As a child, when Dionne Neish was being read to, she would imagine she was the main character in the stories, becoming a hero and fantasizing of traveling in spaceships and seeing other worlds, playing warriors and princesses and anything else she could imagine. It was a natural transition to go from playing a role in her head to playing one in front of a camera. She sees her job as an actor as a method to leave a lasting impact on her audience. She has known since the age of five that she was meant to get into acting and has spent every day since in love with the craft.
“I wanted to go into acting to entertain people. I loved the way I could affect another person by not being myself, by playing a role,” she said. “I wanted to be an actor as I felt characters were far more interesting than myself, why not live in another person’s shoes for a while.”
Neish is now known for her tremendous ability to captivate an audience, sometimes with just her voice. She has done just that in renowned productions, such as ABC’s long-running soap opera General Hospital, the 2018 Golden Globe nominated television series Better Things, and more.
Earlier this year, Neish also began working on yet another celebrated project, the podcast Purple Panties. The series, the first of its kind, is a scripted fictionalized erotic drama whose characters were Black female leads from the LGBTQ community, which drew Neish to the show.
“I wanted to be a part of this project because of the interesting and fun storyline, and it highlighted part of the community that I believe hasn’t been given enough main stream platforms. I’ve been lucky enough to work with several female led projects in the past. Being part of an all-Black female cast was refreshing and exciting. This is a story written by a Black woman, told by Black women. Representation matters and when you get to be a part of that it’s like coming home, and the camaraderie is electric. We need more stories from these and other POC perspectives. This is a story about the LGBTQ community without the stereotypes. It’s sexy, it’s funny and you’ll be hooked once you listen to it,” said Neish.
Created by New York Times Best Selling Author Zane, the podcast is based in Atlanta, telling the story of Maddox, Loren and Stephanie, who go against the grain when it comes to sex. But as relationships shift and physical needs change, can they keep up with the facade? This is about the sacrifices people make, the mistakes they make because of pride, and trying to find love in a world where the characters are seen as less because they are women, black, and gay. Listeners follow them on their journey as they navigate their professional and personal lives.
In Purple Panties, Patricia is a vital role in telling an important and timely story. She is a self-made business woman who thinks she has the upper hand with Stephanie, played by Melissa Williams. Patricia soon realizes that Stephanie is smarter than she looks and isn’t going out without a fight. Professionally, she is big wig in the entertainment industry. She is a successful showrunner with lots of hands in different pies. She’d worked hard to be at the “big boys” table, a space occupied by only white men. She’s had to prove herself time and time again and now she is in a position where she gets offers from attractive women.
“Obviously with the #MeToo movement, it reminded me of the stories that we’ve heard over the last few years of people abusing their power. This was an opportunity to get inside that mindset, what makes this person tick; why would someone with so much to lose take those chances? It was interesting to explore,” said Neish.
While recording the podcast, Neish found a sudden and unexpected source of inspiration. She walked into the same recording booth that Michael Jackson had recorded his ‘Bad’ album in the eighties. As a massive MJ fan, Neish was immediately taken aback. Knowing she stood in the same place that her idol had once stood, she was excited and inspired to work even harder.
Purple Panties premiered on Stitcher.com, which also premiered Issa Rae’s Strange Fruit, on October 11th 2018, followed by an episode every Thursday. The final episode was December 6th, but the entire series is now available to binge on Stitchers.com.
“I love having the opportunity to tell stories that inspire. Fans have reached out to me on Instagram, telling me how much they love the show and how juicy it’s getting and that warms my heart. That’s really all you wish for as an actor, that the audience is enjoying and coming along for the ride,” said Neish.
The next year promises to be very exciting for Neish. She has two projects coming out that she still can’t discuss. All she can say is that she got to work with two different Oscar winners on two highly-anticipated projects. One will be released soon, and the other on Netflix later in the year.
In the meantime, be sure to check out Purple Panties.
Written by Annabelle Lee