Dacía James Lewis, THE GAME OF LIFE

Dacía James Lewis, THE GAME OF LIFE

When dancer and choreographer Dacía James Lewis looked back over the journal entries she wrote during a season of infertility and struggles, she knew she had a story that could help other women feel less alone. Through her faith and with a supportive partner by her side, Dacía weathered that storm of hopelessness and is now sharing her story to inspire those who might be going through their own struggle, too.


Zibby Owens: Welcome, Dacia. Thank you for coming on “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books” to discuss The Game of Life.

Dacia James Lewis: Thank you for having me. It is such a pleasure.

Zibby: I loved, by the way, that you start the whole book with The Game of Life, which I also loved to play as a kid, those tiny little pegs that you put in the car.

Dacia: I used to play it all the time with my cousins. It’s so funny. Some people like Monopoly. Some people like Twister or the different types of games. The interesting part that I found with The Game of Life is it’s usually females playing the game. I don’t know many males that are playing The Game of Life.

Zibby: It’s true. It’s so true. I really like Scrabble. That was my favorite board game. I did like Monopoly and Life too. Did you ever play Scrabble? No?

Dacia: I played Scrabble. I was not good at it, but I played it.

Zibby: Your book, first of all, I misinterpreted at first and I thought it had something to do with weight, meaning your weight. Then of course, as soon as I opened it, I was like, oh, I’m a moron. No, of course, this is all about the waiting game and infertility. Oh, my gosh, it was great. I loved how you interwove — interwove, is that even a word? Yeah, maybe.

Dacia: It is today.

Zibby: We’ll use it. — your journal entries from that time of your life when you were really struggling and how you used terms like doing a spiritual autopsy and just trying to reckon with being a spiritual Christian and not getting what you want from God. Tell me about writing this book and why you decided to make it into a book and your journey and everything.

Dacia: The interesting part is that, like you said, it’s journalistic. No one ever expects anyone to read their journal because it’s such an intimate thing. It’s so personal. During that season — it was over a matter of maybe six years not really knowing how to process my thoughts. Being as Christians, there’s this place, take it to prayer. Take it to prayer. Take it to God in prayer. It becomes a ritual and a rite and just this routine thing. It wasn’t fixing the thoughts in my head. It really was not. I had to come face to face with myself by looking at my journal. I actually went back years prior and saw how devastated I was. As I started to move out of that place — journaling is therapeutic, in a sense. It was when I started to see myself in this sense of entitlement from my book, like God owes me something because I’m a servant or feeling like, why would you do this to me, and we are not susceptible to trials and tribulations in life — for some reason, we feel that we do. It’s because we’ve experienced such a good God. When you see the blessings flowing and you’re like, God, you’re so good, do it again, do it again, but we’re not ready for those valley seasons.

Around six or seven years into the journal, when I was looking back, I was no longer in that place. I had therapy and all of that. Interesting enough, I was in my prayer time and God was like, that’s a book, girl. If you felt like that, somebody else is feeling like that. I was like, it’s a book? I don’t even know how to write a book. How do I even do this? It becomes difficult because there’s no outline. These are journal pages I’m just throwing. Do I put this? Do I put this? It’s so literal. Cut and paste was literal for me. I was cutting the paper and moving it around, playing puzzle pieces trying to put this book together. To come full circle and see it, it’s really fulfilling. It has really been a blessing to hear the testimonies of so many people, so many women in the waiting season, not necessarily just from a fertility season. People are waiting for marriage. People are waiting for a breakthrough. People are waiting for healing or healing for their family members. If they don’t see it, it’s just me trying to give you hope in the waiting season. The weight part, yeah, it’s a play on words. The weighty part is the anxiety, the disparity, the hopelessness, the depression, all of these weights that will hold you down from progressing forward and feeling hopeful in life.

Zibby: I love that because everyone has been through something which has required a wait of some kind. Everybody knows that feeling, especially when things are out of your control. It’s the worst, particularly for people who like feeling like everything is in their control.

Dacia: By your nature. We’re like, we can control it. God is a sovereign God. We can’t control it. Although we think can, we have no control over certain things. For me, that was a part of the deliverance in writing the book. Look, I’m going to give this and release all this weight to you. I can’t handle it anymore. When I got to a place of agnosticism and really questioning if God was real, I literally was face to face with myself. What is truly wrong? When you really come to that place of vulnerability and transparency in your spiritual walk, I believe that God will start to show you where you started to taint your vision of him through your mounting disappointments and experiences, being it you or the experiences that you’ve seen around other people when you feel like he didn’t come through.

Zibby: Yet his mandate is, be fruitful and multiply, as you point out in the book. Then you’re like, so then why am I suddenly barren when this is what you want from me? What the heck?

Dacia: These are your promises. You said that you’re not a man that you should lie, nor the son of man, that you should repent, that all your promises are true. Why is it not coming true for your daughter? Talk to me. I believe that our hearts’ desires, the things that we desire in life, are truly God’s desires for us, but there is this element of perfect timing that we all forget about. I can’t imagine having a kid in my late twenties. I can’t even imagine having a kid in my early thirties because I was so driven in another life, so selfish. I believe that God, he will teach us things during that wait either about ourselves or even about the people around us and how we can be more loving and giving to other people. It’s perfect timing too. That scripture, I think it’s Proverbs 20:21, an inheritance gained too soon will be lost in the end. It can’t come quicker. If it comes quicker, what are you going to do? It’s like giving a baby keys to a brand-new car. What are they going to do with it? Crash it.

Zibby: I love how you put all these interviews with different celebrities or notable women or people reflecting back on their timing and what it was like for them. Did they miss their moment? When they were twenty-something and at the height of fame, Tyra Banks, for example, was she thinking about having kids? What happens later? Then of course, on top of that is the timing that’s a miracle that really any children are conceived. The odds, it’s just like, how does it ever work? But it does.

Dacia: It’s truly a miracle. For those that might be dealing with infertility or a barren season, whether it’s the male or the female, even as you start to contemplate procedures, it’s still a miracle because sometimes the procedures don’t work. Literally, you have to take a step back and be like, yo, you are in complete control. Whether you decide to go natural or whether you decide alternative procedures, there is still this force that has the ultimate say. Relinquishing control is the key to really manifesting those things into existence. That’s my thought.

Zibby: I always say that my last — I have twins. I was thirty when they were born, but then I really wanted more kids. Anyway, whatever, long story, I won’t get into it. They were a total miracle. I had this kid. I thought I was done. I had given away all my baby stuff. It was almost physically impossible that I was going to get pregnant right then, but I did. That’s all I say, is, oh, my gosh. Then it was like a joke because right after I had that baby, I got pregnant again. My doctors were laughing. These miracles happen. I always tell my kids they’re such miracles. It’s just divine intervention. That’s what I always say.

Dacia: Absolutely. It’s stories like those that are inspiring just in general and attest to relinquishing, relink — .

Zibby: Relinquishing control. It’s true.

Dacia: It’s nine AM over here, Zibby. Control is such an imperative part of that, if you asked me. There’s something about the surrender that gives the universe this term.

Zibby: I buy into it. I wholeheartedly agree. I do. You revealed a lot about not just yourself, as most memoirists do by trade, essentially, but also, your husband who at first didn’t even want to get tested for his own stuff. Yet now all of his personal information is out there. Is he cool with that? What is that like?

Dacia: He’s a trooper. My husband is very supportive, number one. The other side of that is this experience has been so humbling for him. He’s like, “I don’t care. God has taken to me to the ultimate place of humility. Tell the world in hopes that it will be a blessing to someone else.” In this case, my husband was the one diagnosed with male factor infertility. A part of my healing was speaking on my entrapment and what I felt at that time. I believe as a husband that’s truly supportive of you, then they will come along for the ride if it means your freedom and your liberty. I’m not telling him to get on the mantle and speak with me. I’m not telling him to hop on the platform and tell his story in his own words. These are my words. This is my perception of my reality. Sometimes we can feel like we’re invading someone else’s life with our truth, but it’s my truth because I’m experiencing it. I believe that we have ownership of that. If it was a very sensitive subject for him, I probably would’ve written it in a third person. For him, he’s cool. Then he has his talks with men. They feel comfortable. Friends of ours that have read it, they’re like, oh, us too, man. He’ll talk about it with them. I think eventually, it’ll become an us thing and we’ll probably do marriage ministries and talk about all the struggles that encompass this and other things. He’s so cool with it. He calls himself the coauthor because his story is in it. He’s like, “I’m a coauthor here.”

Zibby: What about the “idiot boyfriend,” or not even boyfriend, the guy who gave you the thing that — I know you write about it, but I don’t want to give away your stuff.

Dacia: Read the book.

Zibby: Read the book. That guy, did he read the book? Do you have any idea? Are you still in touch with him?

Dacia: No idea. I should have someone send it to him.

Zibby: You should.

Dacia: On the sly. I wonder.

Zibby: You want me to FedEx him a copy or something?

Dacia: Yeah. I wonder. That’s a really good question. I won’t say. If I say what era it was, people are going to know off bat who it is. I won’t even say what era of life.

Zibby: Okay, don’t even. I think he needs an anonymous delivery.

Dacia: If I find his address, I’ll send it to you and have you send it to him.

Zibby: I’ll do it. I will totally do it. I’m not even kidding.

Dacia: Part of that, too, is deliverance and liberty and freedom. There’s a taboo subject around that thing. We won’t say what that thing is because we want them to read the book. That too, I felt like exposing that and feeling like our past hinders our future. Sometimes it really does because there are things that can happen that can be a hinderance later on in life. In this case, it’s mental shackles too because you’re like, what happened? What did I do back in the day that would have stifled this situation or my blessing from God? What did I do? Internalizing those things, that was a part of freedom too because God is a God who forgives. He doesn’t care. He heals and things like that. That was healing in and of itself. It’s like, yeah, I said it. What do you have to say about it? You can’t judge me for it now because I’ve given it to you to speak about it. No shame.

Zibby: Wait, will you tell me a little more about your really exciting career? You’ve done such cool stuff. Now, by the way, I saw on your website, I don’t know if this is even still true, that you offer a hip-hop — do you still offer a class on Saturdays?

Dacia: I do.

Zibby: Oh, my gosh. My girls and I are going to have to do this.

Dacia: If I’m not available, which is rare because I kind of have etched it into my schedule — yeah, Saturday mornings. This started during the pandemic.

Zibby: I figured.

Dacia: I started offering class for free as a way to give back. It’s a nice, good sweat. Yes, it’s Saturday mornings. I do offer a beginner, very groove-a-licious class because everyone is not a dancer. If I they came in and I gave them twenty-five eight-counts, they probably would never come back.

Zibby: I don’t even know what that means, so okay.

Dacia: Exactly. It’s like a move and a groove, something that you would enjoy. The music is phenomenal. Truly, I have been blessed career-wise. I moved from Galveston, Texas, after I graduated from college. I went to Texas State University. My degree is actually in sociology and biology with the intent of going to medical school to become a pediatrician because I do love kids. I really love kids. That was the agreement that I had with my mother coming from a very small-town mentality. Be a teacher. Be a doctor. Be a lawyer. The goal is to get you a good, stable job. We made a deal. We shook. I said, “Okay, I will do this because this is your perception of your reality for me, but then I need for you to trust me as I take a leap of faith and really go pursue the thing that I believe that God put in me.” She was kind of distraught and shocked and did not believe it until my Honda Civic was packed up to the top with my MapQuest in my passenger seat and I was pulling out of the garage. She’s like, “Oh, you’re serious.” I said, “I told you. I was serious. I am out of here.” I drove to Los Angeles. The rest is history.

Within that year, I had got into production school. I became a PA, a production assistant or what they used to a gopher. Go get this. Go get that. Go pick that up. I went to this amazing school, Streetlights. I don’t even know if Streetlights is still open. It was a nonprofit school that was cultivated to put more people of color in the industry. I got into that school. They put me out to work. One of the greatest jobs that I’ve ever landed as a production assistant was Dreamgirls. While I was working on Dreamgirls, I was able to meet some amazing people. Then I was just dancing for fun on the side. A friend of mine who was a choreographer said, “Hey Dacia, I think you need to get an agent and start dancing full time. You pick up choreography well.” I knew I always wanted to be dancer or choreographer, but somewhere in my mind where my mom had kind of implemented this “this is not a real job” situation, there was a hesitancy there. I would much rather be a producer or a director or something that felt a little bit more stable but was still in the entertainment industry. I stepped out on faith.

It was such a moment because my first gig was the Grammys when I stepped out on faith as a dancer. To me, that’s what God needed to confirm that was my route for me. If it was a smaller gig, I probably still would’ve been like, do I really want to do this? When you hit the Super Bowl of music, you’re like, oh God, wait, you’re doing something for real, for real, for real. That was the start of my career. I could tell you something. After that big job, for a year, it was silent. I was like, are you kidding me? This is like, ride the wave. What’s next? What’s next? I remember the next day I went to audition for Stomp the Yard. I bombed that audition, bombed. I was like, what the heck, God? I’m hype. He’s like, no, you’re not hype. Go sit down and continue to train. Go continue to train. I just continued to train and get better and better as a dancer. Making a dancer is much better than being a PA because of the money and the hours. Sixteen-hour, seventeen-hour days is PA. Eight hours as a dancer, almost the same rate. Yeah, I think I’m definitely going to go as a performer.

Zibby: Then things obviously picked back up.

Dacia: Yeah, they did. I don’t know what was — maybe “Low,” you know, “Low, low, low,” with Flo Rida. I’m definitely in that video. Don’t tell anyone.

Zibby: I’m going to go watch it right now. I’m going to go watch it.

Dacia: Hopefully, I’m in the back. I can’t even remember. I got an agent. Everything just kind of started to manifest to confirm that this was the place that I was going to be. I started to teach choreography. It really affirmed that thing that was put in me. Once I finished Dreamgirls, I did get a call from Jennifer to choreograph her tour, Jennifer Hudson. I ended up choreographing her tour after that, and so many great jobs. Fatima Robinson is the top of top, cream of the crop muse of choreographers. When I tell you, once I met her on Dreamgirls — she was a choreographer of Dreamgirls. I worked with her so much from Black Eyed Peas to the Soul Train Music Awards to BET. Literally, Dreamgirls really set the trajectory. Although I thought I was going as a production assistant, I was actually making those connections that was going to take me back to the original plan that God had for me.

Zibby: What is coming next for you now? You have this book, obviously, and coveting publicity. What about the dance stuff? How are you managing all of this?

Dacia: How am I? How am I managing?

Zibby: I don’t know. I’m asking.

Dacia: Pray for me. I am currently doing as much press as possible. My schedule has been crazy with press for the book, which is phenomenal. There’s also summertime coming up. I do like to dedicate a lot of my time by sewing back into summer camps. There are three or four summer camps that I have lined up where I will be teaching kids the business of show business and the audition room, how to audition well. That’ll probably encompass a lot of my summertime as well as, I am in graduate school. I am getting my master’s. I have summer session and fall session. Then I will be done with my master’s. I am busy, busy, but busy doing what I want to do. That’s what I’ll say in this season. It gets to this point to where time management is important for me. I am at the place where I can say no to things if it’s not benefiting me or benefiting my purpose. It’s never about the money for me, but the purpose. It’s purpose over popularity for me. I’m really going to continue to hone into the things that I feel that God has called me to do in this season. Then of course, you can catch me on Coming 2 America, which is on Amazon, and Genius, which is on Hulu, and any other secret projects I can’t tell you right now. If they go to my website, I always keep them updated.

Zibby: I saw Coming 2 America too. Now I have to go back and watch it again.

Dacia: Yeah, you got to go watch it. Some people might not have seen it. It’s the beginning scene when you see Gladys Knight. I’ll just say that. When you see Gladys Knight, you’ll see me in the right corner of her.

Zibby: No way!

Dacia: Yeah, she was amazing, so gracious. Gladys Knight was amazing.

Zibby: Oh, my gosh, now I have all this fun stuff I get to watch again. This is great. Time management, and insert watching footage because this is work, right? Yeah, time to watch Coming 2 America again.

Dacia: It’s all research.

Zibby: Research, got to be better prepared for next time or something. Awesome. Dacia, thank you so much for coming on the show. Congratulations on your book. Good luck with all the publicity and getting through all of that. Thanks for stopping in here.

Dacia: Thank you so much. I appreciate you having me. You have a wonderful day.

Zibby: When you’re ready, I will FedEx that book to that guy. Don’t forget. I’m not even kidding. I’m not kidding. Keep it in the back of your mind.

Dacia: I’ll keep that in the back of my mind.

Zibby: Okay, back burner. It’ll come up. Just wait. Buh-bye.

Dacia: Bye.

Dacía James Lewis, THE GAME OF LIFE

THE GAME OF LIFE by Dacía James Lewis

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