We had the good fortune of connecting with Nita Whitaker and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nita, we’d love for you to start things off by telling us something about your industry that we and others not in the industry might be unaware of?
One thing that industry outsider are unaware of is the constant hustle it is to stay creative and relevant in show business. Unless you are someone who is in a hit broadway show or a series regular on television, or have a movie career that can sustain you, we are truly gig workers. We get one gig and audition and audition for the next. I have two daughters who are both incredibly talented and paying their dues on the road to their creative dreams. Because I understand where they are, I can support and understand the highs and lows as their careers move forward.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
What I love about being an artist is the ever changing evolution of being one. What it means to be an artist and take pride is our gifts, and hopefully find a way to create a life and make a living doing it. I know that we all have many talents and it’s about exploring them all; none of us are just one thing. We are multifaceted creatures and as an artist who is an actor, singer, writer of songs and poems, a published author, and one who loves cooking as a creative expression of love, I am constantly in search of an outlet for my creativity.
What sets me a part is that I am uniquely me. I am not trying to sound like or be anybody else or another version of…I’m just me, with a big heart, an incredible love for singing and the stage, and wanting to be a part of telling our human stories through any creative outlet. I believe my nursing background has helped me understand the ways that music and storytelling are deeply healing, inspirational, and restorative. Music is the language we all speak and I get to be a part of that.
I got to where I am today with a simple desire to sing. I’ve always sung since I can remember but never considered it as a way I could make a life. Many of my family members sang including my amazing dad, but there were no role models reaching beyond the borders of church singing. I loved movie musicals growing up and thought it perfectly natural to break into song while speaking. That locomotive desire drove me to open every door that I could find. I am still a work in progress but I’ve had the great privilege of singing with some of the greatest voices of our time so far, and more to come.
The road from there to here was a lot of risk taking. Leaving my comfort zone in Shreveport and coming to the city where I felt there was more room to dream bigger. I wouldn’t say it was easy but it was necessary. If I had stayed, my dreams would have shrank to the size of my small town and I knew there was more for me. I had to make decisions to further my career and I sang any chance I got.
Some of the lessons I’ve learned are that my journey is uniquely mine, and that I am not competing against anyone else except myself to get better and hone my crafts. And to mentor my talented daughters, Skye and Liisi LaFontaine has been a delight. It was important to me and their father that they have a solid home life and a childhood where they could be children.
What I want the world to know is that I am here. That my daughters are here, My family, (my daughters and I) are artists who are part of of the voices who work to tell our stories through words and music too. My daughters are “golden”, which is how they refer people of mixed race in Sweeden, and they are the best of us. We adopted that because it’s beautiful. Wildly inspiring talents ,Skye is a beautiful actor and singer with an astute director’s eys. She and her sister formed a small theater group and she directed 4 plays and musical so far. Her younger sister by 4 years and 2 days, Liisi also a beautiful actor, and singer who starred as Deena Jones in DreamGirls on the West End. And there’s me, Nita Whitaker, a black woman who also an actor, and loves to wear a gown and to connect with people and audiences wherever. There is room for a popera chick who can also sing Whitney and Barbara and Leontyne; classy, timeless music that delights and inspires. And I love being Skye and Liisi’s mother. We are a force of artistic expression living the artist’s way. They are truly delightful humans and I believe like for myself that our talents will make room for us to grow and evolve. I am a big lover of life and I love to laugh too!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If my best friend was visiting, first I’d bring them to my home and make a lovely dinner for them with my family. We are all entertaining and mealtime at our home is always full of outrageousness! I enjoy cooking as an expression of love, and my daughter Skye loves to bake sweet treats. It’s great to relax around your own table and catch up. Finish with a relaxing hot tub then off to bed. During their stay, I’d be sure to take them to the Hollywood walk of Fame and the Grauman’s Chinese theater. I have a couple great restaurants like Alcove and Chi Dynasty in the Los Feliz Area. Must see would be Griffith Observatory, Hollywood bowl concert under the stars, shopping on Montana, and a morning sitting at the beach near Zuma. The ocean is always calming.
True Foods Kitchen is one of my favorite places to eat for fresh organic healthy fare, but also love Mi Piace’ in Pasadena, and Amarosa on Sunset for great Italian eating.
I would love to take them to Harry Potter World at Universal and do the CityWalk too. High tea is my favorite thing and a small house in Montrose called The T room would be a must do. Huntington Garden would provide a full day of beautiful sights and I’d make sure we hiked up to the Observatory from Fern Dell Street.
Combining all those places and eateries would make for a fun, food tour, and festive time. I have exciting and great friends and I would invite them over for a small dinner party before my guest left.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d love to shout out the best person in the world, my father, Green Whitaker Sr. Along with his unusual name, he was been a constant source of inspiration to me and my daughters, as well as his large Louisiana community. I am writing a book about all the lessons he taught me and about the life he lived growing up as the son of a sharecropper in northern Louisiana. The title currently is When Your Hand is in the Lion’s mouth.
His wisdom, kindness and charm is revered. He encouraged me all the way as I was pursuing a career in entertainment. He words and presence guided me even now at the young age of 95! He is a blessing to our family and to all who know him. He has blessed many and has been a role model for hundreds of people in our community and so many outside. My daughters, siblings and I think he hung the moon.
Linkedin: Nita Whitaker
Facebook: Nita Whitaker
2 photos by Bryan Taylor Johnson