As an original member of the R&B quintet Danity Kane, the world got its first taste of Wanita “D. Woods” Woodgett. Now, the singer-actress is ready to reintroduce us to who she is and what she can accomplish.
The 29-year-old will appear in the upcoming film Blackbird (in theaters on April 24), starring Mo’Nique (who also executive produced the film) and Isaiah Washington. The film has garnered sizable buzz on the festival circuit since last year. It gave Woods, who earned a B.F.A. in musical theater from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, the opportunity to show off her versatility apart from her former Danity Kane persona.
“My character’s name is Leslie Crandall and she is a little bit of a troublemaker. She’s the preacher’s daughter,” Woods told B*Real at the Black Women in Film Network Untold Stories Luncheon in Atlanta. Based in a conservative Mississippi town, the film centers around a young man struggling with his sexual awakening as a gay teen. “We see a lot of that today, especially with so many teens being bullied for their sexual orientation or for just being different. It’s a coming-of-age-story for all characters, my character included,” she said.
She’s also taking the reigns by integrating her musical expertise into the mix. “My independent label, Woodgrane Entertainment, has been talking with the producers about developing a soundtrack for the film. And I have a new joint venture with Sony Red for distribution for my label, so [I am now] stepping up and taking autonomy and taking ownership of content.”
Having a stake in the content she creates has been a constant throughout her rise to fame, and she’s not looking to change that anytime soon. “It’s important to me because number one, I love what I do, so I have to have responsibility for my own success. I can’t put it in somebody else’s hands,” said Woods.
“No one is going to know the characters, the stories, and the substance that I want to portray [in order to] inspire another person or the next generation the way that I know I want it to be seen. You can’t just sit around and wait for someone to give you the chance, give you the permission to let you know that you are as great as you are. You just have to take a chance and take a gamble on yourself.”
It’s a gamble that appears to be paying off handsomely. Aside from her acting pursuits, Woods premiered new music at this year’s South by Southwest Festival and her latest single, “Your Tattoo” (Feat. Paul Wall), which was produced through her own label, is available on iTunes now.
On the challenges in establishing herself in the entertainment business, she said, “Sometimes, people don’t see you the way you want to be seen and just don’t think you’re as valuable as you know that you are,” she said. “It’s like, ‘No, I’m dope. I know that I am worth that much to be paid, I know that I need to be respected.’ So if I don’t believe in myself, how can I expect somebody else to do it? I think that’s how we should think of it for the entire community of artists in the African-American community."
She continued, “We need more people to create content, create scripts, jump on board and believe in ourselves and put ourselves out there. The more we do it, the more jobs we’ll have, the more stories we’ll have to tell, the more we’ll see ourselves on screen.”
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(Photo: Marcus Ingram/Getty Images)
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