Meet the Browns star Denise Boutte believes in following your dreams. The 29-year-old actress opens up to Celebrity Baby Scoop and encourages people to “keep your energies focused” and “dream big.” After years of working with Tyler Perry, Denise says the famed director/producer is “a huge inspiration” and hopes to continue working within his “family” for years to come.
The actress is also a new mom to daughter Jordan Simone and opens up about the “sacrifices” of motherhood, balancing her busy career and family life, and her 8-month-old daughter who is “the cutest thing ever.”
CBS: How do you like acting on the popular sitcom, Meet the Browns?
DB: “It has been a very amazing journey and a wonderful experience with many wonderful people. We have actually grown to be kind of a family because we’ve been together for like four years now! Going to work with everyone has brought forth an amazing trust with one another because we would shoot three to four episodes a week. You have to have this amazing trust for your fellow actor and bounce off of each other. David is so darn talented that he would do some improv and we just had to catch it and roll with it. So it has just been a wonderful journey and experience with beautiful people and we’ve all become a family.”
CBS:What do you think it is about the show that resonates with viewers?
DB: “The show resonates with viewers because it is simple, good down-home fun! It’s not overly complicated. We hit heavy issues but we don’t stay on them. Instead, we give you a reason to laugh. Sometimes people just want to sit down and have a hearty laugh. That is basically what we give them—we are really simple, and hopefully by the end of the show you get an idea that makes you say, “hmm” and also a gut busting laugh. That is what we are there for. A lot of times, especially with the economy being what it is, people just need a good hearty laugh and not let their minds get overly complicated with all the issues. That is what we always give them.”
CBS: What do you love about your character, Sasha? What does the future look like for Sasha?
DB: “She is a feisty girl, but everyone knows she is just like a teddy bear at heart, so she somewhat overcompensates. It is very funny to see this girl portraying herself to be something that she sometimes is not. She is the head of the nursing department and is trying to be everyone’s friend and be well-liked, but a lot of the times when you are wearing the pants at work, that doesn’t happen. Trying to be everyone’s friend while also trying to be a heavy-handed boss puts you in a low-compromising position.
It’s very funny, and of course Renee is always challenging Sasha and trying to throw her off her game. It’s so fun, and the writers have really given me the opportunity to do a range of different things with my character, from her finding out she is pregnant to not being able to have the baby and then coming out of it. The writers do a really great job of not keeping the characters in their issues—they always show a light at the end of the tunnel.
We do not fully know about Sasha’s future right now. We shot our last few episodes at about this time last year—we were rapping up 40 episodes. The last ten episodes aired at the beginning of November. There still hasn’t been an initial cancellation, so whether or not the show comes back is up in the air. If the fans bring it back, I am sure there is a big chance that it will come back. However, we are kind of in a limbo right now. Wonderful things do come to an end, but we never expected that the show would come to an end after season four. If the fans want more, we will definitely come back and give them more. Right now, I am focusing on the projects I already have, going into pitch meetings, and putting my heart into things that I have been keeping alive during the years that I have been on Meet The Browns. Just having learned so much from the show and being able to see what goes on behind the scenes—it has been an invaluable lesson to me.
It’s such an exciting time. That’s what this business is all about! One door opens and another closes. You just have to keep your energies focused. You know what talks to you. There are four projects I am working on that all have something so special, so near and dear and close to my heart. They are all so personalized. It’s not just about me. There are a lot of people from where I come from that don’t know how to get into the business and dream big. They don’t know that these opportunities can happen to them. I came out here six years ago and had the sun and stars in my eyes! No one could have told me that it wasn’t going to happen! That is the kind of mentality that I have kept and still keep to this day. You can’t tell me ‘no.’ ”
CBS: Tell us about your new addition, Jordan Simone. How is she doing?
DB: “Oh my gosh! She is something else! She just turned eight months a few days ago, and that little girl popped out two teeth and it is the cutest thing ever! I have always been a night owl. I was the person who got up at nine or ten o’clock in the morning but went to bed at 2 or 3 a.m. Needless to say, that has hugely shifted! Jordan has clockwork and always gets up at 6:30 in the morning. She will go to bed between 7 and 8:30 p.m., and she will wake up at 6:30 a.m. bright and shiny and ready to play. It’s the funniest thing because I am just like, oh my gosh I need coffee!
As soon as I open the door that little girl is standing. She does not just sit down in her crib, she wants to stand and bite on the side of the crib. To see her bursting with that little gummy grin that is now a toothy grin just warms my heart and gives me everything I need for the rest of the day. She is truly the cutest little thing.”
CBS: How did you come up with her name?
DB: “I don’t know. People would be so surprised to hear that name. Especially on the show, they keep me so girly, feminine, and real classy, but I was always sort of tomboyish. I have always been a lady, but a lady with a little bit of an edge. For some reason, I wanted my little girl to be strong. Again, I wanted her to be a lady, but I also wanted her to have a little sass and feistiness. These days, it’s a little tough out in the world, so I didn’t want her too prissy. I have always gravitated towards names that can be for either gender. I loved the name Kennedy forever and fell in love with the name Logan, which is the actual name of the girl that plays my daughter on the show. The character Brianna’s real name is Logan and I totally love that name.
It was kind of a toss-up, but whenever I started thinking and playing with middle names, Jordan Simone rolled off the tongue and Simone is a common middle name back home in Louisiana with all the French folks. I thought that since my last name is French, I wanted to add in something that has a little air of that. The name flows for me, and there is nothing that anyone can say to make me think she can be anything else. It is weird how people just morph into their name. If you say her middle name to her she is right up in your face!”
Did you start any special holiday traditions with her this year?
DB: “My husband and I always go to Louisiana. All these years that we have been away from home, whether we were living in Dallas or in California, we have always made it a point to go home for two weeks. We have asked other siblings of ours what they thought about it. My brother likes to celebrate Christmas at his house and have the kids open their presents under the tree and keep with the traditions that are important to them. I always wondered if I would feel the same way when I had a child of my own, if we would want to stay home and open our presents under the tree. To me, it is even more important now to go home than it was before.
That is what the holidays are about for us. It is not about the presents for us. Of course you want to get the kids something that will light their eyes up, but to me there are so many expectations now. The kids are not appreciative—they get this over-abundance of gifts. To me it is important that we teach Jordan Simone early on that that is not what it is really about—it is about family.
Your biggest gift is being able to travel and be blessed enough to share that day with your family. Both the grandmas have Christmas trees, and we can do the same things over there that we would be doing alone over here. Being alone is not what the holidays are about. Whatever family you have left, you make sure you cherish them and make sure you spend your time with them.
I feel that now people are feeling so much pressure. You have six year-olds trying to get an iPod Touch. It is not even about what you are able to get your kids, it is about what is too much. I think that there is a line to be drawn, and again with parenting there is no right or wrong, there is no rulebook, but you need to follow your instincts. A lot of times, I feel that these electronics at such a young age are excessive. The bigger idea of what the holidays are about is really being lost and people are putting unnecessary pressure on themselves. You just have to ask, ‘why?’
Four-year-olds don’t need this kind of stuff, but they are requesting it, because they are seeing a sibling with it or someone at school. Again, even if people have the means to do it doesn’t mean they should.”
CBS: How has motherhood changed you?
DB: “There is something that I say and some people raise an eyebrow to it, but it is true. Motherhood is everything I expected it to be and then some, which is why I put it off for so long. When I say that, I mean that there is a lot of sacrifice that goes into it. For instance, like rearranging my schedule. You know, now I get up at 6:30 a.m. and go to bed at 10 p.m. There is a new little life that is so dependent on you for everything. A lot of the things that you do with them now are going to form who they are later on. I knew what an exhausting yet rewarding and gratifying journey this would be for me, but I wanted to do it right.
When you are in a business, especially the kind of business I am in, you have to be out there putting yourself on the market and pounding the pavement. There is a bit of selfishness that comes with that territory to a certain degree. When you have a baby, a lot of that has to fall by the wayside. Thank goodness a lot of the initial stuff that I had to do to get into the industry and get my rewarding experience of the show under my belt happened. I felt that there was this sense of accomplishment on my side and I could have time to also give myself to someone else.
I had the constant support of my husband, and now I could give more of myself to bring someone else into the world. I was not ready to make that sacrifice until recently. Once I made up my mind that I was willing to make that sacrifice, I knew it was time. It would be selfish to bring someone into the world knowing that you were compromising your time. They are fragile at this point! There is also a balancing act. I was watching The View, and Michelle Obama was saying that she puts herself first as a mother. This makes people say, ‘What do you mean?’ If you don’t have anything of yourself, if you are not fulfilling yourself, you do not have anything else to give the people around you. I totally and utterly understood what she was saying. The younger they are the more that you have to give, but I think it is so important to strike that balance of fulfilling what drives you and keeps you passionate in order to be an example.
I have a daughter, and I have to be an example to her as to how to be a strong woman, how to be a strong wife, how to be a strong career-oriented person. To succeed and have that balance and keep that drive and passion is so important. She is going to learn from me and I think that my being fulfilled is going to be the best lesson to her than sacrificing everything and who I am to try to build her. I don’t want to live by carrying everything through her; I want to live with and for her.”
CBS: With your busy career and now a baby, how are you balancing work and family life?
DB: “I have a very wonderful companion, a wonderful and amazing husband. We also have an amazing nanny that come in a few times a week to help out. If I have auditions, if I have to do preparations, whatever it is, she is always on hand. When you see your child’s eyes light up when the person taking care of her comes through the door, it just warms your heart. You feel confident and comfortable leaving them in good, trustworthy hands. It took a while to get to that point and to find those people, but it is all working.
That’s the whole thing—you really don’t know how things are going to work out, they just do. I am a believer in prayer…you pray on it, you stay faithful and committed, and things just fall into place exactly the way they are supposed to. There is a plan that you sometimes do not know about, but if you are prayerful and faithful, it all just works itself out.”
CBS: Do you set aside time with your husband Kevin? Do you have special date nights or other ways you keep the romance alive?
CBS: “It is so awesome because we actually do have a bit of family here. Kevin has an aunt and a first cousin here, and we have our extended family—we call them our extended family because they have become our family over the years. They are always readily available and ready to babysit, and we load up that Pack N’ Play and drop that bad boy off.
Since Jordan has been born we have gone to Vegas a couple of times. For Thanksgiving, Jordan stayed with Kevin’s aunt for a few days and we stayed in town and did whatever we wanted when we wanted. It has been so tremendous to have all the help from everyone. Honestly, Kevin and I have been together so long it all comes naturally. It is not something we have to work on. We are each other’s best friends. We take advantage – when folks are volunteering to babysit, we gladly say, ‘Okay! We will have her packed up and ready to go. When do you want her?’ [laughs]. They want to spend time with her, and I think we owe it to them to allow that bonding time.
Think not having a parent hovering over her all the time is easy? No! At first you’re like, ‘I wonder what little Jordan is doing right now.’ You have to realize that she is good, in good hands, and they deserve to bond with her and she deserves to bond with them. It works out that way.”
CBS: We understand you are involved in various charity efforts. Could you tell us more?
DB: “The other day, I really wanted to get back into charity endeavors especially after having my first child. Doing the food bank stuff and doing the events here and there was not enough. I was actually talking to my manager the other day and realized that now that I have a daughter, what I want to do is get out there and motivate other moms and let them know that they can have a career and live their dreams while also being a great mother too. There is something inside of me speaking to me right now, but I am not totally sure how it will manifest itself.
I want to do more. Doing motivational speeches here and there and going to those charity events is not enough. I don’t fully know what my platform is going to be, but I am going to step it up a notch in how I give back. It is very important to me and very near and dear to my heart.
It is so funny, I was talking to my acting teacher the other day about how impersonal things are nowadays because everyone can just text to check in, rather than call. You don’t have to ask anyone how their day went, because they will just tell you on Facebook. So a lot of that one-on-one personal communication is obsolete – we don’t do it anymore. Now people are just concerned about what it happening in their home life. They think, ‘If it’s not me, if it doesn’t affect me directly, I could care less.’ That mentality is not what this country is based upon. We have to help our fellow man, but cannot feel like there will be ramifications in doing it.
People are having this individualized “me, me, me” mentality—in some way, we have to get out of our head and be more concerned about our fellow man. That is how things work. There are a lot of do-gooders out there, but for every one do-gooder, there are ten others that are not. We have to do more.”
CBS: What’s up next for you?
DB: “You know what, my being in the Tyler Perry family for all these years is not just about taking advantage of the beautiful opportunity that is before you at hand, but also manifesting it into other things. LaLa’s been on the show for all these years, and I’ve made sure to reach out to people who were writers, reach out to people who were trying to do their films. I wanted to try to lay the groundwork so that I could create my own opportunities for not only myself, but also for other actors going forward. Tyler is a huge inspiration. He teaches you to not wait on someone to give you an opportunity. He let me know that sometimes you just have to create those opportunities yourself.
While I was on the show my manager and I worked on a couple of film projects together, and I have a television series that is near and dear to my heart. I developed the series with a friend and cousin of mine who is actually one of the cops in the specialized precinct in Houston. The show is an adaptation of what he does on a day-to-day basis. It is a police procedural that totally kicks ass! I’ve been working on these projects diligently over the years, and I want to make sure that they are just right so when the opportunity presents itself, all the knowledge I’ve been gaining and all the work and passion I have been putting into the pages will sooner or later come to life!
Tyler has been a huge inspiration and there is a lot of great stuff coming! I even have a sitcom that I’ve been filming and shooting webisodes with Loni Love. She is an amazing comedian who has been out there for many years and she’s also on the Chelsea Handler Roundtable. She and I met and hit it off, and it’s like we were separated at birth! We have this sitcom idea that we have been developing, and we shot a webisode about two months ago. We had a mini viewing and got some folks’ feedback, and we are in the middle of tweaking and expanding upon that script. We are going to shoot three episodes at the top of the year. We will get those up on the website and hopefully get a lot of hits and exposure and get that puppy on the air!
When you’re in this business it feeds something, and you just have to do what you feel is right. In some kind of way, your craft has to be put into something, or else you’re just like, ‘Oh my gosh!’ You need some kind of way to put those energies into something productive, and thankfully such talented people surround me.
I am also on avail for a huge film project. I am waiting around and trying to get more information on that, but I should know by next week whether or not that will come through. If it does, it is a career-changing opportunity. I am very excited! Also, at the top of the year we are going to be shooting additional episodes of Loni Knows. We are going to have a website posted and I do not know what the URL is going to be, but if you search Loni Love, “Denise Boutte,” or Loni Knows, you should be able to find that bad boy. We’ll make sure those are in the system and that you could find the website. The more hits, the more exposure, and the more positive feedback we get will increase the chance of it being on air.
Another film project we are currently trying to attain financing on and close off with another production company is called Betrayal of Trust. It is a court thriller that my manager and I are working on that is based on a book written by Gilda Cohen. It is fascinating story with twists and turns that you would not expect. We think it would be an amazing backdoor pilot if we don’t go the film route, but it could go either way. These are all the projects I am concentrating on. They are in different phases. One is getting pitched, one is getting financing and funding, the other one we are doing ourselves. They are all in different phases of maturity. I think 2012 is going to be a pretty amazing and busy year!”