Denise Boutté knows a little bit about intuition. In fact, she says her whole life is based off of that little voice inside all of our heads that we either listen to or choose to ignore. And tuning in to those cues worked out for her. The former “Meet the Browns” actress is set to co-star alongside Loretta Divine in TV One’s “For the Love of Ruth.” She sat down with JET to talk about her role in the made-for-television movie, the importance of preserving her family’s legacy and the power of taking risks.
JET: Before you started acting, you was a very successful account executive. Tell me how you went from selling ads and managing clients to acting because that doesn’t happen everyday.
Denise Boutté: (laughs) The first account I was working on, the client took my boss aside and was like “You know what? Denise has the look that we’re moreso interested in.” So my boss comes over like, “The client wants you to do the job instead of the person that’s being hired.” So I was like, “Yeah nah I’m not in front of the camera. Thank you I’m flattered.” He was like, “Uh yeah no. If the client wants it, that’s what your gonna do.” So needless to say, I got paid a dollar to go and play with a baby all day. I worked on Iams, the dog food company and then again the same situation. I ended up having to have a dog licking my face all day and I grew up on a farm. We don’t play with our animals in that way. We don’t have house pets. So having that happen all day was a little uncomfortable (laughs).
JET: And then you met Tyler Perry and just blew up! You make it seem so easy (jokingly).
Denise Boutté: (laughs) You know I kinda came out here to see what Los Angeles had to offer and it kinda just felt comfortable. I don’t know how to explain it. I was somewhat well-traveled before I came out to California, but I’d never been here and it was quite a ways from home. But it just felt good. It felt right. There were a few folks I’d made contact with. Pounding the pavement so to say. No more than six months after that, I officially quit my job, packed up the truck and moved out [here].
JET: You know what it sounds like? It sounds like a whole lot of fate happening to get you on the main screen.
Denise Boutté: It’s true! That’s all there is to it. I’d have to say that even as a child, I’ve been very in tuned to that little voice inside that kind of opens up my eyes to things. In the moment of it, you’re kind of like “Hmmm, that’s interesting. Why is that happening. That’s very odd.” But just kind of going with the flow and saying, “Why not?” Because until you’ve tried you never know. And that’s kind of how it’s always been. If it works it works if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. In my mind, it was a reason why, even though I didn’t choose it, I kept getting propelled into these situations. I loved and had an appreciation for folks that liked to do that, but I in no way was ever sitting at home and saying, “I’m gonna be that girl.” But once life started to continue to put me in these situations I was like, “There’s got to be something” and the little taste I had [of it] just felt great. So I decided to go with it. I think a lot of people ignore that little voice in their head, but if you listen to that voice and get in tuned to yourself and what makes you happy and gets you excited, it kind of navigates things for you.
JET: Exactly. Now Denise your most notable role was that of Sasha on Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns, but you’ve got some other things going on. You’ll be returning to television as the lead character in TV One’s For the Love of Ruth.
Denise Boutté: Yes. Ruth is an orphan. She lost her parents when she was very young so she doesn’t have a family. She’s just a woman that kind of drifts from job to job trying to find her purpose. As [difficult as] her life may be, she still has this glass half full perspective on life and Naomi, portrayed by Loretta Divine, let’s her know that that perspective, that positive energy [that she has]? That’s faith. And so it’s just a beautiful journey. It is of course based on the Book of Ruth from the Bible, but a very modernized version of it and at the core it is just simply about faith, simple human compassion, love, commitment, and redemption. I’m so excited about it.
JET: Awesome. You also have a cooking series, “Denise’s Dish.” Are you a trained cook or do you just happen to be skilled in that area?
Denise Boutté: Of course I am honey! I’m from Louisiana; the mecca of all that’s culinary so I will just say I was born in the “Culinary Institute of Louisiana” (laughs)! I can’t say that I necessarily went to Le Cordon Bleu, but my Mon Mon, that’s what we called my grandmother, was an excellent cook. We used to come from miles for her cooking. And my mom is an excellent baker. So I always grew up around it. It wasn’t until I moved to Dallas that I was on the phone saying, “Mom how do you make this or that?” So I started putting together these family recipes and the funny thing is, my Mon Mon wrote phonetically. So once I started taking an interest in making sure these recipes were here for not only my daughter, but for generations to come, I wanted to have it in a central location. It’s just something that’s very dear to my heart and a way to monitor and keep that legacy alive. Just wanting to share that little nugget and keep that part of Louisiana alive and well.
JET: What your favorite dish to make and why?
Denise Boutté: My favorite dish is seafood stuffed catfish and honey it is off the chain. I have been married for some time now, but I could get a man in a second by just making this catfish. So I’m gonna tell all the ladies out there, when you see this recipe in my cookbook, you want to make it for somebody that you might be dating because that’s how you’re gonna put it in the bag (laughs)!
Want more dish on Denise? Check out her YouTube Channel where she reveals recipes for some mouth-watering southern dishes. “For the Love of Ruth” airs Saturday May 9 at 8/7c on TV One.