Diddy-Dirty Money star Dawn Richard is in the District this week promoting her new mixtape "A Tell Tale Heart." The R&B star tells us how her life has changed since Hurricane Katrina, her split from Danity Kane and her vision of her future.
What was your motivation behind "A Tell Tale Heart," and when did you find the time to make it?
The motivation was going through what I went through the past six years. Going through Katrina, being homeless, the breakup with Danity Kane, and so much more. I never had an opportunity to use my voice and say what I wanted to say.
As far as finding the time, Dirty Money was in the studio for three years creating music. I kept a journal and I never wrote lyrics, just my feelings. I went into the studio and sung them when everyone else was doing their own thing. I made the time because it was so important to me to be able to express what I wanted to say.
Three years ago when Diddy approached you to be in Dirty Money, what was your first thought?
I was skeptical because of what I had just been through. At first I just came in and wrote for him, but when I heard what the kind of music he was making I wanted to be a part of that. The thought of joining the group was scary at first, but I didn't want to back out because of fear. Sometimes you have to step out of your box, if I would have said no, I would have never met Kaleena [Harper], worked with Grace Jones, wrote with Sean Garrett, Swizz Beatz, and so many more. Dirty Money is a blessing.
Diddy started out as your boss, but now he's your group member as well. How has your relationship changed and what have you learned from him?
He'll always be my boss; that's how I see him. I respect the fact that this is his label and his vision. It's allowed me to have more of [an] opinion and to show him what a great businesswoman I can be. What I respect about him the most is he leaves breadcrumbs, and if you're smart enough you'll pick them up and apply them to your career. He's taught me both what to do and what not to do.
A lot of young women look up to you. To them, you have it all. Can a woman have it all and how do you balance?
Any woman can have it all; it just depends on what your 'all' is considered and what you consider happiness for you. I think that I can have it all because I have God. I think women can do anything they want, if you have expectations and goals. It's something from within, not tangible and monetary. It takes hard work, dedication and faith to balance, but it's possible.
What keeps you motivated?
Faith that everything is going to be all right. Every day I wake up and say thank you, God. When you're at your lowest and you've seen what the bottom looks like, you never want to go back there. It makes me never take anything for granted.
Looking 10 years down the road, where do you see yourself?
Ten years, wow, there's so many things. I'd love to have a couple of albums out, to be one of the most respected R&B artists in the industry, to be planning a reunion tour with Dirty Money, to have rebuilt my mom's dance school in New Orleans, and to have a comic book gallery. However, most importantly, I want my family to be proud of what I've built.
What about your boyfriend Que -- is he in the 10-year equation?
Well yes, he'll always be there. My personal life 10 years from now will be just that, personal. I gave everyone a enough of my personal life. They can go on YouTube and see our first kiss!
Looking back, if you could change anything at all, would you?
No, I wouldn't. I had to make all those mistakes; I had to fall as many times as I did because they turned out to make this journey great.