I sat down with Dice to talk about her own life, on and off the court.
So, not a lot of people know this, but you actually have a Master’s degree! Wow!
It surprises a lot of people when they find out. People judge a book by its cover, and you can’t do that. They see me hosting parties, all tatted up, see me on reality TV, and think “That girl ain’t go to no school,” let alone finish college and go on to grad school to get a Master’s.
Speaking of the show, how did you end up on the show, anyway? What made you want to do it?
It was kind of almost by default. The show started off as a wedding special, just to follow La and Melo’s wedding. That was supposed to be the end of it. When she talked to the production company, she told them I was her best friend and her maid of honor. When they saw the wedding special, there was such positive feedback, so she was approached for a full season. Now we’re season on five.
Five seasons, that’s a long time in the reality TV world, don’t you think?
It’s a long time for a show that’s not drama filled. Our show is family oriented, good fun TV. People love my cousin and support her. I have people who love and support me. It’s been a great journey and an amazing experience.
Did you have any reservations about joining the show?
I can’t believe that I’m even doing it, sometimes. The wedding special I was fine with, because it would concentrate solely on La and Melo. When season one came around, it was still based on my cousin, but now there’s me and Po, too. I had a lot of reservations, because I’m actually really shy and quiet, and I keep my personal life private. Over time, I’ve gotten more comfortable with it. When people assume something about you, it’s different. Because when you confirm what they’re assuming, it’s validating to them. I don’t want to be judged for my lifestyle and who I chose as a partner. At the time, i was dating someone, too. But when it came out, I ended up with a lot of positive feedback; after that, it was no holds barred. I get a lot of emails or people reaching out via social media to give me feedback and share their story. They ask me for advice, how to come out to their family. I feel good about giving people confidence. You can be who you are. People seem to think my choice of partner makes me a different person, sometimes. It’s just my preference; who I chose to date. I’m still the same Dice. I’m still the same. Purple is still my favorite color from when I was a kid. My partner preference has no bearing on my character.
So how you identify has been a big theme for you in doing this show. How do you assert your identity outside of “Lala’s cousin” and the show? Any difficulties in doing so?
I hear it all the time when I’m out–“Hey aren’t you Lala’s cousin? Aren’t you Lala’s best friend?” It’s a blessing and a curse. My cousin has given me this opportunity and this platform for other doors to open. The curse is that I’m under her umbrella, so it’s hard to be seen as an individual. With any type of reality show, you’ll have people with you or against you. Somebody will always judge you or say something. I try to just be who I am and be my own individual person. I’m different from La, and I’m different from Po. I’m doing my own things, kind of branching out on my own. For example, I started my own clothing line, called Roll the Dice clothing. I live in Atlanta, and I recently just beam a council member with the organization GLAD (Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders). I’m writing a book, too. I’m doing things I can be passionate about; that’s important to me. I’m going to just keep pushing myself and what I’m trying to do. I absolutely want to take every advantage I can take from this experience. The good outweighs the bad.
Okay, I hear that. You’re all about the opportunities. What are some things you’d like to have opportunities to do?
For one, I really want to go to schools and speak about the importance of education and bullying. People do judge a book by its cover, like I said before. I mean, I filmed this show while I was in grad school for two seasons. It was super hard, because I went to school in North Carolina. But I appreciate that difficulty; it made me better. Anytime I do any type of interview, I’m always mentioning school and how it important it is to go get an education. It’s cool to be a nerd and get your work done and go to class. You have to find a balance. i was a popular kid in high school, but I still got my work done. I hung out and partied but I still graduated with a 4.0 when I left school. I want to share that, because it’s my life. Life, for everyone, is all about balance.
How did you manage to find your balance? What are some of your tips?
I think for me, it was just deciding to do this, because it was something I had to do on my own, for me. When you’re doing something on your own, you’re focused. You have a purpose and a vision. You’re spending your own money and not mommy and daddy money, so it ends up meaning a lot more to you. Ultimately, it ends up meaning turning down staff–and sacrificing–but remembering that you’re choosing to do this. I turned down a lot of parties and events. I chose too. It wasn’t the end of the world. If you miss a party tonight, there’s one happening next weekend. No big!
What made you pursue a higher education, anyway? So many people these days are concerned with “making it;” how did you define what success looks like to you?
There were no more talks about another season of FCL. At that point I’m like, “I gotta do something.” The job market was bad; the economy changed. This is not like back in the day where you needed a high school diploma or a four year degree. I was thinking like, ‘Wow. People getting laid off have master’s and doctorates, so I need to step my game up.’ I was a couple years removed from my field. I needed to get with it and get current. Going back to school was the best decision I made. It took two years of my life, but I got that piece of paper to fall back on. You always gotta have a plan B. I hope to not have to use it…but if I need it, I know it’s there.
As far as success, there’s this big push for flossing, getting fame and fortune, and I really think it’s been in the making for a long time. You can see an athlete, a basketball player, getting paid millions. But the teachers teaching our next doctors and brain surgeons aren’t getting that kind of money. They’re barely getting by. I know teachers that have to get other jobs during the summer to make ends meet. My generation doesn’t say “I want to be a doctor.” They say “I want to be like Mike.” They’re showing off a whole life that isn’t even theirs. They’re flossing on Instagram and that isn’t even the case. I think the problem is that social media is taken too personally. It’s supposed to be entertainment. People take it to seriously. People are confusing entertainment with reality. They don’t know how to separate the two. Even with reality TV, like, come on—they just happen to be at the same restaurant, with mics on? Yeah. Come on. A lot of the drama you see on shows is gonna be reality…but it’s definitely set into play. But yeah, people will just see something and run with it! Like the other day, I posted a picture with my cousin’s badge and said “I ain’t getting no tickets” and everyone on Instagram starting congratulating me for being a police officer. I had no idea what they were talking about at first and I was so confused. Then I was like ‘Oh no way, they think I’m posting a badge because I’m a cop.’ This is the world we live in.
That’s so true! If it’s on Twitter or Instagram, it MUST be true! So success for you is just being able to do your own thing; being able to have multiple plans. What were some of the challenges in going back to get an education after having been in that other world, where you’re surrounded by flossing?
Flossing was the challenge! It’s so expensive…student loans are so expensive. I was dating someone and she was living in North Carolina at the time. She was supposed to move down to Atlanta, but I ended up in North Carolina, so we moved in together. Being back with my girl helped things line up right for me, because honestly, once you have the support, everything else is easy. It’s when you don’t have a support system that everything becomes difficult. La helps me out a lot too, she’s very supportive. That’s one reason we’re best friends. She’ll be like ‘Listen, whatever you want to do, I support you; I got your back 100%.’
I know college was the foundation for plan B, but did you learn anything in college that you’re using in your day to day life right now?
You know, this is a good question, because it speaks to another challenge new grads have, and that is if you major in a specific field, you still have to get that on the job training. Getting a degree doesn’t mean you know what you’re doing. It just means you’re able to be taught; you can learn something. In school, especially in grad school, you’re really teaching yourself. It helped me learn how to research, and that comes in handy on a daily basis for me. I do have my own clothing line, Roll the Dice, and grad school prepared me for that. I have to research where I’ll get the products, how I’ll find a graphic designer. I’ve gotta find out how to do it with the most bang for my buck, obviously. So school has really helped me with my critical thinking. And I loved getting to meet different people, from different walks of life, with different majors. It’s good to keep those contacts for business networking later in life!
So besides the business stuff you have going on, you mentioned that you were doing some work with GLAD; tell me more about that.
I’m with the local Atlanta chapter of GLAD; it stands for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders. There are chapters on a local and national level. We’re raising money and bringing awareness to LGBQT rights. We do things like bring food to individuals, help out however we can. We’re really here to rep our community. If a celeb or a company says something crazy, GLAD will usually make a statement. It’s a good organization. I’d like to ultimately start my own foundation, though. I’d really like to start an anti bullying foundation by this summer. I feel so blessed and fortunate I didn’t have to go through that. I had the love and support of friends and family members. When I cam out on TV, so may people told me their stories and I see what they’re going through. you hear about kids being bullied and committing suicide because of their lifestyle and who they choose to date. It’s sad. I want to–and I need to–give back to my community. This is my community; my lifestyle. Being ostracized for it sucks…to be rejected, and constantly feel out of place and not wanted. It’s really not that deep. It’s who we choose to date; it’s not us as a whole.
April Dawn (@scarlettsinatra)