Danielle Truitt, Actress ‘Deputy’ on Fox

Editor’s Note: “The Reel Black List” is our annual spotlight of brothers and sisters in the worlds of advertising, film, TV, music, radio and media who are making a difference through their contributions and creativity. For the next 29 days, you will be able to celebrate these various personalities with us.

She was the first Princess Tiana at Disneyland. That is fairly badass. Danielle Moné Truitt is the true definition of a Triple Threat.  The actor, singer, and dancer hails from Sacramento, California where she studied Theatre and Dance at Sacramento State University before moving to Los Angeles to pursue a career in television and film.

Truitt got her start in theatre, but received national attention when she was hand picked by the late, John Singleton for the title role of his drama series Rebel. Truitt recently joined FOX networks new drama series Deputy as a series regular alongside Stephen Dorff. 

Truitt has been nominated for two Ovation Awards; the first for her performance in The Mountaintop and the second, for her role in Dreamgirls. She was also nominated for an NAACP Theatre Award for her role in The Mountaintop.

She created a dynamic one woman play called 3: Black Girl Blues that she’s produced and performed to sold out audiences in Los Angeles, Sacramento and New York. Some of her other stage credits include In The Heights, The Legend Of Georgia McBride, Aida, A Raisin in the Sun and Hair. Truitt has appeared on TV in guest starring roles on Snowfall, Super Fun Night and Mulaney.

Truitt made history when she joined the cast of the Academy Award Nominated Animation The Princess and the Frog as the video reference for Princess Tiana. She performed the body movements and facial expressions for the Disney Princess, ultimately giving Princess Tiana her persona and essence as well as performing a voice for another character in the film, Georgia. 

Aside from performing, Truitt is a wife and mother of two young sons. She has a heart for people and for promoting change in our communities. Because of this, she started More Than A Hashtag. A community event that speaks to the misuse of police force.

BE. ETERNAL: The Thriving Artist Series that serves the artistic community by providing emotional and spiritual support. And her Artist Empowerment Course that helps artist reconnect with their power as creatives and realign with the dream for their lives. Truitt is represented by UTA and managed by Cheryl Martin at CMA Entertainment

What did You Originally Want to be When You Grow Up? When I was a child I initially wanted to be a teacher.  Most of my teachers were very nice and seemed to have an important job. Once I got to high school and realized how bad some of us were I realized that wasn’t the route of me. I joined the Moot Court team and thought that I may like law. Since I was always a performer I thought being an entertainment lawyer would be cool, since it would still put me in the entertainment world.

How did You Get into Acting? I got into acting once I got to college. I was majoring in psychology and took an acting as a creative outlet.  After a few weeks my professor pulled me to the side and asked me if I was a Theatre Major. I told her no and she said I should be. She encouraged me to audition of a play. I did and booked the lead role.  After experiencing the process of theatre I fell in love with it and with acting and I never turned back.

Who were Your Mentors? My college professors Linda Goodrich, and Andonia Cakouros. My acting coach Elizabeth Nunziato. The late John Singleton

What is Your Biggest Achievement? My biggest achievement is honestly being a Mom while being an Actor. Navigating the industry with a family can be really tough. With my second son, I auditioned until the day before I gave birth. Both of my sons have come with me to countless auditions, and rehearsals.

Having to travel for work while reassuring my boys that I’m still there for them and that they are loved deeply. I want to show them that they too can have a dream and achieve it. At the end of the day seeing them happy and thriving is all I want.

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What is Your Biggest Disappointment? One of the biggest disappointments in my career as of yet was my series REBEL not being picked up for a second season. There are so many things that happen that are completely outside of your control as an actor. It was very hard to not feel like I was a personal failure. For a long time I did feel like a failure and I feared that I would never get any other opportunities.

Luckily fear is based on things that haven’t even happened. And in many cases fear is based on things that will never even happen. I was able to overcome that fear and disappointment and more opportunities definitely presented themselves to me and I am very grateful for that.

Name Your Biggest Pet Peeves? My biggest Pet Peeve is people who don’t want to pay for their friends performances and productions when they know that their friend is producing everything themselves. When they know that every dollar they make is going towards their livelihood. They say they are supporting, but support is about more than just showing up. Invest in your friends vision. Invest in their talent. Don’t just show up so that you can have bragging rights!

Predictions for Entertainment Over the Next Decade: My predictions for the entertainment industry over the next decade is that it will become even more diverse. There will be more women and people of color getting the opportunity to write and direct. More of us in executive positions and positions of power. I think there will be a deeper understanding that this industry is not only for some people to thrive in but for all of us to have opportunities to thrive. That the content that is put out will actually reflect the world we live in.

Name a Job You had that Would Surprise People: I was the first Princess Tiana at Disneyland.

What Marvel or DC Superhero do You Get to Play? IRON WOMAN!! lol

What do You Wish You had More Time to do? I wish I had more time to sleep! Lol!

What Drives You to be Extraordinary at What You do? I think LOVE drives me the most. I honestly love bringing characters to life and storytelling. The fun of being an actor is that there are always new discoveries to make. 

Congratulations, You Built a Time Machine! What do You Go Back and Tell Your 15-Year-Old Self? I’d go back and tell my 15 year old self “Dani… you are beautiful.  You are deeply loved by God and you never have to “perform well” to earn His love.  And anyone you do have to perform for is not worthy of your love. Express your heart. Be true to who you really are. You don’t have to be afraid.  You are safe.