We had the good fortune of connecting with Jasmine Woodson and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jasmine, why did you pursue a creative career?
It chose me! I tried to have a “regular” job and play by the rules but every time that I tried to abide by “policy” I felt that it took away from my true nature and it also placed strict black and white regulations in areas where a more colorful and creative approach was required. I always live by the motto “souls over profit” and I feel the best way to change lives and communities is through the arts and creating new things. Old stale ways are so played out and only serve certain people while exploiting or blocking out others. To advocate for all, I would much rather use the arts and creativity as a platform to create real and lasting change.

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.
When people ask me what I do, I often find it so hard to put into words. My professional work in the social work field has been a journey. I came into it with bright eyes thinking that I would be changing lives and taking names. Years into it, I recognized how corrupt the system is and how it often blocked out those very souls who really needed the help. I felt oppressed and helpless as a social worker when I felt that I was creating pure gold for the community I served, yet still, they were not able to rise due to the system that was created to keep them bound. From the CPS and juvenile delinquency system to the low income and welfare system all the way to the healthcare system, I found a common trend. People were treated like numbers and not souls. I saw that with those practices, we would never be able to truly elevate someone and I would never truly be happy working for such a system. When I see a problem, I get creative. I created a non profit organization, Diva Demeanor, to do social services MY way. Through Diva Demeanor, I have the freedom to create programs, products and events with no restrictions and all laced in hip hop just how I like it! I am also able to speak out against the injustices of the system without working directly for the system. I also wrote and published my first book on Amazon titled “Beautiful Corpse”. I decided to use my degrees in sociology and in counseling/life coaching to create something that I felt was missing in our culture. I saw first hand how therapy books, self help books and even therapists themselves were unable to connect with and reach the girls and women that I was trying to serve. I took away the stale language and infused it with more of me, I took out the pages and pages of words and cut it down to bite sized chapters they would actually read, I took away the mystery and disconnect by sharing my personal journal entries, and I created an affordable way to receive therapy and coaching by placing the work in a book. The book is dedicated to helping those girls and women who are not perfect, who have been through hell in relationships, who may get treated like pieces of meat wherever they go, who deal with self esteem issues, who may even deal with suicidal thoughts…and it awakens the true Goddess and power within them to rise up above it all and become more than just a shell of sexuality for the worlds consumption, but rather a powerful and whole woman who changes this world. I got here through being frustrated with the status quo and from being unable to accept social services and mental health services for our community as they were. We deserve something much better, much more authentic and to be frank, way more fly. I was determined to make that happen but I knew I had to do it myself. It took many years driving home from work feeling helpless and misunderstood, it took suffering from low pay or no pay for years as I served the community and it also took lots of research and real world experience to truly understand the heartbreak surrounding what was going on. I go so hard because I went through it too.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Me and a friend would definitely spend at least one day relaxing in and around a pool with drinks and cute appetizers catching up. We would then go out to eat at either Sixty Vines, Twin Peaks, Krab Kingz, Miyakos or any instagram worthy place to get some good food and soak in exciting vibes. All of those places serve not only great food, but for me, beautiful, freeing and fun vibes as well! We would most definitely take a dance class together at LD Dance Company! They offer so many styles, you get a great workout and like I’ve said before, the vibes there are unmatched! I would also love to check out an underground hip hop show or a big concert! Warehouse live is such a dope location and I love the feel of shows that are held there! If we are being pampered, I would take her to city centre to shop at Sephora, visit the nail salon there and of course eat at RA Sushi or see a movie at studio movie grille. Sitting out in the grassy common area soaking up the sun and talking would be a great way to end our trip!

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 all the dope female hip hop artists of the past and present. In their own raw way, they have fueled me to be great, break barriers, be true, be open, be honest, be gritty and still maintain my femininity in a male dominated culture. I don’t rap (y’all should be happy about that lol) but it’s the essence and the energy that I carry with me. In so many arenas, I have had to prove with my life that I was more than just a pretty face or a sexual object, but that I had just as much power, knowledge, intellect, integrity, strength and skill as the men in that arena. When I hear real female emcees spit, I feel that exact same energy that I carry with me everywhere I go.

Website: DivaDemeanor.com
Instagram: Jasxdiva
Facebook: Facebook.com/DivaDemeanor
Youtube: YouTube.com/user/jasminezumba