By Way of Introduction is a new occasional Daily News Q&A series where readers can meet some of the movers and shakers and everyday folks who make Galveston County such a cool and interesting place to live.
For our inaugural By Way of Introduction, The Daily News catches up with Dacia James Lewis, — singer, dancer, writer, choreographer, an entertainment Jill-of-all-trades, of sorts. Born in Galveston, Lewis has performed at the Grammys with Kanye West and Jamie Foxx, has a new book out and has a part in "Coming 2 America," among a host of other professional accomplishments.
Name: Dacia James Lewis
Age: Old enough to drink, young enough to still do the splits
Born in: Galveston
Q. Where did you grow up and where did you attend school?
A. I grew up in Galveston, where I graduated from Ball High School. I received my bachelor’s from Texas State University and am currently pursuing my master’s at Agnes Scott College in Atlanta.
Q. What professions have you worked in? What professional accomplishments are you most proud of?
A. I have been working in the entertainment industry for 15+ years. Although I have graced the stage with some of the greatest artists and actors in the world, I am most proud of the Galveston Proclamation that named July Dacia James Lewis Day in my hometown. Being recognized for giving back to my community and bridging the gap for them to pursue their dreams of being in the entertainment industry warms my heart. It’s a proud moment and it keeps me rooted and grounded.
Q. How did you break into your career?
A. I started as a production assistant on the sets of the male-dominated field of films and commercials with brutal hours and heavy lifting. On my days off, I would train at the local dance studios in Los Angeles to keep me in shape and ready for my break. A choreographer by the name of Eclipse remembered me from a previous project and asked me to do the Grammys with Kanye West and Jamie Foxx. Of course, I hopped at the chance to perform at the "Super Bowl" of the music industry. It was the break I needed to get an agent and pursue dance full-time.
Q. Any advice for those just starting out?
A. Treat everyone with dignity and respect. When I met the choreographer who hired me for the Grammys, I was on his set as a stage manager. He remembered my smile, and my work ethic and my diligence in the small things. That lasting impression caused him to call me months later after he remembered our brief conversation about me being a dancer. He hired me for the biggest awards show in the music industry. The moral of the story and what I always say, is: “You never know who you are going to meet. Be kind!”
Q. Have you had mentors in your life? People who have inspired your life decisions?
A. I have had several mentors — too many to name. So many people have been a guiding light on my path. Mentors are a significant part of creating a successful career. They are trustworthy advisors and role models to offer knowledge and encouragement which is priceless. I appreciate them all, they know who they are.
Q. What book are you reading now? What’s your favorite book or author?
A. I am currently immersed in Cicely Tyson’s Memoir called "Just As I Am." It is phenomenal. Poetry, history and life lessons are all bundled up in the spine of a good read. I don’t have a favorite author, I just love a good read. My favorite book? I will have to take this time to plug my book, "The Game of Life: Releasing the Weight When God Says Wait." It’s a huge accomplishment to write and self-publish your thoughts for the masses to read, therefore, my book will always be my favorite book. It is a reminder that anything is possible if I put my mind to it.
Q. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
A. This is a difficult one. As a performer, I have had the privilege of traveling the world and there are many places I would love to reside. If I had to choose, I would live in Hawaii. The beach, the weather, the carefree vibes, and the peaceful environment is enticing. The ability to hop a quick flight to the mainland is also convenient.
Q. What do you do for fun?
A. Now that’s an easy one. Dance! You will constantly find me moving and grooving to a beat. I enjoy watching and mimicking TikTok dances as well. I might not post them, but I definitely learn them to keep me on my toes. I also enjoy playing Top Golf and board games. I am very competitive, and I don’t like losing.
Q. What’s the best thing about your job/career?
A. The best thing about my career is versatility. Because I am a multi-hyphenate in entertainment, I can dibble and dabble in many facets of the arts that I love: acting, dancing, choreographing, writing or directing. It’s gratifying to do what you love; it never feels like a job — not to mention it’s fun.
Q. What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
A. Most people don’t know that I can rap. I’ve always enjoyed writing poems and listening to spoken word. If time permits and I can put pen to paper, I can write some pretty dope raps and songs. I am sure I will have a song on the charts one of these days.
Q. Do you have a favorite quote that inspires your decisions?
A. “Attempt something large enough that failure is guaranteed…unless God steps in!” — Bruce Wilkinson
I love this quote because it encourages us to dream big and take a leap of faith. Failure is indeed a possibility, but we will never know if we can succeed if we don’t try. Either way, God has our back and it will all work out for our good.
Q. What can people look forward to as it relates to your career?
A. My book has been distributed and is now available worldwide, which I am super excited about. I plan to continue to promote the book with interviews and speaking engagements to encourage people to stay hopeful in difficult seasons. I also have a few projects in the works through my production company D.O.P. Entertainment, so look out for that. In the meantime, you can catch me in "Coming 2 America" on Netflix and in "Genius: Aretha" on Hulu. See you at the top!
— Angela Wilson