive. Those experiences and casts will forever hold a special place in my memory and heart. They will forever be family.
Tyler also inspired me to create my own opportunities, rather than put my destiny all in the hands of others. Diversification is key. In addition to producing my own film and television concepts, I'm in the thick of creating a culinary empire! From Weeziana Girl Seasoning Blends to my cookbook “Southern Modified” to heat-&-eat meals and desserts... I’m just getting started folks!
Congratulations on your lead role on Her Only Choice, what are you looking forward to most with that project and what can viewers expect?
Portraying Tasha Jackson was by far the most emotionally taxing yet gratifying character portrayal I’ve had to-date. That said, I’d wake up each morning reminding myself that this project was “bigger than me” and was a tribute to the brave women who have fought and won, battled but were overcome, and those that are currently fighting, advocating, educating and will inevitably cure breast cancer.
Another beautiful aspect of this film is the ultimate friendship, relationship and evolution of love that childhood friends Tasha and Bernie develop for one other. True love seems to be under attack these days and is often not seen with such depth and humanity. You can’t fake chemistry and I was honored that Queen Sugar star Timon Kyle Durrett was along for the Her Only Choice adventure, beautifully portraying my BFF turned husband, Bernie Jackson.
You’ve written a cook book titled Southern Modified. How has southern cooking played a role in your life? And what inspired the cook book?
It wasn’t until I moved to Dallas, Texas that I began to re-create family favorites as a way to ease being homesick. By the time I moved to L.A., I’d developed mad skills in the kitchen which were taken to yet another level once I joined club mommy. Cooking became more than just a passion, it was a way for me to reconnect/realign with pre-baby Denise. It was an outlet, an alternate haven for expressing my creativity.
I’ve been compiling recipes, with the intention of writing a cookbook for over 10 years now and I’m proud to say I can officially add Author to my list of accomplishments! In Southern Modified, you’ll find everything from Gumbo to Tortilla Soup; Smothered Okra to my personal secret weapon, Camera-Ready Cabbage Cleanse.
Southern Modified is currently available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and my website www.WeezianaGirl.com.
In your career who are some people that have inspired you?
Too many to mention in a concise manner but to quote Wendy Williams, the “friend in my head” is Angela Bassett and the friends in real life are Vanessa Bell Calloway and Christine Swanson. Each of these ladies is dynamic in their chosen field, their ability to balance thriving careers while keeping family first is inspirational and they use their voice and presence responsibly.
A large base of our readership are people in the arts, what would be advice you would give to a young driven actor just starting out?
As with many careers, especially the Arts, it’s either a time of feast or famine. It’s during the times that appear to be those of “famine” that you often reconnect with your truth, values, and purpose. You know; the things that really matter. When you’re feasting: save, create alternate modes of income, and use that influence and positive energy to nourish the spirits of others. Use your testimony!
For our readers who are aspiring actors/artists, would you mind sharing what has been your biggest obstacle in your career and how have you overcome it.
To accept that no matter how much I “slayed” the room, it doesn’t automatically translate to a booking. We all tend to be results oriented and it’s hard to accept…my job is my job.
In my case, when the industry associates you with beloved, more glamorous characters and are unfamiliar with grittier, embattled portrayals, it’s hard to convince them of your range and ability. While I’ve been professing my preparedness for some time now, I must remind myself that I’m on HIS time, not mine.