Up until recently, her presence in the media had been purposefully kept to a low-profile. There wasn't a rush to enter into the entertainment industry - her agenda didn't call for it. But, the spotlight wouldn't let her off the hook so easy. As destiny would have it, 20 years later, she was able to share her advice and life experiences with an audience of millions on VH1's Hollywood Exes—something she hopes has helped others.
Although well-known for being the ex-wife of Keenen Ivory Wayans, Daphne is much—and we mean much—more than this.
In this interview Daphne is transparent about her past, her relationship with Keenen, being in the spotlight, and making sense of it all.
Exclusive: Daphne Wayans Opens Up About Relationships, Being in the Spotlight, and Living Her Life
Jasmine: Daphne, tell us something we don’t know about you.
Daphne: Well you probably don't know that I love popcorn. And nothing would make me happier than to star in a Cirque du Soleil show.
And there is a part of me that would love to live like a gypsy with all of my friends – and live in fabulous Moroccan-style tents where we sing, dance, love, eat, laugh, and just live! Where everything is done to the nth degree with the goal of it satiating a personal appetite for the joie de vivre.
Jasmine: You are a dedicated mother to your children. Everywhere you go, you make sure the world knows what’s most important in your life: Jolie, Nala, Keenen Jr., Bella, and Daphne. How do you balance motherhood, work, and personal “me” time?
Daphne: This goes back to the aforementioned statement with regard to joie de vivre. I make very certain that I find something to like about the task that I am doing, even if it is completely for another. And that something is often a very simple thing that I like, but in that I do like it, it makes it all the more satisfying. So if I am cooking breakfast for my family, I myself get excited about the idea that I am creating a lasting effect for them, awaking to the waft of a delicious love-made meal. Or the drudgery of L.A. traffic with a car full of children, all hot, tired and often bickering. I interrupt the chitchat to ask them to teach me something they learned. It is then that I see what they are enthusiastic about, and they genuinely impress me with how bright they are (such a mom answer). All of which is to say, that it is kind of always "me" time. It is my life and these are the many parts of it.
I've managed to make joy a top priority in my life; hence, I try to find it in everything – while straddling extremes that range from whimsical to weighty.
Jasmine: Let’s talk relationships. We loved the article you wrote on the Huffington Post blog “The New Divorce and How it Affects the Modern Family.” You said “After our divorce, what I quickly realized was that my now-ex was not going anywhere. Although our divorce was the end of "something," it was really not the end at all, but rather a beginning of ‘something else.’ A relationship not entirely unlike a marriage, yet definitely not husband and wife.” How were you able to mature your mind so that you could understand and handle the transition from “man and wife” to “friends”?
Daphne: Well, I guess if I had to give it a name, it would be something like "backward chaining" or "reverse engineering," where you say something like, we aren't going to be husband and wife, but we've built a family together so we must still be family. What is a family if you don't rely so heavily on all of the names of the various "roles" (i.e.: father, aunt, brother, etcetera.)? I would say a family is a close group with sort of concentric circles, and in the very, very center maybe mutual circles, kinda side-by-side. I don't know if this is all too heady for an article, LOL.
But I am trying to paint a picture of the way I saw it once I quieted all of the noise.
And the more you live life, you begin to see that you end up with some measure of a friendship, with qualities like affection, trust, the ability to be one's self, or even to be able to make a mistake without fear of drastic measures being imposed.
And this was something that Keenen and I had managed to build over time. And we were writhing at the thought of losing that.
Jasmine: Everyone knows that Keenen Ivory Wayans has been in the entertainment business for years, but up until recently you had kept a low profile. What made you stay out of the spot light when you could have easily started a high profile career in entertainment over two decades ago?
Daphne: Yes, it was a very deliberate effort to not be in entertainment. The short answer, the stars aligned. There was a need and I was the one that satisfy it. Long story, I was going along, living life, and found that I was being asked more and more for my input regarding the many experiences I'd amassed with Keenen as a wife, mother, friend, and woman. There became a need for a soapbox and a bullhorn. So, either that or clone myself. I chose the lesser of evils. This has allowed me to communicated to exponentially more people with practically the same effort. If it helps another, then it's more than worth it to me.
Jasmine: Has making the decision to be in the spotlight turned out the way you expected? Do you feel as if it was the right time?
Daphne: If I have helped another, then it has turned out the way I intended. This interview and the feedback from it will answer that for us. The time being "right" is largely based on the good effect I have on another – again, that should be reflected in the overall feedback. I'm not perfect by any means, nor do I profess to be. I'm just me, doing my life, and sometimes another perspective can help another. Achieving that would please me plenty.
Jasmine: Okay, so people rarely stop to think about how a person got to where they are. You didn't wake up and say "this is the way I've always planned for my life to be." In a nutshell, tell us about one of the hardest hurdles you had to jump during your journey of womanhood to get to the Daphne Wayans you are today.
Daphne: I find my way myself and don't stop until I am where I want to be.
I am always willing to endure the quiet and find my way for myself. I don't like to be told what I ought to do by others – it's often tainted with too much of their own experiences and ideas. There is no way for another to fully know what one may be going through.
It's the nature of being an individual. That is not to say that I cannot learn from another, but what I take and use from others is for me to know, decide and try. I've always been willing to turn over every puzzle piece. One will fit.
I am always willing to experience the emotion fully to an end, making no apologies for it.
I've found that there can be as much information in tears as there is in laughter. No matter how long a less-than-desirable feeling can seem to linger, little by little it may be moving away and it may take something like a 'decision' to kick that last little bit in the butt. I once had a broken heart and cried for 450 days – hard crying! And on day 451 there were no more tears and I could scarcely even remember the crying, even though it had just been the day before. I just picked myself up, dusted off my knees and carried on – all the wiser.
Jasmine: As people, we are always growing, maturing, and learning. Therefore, at times, we reach places in our lives where we are fully aware of that growth. Do you feel as if you are operating in your highest potential as a woman?
Daphne: I can only say that I am continually growing. I don't know that I will ever "arrive," rather, I am wiser and more able than I was last year. As I am infinite, we are infinite. Sometimes the struggle can get 'real' and that growth is not so pretty. It is important to remember that some amount of deconstruction may be necessary for new construction. Those structures may be in the form of habits and thinking patterns. As we gain new information and improve, we re-navigate how we get to where it is we want to be.
Jasmine: What makes you get up every morning, ready for the world and whatever it has to bring?
Oh, they didn't tell you? Honey, I wake up the sun!
As cliché as it may sound, the uniqueness a new day can bring the excitement of knowing I'm gonna spend the day with my favorite people on earth.
Jasmine: What advice can you give to women who find themselves having to adjust to different relationship dynamics in their life unexpectedly?
Daphne: Expect that there will always be un-expectables. Be willing to go through discomfort and difficulty, because on the other side of the storm lives a rainbow and expansion. I once heard "The way out of the fire is through the fire."
Jasmine: What projects do you currently have going and where can we find you on the web?
Dapne: I am exploring the myriad of ways in which I can be of value to others. As I discover them, you can find "updates" at www.daphnewayans.com.
Jasmine: Thank you, Daphne!
(Interview originally published October 9, 2013)