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.
DivaSpeaksTV is one of the most creative and funny shows I have seen in a longtime. From skits about Chris Brown and Rihanna to poking fun at Kayne West and his Space Age glasses. I must say Amanda Diva is the modern day Carol Burnett.
You can watch DivaSpeaksTV on ThisIs50.com. Check it out ya’ll. Seriously check it out. I watched the show for four hours straight. She’s funny.
I want to clear something up from my previous question. I don’t think Amanda lacks talent to start her own company. By far, she can run circles around people who run multi-billion dollar companies. I’m not sure if the comparison is saying much about her intelligence- particularly during these economic times. But the girl is smart. I mean Bobby Fisher smart. My question is why the entertainment business? It’s such a crazy business.
She doesn’t really speak about the business aspect only to say that forming a company has forced her to be more business minded and conscience of certain things- like taxes. But her creativity plus her love for music and the arts drives her past all the BS in Hollywood- particularly the business of Hollywood.
What is missing in Black Hollywood?
Black people, good scripts- particularly roles for black women. We seemed to be pigeon holed- lacking flexibility and repertoire. Hollywood doesn’t seem to entertain casting black women for a role originally written for a white male. I don’t understand that. But I’m not the type of person to complain without trying to find a solution. I really wish I could fix this about Hollywood.
It’s time to wrap it up. What advice do you have for the generation after you? The next Amanda Diva?
Wow that is scary! Stick to your guns. It’s extremely hard to maintain an image. There is a lot of pressure in this business to be a certain type of image. And things are so half hazard in the entertainment business. Everything is on you. It’s no longer about the type of car you drive but the amount of CDs you sell out of your trunk…
Amanda, Scotty my photographer/friend and I continued to talk for an additional half an hour after the interview. Journalist are supposed to be impartial but damn it this is my Blog. And I can do whatever I want. [Sidebar: I apologize to my editor in chief Elinor Tatum. I should have forewarned you in advance- before you gave me all this power.] I AM AN OFFICIAL FAN OF AMANDA DIVA. I said it. She’s dope. I see a bright future for this fried fish eating, jaywalking, musician, actress, comedian, and visual artist currently working in Hollywood but happens to live in Harlem. I love Harlem! Not to mention- she agreed to hook up my home girl Gena with rapper/actor Q-Tip. Mmmm not really. Sorry Gena I tried.
Check out Amanda’s FreEp titled, “Spandex, Rhymes & Soul” on her website amandadiva.com. And her follow-up album to Spandex, Rhymes and Soul called Supa Spandex, Rhymes and Soul- coming soon.