‘Don’t Waste Your Pretty’ Star Deborah Joy Winans Talks Black Love, Stereotypes and Colorism

For Deborah Joy Winans, TV One’s Don’t Waste Your Pretty brought a new opportunity — a chance to be herself.

The original film centers on a group of close friends trying to sort out their turbulent personal issues and love lives.

Winans plays Jeanné, a recently divorced woman who hasn’t fully recovered from the hurt and embarrassment of her marriage ending. The role was a welcome departure for the actress, who is best known for portraying Charity on OWN’s Greenleaf.

Don’t Waste Your Pretty was such an incredible experience, from beginning to end, to be a part of something that’s about sisterhood, about real friendship, about life, and all the challenges that it brings,” Winans told Urban Hollywood 411 in a recent Zoom interview.

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Don't Waste Your Pretty premieres on Sunday, Feb. 28 on TV One. (Credit: TV One)
Redaric Williams, Deborah Joy Winans and Keri Hilson. (Credit: TV One)

In real life, Winans says her husband is her closest friend.

“My friends have been extremely important… and I consider my spouse my best friend, honestly. And so all of those relationships have their place. And they are also very important,” she explained.

Don’t Waste Your Pretty is based on the book “Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love” by Demetria L. Lucas.

Along with Winans, the movie version stars Keri Hilson (Almost Christmas), Redaric Williams (The Young And The Restless), Jasmine Burke (Saints & Sinners), Kaye Singleton (American Soul) and Rainey Branch (Being Mary Jane).

Winans believes it’s important that Black people tell more of their own stories on television and film.

“When we take control of the narrative, and we tell our stories, you see us from a different perspective, a real perspective,” she noted.

“We are not just the drug dealers. We are not just the women running the corner, we are not just the mom on welfare, we are so many things that are so beautiful,” she said. “And when we control the narrative, we get to show exactly who we are as a culture, as a people. And that is not seen enough.”

[Watch the interview below]

Deborah Joy is part of the famous Winans musical family. While she does sing, she said she prefers acting.

“I have never loved singing. Acting has been my passion and my joy since I was a young lady,” she explained. “I spent a month in Moscow, studying at the Moscow Art Theatre School. And then I moved to L.A. and got my MFA in acting from CalArts. So acting is my love. That’s my passion. That’s my joy.”

The actress also brought up Hollywood’s preference for light-skinned Black women, and said Don’t Waste Your Pretty defies what you normally see in films.

“Very rarely do you see a full-figured woman, dark skinned woman be the love interest and get the guy in a movie,” she said. “I get to be that woman and to me, I get to be an example for other young women coming behind me and women of color that have always been told or feel like, ‘I’m too big. They’ll never accept me or I don’t look like this.’ And this is what Hollywood has defined beauty as.”

She added words of encouragement for Black women who might be doubting their worth, “You are enough.”

You can catch Deborah Joy Winans in Don’t Waste Your Pretty on Sunday, Feb. 28 at 8/7C on TV One.