Denise, you originally worked in advertising. How did you make the segue into acting?
While growing up in the small town of Maurice, Louisiana, I dreamed a more practical dream of becoming a doctor, while conquering the “mystical” place called Hollywood, never crossed my mind. I worked at several leading Dallas, Texas-based advertising agencies, overseeing commercial and photo shoots for various clients’ campaigns, including Pampers, Fossil, Mary Kay Cosmetics. It was then, that I was introduced to life “on-set” and ironically, time and time again, it was my clients, that asked for a re-cast, as they wanted me, their account manager, to replace the model that was actually cast for the campaign.
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 talent manager in Hollywood, and I decided to take a leap of faith, packed my bags and headed West.
What is it that you love about acting?
The freedom of expression and creativity. It’s especially fun to portray the Bad Girl Antagonist because when the director yells cut, and you leave set, there are no consequences and I can return to the cozy comfort of home.
What have been some of your favorite roles?
Trina from “Why Did I Get Married” is still tops on the list. That role came at a time when I was so new to LA, the world of acting. I mean, to be blessed with the opportunity to work alongside the likes of Janet Jackson, Jill Scott, Tyler Perry himself, folks whose work I’d admired, far before the decision to pursue acting even entered my mind?!?!? I still pinch myself. My role as Simone Wilcox in the upcoming Carl Weber film, “The Choir Director” is certainly going to get people talking. Put it this way—Simone makes Trina, look like a saint! [laughs]
What was it like to leave Hollywood for a few years after giving birth to focus on motherhood?
I was actually fortunate enough that I didn’t have to leave. While I did pull back on auditioning, there were several projects that presented themselves during that time. They provided the creative outlet that I needed, in order to keep in touch with who I was as a professional and individual and learn how to integrate that with my new role as mother.
How long were you home for, and what was the experience like?
The personal life/professional life juggling act was quite challenging at first. With the help of my Mom, who actually stayed in LA the first couple months, I was able to slowly, but surely, come out the mommy fog. Was it easy? I think it’s different for everyone, but for me, it took time to figure things out and patience to realize that the transition into mommy mode would take time, a strong support system, and a certain level of forgiveness. Believe it or not, it’s okay to not have all the answers. We live and we learn.
Let’s talk about some of your current film projects — For the Love of Ruth, The Bounce Back, The Choir Director!
Get ready to tune in! “For the Love of Ruth” Premieres mother’s Day Weekend on TV-One! With an all-star cast, TV One pays honor to the spirit of Mother’s Day with the premiere of the network original film For The Love Of Ruth on Saturday, May 9th. The film is inspired by the Biblical story of Ruth that at its core, is a quintessential story of love, commitment and loyalty. Denise Boutté (Meet The Browns) stars as Ruth, an orphan who was in search of her place in a lonely world, until Naomi Marachond – played by Loretta Devine (Grey’s Anatomy) –enters her life and provides the guidance and warmth she’s been seeking. Rounding out the cast are James Pickens Jr. (Grey’s Anatomy) in the role of Stephen Marachond, Naomi’s sullen brother-in law and Gary Dourdan (CSI) as Braxton Marachond, damaged isolated cousin Ruth’s love interest. “The BounceBack” hits theaters this fall! I play the X-wife, to Shemar Moore’s character, Matthew Taylor, a relationship guru with a best selling book. He’s on a whirlwind promotional tour, when he meets a fellow relationship expert, portrayed by Nadine Velazquez, who thinks he’s nothing more than a charlatan. Their professional rivalry gets complicated when they unexpectedly fall in love. The Choir Director: Part two of The Preachers Son… Bishop T.K. Wilson has done all he can to make First Jamaica Ministries a success, but with his last choir director getting caught in a scandal, attendance and cash flow are down. The Bishop is counting on a new choir director to revive the church. Little does he know, this decision may also put his job as the Bishop in jeopardy as well as his family.
How have you used some of your previous work skills to build your personal brand?
It’s all about building and nurturing relationships that are a natural fit, nothing forced. When you’re surrounded by like-minded individuals who have each other’s personal interest at heart, it’s amazing what that synergy will naturally create. I just trust my intuition and explore what my natural interests are.
How did the idea for Denise’s Dish come about?
During the months that followed my introduction into mommyhood, I realized that cooking was more than just a fun way for me to create and stay in touch with my Louisiana roots; it was an outlet. One of the first places I was comfortable taking my daughter in tow was the grocery store. For some reason, those trips seemed to really soothe and calm her, too! I’m from the mecca of cooking and it just felt like a great idea and a natural fit, so I assembled a few friends, turned the camera on and let the games begin!
Have you always loved to cook?
I was always around it, it’s at the core of my being! [laughs] I mean in Louisiana, we celebrate, we cook! We mourn, we cook! It’s just a part of who we are, our culture. But the love for cooking really got ignited after I graduated from LSU and moved to Dallas, TX. I was far from home, desiring a connection to my roots and had a taste for some comfort food. Calling my mom and having her guide me in recreating an old family favorite, was just what “Miss-I’m-going-to-conquer-the-world-but-I’m-homesick” needed.
What is it like to do the show?
Fun, uninhibited, unscripted and off the cuff! [laughs]
What would you like people to know about Louisiana food and Southern food in general?
That it can still be rich and flavorful, even when you cut out the butter and fat. That’s what “The Lighter Side of The Dish” is all about. Stay tuned…
I saw on one of your videos that your daughter is a good eater. What would you recommend to other moms who struggle with picky eaters?
Be patient and keep trying! Every kid is different and parenting is a very individual sport! [laughs] I find that allowing my daughter to select items in the grocery store and help me with the preparation, gets her excited and more open to eating them. At times, I do a bit of bargaining… Allow her more of what she likes, if she finishes item that’s not her fave… more spinach anyone?
Tell me about your upcoming cookbook.
It’s comprised of family favorites that have been around for years, but that we didn’t have recipes for, until now. My MonMon, for instance, was an AMAZING cook but never wrote all her measurements and ingredients down! After years of consulting my Mom and Godmother, we’ve worked out the kinks and formulas that will help anyone recreate our traditional family faves, in their own kitchen. I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished and how much the research strengthened our bond, even more.