Where are you from and how do you pronounce your name?
Denyce: I was born in Seoul, South Korea, but I represent Washington DC, where I REALLY grew up. Lived in Neptune, NJ (South NJ) a lot of my childhood also. You pronounce my name like Denise.
How did you get started or how did you get discovered?
Denyce: I've done a little modeling here and there as a child but my biggest accomplishment that got me started was a Kemi Oil Hair ad I did in Maryland for a friends Hair Salon a while back. From there I got a lot of print ads in Black Men & Today's Black Woman Magazines. I did a lot of theater work in DC but then I moved to New York to work for Warner Bros Records and met a lot of people through that business; Including an ex at the time who wanted to get into directing. He was a 1st AD at the time so I got to meet Hype Williams and Little X. Little X put me in my first national video and from there on, I was blessed to work with Hype Williams, Diane Martel, Chris Robinson and Darren Grant. All people who I feel contributed to my hay days of music video appearances and who kept it all very respectable, classy and an amazing experience for me! From there I was able to save and fund my move to California to support myself as I prepared to become an actress on the BIG screen :-) I've been working ever since.
You certainly have 'the look' for modeling, but is acting your true love?
Denyce: Acting is my biggest passion! Heck, I did Shakespeare in the park for 3 years. That's free labor!!!! But I LOVE IT! Can't see doing anything else outside of this business! Modeling isn't my thing, I don't consider myself a model! Models to me are found in Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Cosmo, W & Glamour magazines! No disrespect to other magazines, but when I think of models, I think of women like Tyra Banks, Naomi Campbell, Devon Aoki, and Eva Pigford! Not myself or a lot of the other actress' or women who have done music videos or Booty Magazines :-) LOL
What was your first music video you ever did and were you nervous?
Denyce: My first video honestly was directed by Benny Boom, it was his second video ever for a French Rapper named Kemel. But my first National video was Prodigy's "Y.B.E." directed by Little X. I don't remember being nervous, I was actually excited! It was fun! It was the first time I felt really sexy! hahahahahha. I had thousands of dollars worth of jewelry on! It was FANCY!
At what point would you say 'You've made it'
Denyce: When I'm celebrating my Birthday or even just celebrating a triumph in my life with the love of my life and surrounded by all of my true loved ones the way Oprah celebrated her 50th!
Do you think your ethnic background gives you an advantage in the industry?
Denyce: Yes and no! This industry still does the Brown paper bag test and the Pick a N**** Line so it can get a bit frustrating. I'm either too light or not light enough. Mostly, not dark enough. Not the girl next door innocent look! I can play a lot of ethnicities, but roles aren't being written for those ethnicities! I still feel blessed! I got the best of 3 worlds but sometimes it works for me and sometimes it works against me! But I embrace it all and work through those obstacles. I'm trying to break the stereotypes and barriers!
What are your likes and dislikes about the industry?
Denyce: I don't know what my likes are, I guess the free perks and special good treatment ! (smile) It's like a college campus, you're either a big Breakfast Club family or a St. Elmo's Fire type of relationship!
There's so many dislikes! No privacy and I'm not even at a Halle Berry status! People really want to know EVERY THING, who you're with, why, what, when! It can get crazy! And There's a lot of the rumors and lies and dissention between people...The misconceptions and preconceived ideas about women in the business!
Who are some of your role models?
Denyce: Tyra Banks is a big role model! I envy and adore her! I really admire Vanessa Williams and It's such a cliché but my parents. My mom was a singer in Korea before I was born! She gave up her career to raise my siblings and I and I adore her and owe her so much! My dad is such an inspiration to the old theory of not being able to teach old dogs new tricks! He's bettered and reinvented himself so much over the years for his family and he is my hero!
Did your friends and family support you when you got into the industry?
Denyce: I had one handful of friends who pushed me and had my back from day one, but there were a few who had the criticisms! They don't remember but now some have come around and know that this isn't some pipe dream! I had some family that paid for classes and made sure I was groomed for this, but as all people who love you do, they just worry and want you to be ok! I think that with anything, people can't keep talking about what they're going to do thinking everyone will support them right away. You have to work at it and really get into it and do it first and your results will be the proof and then they will feel comfortable that you will be ok. That's what I had to do! Stop talking about it and do it! Now, everyone is proud! LOL. 5 years ago, some had a few raised brows though!
If you were an animal, what would you be and why?
Denyce: Oh boy, I'd be a Lion I guess! Its hard to explain but the power a lioness possess and their will to rule and live is amazing! Their survival and nurturing skills are remarkable. I'm a hustler and I refuse to let anyone get in my way of happiness or success! Just like a Lion, I am nurturing and loving but if you attempt to get in my way, it's a wrap! LOL Or maybe just an Eagle because they soar through the sky effortlessly, they are rare and besides, chickens can't fly! LOL
Are you a Diva, or a Tomboy?
Denyce: I am a big Tomboy! But let's be real, put some Mac on me, some Jimmy Choo's and some Ardell False lashes, I will play that role! LOL. I honestly am 85%Tomboy and 15% Diva ish!
Would you ever be on a reality tv show?
Denyce: I have done one, I even host a reality show, A Makeover show on BET but to participate on a Reality competition show? No, I've been asked to do the Bachelor, Making The Band 3, & I Want To be a Soap Star! It isn't my thing but I admire those who do them. It takes a lot of of sacrifice of the ego to do it!
Is there anything special you would like to say to your fans?
Denyce: Fans? I got fans? LOL. Wow! I hope so! I just want to honestly and sincerely say thank you for any direct or indirect support you have given and offered! I'm still budding in my endeavors so I am humble in this and I just hope you all have the patience and love and support to ride with me and I promise to always do things everyone can look up to, respect, and relate to! I promise to never let you down if you will ride!
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The lovely Denyce Lawton was born in Seoul, South Korea to Gregory & Wan Lawton. She is the middle child of three. Denyce was a military brat living abroad in such countries as Korea, Japan, and Germany. In the United States, her family has lived almost everywhere including, Kansas, North Carolina, New Jersey, and Washington DC.In 1999, she was offered an Executive Assistant position at Warner Bros Records Urban Promotions in New York City. She took advantage of NYC and began modeling for FUBU, ADIDAS, Enyce, Karl Kani and Kemi Oil.
She later moved on to do A & R for Priority Records, and was a personal Assistant to Ja Rule & Irv Gotti at Murder Inc. Records. Denyce was also an Assistant Junior Publicist at 20th Century Fox Films in NY before she decided to move back to Los Angeles, California in December 2001 to officially take Hollywood by storm.
Denyce has an impressive resume of film,TV and music videos. She has appeared in over 20 music videos,20 shows/commercials on TV and about to appear in 3 movies in 2006. She has also hosted shows on BET. Currently, you can see Denyce as 'Dana' on Tyler Perry's 'House of Payne'.