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Gabrielle Dennis | The Evolving Talent in Film and Television Exuding Confidence and Building Her Legacy

Gabrielle Dennis, an amazingly talented triple threat actress, singer and dancer. Her career is in full swing and now she looks to diversify her resume with projects that she can helm from behind-the-camera. She draws inspiration from her peers Lena Waithe, Issa Rae and Mara Brock Akil, just to name a few. 

“Tiffany Haddish who has completely broken the glass ceiling for female comedians in our age group and for black women. Even people that you haven’t seen yet but you are going to see, ‘cause we are all making our way… 

I am just inspired by people who are close to me on a daily basis, that’s where we have to find the inspiration. Not the people who you can’t reach, but the people that are right there in your circle. For me it’s about inspiring each other and building off of each other’s energy, and excitement, and love, and desires, and all of that. I feel like I am blessed to have a circle of friends that… we are like that like, that’s what it is. And it’s all about rooting for each other. So… get inspired!” 

Create{Her Collective chatted with Gabrielle after our shoot on a beautifully sunny afternoon in Los Angeles about the vibes while creating, what work she still looks to do, her iconic role as Whitney Houston and the moment she new she was destined to create. 

“It just feels right. When you are in your space and on a zone it just feels right. It’s very uplifting, it’s this surge of energy, it’s this unstoppable feeling of fierceness, you know? And it’s like I am unstoppable right now in this moment and in this mode. Because it’s something to say of taking something out of your brain… 

…there is something about when you are in your creative space and your just like ‘wow what’s in my brain’ and I am able to communicate either on the page, or through dance, through whatever your creative things is. For me there’s this surge of like, I am where I am suppose to be, where I belong and it’s just this euphoric happiness. I don’t know its just feels like a part of your soul.”

When did you know that you destined to create? 

Gabrielle Dennis:According to my mother I came out the womb a HAM… that’s what she always says, so creativity and art has always kind of been in me. Since I was four years old, starting as a dancer, all the way up until now in my current space. Exploring writing, I went to school for TV production. The chance that I got on Luke Cage to write my first song, aired on television, and sing it as well, it was like ‘WHAT IS HAPPENING’?! Watching that scene got me so excited and inspired me, like listen, I am creative and talented enough to do other things other than being in front of the camera. Because that is a desire of mine. 

So right now I’m just focusing on that creative space and being inspired by the likes of the Lenas and the Issas and the Maras and all of the people that I mentioned before and just kind of (and the Avas). Just really going out and building my… (pause) pumping my chest and matching the bravery, with the desire. I think that’s kind of why I am at this place right now. I just feel like I’ve been very very blessed in my career, very fortunate, and I feel like this is God’s plan. And I’m not about blocking your blessings so whatever, in whatever way the creativity allows itself to comes into my existence, I’m open for it. Whether that be the singing, and the writing, or the dancing, or whatever I just like to create and I am on the journey for that now ‘cause I feel like the journey never ends. 

The acting thing… I’ve had having a great time but I’m now ready to do some other things. I feel like I’ve been destined for the career that I am in for a long time just only because I’ve tried to do other careers and I keep finding myself right back here. So it is what it is. I feel like I am doing what I am suppose to do.  

Can you remember a time on the journey to this point that was pivotal, that may have changed you, that maybe reinforced that you were supposed to be this creator, or challenged you to persevere through? Can you tell us about a moment where maybe had to double down like ‘I’m not giving up’ or something that you recall… like something like this happened that told me that I am on the right path? 

Gabrielle Dennis: I would probably say the very beginning of my professional career, when I made the decision to move to Los Angeles. It was like $500 in my pocket, and lets get across country. Because I knew it was either you can take the risk, and your going to go there and not be successful and there’s always home to come back to. But I was determined to go. I didn’t drive clear across the country and sacrifice friends and family, and a good paying job at the time to just come and mess around. So for me it reinforced when I arrived and things just kept coming and falling into place it just made me feel like I made the right decision. I was still able to eat, and audition, and get out there and really start the journey. 

And it was very hard at the beginning, but I loved the beginning of the journey. The beginning of the journey is why I am, and who I am now. It’s because all of those no’s I am so grateful for every yes that I get now. I think gratitude and appreciation of where you have arrived and where you’ve come is what it’s about. To me that’s what keeps it going. It keeps me grounded. I feel like my decision to just come and pack up my stuff, and nobody really believed me and one day I was gone. And I came out… I didn’t want anyone to talk me out of living my dream. It was my dream, nobody else’s. So I hopped in that car and I was like ‘you’re going to do it’ and we’re going to see what happens. And thanks to God, here I am, still. 

What advice do you have for aspiring creatives? A young women who wants to also be an actress, what’s to break into singing, maybe want’s to write?

Gabrielle Dennis: My biggest advice is to do what you love. Once you figure out what it is that inspires you go for it non stop, full force, don’t’ let anyone deter you from your dream. You know what’s in your heart. You know what your passion is and that’s not anyone else’s. Anyone else is deterrence because they don’t feel like they can do it, but you know what you are capable of. So get out there, do it, be unstoppable. And understand that it may take time, but time is good because with time comes seasoning. With time you get a lil’ seasoning on there, so whatever you’re working on you’re only getting better and better and better. When people say, luck is when opportunity meets preparation you are prepared okay, ‘cause sometimes the longer it takes the better… the better it is. You’ve done the work you know exactly what your voice is. So if you can find your passion, whatever it is that you are into pursue it full force without listening to any of the nonsense from the outside. If it’s in your heart, if it’s in your soul, if it’s in your spirit, if it’s in your prayers… do you. 

You’ve done a lot and created a resume that spans all realms of of acting. I can’t really say that you are one type of actress. What is something that you haven’t done yet that you definitely want to do? 

Gabrielle Dennis: I still want to create content. That is next on my list. Just putting it out there and putting women in the forefront. Strong women, strong stories, uplifting stories, things that touch us as women. ‘Cause I know I look back on things that impacted me growing up and it’s just like there is so much beauty in being a women and I feel like celebrating that all the time. I would love to create content (television and film) because I have not yet been behind the camera in that aspect so that is definitely something that I would like to get into. As far as creative space maybe even writing songs. All of that… I want to write more. Whether it be film, television, and/or music I want to write more, I feel like I have a lot to say. 

You are starring in “The Bobby Brown Story” which premiered on BET to rave reviews! Talk to us about how it felt to be chosen to play such an Icon like Whitney Houston and the importance of biopics and projects that help us learn more about such dynamic people.

Gabrielle Dennis:  I think what’s so beautiful, these films that have been coming out, especially with the New Edition, and now with the Bobby Brown Story is that, these are people that are here to give input, to give insight on what went on in their life. Not opinions, not speculations, not hearsay, but this is coming from the voices of the people that are here. So that’s what makes me excited about these types of stories because a lot of times we find out about someone’s journey and their pain too late. When I watched the Whitney Houston documentary I felt like as a society we all were apart of her pain. And a lot of times we sometimes forget that these larger than life celebrities or stars are human beings at the end of the day. These movies help to humanize these people, and bring them to a level of understanding that they go through the same heartache and pain and drama, and ups and downs in life the way everybody else does. They’ve got family they’ve got loved ones, they’ve got disappointments, they get disappointed in themselves, they make bad mistakes and choices, but don’t we all? I feel like sometimes we hold them at a higher expectation and regard of doing better, and being better but when you peel back the layer of them performing for you or giving you what you receive as a fan. We also have to understand their giving a lot of themselves as a person and as a human being so I love these kind of stories, like I’m so excited for people to watch the Bobby Brown story.

I feel like Bobby has definitely been misunderstood and he’ll be the first one to cop up and say ‘yeah I’ve made a lot of bad mistakes’. He’ll be the first one to tell you ‘I was a bad boy… I had things’ but at the same time he’s human. When I first met him I was so surprised at how much of a gentleman he is. How kind and how loving, and how much of a family man he is. Now this is a part of how people get to see him; the family Bobby and the things that he kind of went through. Because a lot of times we see the end and don’t see the things that led up to what you may or may not see in a tabloid or the gossip or whatever. So I hope that this helps to clarify or give a broader picture. At the end of the day there’s always three sides to every story: There’s A side, B side, and then the truth. I think this opens the door to given a wider scope into these people’s lives and really helping us take home something and feeling a little more closure to some of the things we think we know (because we be thinking we know but we don’t know). 

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