The life of a triple threat entertainer is paved with more roadblocks than you think—just ask D. Woods. We know her as 1/5 of Diddy’s handpicked girl group Danity Kane, but this reality TV alum has been carefully crafting solo stardom in both music and film. While the work to get there has been challenging and plagued with plenty rumors (more on that later), 2014 is proving to be a major breakthrough.
This year, fans will get to know Wanita Woodgett as lovestruck “Leslie,” the resident PK (preacher’s kid) of Blackbird, an indie darling headed by Oscar winner Mo’Nique and Grey’s Anatomy’s Isaiah Washington. With reviews already calling the small project a major success, we had to chop it up with Woods about her experience on and off the set.
Keep reading to see when Mo’Nique predicted D.’s future, why we should stop bashing the word “ratchet” and lastly, what exactly happened with Danity Kane.
Photo Credits: Getty Images
VIBE Vixen: Congrats on the premiere of Blackbird! Did you enjoy watching yourself onscreen?
D. Woods: It was phenomenal. It was just really everything that I wanted it to be. Everybody felt very blessed and gratified in the whole process. I’m my own worst critic and I think I almost was more critical of myself before I starting thinking more of my memory from filming it. But then I was happy to find out, as the film started, I just got lost in watching and enjoying it. That’s when you know you did a good job because you’re not even taking the time out to start nitpicking yourself.
Is this your first big film?
This is my largest role in a big film. I had a very small role in Stomp the Yard and I’ve done a few independent movies, straight to DVD movies and of course I’ve done a lot of acting in theater. Most of my experience in acting has been in theater, so I don’t even get to watch myself on that. I just have to trust what I’m doing.
Tell us about your character.
My character’s name is Leslie and she is a preacher’s kid. She’s definitely a very innocent, pure spirit, hopeless romantic, super lovey dovey with her boyfriend who’s name is Todd. We just all in each others’ face the whole dog ‘gone time and my whole world is like “him.” And she wants to walk on the wild side and push her limits being that she’s supposed to be this holier than thou preacher’s daughter. She wants to break out of her shell.
What is the synopsis of the film for those who don’t know?
Blackbird is based on a novel by Larry Duplechan. It takes place in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and centers around a young boy name Randy Rousseau who is struggling with his sexual identity and religious beliefs and obligations to his family. His mother, who is played by Mo’Nique and his father, who is Isaiah Washington; their family has been under distress and kind of torn from the disappearance of his younger sister. She’s been kidnapped and so when the film starts, it’s six years later after the daughter has been kidnapped and the family’s just left in ruins.
That’s the main meat of the story, but so many people took so many messages. There are messages of black families in general, of course religion and faith and hypocrisy of what it means to be a Christian and interracial relationships. There’s a lot in this movie. People knowing me as a music artist and then people knowing me as a reality TV star–they don’t necessarily take you seriously as a true actress. Acting is another part of me that people haven’t been introduced to yet, but it’s something that I’m so at home with because that’s how I was brought up.
What tips can you offer someone looking to make the jump from reality TV to film?
I never considered myself a reality star. I’m just an artist who happened to be on a reality show. But it’s about having to be true to who you are and what you want to say to the world. And don’t allow other peoples’ labels and stigmas to dictate your own actions. It does take a lot of self-searching and knowledge and patience because you can’t jump at every opportunity that’s thrown in front of you. And that was something that I respected so much about Mo’Nique because after having an Oscar award winning performance, you would think that she would’ve had scripts thrown at her, but she took her time and chose the right project that she felt was going to take her in the direction for her career and what she wanted to stand for.
What was it like being on set with her?
It was really educational. The first time I met Mo’Nique was on her late night talk show. This was the beginning of my label. She said to me, “You know what? Everybody’s not meant to be in a group” and I was like “Oh.” I have this person who is definitely very well accomplished and has seen this industry in and out giving me that type of insight. So when we reunited on Blackbird, she was like, “I’m really glad to see you here. I’m so glad that you’re here.” She says blatant statements, but I know it has like double and triple meanings. Everything else was me watching her practice and just soaking it in, like the fun of just watching her practice. Her character was very intense, so there was a lot of times where it wasn’t appropriate to just chit chat because she was preparing. But she gave us all great encouragement.
You talked about your character getting caught up in her relationship. What advice would you offer her?
Well, I don’t know if I could give her advice because I am so single (laughs). But if I had to give her advice, I would tell her it is not the end of the world–life does go on.
When does the film premiere?
The world premiere was at the Pan- African Film Festival and it will also be shown at the opening of the OutFest in LA on March 14th. Right now the movie is working festival circuits and in negotiation for distribution so stay tuned. Follow @blackbird on Twitter and Facebook so you can see local screenings.
What is the update on your solo music?
Right now, everyone can go to ITunes and get the new single “Goldmine.” This year, it was in several categories on the Grammys ballot of nominations and I am very proud of that. I’m just pushing out my brand of music and who D. Woods is and that is what the color series is all about. Volume One- I like to call red ratchet volume (laughs).
What is your definition of ratchet?
I feel like there are different degrees of ratchetness. I think of ratchet as living out loud and unapologetic. If you know how to control yourself and you know how to have fun …there is a time and place for everything. That is the degree of ratchet I am showing.
Who are your favorite ratchet celebrities when applied to the definition you just gave?
On the male side, I love 2 Chainz. I turn up so much to his music. He just says whatever he wants to say and it is just fun feel good music, but at the same time he is clever in his rhymes. He looks like he is really enjoying his career. On the female side, a lot of people wouldn’t see her as ratchet but applied to my definition–Erykah Badu.
We are obsessed with your flat stomach! What tips can you offer Vixens trying to achieve washboard abs?
The one thing people do immediately to get a flat stomach is to get on the floor and do a million crunches. But if you have a bunch of fat on you and you are doing crunches, you are going to bulge out more. You have to have a good cardio routine and combine it with an ab exercise. You will burn the fat, lean out and your muscles are going to tone up.
Also, dance has been a part of my life since I could walk and holding your core is a part of dance. That is my favorite form of exercise because it does not feel like exercise–it’s actually fun. You have to drink a lot of water and eat everything in moderation. People always say don’t eat carbs, but you need carbs to help burn off fat. I definitely never condone starving yourself because you got to put gas in the tank to make the car go.
There have been tons of back and forth about your involvement in the Danity Kane reunion. What is the real story behind all of the drama?
Well immediately after the group was disbanded on TV, I had to keep it moving. I’ve been a part of large ensemble. I’ve been a part of smaller groups and I have done performances by myself. I look at it as, thanks for the opportunity– it was great and on to the next. No hard feelings to anybody; it was just the end of this part of the journey. If it is meant to come back together, it will. I’m not going to sit at home and wait for you to call me. There are a lot of things that I am involved in. Being that I am involved in all that, if you just up and pop up and say, “Oh we’re doing a reunion;” this has to make sense. What is the plan? What’s the budget? Who’s the leader? What is management like? None of those things was presented to me. I was like, “Okay, if you guys are ready to tell me what you got going on, I will be there.” But, I never got that. I think it was spun out of context.
Was there any truth of you guys arguing?
On my end, I don’t argue with people (laughs). There were things that they said in the media that were very distasteful and hurtful. I don’t know why you would say something like that. You have my number if you have a problem with me. I don’t understand the shade and throwing me under the bus or depicting me as the villain. But, I am a businesswoman, and I do take my career seriously. But, I just wish them well.