As an indie author, I must market and promote my books to people I know. Which means I don’t have anonymity. So, you probably already know my real name is Davida. *takes a bow* But that’s not the interesting part. Going to law school with another Davida–THAT was interesting. People got us confused all the time, but I didn’t mind. There was no one cooler to share my name with.
Meet DaVida Chanel. She’s smart. She’s beautiful. She’s ambitious. And she’s a filmmaker. Today, I’m THRILLED to share her artistic side with you.
1. What was the transition from law school graduate to pursuing your passion for film/television production and being an apprentice for Vincent Cirrincione (long-term manager for Halle Berry) like?
DaVida: My intention for going to law school was to work in the entertainment industry. While at Thurgood, my peers (you included lol) were seeking internships with local firms and judges whereas my path was different. I interned in the office of Matthew Knowles at Music World then during the summer following my sophomore year I went to L.A. and interned for the Los Angeles Film Festival and Handprint Entertainment. So my goals for law school were to be in a position to work for someone like Vincent so it worked out quite well.
Dicey: I’ll bet that internship with Matthew Knowles was more exciting than mine. I’m jealous. 🙂
2. Having lived in Houston, TX, Los Angeles, CA, and New Orleans, LA, which do you think has a richer arts culture? Why?
DaVida: Hands down NEW ORLEANS! I’d wanted to live in Los Angeles since I was like 8 or 9 so moving there was a huge deal in my life. Living there was exciting-it is a city where everyone is hungry for the same type of success so it is very business like-people generally begin conversations with, “What do you do?” and your answer may determine if that conversation continues.
I didn’t enjoy my time in Houston but in all fairness, I think it was because I was in school. As you know the law school curriculum doesn’t leave much room for anything else. I basically went to school, church and happy hour so not sure I truly experienced the “culture” of Houston.
But New Orleans…well New Orleans is where my soul comes alive! There is something about this town-it feels as if it is alive and I love it! Creatively I’ve blossomed here and I feel like I’m a part of an artist community. I absolutely love living here!
Dicey: You make me want to catch a plane to NOLA right now.
3. Does your academic background play a role in your current roles? In what way(s)?
DaVida: Going to law school or becoming an attorney wasn’t really a passion of mine but I do believe the education I received was invaluable. A legal education prepares one for life in a way that is difficult for me to articulate. For instance, my knowledge of contract law comes into play daily-I’m anal about making sure all parties involved are on the same page (always seeking an offer, acceptance of that offer and valid consideration lol). Torts law helps me be ultra aware of my rights and that I’m not being taken advantage of in any situation. Finally, my law school education plays a huge role in my communication. I always feel the need to explain myself or rather my point and provide backup information for what I’m saying.
Dicey: I get what you’re saying completely. I wasn’t passionate about it either. It felt like a means to an end. I thought I needed to perfect my day craft so that I can pour money into my true love. Now, I feel more like an artist moonlighting as an attorney. LOL I must say that getting a masters and going to law school was the loooong way around being an author, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’m better able to negotiate contracts, research, network…and I have more experiences to draw from in my writing.
4. As an African-American woman, do you find the film/entertainment industry a welcoming place for minorities? If not, how have you overcome this challenge? If so, what do you think is most influential in creating such an environment?
DaVida: This is a great question and as an African-American woman behind the scenes I do feel welcome. I’ve always been able to capitalize on employment opportunities and felt the process of hiring was fair, based on experience not race. The problem is I don’t know that many people are aware of ways to get that required experience. I’ve interned A LOT and I’ve worked extremely hard for no pay at points and have constantly had to start over from the beginning in my career.
Dicey: I’m glad the market is welcoming and that you’ve had positive experiences! I get what you’re saying here too. The creative process comes naturally, but making a name for yourself requires hard work. Sometimes unpaid work. For me, that translates into giving away books after putting my time, heart, and soul into writing them. But you have to get your product out. You must gain exposure. And DaVida? I believe you will continue to do so.
5. Lastly, what is the last project you completed and what are you currently working on?
DaVida: My last project was Hip Hop Is Alive a play that I produced for the New Orleans Fringe Festival that I’m looking to take on the road this Spring. I’m currently working on USA’s COMMON LAW to premiere this summer starring Michael Ealy.
Dicey: Awesome! Looking forward to seeing
his eyes him in the premiere. 🙂
Check out this promo trailer for DaVida’s play HIP HOP IS ALIVE:
Thanks so much for the interview, DaVida! I’m so proud of you for going after your dream. Keep me posted on future projects.
I love supporting indie authors, filmmakers, and musicians. More interviews to come.