The whole motivation behind this Chicks N' Kicks experience isn't as much about the shoes as it is about the women who walk in them.
Positive energy, just like it's negative step sister, is contagious. So, it goes without saying (more often than not) the energy you put out is the same you'll receive. Earlier this month, I pulled up to Devi Dev's Houston home way too early for a Saturday morning shoot and Devi, clad in her PJ's with cup o' java in hand, greeted me and the team at the door with a smile, a bear hug, and a ready-to-work attitude. All positive everything.
As one of radio's marquee personalities Devon "Devi Dev" Brown makes her living by sparking great conversation so, it was really no surprise that her CNK Q&A flowed with a certain ease. From her start at LA's 93.5 KDAY to her days as Sway Calloway's other half on Sirius XM's Sway In The Morning on Shade 45, Devi's bubbly personality is one that has attracted and kept listeners glued for nearly a decade. Music, her undying love for her hometown (Los Angeles, in case you didn't know), and even "Scandal" recaps kept us chatting as Devi's face was beat to perfection, but it was our deeper conversations about life, the perception v. the reality of success, individual growth, and SO MUCH MORE that really introduced us to the amazing woman you hear on your airwaves.
Take a look below as Devi brings us into her comfort zone, gets real about her pre-fame struggles, and delivers a healthy dose of what I've dubbed, "Devi-isms."
Name: Devi Dev
Location: Houston, Texas
Occupation: Radio and Television OG (Get your daily dose via 93.7 The Beat)
Kicks Shown: Converse Chuck Taylor Classic - OG Red
Chan-Lo: Thank you so much for having us in your home. It really is an honor.
Devi Dev: Not a problem. Thank you so much for coming.
CL: Let's dive right in because I'm pretty sure it's safe to say that people are familiar with your name and your professional history. That said, you started off in LA radio at KDAY...
DD: That's right.
CL: Wrecked shop in Houston...
CL: Then, you made your way to New York with Sirius XM's Sway In The Morning on Shade 45 and return back to Houston where you're now at 93.7. How have those transitions worked to bring about the personality we see today?
DD: You know, it's crazy because I'm still in my twenties and I've been doing radio for 10 years. I guess I always have been about evolving, but I'm so blessed that great timing and opportunity just kind of melded together to create that for me. I think a lot of it has to do more with being a genuine person, being talented, and being humble; that really opens up a lot of doors.
Here's the thing, I saw a meme the other day that said "Oprah Wasn't Built In a Day" and I think one thing that I've realized, especially in this age of instant gratification...people think they have to be that now and that success is what a handful of people think about them. It's so much more than that.
CL: It's interesting that you say that. I recently heard someone say, "An overnight success is 10 years in the making..."
DD: Absolutely! That's the perfect quote. To quote The Outliers, "you've got to get your 10,000 hours in." Especially because of social media, people think someone's on - that's not leaving a legacy, that's not leaving an impact, and that's not really connecting. I say that all to say, that it's [more] about being consistent.
I've been on the radio 10 years and I haven't considered myself as "good" until maybe the last 3. No matter what anyone else thought, I knew that I hadn't hit my peak of what was possible.
CL: Your time with Sway, in itself, had to be a big learning experience, yes?
DD: Absolutely. I can't speak highly enough of Sway. People don't understand what a massive influence Sway has been. He was actually one of my radio icons growing up when he did radio in the Bay [Area] for many years and then got syndicated in LA with The Wake Up Show. Aside from his work, Sway is such a completely together person that it inspires you to want to have a life outside of what you do. He inspires you to want to BE a great person and not just be perceived as one.
I remember when I was working with him at Sirius...every day he got mobbed. People are so drawn to him and every single person he made time for. Even if he only had an extra five seconds, he gave them that moment and honored that experience.
CL: Your fans have become familiar with the radio and television personality, but who is Devi on a personal level?
DD: Well, aside from the person you might hear on the radio, see on your TV, or on your Twitter timeline - because I be Tweetin'. *Laughs* Um, I'm really focused in my personal life on constantly growing as a person and my spirituality. I'm constantly reading books all the time and doing things to enrich my spirit. A lot of people, especially in this industry, get caught up in grind[ing] and "team no sleep" no, forget that! I wanna live! I wanna be alive. You can't forget to make a life. Aside from the grind to achieve my dreams, it's also my dream to be a great person when I'm just alone by myself and not on the radio or on TV.
A great mentor a few years ago told me, "Whether it's 5 minutes a day or 45 minutes a day, make sure you do something that is just for you - not career related, not family related - that nourishes your spirit."
CL: OK, let's go with that. How do you do that for yourself?
DD: Well, at first I didn't think that was possible. Even 5 minutes, I was like, "I gotta do this and I gotta do that" blah, blah, blah. But the more I did it, the more I felt the universe was opening up to [me]. So now, a typical day for me is waking up and meditating for thirty minutes, doing some reading, and getting my day going. All the stuff you see me on Twitter and Instagram doing, squeezing that all in [throughout the day] and THEN, going home to meditate again for thirty minutes, do some reading, and taking some time to catch up on my DVR or some of the hot shows and then I get sleep.
CL: It really seems like success is all about balance for you at this point...
DD: You have to be balanced and aligned! And I feel like you're not even going to be as blessed as you could if you don't show yourself that you are that important to you. Investing in yourself is such a huge thing. I used to think that meant putting money into my website or putting money into be able to go to this or that conference. I thought that was the epitome of me helping me, but outside of that if the entertainment industry crashed tomorrow - [I] still have to be able to sleep at night and know that outside of what people perceive, [I] make a mark in this world in a way that feels true to me...
CL: Being a good person is a little bit more important.
DD: It's so underrated. Especially in this age of Twitter and Instagram people think it's better to be perceived as a good person than to actually be a good person. In my belief system, I'm here to find myself and get to heaven. *laughs*. I'm here to live purposefully and in order to do that, you can't just be who you are at work you have to really get to know yourself.
CL: It's interesting that you say that because we're all about empowering young women, and really anybody for that matter, to seek out better and greater for their lives. What are some of the things that you take with you on a professional level?
DD: There are two things. When I was 19, I was interning at Motown/Universal which is in Santa Monica. I was interning for a wonderful man name Big Paul who was the VP of Mix Show and he used to treat me as an intern with so much dignity and integrity that I felt undeserving. I remember one day I asked him, "Why are you so good to me?" and he said to me, "Dev, one day you could be my boss. You never treat people bad because you don't know where you'll end up." It's all about being a good person because it's the right thing to do, not because of what might be returned to you. In this industry, you're up or down on any given day. You never know if the kid who was hitting you for advice is one day going to be the President of a company and you're trying to be down.
The other thing happened years ago when I went to Chicago to see a taping of the Oprah Show. At this time, I really didn't have any extra money, like I barely got myself to Chicago. I was rationing my meals...
CL: I love that you're talking about this because I think more than a few of us can identify with that 'how-am-I-gonna-pay-my-rent' struggle at some point on our way to achieving success...
DD: Oh, absolutely! You get to that $30.00 overdraft fee and start tallying your expenses in your mind. So, I used this last little $10 I had during that trip to buy a coffee mug that I still use usually every morning. The front has an "O" on it and on the back it says, "Become more of yourself." That's resonated so deeply with me because, to bring it back to the earlier point, who are you if you're not becoming? Aside from all of this, aside from sitting here with you and doing this interview and this fun photo shoot, who am I as a woman? What am I going to become and who am I going to be to the people who really know me in my life? Sometimes you never really know, but it's the constant seeking that definitely makes me who I am.
Everyone has their own belief system, but at least in my opinion, you have to really believe in something bigger than yourself to truly be blessed. So, yea. Those are two things that are SUPER important to me.
CL: That's awesome. I'm not even sure what question I was going to ask next. *Laughs* Ok, so as someone who has really created her own lane on a professional level, how do you continue to raise the bar?
DD: I'm a radio geek. I'm one of the only personalities that goes to radio conventions with the program directors, marketing, and general managers. I want to know every aspect of what I do. It helps me in my craft and my brand just to know how the rating system works, how PPN works, how long a typical listener listens. I definitely seek outside of the box. Speaking directly to people in radio or want to be in radio: don't just worry about how you look online. You still have to get hired and you have to show and prove ratings and connecting with an audience. Twitter following looks good, but at the end of the day this is a business.
CL: Since this is Chicks N Kicks, we know you love your Chucks. What makes you feel feminine, but still comfortable?
My favorite shoes of all time are absolutely Chucks. Solid, black, low top Chucks. I've kind of broadened my collection so now I have high top leather Chucks and tweed Chucks. The other shoe you'll always catch me in are Air Maxes all different kinds.
CL: Did you celebrate Air Max Day?
DD: I did! I didn't even know it was Air Max Day until I woke up and saw on Instagram. I was like, "Ahhhhh!" Air Maxes and Chucks are pretty much my staple. I'll switch out for heels if I have to go to an event, but this is really the kind of chick I really am on a regular basis.
CL: You have so much going on and we see the vision boards all around. What's next for you?
DD: My biggest goal this next year is to book more TV. I was so blessed to have that show with MTV, but I really would like to delve into more television, and not just hip-hop related television. I'd just like to connect to my audience - not just about music, but about life.
CL: Ask Devi...
DD: Well, I don't know about all that advice - depends on what you're asking *laughs*
CL: Ok, Devi-isms, coming soon.
DD: YES! That, and memes!
For more on D-E-V-I (and to pick up a few books from her reading list) visit her via Instagram and on Twitter.
Make-Up: Juan Tamez
Clothing: Jonnell Chavez
Video x Photos: Calvin Green of Popular Press Houston
Editing x Graphics: Chan-Lo x Jason Sanders of WMS Media