Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained has been racking up the awards nominations, and newcomer Daniele Watts is getting attention for her small but memorable role as Coco in the film. We caught up with the up-and-coming actress to talk hair, career and working with Kerry Washington.
Where are you from originally and how did you find yourself in Los Angeles?
DW: I moved quite a bit growing up. I was born in California and I lived in Orlando in middle school. I moved to Atlanta in high school.
I decided to go to college and I had a great guidance counselor who made me realize it was possible to pursue my dreams in entertainment. She had worked for VH1 for a short period of time. She said, “You need to go to New York or L.A.” Had she not said that, I don’t know if I would have made it out here.
When did you get the acting bug?
DW: When I was in high school I was very involved with a community theatre organization called ARCH productions (Artists Raising the Consciousness of Humanity). We would tour shows to different high schools about relevant teen issues. Then afterwards we would host a question and answer session. That made me realize the transformative power of the arts and how storytelling and self-expression can be a window for people to understand themselves better. It actually can contribute to people living more full lives.
You played the role of Coco in Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, Django Unchained. How did you get the role?
DW: Well. I’m a hustler. Part of my success has to do with the fact that I do a lot of research. I was reading the trades and talking to friends who work in casting offices or interned for producers. I tracked down the script. I filmed myself in my apartment and sent the tape to the casting office and started writing them letters and I got a call from my manager saying Quentin Tarantino wants to meet you on Friday.
Let’s talk about your upcoming film, “You are What I Want” Can you give us a brief synopsis?
DW: A hook-up turns into an obsession. In a short film that examines the questionable fallout in seeking one’s happiness in other people. The character I play, Whitney, goes on a journey of meeting a guy, deciding he’s the guy she wants and pursuing him. I was interested in showing a black girl vulnerable in a way that I don’t’ typically see in movies. A lot of times they are very strong and sassy. For us it was an examination of humiliation. [……] So many people are afraid of putting themselves out there.
How do you take care of your natural hair? Do you have any staple products or a particular regimen?
DW: I can’t really say that I’m that disciplined. Part of the reason that I grew my hair out is so that I didn’t have to follow a regime. My hair really responds well to the Mixed Chicks live-in conditioner. I also really like Deva-Curl no-poo. I wash it with Deva Curl no-poo and that gets it all smooth and soft and I comb it. Then I put in some kind of conditioner like Dove or Suave Coconut. Then I wash it out really good, comb it. Leave some in and then put Mixed Chicks on in the shower, kind of rinse it out and then shake the rest of the water off and don’t touch it afterwards.
What is one thing that you discovered about your hair that you wish you knew before going natural?
DW: My hair loves water. I can go swimming as much as I want. I can run around in the sprinklers.
Check out the video to hear Danièle talk about why she decided to go natural, and what it was like to work with Kerry Washington…