by Cesca Janece Waterfield
Star of Meet the Browns Couldn’t Fight Fate
When Denise Boutté steps into her role on Meet the Browns as a compassionate nurse who struggles to balance life with her hectic career, it may be a case of art imitating life. After all, in the few years since Denise moved to LA, the 28 year old has become one of the busiest actresses today.
The high school valedictorian got her degree in Mass Communications from Louisiana State University, and then entered the world of advertising. While overseeing the making of commercials, her clients repeatedly asked her to appear in them. The exec found herself in several national campaigns. Finally she took a leap of faith, and moved to LA. Less than two years later, Tyler Perry offered her the role of Sasha in ‘Meet the Browns.’ Perry later asked her to appear in his film Why Did I Get Married? as undercover seductress “Trina” alongside Janet Jackson and Jill Scott. Other appearances include Boston Legal, Everybody Hates Chris, Girlfriends and a recurring role on Days of Our Lives. Today Denise commutes between Atlanta and LA. She spoke to Urban Views Weekly from her tiny hometown in Louisiana, where she was visiting for Mother’s Day. Denise began the interview by assuming a thick Southern accent and making clear, “I’m home in Louisiana and we’re in the country. Born and reared!” Meet the Browns airs Wednesdays at 9 pm on TBS.
Simple pleasures: “My grandparents had a farm and I had chores and stuff. The road between my house and my grandparent’s house was not even a quarter mile. I’d get on my Huffy and pick the eggs and do some of the feeding. It was a very simple life. Most of our vegetables we grew ourselves. We would go to the store for some things, but most of what we had was right there. It was a way of living that I am now thankful that I had. At the time, it was kind of like an aggravation. But as I got older, I realized how unique that life was and how much of a hard worker it made me. I think I’m a better person for it.”
Ambition and compassion: “[I was] Homecoming queen and valedictorian. I don’t come from a wealthy family and in order for me to go to college, I had to get a scholarship. That was motivation. But school came really naturally to me. I took my school work and clubs seriously. I love getting people excited to raise money for a cause. I just love people.”
Written in the stars: “Acting found me. You gotta understand – my high school was a mixture of middle school and high school. My graduating class was only 84-88 students. It was really small. My ride to school took an hour and fifteen minutes. So when I went to high school, we didn’t have a bunch of extracurricular activities. Honestly, we didn’t know we were missing out because we never had it. My brother, my cousin, we were the first generation of my family to actually go to college. A lot of the occupations out there that existed, I didn’t know about. All I knew was when I heard a parent talk about their kid and they were pretty proud of them, they were either a doctor or a lawyer. So when I graduated, I was like, ‘pick one.’”
Chance meeting: “I decided to invest some money and get some headshots. All I had were Polaroids and tear sheets from the jobs that I had done. There was a woman from Texas who did artist management and she would come twice a year to do headshots. She met me and when I went to pick up the proofs, she said, ‘I don’t know what it is about you, but whatever it is, you have it.
You can come to LA and I’m going to introduce you to everybody I know.’ Being the person I am, I’m not usually a trust-worthy person. I don’t know why I decided it was okay to move in with this random woman. I stayed with her for seven months. She introduced me to everybody she knew in that industry. One of the first gigs I got was onstage and the woman who cast that knew the casting director for Days of Our Lives, and that’s how I got my first television gig.”
Divine plan: “[I went to Hollywood] When I couldn’t say no anymore, when I really and truly had no excuses. I would say a series of coincidences happened. But He has a bigger plan for you. The plan that I laid out for myself and the plan that worked out for me were two totally different things.”
Her next big screen role: “We haven’t finalized the contracts yet. It’s called ‘Getting Even’ I can say that much, and it’s going to be shooting in Miami. This is my first romantic comedy so I’m so excited. I did nothing but drama before ‘Meet the Browns.’ For the most part, I thought I was drama girl. This whole comedy thing has opened up a whole new world for me and I’m loving it; the fact that you get to be funny girl and deal with real world issues.”
Home town princess: “Whenever we go to church, the beauty of it is, everybody here is so excited. Every year, we have a church bazaar, they’ll bring local bands out and they’ll have food and sweets for sale. Last year they said they wanted to do a picture booth. [They said,] ‘We’re going to ask if they’d like to take a picture with you and they’ll pay some money and the donation will go to the church.’ When I showed up that morning and sat down on that bale of hay, girl, they had pumpkins and bales of hay and corn stalks, and here I was on this little bench. I tell you the people kept coming. People from all the neighboring towns were coming out. I had these pictures that I was going to autograph. I ran out of those. When I come home, everybody treats me the same girl like they did back in the day. It was fascinating that so many people care that they’re willing to pay to take a picture with me. It was almost like a wake-up call that I have a responsibility to my community. I have people who are looking up to me and I have to be an example.”