A few weeks back I finally met and shot with the Texas based musician Storm Calysta (see her Dazey Lady feature here) who told me all about her super rad and equally talented friend Darby Walker - seriously do all cool musicians just know and hang out together!?
After checking out Darby's Instagram (@DarbyAnneWalker), and Megan fan girling out a bit about how amazing she was on The Voice, I knew I needed to do a Dazey Lady Feature on this gal ASAP! Until meeting Darby for our shoot, I had no idea that she was only 18! Her presence and crazy full career resume so far (a Disney show, The Voice, a movie due out this year) definitely had me guessing she was way older! She is a singer, songwriter, actress and all around babe who at such a young age has already experienced such a crazy journey while following her dreams.
So you started working in the entertainment industry at a young age! When did you start and tell us a little about your early journey.
Oh my goodness, what a journey it's been! I started working in the entertainment industry when I was six years old. Ever since I could remember its all that I've wanted to do. Little did I know, when I first started, how complex and dark this industry can be. I've made it a personal, moral mission of mine to be a light within the business and use my social influence to spread any sort of love that I can. At the end of the day I believe that everyone on this planet is just trying to figure this whole life thing out, and if I can make you feel something and make you understand that you're not alone then I can rest my head peacefully.
What's it like working on a Disney show? What are some of the perks and downsides?
Well, working on a Disney show isn't like anything you'd expect. I learned so many wonderful things from the cast and crew that I was working with but also learned that network television isn't my cup of tea. I feel as though network shows, especially channels such as Disney, have amounted to watered down content formulated to get a couple chuckles every five minutes or so. There's not much depth to it and from the acting perspective working on a show like that doesn't give you too much room to explore and grow your skills. It was a beautiful experience that I wouldn't trade for the world, but you definitely won't see me working on a Disney show ever again, it's just not who I am. I'd say the best thing that came out of that period of my life are the fans and following it gave me. It opened up doors for me that I didn't think were possible. There's something really magical about being able to be anywhere in the world and have people that know your name and who you are, something remarkable and terrifying about having people look up to you. All of a sudden you have a social responsibility. Disney gave me that.
Of course you are also an amazing singer and songwriter and was recently on The Voice. Tell us about the whole damn thing!
What a WILD ride!!! To be very honest with you going on a show like The Voice was something I never really thought I'd do. But for some reason when the opportunity came up it just felt right. My mother had the idea, and I had this knowingness in my chest that it was the right next step. Going into it, I had an idea of what I was getting myself into since I've worked on television shows the majority of my life...what I wasn't expecting was the friends and family I'd make from it. It was an absolute emotional roller coaster. I told myself right off that bat that my goal wasn't to win the show, but rather use that platform to spread messages that I believe in. I wanted to give America a nice healthy dose of Darby Anne Walker as unfiltered and honest as I could. I went in there and created magic, with the unbelievable friendship and support of my coach, Miley Cyrus, we really pushed the boundaries of what had been done on that show prior to my season. The best part was watching the reaction that we were getting from everyone. I gained more of a following than anyone else on the show, including the winner, which to me speaks volumes. People were resonating and connecting with my message. At the end of the day I'm not a singer, I'm not an actress, I'm not a pretty face...I'm a storyteller.
What is it like being a female in the spotlight at such a young age? What are some of the pressures you feel and how do you cope with them?
Being a female in the spotlight is a MASSIVELY rewarding position, one that comes with a very MASSIVE responsibility, and one that I take very seriously. I'd say the majority of my followers and internet family are girls and women, and I like to believe that I'm setting a good example for them. I believe in the power of individuality and unconditional love. We only get one life, it's up to us to create a masterpiece out of it. I hope that with my art I remind people to be themselves and walk on the wild side of life. There are so many strong women in the spotlight right now and I can only hope that I'm standing in line with them. There's a lot of pressure that goes into it. I have thousands of little girls direct messaging me every week, asking for advice, thanking me for teaching them to love themselves...I myself am only eighteen and am still figuring out how to be the best human I can be, I like to think that I'm growing and learning with my followers. So while I love having such a large platform and I enjoy the honor of being a role model, I'm learning more from them than they could ever know.
Miley Cyrus took you under her wing on the show, we're dying to know what it was like to work with her!
Miley is a badass. Her and I hit it off IMMEDIATELY. I've never worked with or met anyone so like minded, which was incredibly refreshing and humbling. Our first conversations were about animal rescue, feminism, the animals we have on our farms, and what we believe in as artists. I mean we sent each other pictures of us with our dogs for crying out loud! We're both nature nuts who love our furry friends and are aware individuals who believe in equal rights! Working with her felt more like working with a friend. She's down to earth and really doesn't give a damn what people think of her and she's a thousand percent honest to herself, which in this industry is very rare. I admire her immensely for that and would say that's the biggest lesson she taught me. With my art, be it my music, acting, or poetry, I refuse to create meaningless commercial content, everything I put out has to mean something to me. Not only that but with Miley I got so much creative freedom, we'd be texting till one in the morning picking songs, designing sets, and just supporting each other through the journey. It's emotional on both ends and neither of us had ever done it before, so we really worked hard at being there for each other.
What's your biggest inspiration when writing music? You mentioned putting out some new musical projects! Would love to hear more about that.
I use my writing as a way of trying to make sense of the world. I started writing music when I was 13 after my father passed away, it was the only thing that got me through that part of my life. I draw inspiration from the world around me, be it things going on in my personal life or things I'm observing in other peoples lives. It's one of those things that is as natural to me as breathing. Some people drink to numb the pain...I write. I have a couple really exciting projects in the works! I have a series of songs, not commercial enough for a label to touch, but real and raw enough that I think my following would like to hear. So hopefully in the next few months I'll be releasing those along with a couple short filmy-esqu type videos really explaining my journey and who I am. I feel as though everybody sees me as being this happy go lucky ray of sunshine, and as nice as that would be, it's just not me. This project is going to give people a first hand look at my story, unproduced, unedited, and raw...the songs in their most natural state. So I'm very excited to see how people react to that. I also have a movie coming out this year and I've recently started working on getting my first book of poetry published!!! A lot a lot a lot of exciting things are happening and I couldn't be more ecstatic and grateful.
You're clearly a Dazey Lady of many talents. Moving forward do you plan on continuing to pursue all of them or one in particular? AKA what's next for Darby career wise?!
I believe that the future is one big paradox, a figment of our own imagination that we use to create the illusion that we know where we're going. But if I'm to be very honest, I don't live my life that way. I like life to lead me where it needs me. So although I've got a movie coming out this year, am working on my music, am publishing my poetry, and hope to be launching my merchandise very soon here...I really don't know what's in store for me. All I know is that no matter what happens I'll always be creating art and sharing it, so there's new opportunities presenting themselves every day, and at this point I'm just riding the wind and seeing where it goes. I like you am a workaholic, so I'd say that plays into everything going on, but there are so many exciting things already happening that I'm trying to live in the present and complete all of these projects with a focused head space.
What does being a Dazey Lady mean to you?
Being a Dazey Lady means being a beacon of light in an ever darkening world. Dazey Ladies are strong women who use their gifts and talents for the betterment of the human race. Its an honor that I take great pride in! I'm Darby Anne Walker and I'm a part of the collective badasses that are the Dazey Ladies!