Be Strikingly Different

Diamond White: “I simply just love making music so it comes naturally to me to create it.”

Diamond White has never limited herself and has no plans of doing so. Starting out in Broadway at the age of 8, she has gone on to establish herself as a booked and busy actor with a rising music career. White has become a regular face on television in recent years, appearing in shows such as The Haunted Hathaways, Dear White People, and Empire. Currently, she stars as Paris Buckingham in the American soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful and will be voicing the lead role of Lunella Lafayette/Moon Girl in the upcoming Disney Channel cartoon series Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. While doing all of this, White has been working hard being her own boss as an independent artist. 

In 2020, White dropped her R&B tape. Tomorrow, which included some of her most popular songs to date — “Love Songs 4,” “Set on You,” and “(Fuck) What I Need.” Being the driven artist that she is, White got to work again instantly and created her long-awaited debut album, Summerland, which has received a lot of love from fans since its release. 

Contrast caught up with White to discuss the album’s creative process, how she balances a music career with acting, and what it’s really like being an independent artist.

How soon after your project, Tomorrow, did you start to create this one? I started creating Summerland near the end of wrapping up Tomorrow. We had some drama happen aka real life and the pandemic which took time to sort through. About 6 months, later I dove into the project and completed it. It took the whole pandemic pretty much. The first one in 2020 – not this new Delta virus one, lol.

What inspired the eye-catching artwork and title? I had no idea what the artwork was going to be at first but then I was scrolling on Tiktok to decompress because I was stressed about it. This artist popped up and was cutting out pictures of flowers and mushrooms and whatnot and made it into a whole collage piece. I fell in love with it and was like that’s it. As far as the title goes, there is a town in California called Summerland that I drove past a while back and it just sounded fitting for what I was already working on. I decided that was going to be the title of my next project.

What was the most challenging song to create and why? The most challenging one was probably “Digitally Yours.” I couldn’t fathom how my mom was going to digest it because of the lyrics. The lyrics are a bit aggressive and I just know my mom would be like “what the fuck?!”  but my producer helped me write in a palatable way. Another one that was challenging was also “Cover My Eyes” because it was just so personal.  

Photography by Keitaro Cloward. Story by Fabio Magnocavallo.

Was there more pressure making this project because it was an album? No. It was easy honestly because I simply just love making music so it comes naturally to me to create it. Sure, things will get tough in the process but making the music feeds my soul. That’s the only reason why I’m not dead right now. 

What are you hoping listeners will take away from listening to this album? Whatever they want. I want my album and my music to be interpreted and digested in whatever way they receive it. It’s the only right way for fans to connect with me and truly enter into my Summerland world. 

Has anyone reached out to you about your music that has come by surprise? No one has necessarily reached out to me about my music but one person that I crossed paths with on my music journey who stands out is Amindi. I went to her listening party and she was the nicest fucking person in the world who had nothing but kind words for me and vice versa. I was actually nervous to meet her but now we are great friends and supporters of one another and I just love her! 

What is one goal you would like to achieve with this album? The goal for me was to just make an album and put it out. It’s my first official album so I wanted to take my time and make sure it was done right before it was delivered to my fans.

Photography by Keitaro Cloward. Story by Fabio Magnocavallo.

Is there anything challenging about pursuing both singing and acting full-time? Hell yeah. It’s difficult sometimes mainly because of balance but that’s what one of my tattoos is about – duality. Am I putting on my actor hat today? Am I putting on my singer hat today? Which one is even me, you know? It’s challenging but I love it though. 

Have you found it hard to be accepted as a singer as you appear to be a little more established as an actress right now? I found it annoying at first but then I grew up and did a lot of acting work that gave me the actor stamp at 18 years old with the Tyler Perry movies I did. It was great! It was the first red carpet I had ever been on where I was the star of a movie! That was crazy! It was surreal and cool but I know deep down that my first love is music and nothing makes me feel the way music does. You’ll never hear me say I’m over acting because it shows me how to play a character and it helps me in my everyday life. I’m not bothered by being known for acting, it’s just one of my many layers. 

What is it like being an independent artist? Have you ever thought about signing to a major? It sucks sometimes and it’s not always the most fun thing but I get to have full creative control of my art and my music and what I do. I like and value my creative journey more than anything. And yes, I’ve thought about signing but I know my worth and if a label is going to come to me with a bad deal, I’ll politely decline because I don’t need them. If it feels right though, then I will happily come on board. 

Photography by Keitaro Cloward. Story by Fabio Magnocavallo.

Who did you listen to growing up that has influenced your music career today? I listened to Fantasia a lot when I was younger. Ha! Not the Disney musical though, the singer from American Idol.  My brother used to play her a lot when he would take a shower every morning like clockwork. I also listened to Sade, Anita Baker… hmm… I’m from Motown so all of those types of artists. I can’t say that the names I just rattled off have directly impacted my style, maybe in a melodic way, but the only person that has truly affected the way I do music is Frank Ocean.

On Instagram, you said you have evolved into your childhood dream girl. Who was your dream girl growing up? Well, I think that you may have misinterpreted that. What I meant by that post was I grew into the person I wish I would have seen. I was always on Tumblr and would see many white girls with long hair and realized I can never be that because I am black and I don’t have long hair like them. That’s not me. I didn’t grow up looking up to anyone really because the media I always saw didn’t reflect me at all. 

I later cut my hair off which was very scary but it led me to fall into my true self. That’s what I want for my potential daughter in the future is to be reflected in what she sees and know that her dream girl is out there and she has someone that she can accurately aspire to be – starting with me.