We had the good fortune of connecting with Destyne Miller and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Destyne, let’s talk legacy – what do you want yours to be?
Legacy. This is such a beautifully heavy word. I have always said that my goal is for my name to matter. I want casting directors, producers and all the big decision makers to see my name on people’s resumes and know that they have had great training or have been apart of something wonderful. That my name would start conversations and people would talk about my work and how important it is. I don’t know if I want to be famous as much as I want to be well-known and respected in my craft. I was once introduced to someone and they said “Oh, I don’t know you but I know your work.” That made me feel like I’m on my way to what I want my legacy to be. I want people to say, “I feel like the time I felt the most deeply, the most challenged, and the most moved was when I experienced Destyne Miller’s work.”
And I want my 10 year-old, Jaxon, to know that his mama threw a rock and made waves in the ocean.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Theatre is my passion. Directing is my peace. For the run of the show I feel like the team of people that I work with, along with myself, have power. The power to create moments that will initiate conversations, shift mindsets, and ultimately move people enough to leave differently than when they arrived. I take that responsibility very seriously and I think that is what makes the shows I direct and write very unique. I want to honor not only the story but the characters that represent very real human beings we walk next to in our own lives. I am so committed to telling that truth whether it is beautiful, ugly, funny or heartbreaking. They say the truth doesn’t care who tells it and I’ve decided that it will be me.
When I began theatre at Gatesville High School, I didn’t know that it was going to be my lifeline. High school theatre literally provided me with lifelong relationships with people who also love this art. Grambling State University gave me focus, confidence and opportunities. It was there that I would get bit hard by the directing bug when I got to direct Lorraine Hansberry’s ‘To Be Young, Gifted & Black.” It was also there that I would write, produce and direct my first work , ‘The Serial Killer,” which dealt with the HIV/AIDS virus. Grambling nurtured my gifts and said yes to me. Attending an HBCU allowed me to create art with people that looked like me. The freedom that comes with being unapologetic in our storytelling has stuck with me and has absolutely become the foundation of my work. I thought teaching in middle school was going to hinder how I told stories, but I found that people believe in authenticity no matter the age. When I moved up to high school it gave me joy to give my students the same feeling I had at Grambling. The feeling of being seen, understood and represented in whatever truth they stood.
The second work I wrote, produced and directed happened here in Houston. My stage play, ‘Worn Out Soles,’ was a collection of stories from imperfect people. The characters speak directly to the audience and tell them exactly who they are, how they got there and begs, just for a second, that you take a walk in their shoes. Before you judge, before you blame, before you assign them with your version of who they are, walk with them. I think that work exemplifies who I am as an artist. Just an old small town girl trying to give people a slice of other people’s realities so that maybe our world can become more compassionate and caring.
I think the hardest part of the journey has been figuring out what exactly voice was. Along the way I’ve learned that my brand, me & my story are all one in the same. I have been standing up for those that couldn’t stand up for themselves since my small, meek 5th grade best friend was slapped in the face by a bully. Standing up to her for him was no different than allowing recovering addicts to be fully human in our production of Quiara Alegria Hudes’s, “Water by the Spoonful.’ It is no different than giving Pecola Breedlove the chance to see herself as whole in our production of Toni Morrison’s, ‘The Bluest Eye.’ If there is anything I want people to know about me, about what I do, I want them to know I tell the truth and hope that there are people open to hearing it.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Okay, so when people come visit me the thing we do the most is EAT! I love food and if there is a place that has fantastic food Houston is it! Let me give you a run down based on the time of day. If it’s breakfast I’m getting us tacos from Soliz Casa de Tacos in Stafford! Best tacos in the Houston area! If it’s brunch time then Another Broken Egg never lets me down. Good food. Better mimosas! Twisted Grilled Cheese for lunch because its DELICIOUS, Black-woman owned and who doesn’t want a grown-up grilled cheese?! Bullpen in Sugar Land has the best wings and beer! And The Greasy Spoon, another Black-owned restaurant, has some of the best soul food in the city!! Want dessert? Decadent Desserts is sinful!! I could go on for days but yes food would be on the list!
I love experiencing other art in Houston so I will visit the Houston Museum of African American Culture or other museums. I frequented and always took friends to HeART & Soul, which was an open mic night produced by The T.R.U.T.H. Project. founded by Kevin Anderson. I’m also all about catching plays and shows at our local high schools and small theatres when I have the time.
(I also want throw in laser tag but I’m not really good at it although I like to pretend I am. Haha)
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to dedicate my shoutout to my family, my village. They have been my biggest support system in not only believing in me but also helping to raise my son so that I could still pursue my passion. I want to credit my students that I have taught throughout the years because they helped me to hone my gifts and were so instrumental in my growth. And lastly, I have to thank Anna Catherine Barr for bringing me back to the stage. Our Juliet. Our angel.
Facebook: Destyne Miller, Destyne Renee
Rhedeont Photography Kayla Sellers Photography George Bush High School Journalism