Darrin Dewitt Henson is all about quality. From teaching people about their bodies through dance and exercise, to delivering scene-stealing performances in both film and television, the 38-year-old Bronx native has attracted an international fan base through his hard work. As if his dance, fitness and acting careers weren’t enough, Henson is also responsible for a new skin care line, and will be sitting in the director’s chair himself in 2011.
On February 26, the GMC network will air Henson’s most recent accomplishment, the John Ruffin stage play The Ideal Husband. Darrin co-stars with Shanti Lowry (The Game), Erica Hubbard (Let’s Stay Together, Lincoln Heights), Jackée Harry, Shirley Murdock, Clifton Powell and Ginuwine.
UrbLife.com loves overachievers, and Darrin Dewitt Henson most definitely fits the bill! As a protogé of the late, great DJ Scott La Rock, Darrin has come a long way on his own thus far, and from the sounds of it, he’s not slowing down any time soon!
What reality does he bring to The Ideal Husband and other roles? Why did some of his friends think he should stay in one career lane? Did Tom Cruise and Jennifer Lopez take Darrin’s motivation to new heights? Read on…
Tell us a little about the storyline of The Ideal Husband and your role in the play.
Darrin Henson: I think that the underlying issue is honesty. My character Devin is a football player who is injured, and is actually new to the football league when the issue happens. The issue was dishonesty within his marriage. He was introduced to the league and all that the league presents – for example, the money, the women, the fame, the popularity, which a lot of people rather it’s the football, basketball, or baseball league don’t really know what they are getting into until it actually happens. That’s what happens to him.
One of the taglines and one of the phrases in the show is “I got caught up.” That’s what happens to a lot of young men, whether they are African America, Caucasian, Latino, Asian, they get caught up with the fame and the attention and some of it pulls them in the right direction and they don’t make the right decisions.
How would you describe this character?
DH: I think that Devin is a great guy, but he got caught up. He’s been married for eight years, he’s never cheated on her except for that one time – not to say that that is something that is accepted – but it was honorable that he never done it after that. I think if you make a mistake and don’t repeat the mistake, that’s something honorable.
He thought that it was something that he was supposed to do, like his initiation into the league. Although they’re not teenagers, it’s also a level of peer pressure with your colleagues. It was a NFL team, so there’s still a level that he has to deal with being in the league.
You have a great cast. How was it working with everyone?
DH: The cast is a really great cast! It was something that was put together very quickly, which is why they pulled so many professionals together. It was fun for me because I got to play a football player. I played Jim Brown in The Express movie, filmed by Universal.[Devin] is a very human character with flaws, but was a very good character at the same time, was something that I really wanted to play. There are a lot of people out there that needs to understand that we make mistakes, but again, he has been a good husband, he’s been working really hard to prove to his wife that he’s a good husband.
She was pregnant and he did everything he possible could to show her how happy he was about the pregnancy. He made pictures of the sonogram and put them all over her shop and the house. He was rehabilitating himself through exercise. He was a dynamic, truthful character.
These are people in our society that need to understand that we will make mistakes, but it’s ok to move forward, it’s ok to try and be a better person, it’s ok to say that I was wrong. This is something that I wanted to convey in the actual piece.
How, in this stage in your life, are you able to stay in shape, keep your career going, and still have a personal life all at the same time?
DH: I believe that success comes from preparation, and to me personal life and exercise go hand in hand. In my personal life, I stay fit. My new DVD is called Get Fit and Stay Fit, and what this is is me introducing to you what my lifestyle really is. I don’t just exercise for every film and TV show that I do, I stay fit because it’s a part of who I am.
What I did was simply took a lot of what I do on a daily basis and put it on a DVD. A lot of my fans everywhere I go ask me how do I do this or do that, well the answer to me was to put it on a DVD. I’m in Atlanta right now and I’m doing a Bronner Brothers show tomorrow. People are like “Bronner Brothers? That’s hair!” I say, “Yeah, but all of those people getting their hair done, they get their hair done to look good. Their hair may be in great shape or not but what is their body doing?”
All of these people need to realize how important it is not only to take care of the outside, but take care of the inside as well. Like, you just don’t wash the car and not change the oil and that’s what this is about. The new Get Fit and Stay Fit video, you can actually see on DarrinHenson.com.
All of the roles I play in the TV shows and films really [work] because I’m in the right mind, body, and spirit. I feel good, I try to think positively, I pray hard and with those three combined, and I think that is success.
You do so many different things. Have you ever in your life been told to stay in one lane or try to dissuade you from being a multi-talent?
DH: Absolutely! When they did that, I showed them that they should just sometimes be quiet and listen and watch, because they would learn a lot more. That year that they told me that was 2000… I didn’t tell people that I was going to be on Soul Food, I was just shooting the show. That was the same year I won an MTV Award for best choreographer for N’Sync.
All of those people now, I tell them, “Have you learned anything?” and they’re like, “Yeah; you should do whatever your heart desires.” I say, “That’s exactly what I do, and that’s what I’m doing now.”
I have my own skin care line out called Generations, I have the new Get Fit and Stay Fit DVD out, I have several films coming out this year, Tekken is one of them. I have the show Ideal Husband coming out. I’m getting ready to direct another movie at the end of February, and am producing that as well.
I just have fun doing everything that I’m doing because we’re able to. You can write a story, you can play on a softball team or basketball team if you want to in your spare time. You can donate time to a Boys and Girls Club of America if you chose to. These are choices that we make in life, and life is about choices. I just tell people, “Look, don’t say that you’re sorry, just make better choices.”
When you play a role that doesn’t have the overachiever mindset that you have, how do you ground yourself to say this is what this guy does, he’s 9 to 5, he comes home, he’s with a wife, this is all he does every day. Do you use people you know as an inspiration?
DH: When you play a character, you have to find out what his needs are or her needs are. It’s really playing the need of the character. Once you find out what that person’s needs are, then you just play it. My character [in The Ideal Husband], his need was to become a football player again. His need is to become a good dad. That’s what his needs are.
In life we have several different needs but what is the underlying, motivating factor, you just play that. That’s what I do. When you see me as Jim Brown, you didn’t see Darrin Henson in The Express, you saw Jim Brown. When you saw Grant in Stomp the Yard, you didn’t like Grant the way you loved Lem in Soul Food. It’s really about playing the person’s needs.
You did choreography for Tom Cruise at the 2010 MTV Movie Awards. What is it like working with someone who is not a dancer, but is another chronic overachiever type?
DH: It was amazing because actually I was working with Jennifer Lopez who hired me to do everything. The cherry on the top was getting to work with Tom Cruise at the same time. It was amazing! What I did was position myself to be quiet and watch. I’m in here with a mega star and I just watched him work, so I fell back and just taught him what I needed to teach him, but I watched him and listened to him.
I watched how he carried himself and I learned from him. I learned from Jennifer Lopez. They’re like one in the same – they’re perfectionists, they’re superstars. They believe ‘come as you are but don’t stay as you are, just keep growing.’ That’s what I learned from them, and that’s why I think I’m able to do what I do now because I just keep learning. There’s so much to learn!
The Ideal Husband airs on the GMC network on February 26 at 7:00pm, with encore presentations at 9:00 and 11:00pm.
Click HERE to watch the teaser for The Ideal Husband and read more about the play!