Monique DeBose’s gracefulness and dedication to uplifting women of all backgrounds shines on her newest single, “Brown Beauty.” Tied with the release of her podcast More With Monique and her social media campaign, “I Choose More,” DeBose is a creative looking to transcend the boundaries of what it means to create art and inspire others. I had the pleasure of speaking with DeBose as we discussed her “Brown Beauty,” her podcast, and more.
Can you give me a little backstory into how “Brown Beauty” came about?
It’s actually a song that I wrote a while ago. Originally, I thought about writing some kind of musical about my experiences growing up as a mixed-race woman; my mom is Irish-American and my dad is African-American. I wrote a body of work and then decided I didn’t want to do that. I then wrote a one-woman show called “Mulatto Math,” summing up the race equation in America. I knew that “Brown Beauty” was going to be the opening piece for that show.
That song speaks to my experiences living in multiple worlds. When I originally wrote it, it was speaking to that piece of acknowledging the double consciousness that a lot of us live in while also celebrating it. As I performed and shared it, I understood that this song was not just about my own experience. I would say it’s [representative of] all women of color living in cultures that don’t celebrate or recognize them. I decided to record it and put it out into the world, as opposed to connecting it to my show.
In our world, Black women, Brown women, women with melanin, and women of color have usually not been cast in what is beautiful in American society. So to be able to expand the definition of beauty and clearly state brown beauty is exciting to me.
Touching on the music video for “Brown Beauty,” how has that been going?
It’s been going great. When I first recorded it and heard it back in the studio, it was an emotional experience. The song is so simple but the message is so full. It was like a church moment or a spiritual moment, where I knew the importance of the song. For the video, we decided that it would be a great idea to celebrate as many Black women and women of color. So I put a shoutout on social media encouraging women to post pictures of themselves with #BrownBeauty and tag me. I also asked them to explain what brown beauty means to them. Around 50 women at this point are making their appearance in the video. I have a dancer who is seven years old in Northern California, and another dancer who is seventy-something years old in Philadelphia. I’m really excited about it.
Within the many fields of work that you do, where do you feel the most at home? How would you define who Monique DeBose is?
I love the phrase transformational entertainer/artist/creative because I think it’s true for a lot of artists that they create art because they have a calling, and that’s a hundred percent true for me. A lot of the work that I create all have one main theme. When we’re willing to own all parts of ourselves, only then are we truly free.
Speaking on your new podcast, MORE with Monique, how does it feel being able to do something of that degree?
It feels so great. So many women resonated with the idea of the song, [“More”]. We had a campaign called “I Choose More,” where women around the world held a sign up showing what they chose more of. From that point, I thought this was something bigger than me; this is a conversation that other people need to hear beyond just me. To be able to share the conversations that I was having behind closed doors with a large audience; that was the initial desire to have the podcast. Also, there’s a “choose more minute” in each [episode] of the podcast where we give women the exercise that they can do in that moment. It has felt really natural.
If you were to leave a legacy behind, how would you like to be remembered?
The first thing that popped into my head were my two sons. As a mother, I separated and held space for these two souls to fully embody who they are. The second thing is that when people think about or feel into Monique DeBose and all that I brought into the world, they felt safe, seen, celebrated, and loved. To me, that is so important. If you have ever been somebody who has been marginalized, pushed to the side, or [told] that something isn’t for you, think back on me. I want that to be my legacy; to help people remember who they are and [know] that anything is possible for them.
You can check out “Brown Beauty” below.
Top Photo Courtesy of JQ Williams / “Brown Beauty” Music Video Courtesy of Monique DeBose via YouTube
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