Joan Baker wants to know why Denise Woods is the Undisputed Speech and Voice Coach to Some of Hollywood’s Biggest Stars?


What do all these actors have in common? Denise Woods. That’s what. And there’s more to the story.

JOAN: Girlfriend to girlfriend, what do you enjoy most about your life today?

DENISE: I absolutely love the fact that I am in a position to work solely on projects that reflect my artistic aesthetic as well as my socio-political views as a woman of color. I’m also grateful that I can share my success with my biggest fans, my mother, my son Terry and my nephew James (both in the film industry). Their love and support keep me grounded.

JOAN: I watched one of your clients, Mahershala Ali, take home an Oscar and a Golden Globe for Green Book. What was it like for you to be a part of that?

Mahershala Ali on set with Denise Woods for filming of HBO series True Detective season 3

DENISE: The gift of working with an artist like Mahershala is that he brings the best out of everyone on the team. He’s bringing his best work and encourages you to be your authentic self in your contribution to the work. You might be saying, “well, isn’t that always the case?” And the answer would be no. Hollywood is quite a fear-driven town; the fear of being fired, the fear of offending the star, the fear of pissing off the wrong person just for being you. So when you find an artist who breathes and creates with you, it’s rare. There was an occasion early in the filming of the HBO series True Detective that I gave Mahershala a very crucial behavioral note. I’m the dialect coach, that’s never supposed to happen. The first rule of this game is to STAY IN YOUR LANE! Mahershala, who appreciates the process, welcomed my note. In fact, he asked me to watch (not just listen) for his behavioral nuances and physicality throughout the entire filming. Months later I received a call from a very well known actress that wanted me to be her acting coach on a project. She said that Mahershala had informed her that, “quietly as it’s kept, Denise is one heck of an acting coach too.” I now have a handful of seasoned actors for whom I coach acting as well thanks to Mahershala Ali.

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Luis Zavala