Dwen Curry of American Gangster: “God taps me”

I really value taking care of my mental health. I love to have my hair done, mediate, go to the spa and get my nails done. I have a lot of activities that I do to keep myself feeling good, and I have found it’s really important to have a good routine. I do my […]

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I really value taking care of my mental health. I love to have my hair done, mediate, go to the spa and get my nails done. I have a lot of activities that I do to keep myself feeling good, and I have found it’s really important to have a good routine. I do my meditating, write my notes and prepare for my day, just trying to deal with the tasks at hand to the best of my ability.

As part of our series about Inspirational Women In Hollywood, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Dwen Curry.

She was born in Detroit, Michigan on March 3rd, 1968 and is the oldest of four siblings. Dwen was raised in Detroit, MI by her mother and grandparents where she spent most of her adolescent years defending herself in streets of Detroit due to her sexuality. From this she inherited the nick name “GG”, The original gay gangster. Dwen is a celebrity Wardrobe stylist, actor, and reality television personality. In 1998 she moved to Oakland, California with little to nothing. She then aggressively approached entrepreneurship and opened a beauty salon called “Just an Illusion”. While owning and operating her hair salon, she interacted with celebrities from the sports and entertainment industries.

She began making her mark as a fashion stylist in Oakland by styling models for local fashion shows and photo shoots for national hair magazines. Deeming Oakland too small of a town, Dwen set her sights on the entertainment capital of the world, Los Angeles. She moved to Los Angeles in the spring of 1999 and two weeks after arriving in the city was introduced to LisaRaye who became a close friend. Later Dwen became her personal wardrobe stylist dressing both LisaRaye and Treach of “Naughty by Nature” for the Billboard Awards and several other major events that year. She also became their stylist for a weekly show they co-hosted called “Source: All Access”; thus, ushering LisaRaye into the category of a fashion diva.

From her impeccable styling of LisaRaye that led to Dwen starting her own styling house called, “Xtreme Measures Incorporated”. As a wardrobe stylist and costume designer of her own business, she dressed and revamped images of such industry greats as, Eve (Rapper/Actress), Tichina Arnold, Gabrielle Union-Wade, Tasha Smith, Tracee Ellis Ross, Kellie Williams (Actresses), Ray Lewis and Terrell Owens (NFL Players), DMX, The RZA, Ja Rule, Yung Berg, Cash Money Millionaires, Yo-Yo, Missy Elliot, Da Brat, MC Lyte and Trina (Rappers), Mariah Carey, Patti LaBelle, Cher, Anastasia, Tweet, Truth Hurts, Fantasia (Singers) and other entertainers unmentioned. She then broke out as an actor when Mara Brock Akil (Creator of “Girlfriends”) approached Dwen to play the character of “Blackberry” on the hit show. She was also approached by the producers of “Noah’s Arc” as a wardrobe stylist on the show, shortly after becoming the show’s costume designer. The producers also recognized her ability to convey the pulse of the alternative lifestyle later offering her the role of “Romeo” on the show; thus, making her both the show’s costume designer and member of the cast.

Years later Dwen was incarcerated due to an alleged drug charge; where she would be released early for completion of a rehabilitation program, after four and a half years of serving her time. Once released, Dwen quickly bounced back on her feet and continued to take the fashion styling and costume designing world by storm but has also emerged as an actor and reality television personality to be reckoned with. Currently she is styling various celebrities, writing her book, and starring in the BET+’s hit TV show; The American Gangster Trap Queens Season 2.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I grew up in Detroit, and my neighborhood was full of violence and drugs from an early age, but my childhood wasn’t really horrific or anything like that. I realized that I was different pretty early on, and a lot of the kids started noticing this, too. I started having an identity crisis, and there wasn’t anyone for me to turn to for guidance. Me identifying as a gay boy at the time was not to be discussed in our house. It got really dark for a while, and I turned to drugs. I felt completely lost, and my mom ended up sending me to my Uncle Leon’s house in Oakland when I was 21.

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My Uncle Leon. Anyone who knows me knows that my biggest fear is death, and he actually helped turn me around during a time where I didn’t realize I was going down a bad path. After moving to Oakland, Leon helped me get clean, and he was the first one to openly ask me about my sexuality in a non-judgmental way. He helped me come to terms with being gay, and I felt free.

He was so rigorously honest about asking the hard questions and making me think about whether or not I was becoming the person I wanted to be. I know people who have been kicked out and alienated by their families, and if it wasn’t for him, that might have been me. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be here today. He truly saved my life.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path? How did you get into a life of crime? And how did you transition afterwards.

It definitely snowballed into something bigger than I imagined, but when I first got into wire fraud, I was honestly surprised at how easy it was. It started during my job at a hotel, and eventually, I opened up a hair salon in Oakland as a front for the crime. I was at a really good place in my life, and I wanted to stop trapping, but I just couldn’t turn it around. In 2009, it all came crashing down.

When I got out of prison after my sentence, I knew that I had to turn over a new leaf and make some changes. I wasn’t going to let it ruin my life. By prioritizing my mental health, I have been able to move forward and try to bring some light into the world.

Can you share a story about the mistakes you made and the lesson you learned?

When you choose a life of crime, you have to be 100% dedicated. You have to be prepared for everything that comes across your table. A lot of the time people think that the worst thing that can happen is losing your money, but what if you lose your mother, father or best friend? Had I not been incarcerated, I would have been able to go to my best friend’s funeral, and I won’t ever get that back due to the mistakes I made.

I had to realize that the nothing I was getting from crime could replace the people in my life that I love. I definitely learned gratitude and the meaning of family throughout all of this.

What drives you to get up everyday?

God taps me, and I wake up at 5:30am, or sometimes even 4:30am. I just know that it’s time to get up and there’s work to be done.

We are very interested in looking at diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture and our youth growing up today?

I think that things are more pronounced and acceptable than they were before, but there’s still room to grow. When I was coming into the industry as a celebrity stylist, it was difficult. I was lucky to know people who helped me make connections. It’s really not what you know, it’s who you know.

I think it’s important to have diversity in TV because it can show kids that there are people like them in the world. It also allows us to tell more diversity stories of people from different backgrounds. Lastly, I think it helps us create a culture that is more open-minded, loving and accepting.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Where do you see yourself heading from here?

I’m opening a transitional home for transgender people to turn to as they are getting out of prison. I want to be able to give them a place to call home when they get out because for a lot of transgender people, they have nowhere to go when they get out. I hope to continue doing this in the future so that people have the support and care that they need.

Can you share with our readers any self care routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body, mind or heart to thrive? Please share a story for each one if you can.

I really value taking care of my mental health. I love to have my hair done, mediate, go to the spa and get my nails done. I have a lot of activities that I do to keep myself feeling good, and I have found it’s really important to have a good routine. I do my meditating, write my notes and prepare for my day, just trying to deal with the tasks at hand to the best of my ability.

Can you please give us your life motto?

I am Dwen — the original GG. Remember who you are and know your worth. Closed mouths don’t get fed.

Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!

I would love to have lunch with Taraji P. Henson! She liked the season of “American Gangster: Trap Queens,” too, which is so cool. I’ve met her years before, and it would be a dream to have lunch with her.

Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?

Yep! You can find me on Instagram @dwentheoriginaldiva.

This was so informative, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

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