Where Hollywood Meets Harlem with Amanda Diva
4/12/2011, 5:23 p.m.
Interview By Stacy R. Lynch and Photography by Brian "Scotty" Scott
Actress, musician, visual artist and comedian, Amanda Diva is no stranger to the Hollywood scene. At the age of thirteen Amanda co-starred in the Nickelodeon sitcom, "My Brother and Me." Moving from Orland, Florida to New York City in 1999, Amanda began writing and performing spoken word and poetry before appearing on Russell Simmon's Def Poetry Jam in 2002 & 2005.
From 2003 to 2005, Amanda hosted her own morning radio show on Sirius Satellite Radio. During that time she also obtained a Master's Degree in African American studies from Columbia University while hosting her own television show on MTV2.
She currently serves as comedy commentator and music expert on VH1, writer & creator of "Diva Speak TV" a weekly humor based news/sketch comedy show featured on ThisIs50.com & "Diva Diva Ya'll" featured on Karmalooptv.com.
Before I began this interview I wanted to make sure this Hollywood "Diva" is a New York City Harlemite. Here is the test.
What's the name of the fish spot on 145th Street and St. Nicholas? The Diva gives me a look- a look like chic please. Are you serious?
She stares me down. I get nervous. I feel like a punk. The Harlemite answers my question.
Either Devin's Fish & Chips or Famous Fish- depending upon where the train drops you off.
She's truly Harlem.
So why did you choose Harlem?
After attending SUNY Purchase, a friend and I were looking for a place in Brooklyn to stay. We decided to check out Harlem and I fell in love. Harlem is historical. That's what intrigued me the most about Harlem- it's unique, dynamic; it's the epicenter of African and African American history. Harlem is as historical as Williamsburg or Gettysburg.
It quickly becomes quite apparent that Harlem selected Amanda. And they have been a perfect match ever since.
What do you think about the changes going on in Harlem? Do you believe that it encourages creativity?
There is always creativity- anytime you have black people living collectively- there is creativity. It is nice to see new places popping up but there is a legitimate concern with gentrification. I don't have a problem with it [gentrification] as long as they are preserving the culture and not tearing it down.
As we continue to discuss Harlem, I wonder why this exceptionally intelligent woman started her own media company, DivaWorks Inc., as well as her own television shows the immensely popular DivaSpeaks TV and "Diva Diva Ya'll". Amanda effortlessly explains her natural progression into the entertainment business.
People missed hearing me [on Sirius Satellite] and seeing me [on MTV2]. I didn't realize I was that funny. And when I appeared on VH1's One Hit Wonders of the 80s it was a jarring experience because comedic timing is difficult. But my comedy developed over time. And DivaSpeaksTV developed over time. It first began as an information portal and gradually turned into an entertainment and news show.