I’m not currently living in Detroit but I’m still a Detroiter at heart. I’ve earned my stripes by living on, just about, every side of the city. Shoot, my husband and I are up there often to visit friends and family, still. So, when I learned about this new Comedy Central show coming out named ‘Detroiters’, my first question was “are they actually going to feature some Detroit natives?”. Well, they do! My husband and I tuned into Comedy Central one Tuesday night and haven’t missed an episode yet. The show is so funny. If you’re from the Metro Detroit area, you are going to crack up at episode 4 and their Dittrich Furs spoof. The song is forever stuck in my head now. Thanks guys! Of course, I am a little biased due to the D being my hometown and having a connection with one of the actresses on the show: Shawntay Dalon.
Shawntay, a Detroit native, plays the role of “Chrissy”. She is the wife of “Tim Cramblin” (played by Tim Robinson). Chrissy is also the sister of Tim’s best friend “Sam Duvey” (played by Sam Richardson, also from Detroit). Shawntay took some time out of her busy schedule to chat about landing a recurring role on the show. She also shares tips for staying healthy and remaining herself while on the journey to fulfilling her destiny.
So, you’re an actual Detroiter (what up doe). What side did you grow up on?
“(Yelling) Eastside!!!! I grew up on Gray Street. Off Mack. It was weird, I loved it there but at the same time couldn’t wait to get out. Our house still stands. Gutted. But standing.”
How did growing up in Detroit prepare you for your career?
Detroiters are grinders at heart. It doesn’t matter how low or tough it gets, we will find a way. Hungry? No money? We will create a dish with bread, bananas, and syrup and be on our way. That was a real meal my siblings and me had a few times, by the way.
That is the definite truth. Low key, some of those makeshift meals were the best. People from Detroit seem to have a different mindset and hunger than most. I’m glad I’m seeing it pay off for many of our peers. Anyway, when and how did you know, acting was your calling?
I, honestly, cannot remember when I did not want to be an actress. But I do remember wanting to be the Pink Power Ranger and getting super excited when I found out I could “pretend” to be her. As I got older, Jada Pinkett (Smith) was a huge influence. She would be dramatic one moment and comedic the next. It was amazing to me. I was not allowed to watch her movies so I would sneak. I know, I know. That was bad but it was building purposes (laughing).
I’m glad you stuck with your calling. I know you have a strong relationship with Christ. How does that affect the roles you choose?
I have turned down a LOT of roles because of my faith. And I don’t regret any of them. The thing is, I have to wake up and look at myself in the mirror. I have to live with the decisions I make. So, people may look at my faith as a hindrance ….. I look at it as a blessing. I wouldn’t have this gift if God didn’t GIVE it to me. So, if there’s anything I personally don’t feel comfortable with, I don’t do it. I believe something better will come along. For instance: #Detroiters
Does that cause issues with acting?
It used to. When I battled with my convictions and the opinions of others. I’ve grown. Now if I am not okay with something. I speak up and ask if we can make some changes. If we can’t & they must recast, I am okay with that. And if I am fine with something, and others “opinions” are against what I’m doing, I am okay with that too. No matter what you do, people will have something to say about it. I choose to be led by Christ. Not by people.
Speaking on selecting roles, I’ve worked with you on one of our friend’s film and knew you were super talented (shout out to Roshaun Page). So, I was not surprised about you being casted in Comedy Central’s “Detroiters” but tell me how you landed this role?
Roshaun…what up doe!!!! (laughing) that’s my boy right there. Yes, you played by daughter as an adult. How cooooool is that?!? Well, what’s interesting is that I had just moved back to L.A when I got the call to come back to Detroit, to audition for Detroiters. (crazy, right?) For about 5 years I was bicoastal. I was with an agency in Hollywood and working here & there. But I’ve always wanted to work at home. In my city. Near my family and friends. That was always my desire. So, when I got the call to send in an audition video. I called my friend Tevyn who is from Michigan but was dancing in China. After he was done in China he came straight to L.A. So, he was living in an apt with about six people. When I got the call to audition, I called Tevyn & asked him if I could come over and he shoot my audition video. He’s like, “Let me see if the house would be empty” (laughing). It just so happened, it was. I sent the video in. I got a call back. Flew back to Detroit with pennies in my pocket. Went to the callback. Waited a few weeks and got the call that I landed the role of “Chrissy”.
That is so awesome. God aligned everything to work out for your good. What’s some advice you’d give to other creative for maintaining a holistically healthy life?
You know that commercial that says “a body at rest tends to stay at rest”? I totally believe that. Laziness is a killer in every area of life. It will affect you physically, mentally, and emotionally. I know people who have lost out on opportunities simply because they were lazy or procrastinated. You gotta GET UP and GET IT. Nothing is going to just “happen”. Nothing. You MUST work. It doesn’t have to start out big, but at least start. And in the end, Pray. In all areas. To become better and grow.
Oftentimes we have the best advice for others but do not follow it ourselves (I’m guilty). How is Shawntay Dalon applying this to her own life?
There are two main things that I don’t budge on. (1) I am huge on keeping peace in my life. I mean, I am wholeheartedly an advocate of my peace and it being protected. If anyone. If anything disturbs my peace then it must change or go. I have seen people live unhappy, unhealthy, depressed lives which as led some to death. Simply, because they allowed mess to clutter their life. I have walked away from friendships, relationships, and even “businesships” because of the negative energy that was bringing negative results in my life. So, I keep a shield around my peace. (2) Prayer. I keep an active prayer life. I don’t look at prayer as just talking to God, but I look at it as listening to God. I don’t know about anybody else but I need Jesus! I am a hot mess without Jesus Christ of Nazareth!! (laughing). I need His guidance. I need His teaching. I need His grace and mercy. I need His love. So, prayer is what keeps me at peace.
What are you doing in terms of physical activity and healthy eating, too?
Yes! I workout at least 3 times a week. I don’t have time to go out to gym so I do my own regiments at my home. Sometimes I’m doing them while going over lines, on the computer, etc. “I be looking crazy!”. I only drink pop one day a week. Pop is my weakness. Pray for me.I try my hardest to stay away from hamburger meat. Just ground turkey.The daily fast my church call every other month helps too. I am currently on one now. PLEASE PRAY FOR ME.
I was so excited to see that you were wearing your natural hair. Was that your decision?
Thank you for sharing all of this! Before we go what else is coming down the pike for you?
A new feature film called “Forbidden”. An author asked me to change his book to a screenplay. I wrote the screenplay and then was asked to be the director. So, that is what I am currently working on. You can check out more information about it soon at shawntaydalon.com
Be sure to tune into Comedy Central every Tuesday at 10:30pm EST to catch the show. It’s been renewed for a second season and recently made its international debut. I want to give a big thanks to Shawntay for the fun interview! I hope this serves as inspiration to all of the creatives out there. Keep pushing but remain healthy while doing so!