Getty Image/Merle Cooper
At the time of this interview, Dulcé Sloan, the comedian, actress, and correspondent for The Daily Show, was just a couple of days removed from standing next to her Daily Show counterparts as they won the Emmy Award for Best Variety Talk Series; a moment that served as a celebratory close to the era that saw Trevor Noah as host.
On an individual level, Sloan had just been told she was nominated for a GLAAD award for her tenure as a guest host and she was celebrating the publication of her memoir, Hello Friends!: Stories Of Dating, Destiny, And Day Jobs.
All of this success is the result of years of hard work and big dreams, dating back to her time growing up in Miami and Atlanta. But, according to Sloan, the best part is seeing her family benefit as well. Oh, and she’s also pretty happy to finally be out of New York City after buying a home in LA. We spoke about that, the book, and what’s next.
Congratulations on being nominated for a GLAAD Award. How does it feel to hear that news?
Dulcé Sloan: It was great. I got a text from the EP on the show this morning and I was like, ‘Congratulations on what?’ It’s for Outstanding Variety or Talk Show Episode. It was for the first night and for my hosting week, and as you know, I hosted and then the strikes started for six months. So, the fact that I got nominated for an episode I did during my hosting week when I only hosted one night, is amazing.
Are you at liberty to share some of the ideas you may have gotten to during your guest hosting week if you had the opportunity to finish it out?
Well, I did want to interview Marshawn Lynch during my hosting week because I want to touch his hands.
[Laughs] I want to steal the hem of his garment, is really what I was trying to do.
But I was really excited. I wanted to interview Sasha Colby. She made me her daughter in the Haus of Colb; I feel very honored by that. I wanted to focus on things that I really liked and cared about. But I think at one point we were going to have the Muppets on because they had a movie coming out, but because of the strike, nobody could promote anything anymore. And then Vashti Harrison, she got to come on the second night that I hosted back in November because she’s an amazing illustrator. I have been following her on Instagram forever. So she was someone who was booked during my original hosting week and I was glad we were able to bring her back to promote her book, Big.
How would you say that you’ve grown from the time you first started working on the Daily Show up until now at this point in your career when you’ve started branching out doing other things?
Sloan: The show has given me a lot of opportunities that I wouldn’t have normally had. Becoming a stand-up comic gave me opportunities that I wouldn’t have had because I’m a trained actor – I have a theater degree. I’ve literally been acting since I was a kid. And I got so many things because I started doing stand-up and so many things because I started doing the show. I bought a house in LA recently in May and moved my family out and there’s a picture of me and Trevor laughing in my living room because he literally changed my life.
So, I got my mom out of Georgia, got my brother out of Georgia, got the dog and the cat out of Georgia. So there are a lot of things that have been available to me. I did the movie, Chick Fight. I was offered the role and didn’t have to audition. And then the cartoon, The Great North, has been a really great experience. I got to help design the character, Honeybee. I’m the reason she has an afro and then they put the flower in her hair that looks like my headshot, which I didn’t know they were going to do until we did our first table read.
And so I’ve gotten so many opportunities because I put in the work beforehand. So that’s why, if you see the dedication in my book, I dedicated it to me.
I saw that!
I was joking with my manager. I was like, “What if I dedicated this to me?” He was like, “Yeah, do it.” I’m so glad I did that because it’s like I was the one in the car driving from college to college in the middle of the night in the snow, in the rain or whatever, going to auditions, writing stand-up, going to open mics, performing numerous times in Mobile, Alabama, just doing all of this work. It’s how I always think about the thing that I heard in church growing up when we went, “Faith without work is dead.” So I had all these things that I wanted for myself, but it was like, “Oh, I want to be a successful comic. I want to be a successful actress.” But there was a time I wasn’t going to auditions, I wasn’t going to shows.
And it’s like, “The Lord can’t bless you if you sit in your house.”
Now, we didn’t go every Sunday, but I thought about that. I was like, “Because it’s true. You could want so much for your life, but you have to put in the work so someone can give you the opportunity.” Now people will be beholden, will make sure to try to feel beholden to them because you got an opportunity, but I put gas in the car and came outside. So, thank you for the assistance, but you can’t get all the credit. But I think that’s what I have to say to myself.
How rewarding did it feel to be able to help provide for your family?
Oh, it was great because my mother told me one day that she hated Georgia as much as I hated New York, which is not even possible.
I’ve heard those jokes too. You really hate New York.
Oh, it’s a Yankee trash heap that should be burned down immediately. They did it wrong. They should start over. Somebody asked me what I liked the most about moving to LA. And I said, “I can see the sun and the moon.”
Now that I’ve talked to you, I can hear your voice in what I read in your book thus far.
I was asking Michelle Buteau because she wrote her book, Survival of the Thickest, and I was like, “Michelle, how do I do this?” And she said the place she started was jokes that were too long or stories that were too long to tell on stage because you couldn’t give enough context at the moment to get to the lab. So that’s where I started from. And my stand-up style is very conversational. So much so that when I first started doing stand-up, I had an issue with the audience constantly talking to me because they thought I was talking to them. I was like, “Okay, I need to make this more presentational than conversational because the audience won’t stop talking to me.”
Honestly, it wasn’t even a conscious decision. It was just that I’ve always been a storyteller. As a kid, I would tell stories, but it’s the Southern tradition to tell stories. So because I am a storyteller, that’s how I see my stand-up. That’s how I wanted the book to be.
Speaking of the stories happening in the book, I have to ask, are there any stories you are specifically looking forward to hearing people’s feedback on or looking forward to them reading? Not to make you pick your favorite child or anything.
Oh, when I got a nine on a math test.
As in percent?
Yes. I was in this gifted algebra class. I’m very bad at math. I got a nine on a math test and I started laughing and the teacher’s like, “What are you laughing at?” I was like, “I got a nine.” I said, “How did I even get a nine?” She’s like, “Well, I gave you credit for showing your work.” I said, “But the work is wrong. Give me a zero. What are you talking about? How could you give me credit for this?” And so since I started laughing, she said, “You need to take it home to your mother to get it signed.” I was like, “Okay.” And then I took the test home to my mother and I was like, “Mama, I need you to sign this.” She’s like, “What?” I said, “I got a nine on the math test.” She’s like, “Out of 10?” I said, “No, out of a hundred.” And she started laughing.
She’s like, “Why did she give you a nine?” I said, “For showing my work.” She’s like, “She should have gave you a zero.” I said, “That’s what I said!” And then we kept laughing and then I put it on the refrigerator. And then the next day at school, my teacher was like, “Did you bring that math test back?” I said, “No, my mom started laughing and we put it on the fridge.” And so she didn’t even ask for it. She said, “You put it on the fridge?” I said, “Yeah, it’s hilarious. I got a nine.” And she didn’t even ask me for the test back. And that test stayed on the refrigerator until I graduated from college.
As far as the book’s concerned, what do you want the main takeaways to be for the audience?
I think my main takeaway from the book is that I want people to be able to see me as a whole person and for people to know that overnight success takes years and then it doesn’t exist.
What do the next chapters for Dulcé Sloan look like?
I think the next chapter with me would be having my own sitcom and winning awards for it and really using what I’ve learned at the show and what Trevor taught me and what Roy Wood Jr. especially taught me. There were so many times I felt so lost at the show and I would just look at Roy and go, ‘Uh, I need help’ even though he’s like five years older than me. Whatever I needed, him and Josh Johnson were really how I got through a lot of just creative blocks and confusion sometimes, because you’re growing and you’re learning and it’s a whole new experience.
The next chapter for me is doing a new podcast with Josh, having my own show, having my own unscripted show, and just really growing as a creative and a performer. Putting my own hour of standup out. Just continuing to be able to grow and take the opportunities that I have and just continue to be able to bless my family and to make sure that my mother never works at Amazon ever again.
‘Hello Friends!: Stories Of Dating, Destiny, And Day Jobs’ is available now.