Charm La’Donna is a woman of many talents and she’s ready to let them all unleash. She’s an all-in-one creative outfit who can write a good song and a choreographed routine to go with it. Looking for visual creative direction? Charm can handle that too.
In fact, some of the biggest names in the industry have put their faith in her abilities such as Selena Gomez, Rosalía, Madonna, and even once opened up for fellow Compton native Kendrick Lamar. The greatness only gets greater, though. More recently, Charm choreographed Dua Lipa’s electrifying Grammy performance with DaBaby and she also was the woman behind The Weeknd’s prodigious half-time performance at this year’s Super Bowl.
In between all of that, somehow she also has found time to create for herself in the midst of the pandemic. Her track “So & So” is one of the first songs she’s released and the video features cameos from some of her closest friends including Selena Gomez (of course), Meghan Trainor, and Fulani, among others, lip-syncing the words to the catchy number.
Following the release of her track “Queen” and its captivating video, Charm talks to Uproxx about her barrier-breaking music career and what it was like once being a dancer during a Super Bowl half-time show with Black Eyed Peas to choreographing The Weeknd’s for this year’s performance.
Tell me about the single and the creativity behind your video for “Queen.”
“Queen” stems from me wanting to have a song that felt empowering, that embodied strength and everything of where I’m from. The visuals as well. It’s literally being taken a journey through all of my endeavors, everything that I love. I threw it all in “Queen.” The culture, my culture, where I’m from, how I feel now, how I felt growing up, it’s all in there.
What are some things to you that maybe you included in the video that represents being a queen? What’s a queen to you?
A queen is someone who is powerful in their own right, who is strong, who is also vulnerable, who exudes greatness and follows whatever that is for themselves. One thing for me, I could even say in the video, I love gold. I’ve always loved gold and I love bamboo. So I decided to do something and play with that in the visual and the video. It’s how I rock my bamboos in a way. You see the gold on the dresses and the bamboo and how I rock them and just me being in a swap meet top type of situation. It shows where I’m from and how I grew up, to how I live now. Also, getting my hair braided is very important.
How would you say a queen moves in life and in this industry?
A queen… It’s about being yourself. Being yourself and not compromising your morale and who you are and going after everything you want. Going out to everything you want and people say wearing many hats, I just say wearing many crowns.
That’s kind of my next question because you do so many things. I know you did the Super Bowl choreography for The Weeknd. You’ve done choreography for so many people. You’ve opened up for Kendrick Lamar and all of that. I noticed this industry is dominated by men. It’s so much testosterone. How do you maintain your crown in a room full of men?
Myself, knowing where I come from, knowing who I am as a woman and not compromising that and believing that I can do anything that anyone else can do.
Do you ever feel intimidated or were there ever times where you did feel intimidated and had to make yourself come out of that or evolve out of that?
I don’t think I’ve ever felt intimidated. I felt more-so nervous. When you embark on something new or you try something that people are not known, they don’t know you for trying. You get a sense of maybe nervousness. There was never any form of intimidation though because I come through. I feel like I’m a strong woman and I’m raised by a bunch of women. I don’t think I’ve ever felt intimidated.
How involved are you with your visuals and the creative?
I’m heavily involved in my business. I do my creative. I do my choreography. I’m hands-on with styling. I’m hands-on.
How do you find time? How do you balance it all?
Oh, with a great team. Very great. To be honest, as I am now putting out music I’m still choreographing, I’m still creative directing for different artists as well as myself. It’s just balance; it’s just balance and structure in the best way, but my team has been amazing in helping me do that.
Now, how many more singles do you have coming before you drop a full-length project?
I think I have one more single coming and then I’m going to drop a project.
During this journey of you creating your project, creating the visuals for it, and also in between doing choreography for other people, how has that been while making it a priority because I’m pretty sure you have had to do some readjusting, right?
It organically happened for me in the past year. Due to staying at home and with COVID, I kind of took a pause with the world as well. Then when I took that fall, I had my music. It was a time for me to continue being creative and put my stuff out. To not be nervous, not be afraid, even in a time of the unsure, put my stuff out. That was the beginning of the push. As of right now, I have a great balance. I’m able to help others when I can, and there hasn’t been any controversy or any stipulations with it. It’s been cool.
What artists did you grow up listening to that inspire you?
My inspiration of course are a lot of the artists I work with and I’ve been able to collaborate with. I also find inspiration like my mom and my family, friends. I’m inspired… It sounds super cliche to say but I’m inspired by literally just… I intake a lot of energy from different places. I’m inspired by multiple things.
You said that you were raised by mostly women. Who were those women?
My mom, my god-mom my aunt, my grandma, women, all my past teachers, my mentor Fatima Robinson. All these women have played a role in my life.
What could you say is something that… In what way do they support you? Maybe when you need encouragement or if you need somebody to talk to. In what way and how do they support you?
My mom has encouraged me always to follow and follow my dreams. Hard work, push yourself and you’ll be able to conquer whatever it is that you want. Each woman, I think, played a different role. I’ve learned in the industry from Fatima Robinson. My aunt has always been there to encourage me to continue on because I’ve missed growing up, so many family things.
They never made me feel as if though one thing was more important than the other. They were always supportive of me and my dreams and what I wanted. I think that’s important because my grandma is just always been my rock, always been my rock. Even hearing stories of how she grew up and my grandmother’s 95. Those stories have also inspired me and pushed me to be the best I can be.
Is anybody in your family into music, that you looked up to as well?
My brother, he was a writer and a rapper back in the day. That’s where I kind of got my music. That’s where I got the itch to start rapping and getting in the studio with him when I was younger.
What was that like? Were you like little sister following big brother around or just watching him?
Yeah, it really was. Exactly. He would pick me up from school because my mom was working and I would go to the studio with him before dance class or after dance class until it was time for me to go home. It started off just me doing my homework in the studio and then me getting in the booth and rapping. Now here we are.
I did kind of want to talk about just Super Bowl a little bit, because that’s huge. You choreographed The Weeknd’s half-time performance.
Well, that, from that experience, if you want me to be honest, what I don’t think people know is that we did this literally in the middle of the pandemic. I don’t think people know that. So I say this to say, it’s like the journey, and what it took for us to get this was beyond. I was having Zoom rehearsals because safety is always a priority. I’m trying to keep people away for as long as possible, but the overall experience, I wouldn’t change for anything. I got to choreograph the Super Bowl with amazing people.
It’s crazy, because for me, I danced at a Super Bowl. Fatima choreographed it and I was a dancer, so then you fast forward now I’m choreographing.
Wow, that’s huge. Which Super Bowl was that?
I danced with the Black Eyed Peas at their Super Bowl. I danced at that Super Bowl and then I choreographed this one. It was just a surreal situation. Even with everything going on, all the preparation we had to do. It still is an amazing accomplishment, I think for everybody. I think we delivered a great show in the time and the space that we were allowed to.
Then also I want to talk about the “So & So” video. I thought it was so cute. I know you had some of your friends in there. Tell me how you put that video together.
I dropped something, actually on my birthday last year and at the beginning of a pandemic. They’re trying to figure out what was going on. What I did was I’m calling all my friends asking can you guys sing some of the lyrics to my song, I want to put it in a video. I thought about doing it with my friends because of the songs, a lot of them… actually everybody in the video had already heard it and they loved it anyway.
It was such a girl-empowering kind of a song. It just made sense. Everyone was still everywhere and was trying to adjust to what’s happening in the world. I was very grateful that they, still came through and did it for me because it just was such a difficult time for everyone.
What is it that you love the most about being a music artist?
I think what I love the most is the different form of expression. Me being able to tell my story with words. Me being able to create visuals to go along with my story. Me being… I basically perform this music. I think that’s what means the most to me.