Words: Alicia Mitchell
Make Up: Eva Guy-Reed
Stylist: Troy Clinton
Southeast based actress and entertainer, Diana Lovell, never imagined her big break happening in an all-you-can-eat restaurant. Casually dressed in jeans and a black shirt, the last thing on her mind was getting discovered. “I was happy because I was having dessert,” says Lovell, “when a lady came out of nowhere and told me I could model.”
The odds of meeting a model scout at a Buffet Restaurant are highly unlikely. . . Meeting a model scout while eating dessert?! Now that’s one for the memory books. The scout spoke to Diana about the commercial market and with headshots and an agent. Lovell would fit right in.
Lovell said she, “…never thought about modeling. I’m not 5’9”. I’m a little curvy and I’m not 15 anymore.” The scout, unabashed by Lovell’s trepidation, extended an olive branch by passing along her business card. Little did Lovell know, but that 3.5 x 2 inch business card would change her whole life.
“She did my makeup. She did my hair. She had wardrobe. She had the photographer, everything,” Lovell exuberantly recalled,“And then she got me signed with agencies. Then all of a sudden I started working.”
Lovell was booking local and regional commercial spots, and national campaigns for television and print media like clockwork: Eyeglass World, Atlantis Resorts, Carnival, State Farm, Universal Studios, Disney, and more.
“When I started, I started hard. I was blessed to work all the time.”
It wasn’t long before industry people starting taking notice. Not only was she booking a lot, she was getting speaking roles, which is not an easy task.
Having call times as early as 3 a.m. and not wrapping until 9 p.m. is a welcomed schedule for the success-driven actress. After Lovell started working, the scout never called again “I felt like she was an angel sent to push me,” says Lovell, who was never charged a single cent for all the help the scout provided “She never wanted anything. She just disappeared. I don't even know where she is now. I would love to tell her how she affected my life.“
Growing up, Lovell loved listening to her father’s music. He was a well-known artist in the Cape Verdean community of Boston Cape Verde is a small island off the west coast of Africa. Lovell’s father’s influence had a lasting impact on her career. Unquestionably, Lovell was a daddy’s girl whose passion for singing was genetically predisposed
“He was like the Beatles of Cape Verdean people,” says Lovell. “His love for singing made me love singing.”
Seeking a better life, her parents ran a tight ship raising Lovell and her younger brother in Boston. Her parents found success in real estate, owning multiple residential properties that they rented out. With both parents being, Cape-Verde born, they instilled in their children the mentality that one must work hard for what they want.
“We were well off, but my mother made me feel like we were poor,” says Lovell. “It was her reverse psychology from Cape Verde slave mentality. “
Positioned on the great trade routes between Africa, Europe, and the New World, the Cape Verde Islands played a pivotal role in the transatlantic Slave Trade. For three centuries, the Portuguese used slave labor to grow cotton and indigo. They then would trade these goods for slaves captured in local African wars and raids.
Often kept in the house, the siblings sought ways to stay entertained and out of trouble. The 1992 hit single “Real Love,” by hip-hop soul singer Mary J. Blige, was a classic that Lovell remembers jamming to. Not always the willing volunteer, her younger brother made for a perfect sidekick to sing the melody.
“I forced my brother to sing with me. I used to torture him,” she recalls. “He used to say he was mad but [he] sang on key though.”
Win from Within
Lovell felt she was born to sing until she realized TV entertainment was her calling. With millions of aspiring entertainers clamoring for a break, pursuing a career in the cutthroat industry was a risk worth taking. Continually pushing herself to work hard and remain positive, success would find her. She was certain of that.
“If you believe in yourself,” she began, “people will be attracted to you and want to help you get to where you need to be just because you believe in yourself.”
Maximizing her personal goals of being the best in the business, Lovell wakes up everyday identifying ways to make herself a better actress and acting upon it. The winding road of auditions and callbacks can be taxing, but it is not often Lovell finds herself in a mental slump. When she does, its lifespan is minute with her power circle of supportive friends, who are also actors. They prevent her from falling in the trenches. Before she can even get in a bad mood, a timely text saying, “Don’t forget that you are a wonderful and talented woman” it gets her back in focus and always provided at the right time.
Understanding that life is not easy, her mother desired for Lovell to establish financial security so she wouldn’t have to struggle. Even as a little girl, Lovell remembers telling her mother that she was going to be on TV and buy her a house. Her mother would respond, , “No you’re not! You’re going to work a 9-to-5 job like everybody else.”
Lovell never categorized her parents’ support as negative. She simply believed they didn’t understand the business. Considering that her mother had no idea about the industry or how to get in, it’s typical of a parent to have concern for the wellbeing of their offspring.
“It’s not that she didn't believe in me. She knew,” says Lovell. “She just didn’t want me to get hurt. Now, she’s my biggest supporter.”
Lovell has had her share of up and downs in relationships. “Love has taught me a lot. I’ve been happy. I’ve been devastated. I’ve been hurt. And I’ve been swept off my feet.”
When Lovell explained a past relationship she had, she revealed that she had been through a life or death situation with an ex-boyfriend. “I have found myself in an abusive relationship where his insecurities have make me run for my life.” “You never think it can happen to you, until it does. And then you realize that no one is invincible. But we can be smart and learn the signs of abusive people and stay away from those types of relationships.”
Which is why Diana has made it a priority to speak to women and children; and teach them to value themselves, and learn the signs of abusive behavior before getting into relationships. Diana has spent hours doing volunteer work for charities that support women who have been victims of domestic abuse. “Women are sometimes embarrassed to talk about their home life, but they shouldn’t be. Love isn’t supposed to hurt or control. It’s supposed to uplift.”
In pursuit of roles to prove her range and abilities beyond the usual fare of the seductive love interest, Lovell’s biggest obstacle was overcoming the ideal that her complexion and nationally was a hindrance to her career.
Being mixed African and Portuguese, Lovell explained, is considered to be ethnically ambiguous. And what she thought, at first, was a hindrance, became her biggest asset. Thanks to actresses such as, Thandie Newton, Halle Berry, and other mixed-race actresses who have paved the way for all nationalities to be well received.
Good for her career, more and more, television is starting to reflect reality, which has become a melting pot of mixed nationalities. Ethnically ambiguous, you can’t place a certain race or geography on the face you see broadcasted. Evolving as humans, more casting directors are willing to go beyond the sociallyconstructed notion that the world is white or black, with no variations of grey.
“You don’t know. You can’t tell, and that is what I am. I am everybody,” says Lovell.
Always being on the hunt for a challenge or new experience, there is so much more to for Lovell to accomplish. Her journey, filled with lots of bumps along the way, has actually worked in her favor. No matter how many flaws she has, decisions she’s made, painful experiences she has lived through, they have made her a better actress.
“I don't regret anything,” says Lovell. “As an actress, you have to pull from some of the worst and most devastating times of your life so those words will be coming from your heart.”
At the heart of it all, the key to success is happiness. Steer your own path and stop comparing yourself to others. Love yourself, love the decisions you make, and work on your goals everyday.
“I feel like right now – especially this year – my journey is going at the right speed. Perfect timing. Perfect pace. Perfect direction. I feel like this is what I always wanted. I just wake up happy and ready for the world.”