BOSS ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: DIJA HENRY
It took me a while to embrace being a Boss Artist but looking back I’ve always been one even as a little girl. I would always come up with schemes to make money with my siblings. Once we sold all our books door to door (yes we got into trouble). Next we created a neighborhood newspaper where we wrote about our neighbors (We eventually had to shut that down). But when my dad took me to my first movie - I knew I wanted to tell stories for a living. I’ve always had a clear vision of what I wanted and I believed that I could accomplish it. I also realize that we are living in a wonderful time where we, as artists can take advantage of the amazing tools available to us to take our careers into our own hands and create work that is really meaningful to us. I think it really sunk in that I was a Boss Artist when a short film I co- wrote, acted in and co produced premiered in Los Angeles and saw how the film actually impacted people. It showed me that through hard work, faith and persistence I can be a Boss Artist.
As a wife and mother of three kids I struggled with balancing my dreams and taking care of my family. My father gave me some advice I’ll never forget. He said it wasn’t about finding balance but setting priorities. Ever since then I’ve been living by that philosophy. I’ve learned to set priorities by taking time to think about what’s really important to me. I had to identify what type of life I wanted for myself and my family. Then I spent time cultivating that mindset and culture within my children. Today my creative dream is not just about me but also about my kids who inherited creative genes of their own. We also help other kids learn how to make films and music to express themselves and tell their own stories. It is so rewarding and means so much to see the kids light up whenever they learn something new or feel empowered by something I showed them. Being an artist isn’t just about the limelight is about the lifestyle and whose lives we impact.
There are a lot of ups and downs in this business, isn’t there? Honestly, cultivating a full life outside of “the business” helps me to manage the ups and downs. I stay busy with my family and my own projects so that I constantly feel like I have a creative outlet regardless of what happens in an audition. Embracing myself as a whole and diving deep in my relationship with God has been the biggest thing in managing mindsets. I’ve spent a lot of time seeking my calling and I discovered that when you discover your purpose you can live that out no matter what you do. When you know who you are and what you have to offer it is a powerful and beautiful thing.
I wish I was better at staying consistent in all areas of my life (especially exercise) but I have cultivated a morning routine that helps me get ready for the day. First I pray and read my bible. I also read through my personal mission statement and goals and my affirmations morning and most nights. Sometimes I’ll edit them slightly to continue to refine the statements to feel more aligned. I also meditate daily. I’ve been asking God for clarity on a daily basis because I want this year to be a breakthrough year. I also journal a lot and that helps me to reflect on my thoughts, my fears and my frustrations. In addition I journal my prayers and it’s awesome to see how God answers them!
I’ll be honest. I can be really dense sometimes and it takes me a while to actually absorb and apply advice. My mother would always tell me “know who you are in Christ”. She started telling me that when I was 16 and I never really understood what she was talking about until I got into my early 30’s. I didn’t realize the power of knowing who you are, and who you aren’t and being okay with that. In a business where comparison is huge and can be debilitating , when you know who you are it’s easier to deal with those feelings so you can move forward on your own unique path. The other advice I received was from one of my favorite painters, Vincent Van Gogh through a quote: “If your hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint’ by all means paint and that voice will be silenced. It’s so simple but so hard. By simply doing the thing you are afraid of - it shuts down your fear.
My advice for someone who sees my journey and wants to give it a try I would say you can totally do it! Set a goal and then take small steps towards that every day. Spend time every day getting to know yourself better and identify who you want to serve. Always be teachable and study as much as you can about your craft. Work on your mindset and don’t be afraid to invest in yourself! Your dreams are worth it and the world needs your unique gifts and talents.
This time next year I will be crystal clear on my business model. I’ll be a mother of a highschooler! I’ll still be doing what I do now but on a higher level.
Fear is something that I deal with on a daily basis. That’s probably because I can never stay in my comfort zone. I get so passionate about ideas and possibilities, I suppose. I believe that the things I want are on the other side of fear and the desire to live out my purpose helps me push past my fear. I’ve learned to identify when fear is trying to get in my way so I practice moving past it. I think it’s like any other skill - it takes practice. I also take time to get really quiet and center myself every day. It’s almost as I have to tell myself over and over again what is important to me so that I don’t get pulled off course like I did when I was younger. On a practical level I tell God my fears, I journal my fears and I talk to my spouse about them. I think I’m more afraid of wasting my life than the fear associated with going after my dreams.
Right now I’m getting ready to launch a podcast that will focus on the entrepreneurial side of being a multi-passionate actor. If you’d like to stay up to date on when that will drop you can sign up at dijahenry.com/connect.
Right now I have two crushes...is that allowed? Ava Duvernay because she’s creating such brave work and Andrea Lewis because she’s not only acting making films but also building her own empire.
The song I have on repeat is anything from the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill album.
I usually watch everything on TV so that I can stay up to date with the shows but when I like to relax I watch Jane the Virgin and This is Us. Oh I loved The Handmaiden’s Tale soo much! And I’ll always go back and watch the Psych reruns because the whole family can watch it.
On a bad day I take a looooong hot shower with Eucalyptus oil and get sushi from my favorite sushi place. Then I give myself a cheesy outloud pep talk. Like I’ll walk around the house and give myself a sermon until I feel better.f
I’m inspired to live my best life because I want to be an example to my kids that they should and can live their best lives as well.
A saying that describes my life right now:
To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.
Also: Be brave.