Tuesday, December 11, 2007

WE COVER STORY - Dawn Breaks It Down

by Niama S. Sandy

photo by Mike Brochu

Toronto-born Nadia Dawn is arguably one of the most versatile entertainers to come out of the city. Born to a Guyanese mother and an Indian father, a true renaissance woman, Dawn boasts skills and experience ranging from screenwriting and producing to modeling and hosting.

Though currently based in Los Angeles, Dawn reminisced on her hometown.

"I love Toronto for the culture," she said.

Dawn further explained that the levels of growth and opportunity aren't very high for her chosen career. "Being born there, I like the community, all of my family and friends are there. I love it, but I'd never live there again unless I quit this career and did something else. And even so, I might live somewhere in Europe or the States."

From a young age, Dawn was always at the epicenter of entertainment in her family.

"When I was little we would be driving and we'd see signs; I'd read all the signs out loud. When we watched movies with subtitles, I'd do the same thing. I never realized what I doing until I realized it was a career - it’s hosting."

Soon, young Nadia began to engage in modeling courses and over the years built the skills, and the strength of mind and body to become a force to be reckoned with in the entertainment world.

Her breakthrough appearance came at a 2000 audition held for a video to be produced by Black Walk Entertainment.

On the day of the video shoot, the production team had both Nadia and another actress show up on set. Neither woman knew who would be chosen. Ultimately, Nadia won the role.

The artist was Shaggy.

The video was for the song that later became a smash hit, "It Wasn't Me."

Of the experience, Nadia said, "No one knew the video would have been as big as it was."

The role helped open the doorway to feature and lead roles in 30 other music videos, including Master P's, "Lay Low" and Pharrell Williams', "That Girl."

For a number of years there has been controversy over the sometimes objectifying roles women are relegated to in music videos. With videos like Nelly's "Tip Drill" and personas like Kim Kardashian, and Karinne Stephens being glorified, the ever-poised Nadia Dawn had profound insight into the matter.

"To me it's propaganda, women are being demeaned in every medium in society. It's segregation - black and white, male and female. I started seeing myself and I started wondering if I was wrong for the work I was doing but then I started watching films. Shaking your ass in a video is nothing. You'll see that on television or in the movies and that would be the least that you'd see."

Dawn further put the issue in context.

"I just watched Anne Hathaway in a film and in it her character was sleeping with all of these people. If you look at actresses and the roles that they play, they are far worse than women in music videos. Angelina Jolie has done simulated sex acts on screen. For people to put the onus on videos for demeaning women is silly; considering things that we see in the media, shaking your ass is a lot less provocative. In this industry it's the craft and it's the art, I've been able to say screw it and do the work."

Nadia further expounded explaining that she does have limits, "I won't do nudity but in the event that a role calls for something 'sexy', I act and I do it."

"There aren't many Guyanese people in the industry. My main focus is to give us exposure and portray urban women in a more positive light. We lack positive role models. There are a lot of things out there that are negative and it's a very fine line. You can be sexy, you can be funny, you can be cute, but be positive," explained Dawn.

Ms. Dawn has successfully broken out of the mold created for women who look the way she does. Clearly possessing both breath-taking beauty and brains, her latest credits range from producing and hosting the upcoming Supermodel Showdown, a show she describes "as a cross between America's Next Top Model and Survivor," to hosting the red carpet for the NAACP's 38th Annual Image Awards.

Supermodel Showdown is a 13-episode show and was filmed in Costa Rica. The show comes at a great time as many of the entertainment industry's writing staff is on strike.

"I started writing and producing Supermodel Showdown. The good thing about the writers strike is that it has created a need for content and shows that have already been made," explained Nadia.

It is not a matter of whether or not the show will be picked up, but rather when it will be.

"I hosted the red carpet portion of the NAACP Image Awards. It was amazing. This was the first time that I felt like I was at the right place with my career. When people think of me they probably think of a model, it was good for me to be seen in a different light," explained Dawn.

Dawn also completed a show entitled Unfinished Business, which featured the infamous Marion "Suge" Knight. For this opportunity Nadia beat out 300 other hopefuls.

Dawn and Knight discussed the murders of the Notorious Biggie and Tupac Shakur, and the allegations that Knight and his entourage hung Vanilla Ice off a balcony. Dawn is confident that the program will be picked up by BET, MTV or VH1.
Other upcoming projects place Nadia working with Mobb Deep's Prodigy. She will star in a short film called D.O.P.E, which will be released with Prodigy's album. Pairing with Prodigy again, Dawn will star in a feature length film entitled, H.N.I.C., after an eponymous Prodigy album. The movie will also feature Davida Sherwood and Rick Gonzalez.

Nadia has also recently finished a script for an independent film, Choice, to be produced by her company, New Dawn Productions. As the title might imply, the film delves into the topic of choice. Dawn proffered a simple explanation, "there are many paths that we can take in life, but it's up to us to take the right road."

Another facet of Dawn's career is her spirituality.

"In this industry you have to have faith, without faith you will be lost," she explained.

A regular attendee of Agape Live in Los Angeles, Nadia watched the much-talked about program "The Secret." Upon doing so, she affirmed her desire to interview Michael Burnett Beckwith, the reverend featured in the program. Not surprisingly, Dawn recently wrapped on an interview with the good reverend…in itself proof of the power of affirmative thinking and visualization.

Certainly a jack-of-all-trades, one begins to wonder if there is anything Nadia Dawn can't do.

"Directing, producing, modeling, writing, hosting… I've done everything that I've wanted to do. The only reason that I'm not doing something is fear and I don't want to leave life with empty hands. I want to be on my deathbed and not have any regrets," explained Dawn.
Nadia Dawn is definitely one to watch. I can guarantee you won't get bored or regret watching. .
For more info see www.myspace.com/nadiadawn / http://www.nadiadawn.com/

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