By Mandi ‘Poefficient’ Vundla |
Between skyping and emailing; talking to Darrin DeWitt Henson has felt a little like playing broken telephone. Our Time Zones are unkind, and playing catch to the hour glass means trading a portion of the night sky and battling intermittent internet connectivity to chat with the multi-faceted stud muffin. It is morning on his end and in our follow up chat he says: “I only have 10minutes!” So I do best to utilize all of it and a little more.
I remember Darrin as Lem Van Adams from those late nights I’d pinch from my sleep to watch Soul Food back when I was a teenager; the longest running drama with a predominantly African American cast in the history of television. Contributing to the remaking of black history could sweeten anyone’s resume’ and Henson is grateful for the opportunity to have been part of the cast.
“It’s a tremendous blessing and I am thankful for the opportunity”
While being an actor has afforded him access to millions of viewers all over the world, it is his career as a motivational speaker that has enabled him to work as a blessing in people’s lives. In serving others, he utilizes his voice and popularity to assist people in becoming more of who they are meant to be; motivating them to take charge of their lives.
In his second book ‘A’int that the truth?’ and what truth you may ask? Well… So did I.
Henson is referring to common sense and universal truth; the laws and the lessons that the universe provides us with -how we should be open to them by being aware and honest with ourselves and others.It took a total of six months for him to finish the book. He was very transparent in his approach and his thoughts throughout process, especially in the case of his first book: ‘Intimate thoughts and the spirit of change; a literary journal for the poetically fit. He is generous with his advice and borrows himself kindly via email to those
who make serious inquiries. Opening up about his life experiences and allowing people into his journey doesn’t prove to be of any trouble.
“Transparency is the key to growing and assisting others to grow”
When I inquire about his fears, I reserve a seat at the back of my mind for a list of casual list of demons under his wing, but there are none. He jumped out of a plane to conquer his fear of heights. He is confrontational with his fears and invites them in, in order to make them disappear.
The all-round artist is well versed in spirit and highly committed to the self. He speaks firmly throughout our conversation, punching his words into me, leaving little room for me to sneak anything in until he is done. What he tells of his age is that he is older than some and younger than others -we can definitely add finer than most!
Constantly driven by his intentions; his thoughts; the desire to continually grow and the power of God in his life. He believes in failing forward and notes that it is only failure when you give up. He draws his inspiration from the late Michael Jackson; Martin Luther King and his distant cousin and voyager Mathew Henson who helped discover the North Pole.
Henson’s track record is impressive and evident in his ability to diversify himself, he assures me that he is still a choreographer. He had already set his mind on being a dancer at the age of 15; he performed a great deal in high school. In the past he has choreographed for Michael Jackson, Brittney Spears, N’sync, etc.
He was extensively known for his dance instructional videos ‘Darrin’s Dance Grooves’ and in an interview he credits Billy Blanks as the inspiration behind that move.
Curious about his creative process I make an inquiry about how he brings each dance piece to life.
He says he doesn’t ponder much about the dance steps, his routines differs from artist to production because the music is normally different. He is more attentive to the beats in the rhythm and the vibration of the music.
“I literally used to choreograph in a very small space. It reminded me of my room as a teenager, it was also quite small and I used to dance in it.”
So whenever Henson is making dance moves he uses a small space to choreograph the routine and he
says it turns out great. Darrin is also quite the fitness junkie, his body is a masterpiece. He stays true to his healthy life style which includes a lot of vegetables; fruits; cardio strength training; prayer meditation for mental health and developing good habits over bad ones. Slipping his clothes off on screen is an easy chore because psychologically and spiritually he commits himself to the roles he embodies.
For him every character is a compromise that goes beyond undressing but also involves sacrificing
time with friends and family. His had to put on weight and watch his cholesterol levels rise due to indulging in unhealthy food only to have to shred the weight off rapidly to prepare for a role.
One can say: “he definitely had an early start in his career.” By 21 he had already lived in Japan; traveled the United States and featured in a Broadway play. Growing up, he was surrounded by many friends of diverse backgrounds and began exploring language by making use of the encyclopedias his mother had bought for him and his brother.
In July he got to experience a dose of South African culture playing the role of Texas Walker in the locally produced Rom-Com, Zulu Wedding, which is set to drop in 2017. He loved being in the Mother Land and was humbled by the love he received from black Africans.
“It was a beautiful experience to touch the Mother-Land”
In the movie ‘Zulu Wedding’ he plays the role of Texas: a disillusioned advertising executive who falls in love with Lou, a beautiful, stubbornly independent and driven choreographer who makes it in New York but is traditionally promised to a king back home.
Will she evade the overwhelming pressure of succumbing to her family traditions forever or will she wed the king? Pre-buy your tickets from (zuluwedding.com) to watch the story unfold.
The scintillating cast includes industry darling; Pallance Dladla. Bubu Mazibuko, Lorcia Cooper and Kole Omotoso, just to mention a few.
For more inspirational talk from Darrin Henson, checkout out his website (darrinhenson.com)
“Most people know what to do but don’t do what they know”
— Darrin Henson’s Inspiration- YouTube