Interview with Darrin Henson, Choreographer/ Actor/ Dancer
I ran into
while covering the Cayman Jazz
Festival in November 2006 in his role as the host of the
festival. Darrin is now starring and dancing in the Sony/Screen
Gems film, Stomp The Yard
which released on Friday, January 12, 2007. As mentioned in
review of Stomp The Yard last week,
is well-known to Canadians, as he shot the television series
(as the character, Lem) in Toronto and therefore lived here for
five years. Though Soul Food never aired in Canada, Darrin was
a vibrant part of our community during that time.
There are a couple of notable things about Stomp that I
thought it was necessary to bring to light. One is that
in celebration of the film's release, Sony Pictures announced
that 2.5% of the proceeds from its opening weekend numbers would
be donated to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington,
me, it was also a positive move to see the Black youth
experience played out in the world of fraternities and a
university rather than in the Hollywood stereotypical world of
gangs and drugs.
Darrin talks to us about Stomp, the role of dance in Hollywood,
his accomplishments and upcoming projects.
First of all, I loved the movie Stomp The
Yard Ė very entertaining i.e. lots of dance scenes and decent
acting. Did you have anything to do with the choreography?
None of it except that the battle scene. The last one was my
choreography. All the stuff that you see me do by myself is my
Did you grow up with stepping around you?
Iíve never stepped before Ė that was my first time. Itís one of
the hardest things Iíve ever done. Itís like drumming, keeping
two different patterns at the same time. That s**t is hard!
What was your favourite part of the film for you?
Your characterís intensity really came across Ė no one liked
My character was based off her (Meagan Good)ís dad. He was the
mano y mano male. Heís one of those guys who expects
excellence out of himself and everyone else around him. There
are a lot of people out there like that.
How important do you see dance in relation to the world of
I think dance has always been acknowledged and itís always been
needed and necessary. Itís more, is it respected?
I think the importance of it is coming back again. Stomp brings
the art of street dance and the traditional art of dancing back.
I agree and because itís making a lot more money for mainstream
now Ė it is the actual money-maker. I think literally
that dance has found its own rhythm now.
And do you feel a trend of movies putting more choreography into
their movies and/or music videos? Will your phone start
I think that itís going to be a huge trend. Once youíve got a
hit in Hollywood, they normally follow up with five more of the
same kind of film. Thatís the way it is and has been. I think
that Iíll have a rush of people calling and wanting my
involvement in projects, absolutely.
Your career skyrocketed after Soul
Food - whatís the biggest adjustment youíve had to make?
Soul Food was the very first thing that Iíve done thatís
introduced me to the world outside of my choreography. I think
one of the biggest things is that you have to be able not to take
it home with you. Sometimes the fans donít allow you to do that
because they love your character so much that they call you by
your characterís name. Sometimes if youíre weak-minded, you
feel inadequate if youíre not getting or booking another job
immediately. You really have to know who you are, what youíre
doing and what you want out of this business in order to do well
in this business Ö and survive this business.
I use the term Ďsurviveí very loosely because I donít believe in
just surviving, I believe in living. When youíre able to live
your making, you donít have to worry about making a living.
Do people still approach you about being Lem?
Yeah, they call me Lem all the time. I donít mind so much
because I really love my character so itís fine but sometimes,
depending on what day it is,
you want people to call you by
Do you have a favourite experience of when you were working here
Working on a television series and then acclimating myself into
the Canadian community and being accepted by them. Doing the
show for five years there and it being accepted all around the
world is still an ongoing great experience for me.
People that know you as an actor, may not necessarily know that
you have dance / hip hop workout videos out?
Originally, by the third season of Soul Food, people were
tripping because theyíd always see me with
NSync but they didnít understand why one of their
favourite actors was always with these guys. I think they were
completely confused and didnít know I was the same person. I
guess they started to read the same name and thatís when they
What first made you fall in love with dance?
From five years old, I was in love. It was just something that
I knew, something I was born with. When I heard music, I just
danced. It wasnít something that I had to think about wanting
to do. I knew I would be on stage one day, absolutely. At five
years old I knew!
Youíve worked with some major names in music
Michael Jackson, Prince, Britney Spears, J-Lo, Christina
Aguilera, NSYNC Ė any highlights?
Working with Michael Jackson was a highlight. Winning the MTV
Music Award was a highlight (for N*SYNC) and now dancing in a
feature film that Iím starring in Ė itís great! I feel like
John Travolta except I won an award for dancing! (laughs)
What do your awards mean to you as youíve won an MTV Music Award
for Best Choreography and a Billboard Award for biggest selling
Health and Fitness Video?
They mean a lot to me Ė itís from your peers and your fans. I
mean, I donít go around shining my MTV Music Award everyday;
actually itís in the garage. Because I feel if you sit down
looking at it, praising yourself, you may not work hard to get
another one. I want to work on getting an Image Award, a Golden
Globe and then an Oscar. I plan on it!
Congrats on breaking records with the sales of the Darrinís
Dance Grooves! Where can people buy it?
Yeah, and I just did a deal for the second one (Darrinís
Dance Grooves 2) which is available now on my website Ė
www.darrinhenson.com but it will be in stores in March. And
people can buy it on my site.
Why do you think that itís generated so much interest?
I think people trust me and the choreography is great!
If you could work with any artist, living or past, who would
Iíd want to work with Michael Jackson again. I would have
loved, God rest his soul, to work with
Gregory Hines. He was
definitely a mentor for me. I want to work with Shaba-Doo from
the movie ďBreakiníĒ. Iíd want to work with Eddie Murphy,
Denzel Washington, Laurence Fishburne and John Travolta.
What was your greatest experience in your career?
Definitely working with Michael Jackson. And finally dancing in
a feature film that Iím also acting in. And then winning the
MTV Music Award.
Whatís in your MP3 right now?
50 Cent, india.arie, Floetry, Beyonce, Jay-Z, Black-Eyed Peas Ö
How would you like to be remembered?
Darrin Henson is a person that cares about the world, cares
about people and who wants everybody to understand that they have
power to make their life beautiful.
Good answer Ė no doubt.
Darrin is one busy and hard working entertainer. He is
currently on the panel for the television reality show
Bump & Grind in the UK
on Skyís Trouble channel (airs in
Canada as well). Later this month he'll be at Sundance Film
to support his HBO film,
which is the
true-life story of a mother who overcame an addiction to crack
and became a positive role model and an AIDS activist in the
Black community (to be
released in March 2007). Then, also being released this year in
May, is the movie, The Salon,
which premiered here at the ReelWorld Film Festival starring
Vivica A. Fox.
And now with the release of Stomp The Yard, you can be sure to
be seeing a lot more of Darrin Henson.
He is a symbol of what hard work, good hustle and raw talent
combined can do!