Denise Boutte talks Days of Our Lives, her acting journey, upcoming projects and more. Check it out here-->>>
We had the pleasure of talking with actress, author, cook, entrepreneur, Denise Boutte. I was especially excited because Denise is a fellow Louisianan. We had such an easy, engaging conversation and it was nice to connect with a fellow Southern Belle.
Denise had a somewhat unconventional career path. She wasn't particularly "artsy craftsy" growing up like most people who land in the arts. A better description of Denise would be a "brainiac." She was the Valedictorian of her high school class and had a free ride to college. Hers was an academic start to stardom. So, the first thing we wanted to know was how Denise, the Valedictorian, went from a small town girl from Maurice, LA to a leading lady in Hollywood.
Denise, Maurice, LA to Hollywood that's a pretty big jump. And you were Valedictorian of your high school class. We bet there is an interesting story there. Tell us more about that journey.
"I thought in order to become successful in life you had to be a doctor or a lawyer. I chose studying on becoming a doctor. I went to LSU." (Geaux Tigers!) "As soon as I got to college, I knew that wasn't what I wanted to do. Then I went to class with another person in my dorm and discovered Communications. I thought this is something I can do. I can talk, shoot." Laughter. "I can do this. It really wasn't based on much more than that."
Communications can be pretty broad. What specifically did you plan to do?
"I picked Journalism. I interned for a year and a half. I went on my first story really because there was no one else to cover it. It wasn't what I expected. The story was covering a man who had hit a power line. I didn't want to interview the man's child. But the producers were in my earpiece in my ear; 'Get the story. Get the story.' I was shaking. The kid had no idea his dad had passed away. After that experience, I told them I'm going to finish my internship but after that I'm chucking the deuces and I'm out." Laughter.
Oh my goodness. Good news you knew early on that wasn't for you. What did you do next?
"I quickly switched gears and started interning at an advertising agency that was close to school. It was cool. My first job out of school was in Dallas with one of the agencies I had internship with in college. The different clients we worked with would always say, 'We like who you cast. But Denise has more of what we are looking for.' I didn't think I could do it. But my boss said, 'Oh yes you can.' It would repeatedly happen. The clients wanted me. I modeled shots for magazines and newspapers. I got an agent and one thing led to another. When I started working so much, I had to make a decision. My husband and I discussed it. He said if you want to go, I'll support you. I partnered with someone, who is still my manager to this day. He said if you come out to L.A., I have a house you can live in rent free. Your husband can come out too. Everything in my career has been like this it's always been his (God's) plan not mine."
You moved to Hollywood. Did you start in television or film?
"My first gigs were commercials. One evening I met Casting Director, Fran Bascom, and she was doing a play. I was hired as the stand in. Two weeks later the lead left and I was the next one up. James Reynolds (Abe, Days of our Lives) and his wife owned the dinner theater."
James from Days? We love James. And of course Abe.
"Yes him and his wife are wonderful people. I did the dinner theater for over a year. Then I did a few horror films. We won't talk about that. " Laughter. "But we all have to start somewhere."
Absolutely. It's all been a part of your path. Can you tell us how you became Trina (Why Did I Get Married?), the 80/20 rule? Laughter.
"I like to call Trina the "very nice hoochie." Laughter. "Tyler was auditioning in a courtyard and when I tell you all of Black Hollywood was auditioning. I had no idea who Tyler himself was. I had been in the stage play game so I knew who Madea was. But I didn't know Tyler outside of Madea. The audition was like any audition. I went in and did my thing. And that was it, bye-bye. I got a call from my manager. He said, 'I really think you got this thing. Go in and do exactly what you did before.' I went in and did the same thing. Kim Williams (casting director) was and still is a champion for me. Once again, I went in and the courtyard is full. I'm like whatever. This isn't necessarily mine but I'm going to do what I have to do. I did and I felt great. This young man who had this imposing nature because he's so confident and tall comes to me and puts out his hand and said, 'Well Ms. Boutte, you are "Sasha" (it was a different name for Sasha Brown then) for my series. I also have a film role I would like for you to be in.' I'm shaking. I basically dropped to my knees and said, 'My momma is going to be so happy.' I'm crying. I'm like Oh My God. He helped me up and said, 'Get on up, it's alright. Get yourself together. There are a lot of people out there and I just want to make sure you are okay.' Laughter. "I get in the car. I call my manager and I say, 'This guy says I have it. I guess he has to talk to Tyler but according to him I have it. And I have a movie role.' My manager asked who was the guy. I didn't know. Low and behold that was Tyler."
Wow. So you landed both parts with one audition. That's awesome. If nobody remembers anything about Why Did I Get Married?, they remember Trina and the 80/20 rule, iconic. After Trina, you played Sasha Brown on the hit series Meet the Browns.
"For me, who never had a series or worked at that level before, it was the best training. It took me the first season to really get the hang of it. David Mann and Tyler are so talented. If you see the Madea movies and you go to the plays, he's not going to give you the same show or the same delivery so you have to be ready to catch whatever he throws at you. He's going to improvise, give you impromptu movements; so you have to be ready to pick up whatever he is putting down. It's the same with David. They are so off the cuff. They are so go with the flow. When inspiration hits them you have to be ready. If you are too regimented or robotic you won't survive it. So for me, it was the best opportunity and training ground that I could have ever had. Tyler and I had a brother and sister type of relationship. I knew I was in a safe place. I knew I could learn. I knew he wouldn't let me fall. It was an amazing time and an amazing training ground."
You had a busy 2018. I'm going to be honest. I didn't know. When I was doing my research, I was like yes Denise has been busy.
"A lot of times if people don't see you continuously on a series they will see you and say, 'What are you doing these days?' I'm doing a lot. I'm not the kind to go over my resume. I'm just like, check it out."
Guilty as charged. Laughter. I did check it out and last year alone you starred in the TV Series Young Justice and in the movies The Preacher's Son, Couples' Nights and Her Only Choice.
"It was all great. We did Her Only Choice for BET Her. The movie did so well; it's been picked up by Netflix. We are working to confirm the release dates. The movie was also recognized at The International Satellite Awards. I have another project in development with the producer I worked with on Her Only Choice. And I'm working on developing a television series. I'm very blessed, very fortunate and appreciative."
Amen. Now you know I have to ask you about the cooking being from Louisiana and all. You've been on The Food Network. You had a web series about cooking. Did you start cooking straight from the womb? What's the story?
"Cooking is something I've always had a passion for. When I lived in Dallas on my own it really developed. I'd call my mom on Sunday and ask how do you make this or that. I'd get all the ingredients and we'd talk and catch up on the week. My mom would walk me through making all this food. I compiled this huge reserve of recipes. I also had several recipes from my mawmaw (lingo for grandmother down South). I used it mainly for comfort when I was homesick and wanted to feel closer to home. When I moved to L.A. I had to modify things because everybody in L.A. uses tofu. I didn't know if I could go there. I had my daughter. And my metabolism wasn't what it used to be. But overall, I just wanted to have a healthier way of cooking."
You did. And you even took it a step further. You and Chef Jernard Wells have a cookbook, Southern Modified, to help us all learn a healthier way of cooking. Tell us all about it.
"An acquaintance introduced me to Jernard a few years ago. I fell in love with his wife. They became family. The book was inspired by our desire to give people Traditional Southern Dishes Modified for Today's Healthier Lifestyles. We just had a Cooking Demo/Q&A/Book Signing in Chattanooga and Atlanta at Barnes and Nobles. They were so successful that we have an open invitation to any Barnes and Nobles in the country. "
Yea! Jernard's from Mississippi and you are from Louisiana. That's a pretty solid foundation for any culinary effort. How was the collaboration process?
"Jernard and I were on the Tom Joyner cruise together. We met at the library for several days and came up with the idea of Southern Modified. We had the tagline and had our chapters before we got off the ship. In the last few months, we came up with a firm game plan of what we want to do with the cookbook and how we intend to brand it."
"I'm also re-branding my brand of WeezianaGirl.com. It's Louisiana inspired. I'm beginning my own line of cooking seasonings, WeezianaGirl. We have a certified Louisiana logo. The seasonings are all natural. The first one that will be available, is our all purpose all natural sodium version. Starting the third week in March, you will be able to go on my site, WeezianaGirl, and purchase it. The Hot & Spicy and Original are in development now. There are a few Louisiana based grocers who have shown interest in carrying the spices. I'm looking forward to continuing to get out there and meeting people. I love for them to see it, taste it and smell it. We will have WeezianaGirl T-Shirts. It just feels good. The culinary feels good. We have a plan of action. There you go something that came from growing up on a small farm in "big ole" Maurice, LA."
Yes! I'm a proud member of The Louisiana family. I'm going to be screaming it from the rooftops. I'm also a proud member of the soaper family. Let's talk soaps for a minute. You were on Days of our Lives right?
"I was. I attributed that to Fran Bascom also. She's the one who got me in on the play and she was the Casting Director for Days. It was awesome. I was on Days before Meet the Browns. They really move fast on a soap opera."
And a little birdie told us you had an audition for a soap very recently. What can you tell us about that? Lots Lots Lots of Laughter. Well, you know we had to ask. People can say yes or no. But we always have to ask. We have to throw it out there. Lots of Laughter.
"I can't say. Here is what I will say, I have auditioned at this soap, I can't tell you how many times. In fact, the young lady, the receptionist was like 'Hey girl, you are back?' The security guard told me 'You know how to get there.' Laughter. I'll tell you something else. Just a few months ago I tested over there for a series regular role. So, one day you might know who that soap opera was, I don't know."
Well, I'm going to say my own little prayer. We love our soaps and we would love to see you on one of them.
"Me too. If it's meant to be; it will be. Everybody is not going to love what you do. But as long as you love it just keep going. He's got it all planned out. I just show up and he's going to show out. I'm excited. It feels like the gears are turning in the right direction."
They are. Not too bad for a girl from "big ole" Maurice, LA.
Denise, we can't get enough of hearing stories like yours. It inspires us all to keep pushing toward our own individual dreams.
***If anybody is or will be near the Lafayette, LA area on April 2, 2019, Denise will be at Barnes and Nobles in Lafayette, LA. She will also be the Guest Speaker at The Black Chamber of Commerce in Lafayette, LA on April 3, 2019.***
Her cookbook Southern Modified is available now. Her WeezianagirlSpices are coming soon.
We hope Denise's journey and her words of wisdom inspire you as much as it did us to keep pushing toward your dreams.
Thank you, Denise. And we are going to say that soap opera prayer!