Exclusive: What Self-Care Looks Like To R&B Artist DaniLeigh

The RIAA Certified Gold singer and choreographer encourages you to take a beat and unwind.

Finding Balance

In xoNecole's Finding Balance, we profile boss women making boss moves in the world and in their respective industries. We talk to them about their business, and most of all, what they do to find balance in their busy lives.

DaniLeigh is single handedly responsible for one of the most frequently played tracks on my phone, "Lil' Bebe". It wasn't too long ago when Dani was landing dancing features for Nelly Furtado, Pharrell and Meghan Trainor, and serving as the choreographer, creative director and lead in Prince's "Breakfast Can Wait" music video at the age of 18.

Shortly after being signed to Def Jam and making her debut with her Summer With Friends EP in 2017, DaniLeigh has made splashes in the music industry as she collaborated with Chris Brown on certified gold single, "Easy," and G-Eazy on "Cravin". From dropping her own rendition of Bryson Tiller's TRAPSOUL to her Christmas-themed "Usually" music video, DaniLeigh has effortlessly displayed range, talent and badass energy in the music industry.

The proud Dominicana shows no signs of slowing up anytime soon as she gears up to release new music on the brink of the summer, hot on the heels of her latest smash "Levi High" featuring DaBaby. The 25-year-old singer-songwriter, dancer, creative director and choreographer recently spoke with xoNecole about how she manages all her mental health, balances her different hats and still manages to find time for herself.

Along with practicing moments of stillness and silence, watching a good show to wind down, and making time to reconnect with herself, here's how DaniLeigh finds balance:

xoNecole: In the midst of the coronavirus, how do you keep yourself pushing in a time where it's so easy to become unproductive? What is your why?

DaniLeigh: My 'why' right now is all based on not stopping my momentum. I like to find new ways to challenge myself so I won't become unproductive. An example of me finding new ways to be productive is working on the production side of my work. I've always had a hand in my creative process, but now I'm getting into more detailed things from lighting to types of cameras used for my content.

How do you balance being an artist, a dancer, a friend, a sister, a daughter and still have time to focus on your mental health?

I make sure that I talk to my family, and friends everyday to help keep me balanced while dealing with the industry. It's very important to me to talk to my close friends and family because they remind you of being human and being present outside the industry. Being present is super important in keeping your mental space free from depression.

"Being present is super important in keeping your mental space free from depression."

How do you snap yourself out of negative thoughts of yourself, your productivity, life, etc. and how do you remain positive?

I tend to remember the good in me to overshadow any negative thoughts that might creep into my mental space. It's easy to get lost in the opinions of others so it's important to stay connected with yourself.

What is a typical day in your life? If no day is quite the same, give me a rundown of a typical work week and what that might consist of. 

I usually go to the gym in the morning, come home to gather my focus, then go right to the studio or rehearsals. I normally don't take too many breaks in-between these things, but if I do, then I'm usually shopping or getting my nails done, facials, or some sort of self-care. The studio is like my safe place; I could be in there anywhere from 6 to 14 hours at a time.

"The studio is like my safe place; I could be in there anywhere from 6 to 14 hours at a time."

When you have a busy week, what’s the most hectic part of it?

I would say the most hectic part is really trying to complete everything on a list from rehearsals and performing, to meetings and hair and makeup. I have a great team of people who help me manage day-to-day tasks so I don't get too overwhelmed. I use the Notes app on my phone because my team and I can share it with one another to make sure things are being completed.

What are your mornings like? 

My mornings vary depending on my mood and the weather. If I wake up and it's a beautiful day outside, it gives me a sense of appreciation for life and it's easy to see the good in almost everything for me. When I wake up in bad moods, I will put on music that speaks to that mood and it'll usually inspire me to create, which always gets me out of a bad mood.

"If I wake up and it's a beautiful day outside, it gives me a sense of appreciation for life and it's easy to see the good in almost everything for me."

How do you wind down at night? 

I like to watch a good movie or TV show to wind down. I recently completed the Power series, which had me on edge the whole time. I really love how well-written that show is. I'm currently looking for something new to dive into - any suggestions?

Do you practice any types of self-care? What does that look like for you? 

Honestly, being in an environment where I can create is the ultimate self-care to me. I don't really have just one way in which I create - sometimes I'm alone, with close friends, or it's just the producer and myself. As long as the energy in the room is correct, my creativity can flow freely.

"Being in an environment where I can create is the ultimate self-care to me. I don't really have just one way in which I create - sometimes I'm alone, with close friends, or it's just the producer and myself. As long as the energy in the room is correct, my creativity can flow freely."

How do you find balance with:


I like to meet up with friends and hang out at either my house or theirs. It's so fun to do normal things like go out to eat, watch good movies, or have good conversation. It allows me to be present with some of the people closest to me.

Love/Relationships? Dating?

I'm someone who loves love. When dating someone, I make them a priority as well as maintaining my career.


When balancing these things, I don't really think about trying to find time. It usually just flows nicely. My trainer has me do it all. I usually post my workouts on my Instagram live and I will have fans join me in the process so we can stay fit together.

Do you cook or find yourself eating out?

I recently started cooking more - I really enjoy it so much now. I feel like getting older has made me want to learn to cook more. I love making salmon, steaks, and anything involving breakfast. I have to look up some new recipes so I can know what would be interesting to cook.

Do you ever detox?

I have not detoxed in a while. When I detox, it's usually an easy process now since I've done it so many times. I tend to go on juice cleanses. I believe it's really important to detox to free your body of things that aren't good for you. You have to keep your body in shape to really enjoy this life experience.

When you are going through a bout of uncertainty, or feeling stuck, how do you handle it?

I talk to my brother Jackson II. Jackson is very to the point and speaks from a place of love. I know when he's telling me something, it's really for my benefit and nothing else. He really has me focus on self-love as well as family values.

Honestly, what does success mean to you? What does happiness mean to you?

These things mean accomplishing goals of self-love and giving real love in return.

For more of DaniLeigh, follow her on Instagram.

Featured image courtesy of DaniLeigh

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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