We had the good fortune of connecting with Deena Popper and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Deena, what habits do you feel helped you succeed?
I’m going to be cliche here and go with prayer, self work, and commitment. Starting off with prayer- kind of the obvious one to those in touch spiritually, however by far the most important. I truly believe God is the reason for my success in all areas of my life, career included. Over the years I have built a personal relationship with Him through prayer, intention, and honesty. Sometimes in the entertainment industry its easy to compare your success with others- “why didn’t I get that job”, “I fit that job perfectly” “he/she is always working” etc. We’re human, thoughts like this are normal, however I find that if I truly believe that everything for me cannot be taken from me, and that God’s blessings for me have my name on them and my name only- then thoughts like this clearly contradict my belief in Him and I knew I wasn’t okay with that. I have found once I switched my mindset and asked God continuously to place me in the environments and jobs that suit me in His eyes and bring me closer to my purpose, not only did those thoughts wither away, I also started booking the jobs of my dreams! I believe God blesses you when you are ready and equipped for the blessings with your name on it. This brings me to self work; becoming the woman ready and deserving of these blessings I asked for. Prayer is only the start- we all know the saying “faith without work is dead”, well its true. Creating habits that consistently improve myself as a woman and as an artist are crucial. Physically, going to the gym, keeping up with training, eating well all play parts in my success. Podcasts, books, audiobooks to keep my mind stimulated and constantly learning have also become a staple in my habits for success. Whether they be financial, business, mental health- all play crucial roles and I encourage all business owners, and creatives to always remain a student and open to bettering ourselves daily to better our brands. Lastly, but certainly not least is commitment. This is the hardest habit to keep but so important. Doing what you said you would do long after the mood you said it in has left. As a creative, my schedule gets extremely hectic seemingly out of nowhere, making commitments (often to myself) harder to keep. I have found in the past it would be easy to blow off the gym, or take the extra 15-20 minutes in bed instead of my morning prayer/routine, but that is a set up for failure! If I can’t keep commitments to myself that better me as woman, creative, athlete, business woman- how can I expect to succeed with the big opportunities and blessings I asked for?! Staying committed to yourself and others creates discipline, trust, work ethic, and readiness for the next level of success and I truly believe without staying committed I would not have accomplished any of my goals!
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.
Well I actually started as a gymnast as a child so I like to think creativity and athleticism has been in my forever. I stepped away from both as a teenager and played sports instead but always felt something missing and would go home and try to mimic music videos. I started taking classes as a later teenager and I’ve just been hooked ever since, What I’m most proud of is my journey, I have battled with who I am as a person which of course translated into who I am as an artist for years. Finding myself as an artist and not just a “dancer” made a huge difference professionally. The confidence of knowing who you are is exactly what sets you apart and makes you shine when you walk into a room, on a stage etc. It definitely was not easy at all! I went through years of self esteem issues- comparing myself to others, dying my hair every color I could think of lol, my body changing a million times etc but I overcame it with self work. Asking myself, how am i perceived and am I ok with that, how to do I want to inspire others, be remembered, what would a younger me see in me now, what difference do I want to make and am I doing the work towards those changes etc. What I learnt through these questions however was that the most important question was- do I like me and am I the person prepared to make the changes that I want to see? In the entertainment industry everyone has opinions, its so easy to get wrapped up in others thoughts of you, judgments etc. but I would just offer up that no one is you. I know it sounds cliche but it really is the most important lesson I’ve learnt. Whats going to set you apart is your confidence, knowing that you don’t not only bring something new to the table but you are your own table! I went through a lot over the years and my art reflects that. Every time I dance I pull from an honest place- that alone sets me apart because nobody has had my experience. That is what will set you apart as well! I have stayed true to myself above all and that’s the best takeaway of my story I hope to leave!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Ok so I love water and I love adventures! Some of my favorite places definitely include the beach, six flags (I’m a roller coaster head lol), I love hikes so Runyon or a waterfall hike! I love taking photos as well so exploring new places with friends that neither one of us have ever been and finding bomb photo spots is so fun to me! Ok, Food!!! Im actually vegan so some of my favorite places are Compton Vegan, Montys, Kreation, Craigs, Sage Vegan Bistro, Cafe Gratitude, omg I could go on but you get the point!
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 love this! Yes, absolutely! I have a few so bare with me! Obviously I would start with God, because I would have no success without Him. My first dance mentor and a big sister figure to me, Mickey Sakai is the first person to push me past my comfort zone and encourage me to do more. My best friend Denzel Chisolm- my backbone, confidant, support system. He is always there for me whether its for support, encouragement, a laugh etc. My pastor Sarah Jakes Roberts- she just gets me together in so many ways lol. And one of my favorite books of all time – Relentless by Tim Grover, I encourage EVERYONE to read this! Creatives, athletes, business men/women, etc this book changed my mindset drastically and is written in the best, no b.s way!
Getty Images, Wes Klain, Gates, Shootr, 20K