Today we’d like to introduce you to Danielle Deadwyler.
Danielle, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I’m a straight up and down Atlanta chick! My mother saw me dancing in front of the TV at 4 years old, to Soul Train she exclaims, put me in dance classes at Marlene Rounds and Total Dance Theatre and I’ve been art hopping since then. Atlanta Street Theatre, Inman Middle School, Grady High School, MindBusters, Spelman College… these have been Atlanta staples that have cultivated my artistic foundation.
I had full intentions to live an academic life – I was a finalist for Emory’s Women’s Studies program right after my first graduate school stint. I didn’t get in. A total WTF moment. This loss led me to teach for two years which fostered a return to theatre, a practice that reared me. For Colored Girls… was being produced near the end of my last year, directed by Jasmine Guy. I went for it. Got it. And have relentlessly lived as an artist since then.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It ain’t never a smooth road nowhere on the planet! In the other parts of the cosmos… maybe; but not here.
The arts is a constant practice in healing, adjusting to the demands of your personal life and manifesting your understanding of what you’ve endured, what you’re curious about or what you don’t understand through your work. I’ve learned the true nature of endurance and perseverance. Patience will bitch you!
The struggles have been continuous. I’m extremely physical in my own performance artworks and on other projects as a freelance artist. My body has been sacrificed and hurt, literally. Ribs, abs, knees. Exhaustion. Overwhelming workload. Underwhelming workload. The desire for work and the challenges once work is attained switch hands faster than three card money. Maintaining a balance of self has been a key goal throughout my professional practice.
Danielle Deadwyler – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Performance art is an all-encompassing term for the things I do. And I love to shift mediums: sound, film/video, poetry, dance, theatre… experimental, public art, commercial popular projects; I’ve been privileged to have placed my hands and abilities in numerous projects.
You may have seen me on Atlanta’s theatre stages with the Alliance Theatre, Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre, Horizon Theatre, Synchronicity Theatre and Aurora Theatre. Beyond the stage, I am known among the OWN Network lovers as Quita Maxwell on Tyler Perry’s The Haves & the Have Nots or as Stacy on Greenleaf; among other film and television work.
And I conceived and performed MuhfuckaNevaLuvdUhs: Real Live Girl (I & II) and BustItOpen, a public performance art series (2015-2017) that took place on various streets of Atlanta, exploring black women’s labor.
I’m proud of my ability to collaborate across mediums- to have created a massive spring of intimacy with family/artist/audiences; to have produced work with so many beautifully talented and devoted artists in Atlanta. I’m all about the connection.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success is a constantly shifting notion; from day to day, project to project. Currently, I am making every effort to be entirely present in the process of my work, present and aware of the moments I have with folks most important to me, with family. Success is a step and/or action towards the enhancement of self, things I produce, and community. It’s not perfection or the manifestation of an idea or works wholly as I imagined, but a relinquishing of the greatest rigor and effort. It is a knowing; I have conspired dutifully for the best.
- Website: danielledeadwyler.com
- Instagram: @danielledeadwyler
BreeAnne Clowdus (headshot); Alan Kimara Dixon (BustItOpen); Brock Hanson (MNLU images)