Amanda Diva? Who is that person? As Amanda Seales explains, she doesn’t have an internal Slim Shady/Sasha Fierce switch.
Ms. Seales is a complex individual mixing serious with eclectic. She performs, does old school journalism and modern free thinking writing, appears on VH1 frequently and interviewed hip hop celebrities on MTV. A psychic professor led her into making a pretty amazing life decision. Plus, she earned cool status when Ebony.com calls her a “natural hair crush.” What girl doesn’t get flattered by a hair compliment?
Who is Amanda Diva, and why aren’t you that person during the daytime? Or, I should say, when you aren’t performing?
I actually go by my government name, Amanda Seales, now because there really was no difference between her and Amanda Diva.
When you have a moniker, there is this expectation that you “turn on” and “turn off,” but for me, that’s not really the case. I just genuinely get turned up when I’m working because I love being on camera and creating art.
Is spoken word poetry anything at all like performing music?
Not really, because when you’re performing spoken word, you truly are alone up there with your words. When you’re doing music, you have the beat as your company, and it takes a lot of the pressure off because if people don’t know the words, they can still just groove to the music. With poetry, your words mean everything because that’s all you and your audience have to share.
You hold a Master’s in African-American Studies from Columbia University. (Please, whenever someone doubts your views, shout that accomplishment in their face―whether it’s an argument over President Obama, history or ice cream.) Were you on a different life path and suddenly got diverted into this crazy other entertainment world?
Actually, no. I was always on a path to entertain.
I’ve been dancing since I was three and began doing television at 10. Most people’s first job was at a fast food restaurant or clothing store. My first job was dancing in front of Cinderella’s castle at Disney when I was 8!
I went it a performing arts high school and went to undergrad originally as an acting major. The faculty and I had a difference in opinion though. I ended up leaving and creating a major of black studies with a concentration in the arts. I honestly only got my master’s because a professor on campus who everyone considered psychic stopped me one day and out the blue said, “You have to get your master’s; you’re going to change the world, and you’ll need it to do it.” I went right to my dorm room and applied to three schools.
You seem like a great person to ask this since you spent years studying. In college, I took a play class. My professor, who was African-American if you’re curious, argued how black movies and literature are the hardest to write because you don’t “want to take away the blackness” that defines people, but then again, you don’t want to only make it about race and eliminate any traces of a storyline. Since you do black journalism with AOLBlackVoices.com and write your own stage material, how do you avoid both dilemmas?
I think she is definitely correct about that dilemma. For myself though, it really depends on the project. Sometimes, I’m just blatantly making it about being black and that experience, but other times, it’s really just about my life experience. Since I’m black, that innately is a part of the narrative. Everyone’s “black experience” is different. I think it translates best when you just write the truth, not what you think people think is the truth.
When you tape comedy shows like “Best Week Ever,” do you rehearse a lot or is it spontaneous?
Everyone is different, but for me, it is done on the spot. When I do my web show, “TIL This Week” (www.TILthisweek.com) however, my team and I work together to choose the stories and angles for them and then, I write it on the spot when we shoot.
That show is pretty weird at times ― in a good way. How much goes on there that’s too much for TV?
Ha! I think we’re actually pretty tame this season, but Sherrod Small def carries the load in the “too much for TV” department, lol.
With your TV work, you’ve met quite a number of hip hop stars. Did you ask them or anyone else about career advice off camera, hoping one day you would release your music?
Never. I honestly didn’t even know I was going to release music until I did. It wasn’t premeditated. It just kind of happened!