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Meet Shalet Monique of DAO Academy in Studio Village

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shalet Monique.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I am a Special Education Teacher by trade and rising Actress from Willingboro, NJ. Willingboro is a small African American suburb about 40 mins across the bridge from Philadelphia, PA. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education and Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and Development from Grand Canyon University.

Last Summer, I was laid off from the Willingboro School District. I was one of 52 non-tenure teachers in total who lost their jobs due to budget cuts and school closings. I grew up in Willingboro, NJ and started my professional career in the classroom back at home. Due to the layoff, I lost my income with no resources for the summer, so I began searching for opportunities. I came across an opportunity to audition for the role of a news reporter in an independent film project. While I had no formal training, I went for it. I decided to go in there, be me and just act! At first, I did not get the role but then they called me back and actually gave me the role as the News Reporter in an upcoming project. This opportunity sparked new horizons for me I had not thought of previously. Soon after, I traveled to Philadelphia to take an acting workshop with Nakia Dillard (Black Lighting & The Wire) and Dennis White (Notorious B.I.G. movie). This class was inspiring! It sparked my interest to seriously take a look into the acting and film industry.

That same year, I was unable to attend my master’s degree graduation in person due to family circumstances. My younger sister called me and invited me to church to hear Jamal Bryant preach. I decided to attend church and not watch my graduation online. Jamal’s message spoke directly to me. He said, ”Whatever job you’re on, that season is almost over. That concept, dream or idea that you have, God said “you’ve just got cleared for take off!” Everything you touch is about to blow up. Everything that you are trying to do is going to have supernatural success.” I took my last $100 and gave it to the church offering. I stepped out on faith! The next day, I woke up and realized again that I am related to the legendary Lena Horne (singer, dancer, actress, and Civil Rights Activist from NYC)! My Great Aunt Lena Horne left behind a beautiful legacy in the entertainment world! My family is full of talent but no one since Lena has attempted acting with their gifts. That realization made me dig into my history to learn more about my family and my roots. There are several singers in my family but no one pursued an acting career. In continuing Aunt Lena’s legacy, I hit the ground running!

After only five months of acting, in December 2019 I signed with a bi-coastal agency in Atlanta and Los Angeles to represent me as a talent booking agent! By month seven, March 2020, I signed with another agent in New York and Chicago. In my first eight months of acting, I have done five films, 3 TV / Web Series, and three plays. I landed a lead role in my first production “Somethin in the Water” directed by Nimi Hendrix that went on to win the Newark International Film Fest. I’ve worked alongside some of the most recognized names in the industry.

I founded DAO Academy in January 2020. Our mission is to help youth embrace vision and differences through self-discovery, life skills and entrepreneurship. We work diligently to connect youth with successful artists, entrepreneurs and creatives that I’ve met along my acting journey.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
So far, it has been a smooth ride but all journeys have challenges. For me, it is all about how do you deal with those bumps in the road once they appear? I have been very dedicated. As I deal with long exhausting nights while putting in a lot of very hard work, I am committed to trusting the process as new horizons come my way. Some of the challenges have been the work life / 9 – 5 balance because I am still working as a teacher while pursuing my new acting career. I am not yet a full-time actress. I have to make decisions regarding my time daily. Do I take the risk of going to shoot this scene and take this audition or do I skip it and just report to my day job. No horror stories yet, but I have heard plenty! My story is still in the making, let’s see where this new exciting journey takes me.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with DAO Academy – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
DAO Academy was designed to enhance purpose in the lives of youth by providing them with entrepreneurial education services to help them set career-related goals. At DAO Academy we help youth discover, cultivate and grow their talents within a supportive educational environment. This approach embraces their vision and differences through group centered support, self-discovery and positive role models. We instill in our young people the core values of respect, responsibility, self – direction, and accountability so that they are able to develop competencies necessary to fulfill their dreams.

Some of our offerings include free creative classes and workshops led by successful business leaders! DAO Academy provides virtual table reads online allowing students to read to each other in a round table setting during story hour. Additional programming includes acting workshops, poetry writing, tie making, basic car & mechanics, character development, business and marketing, script reading, and techniques for stage performance, just to mention a few.

Our mission to fuse education, with entrepreneurship and creative outlets at a very young age, set DAO Academy apart especially in minority communities.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Through DAO Academy, my goal is to impact the lives of as many young people as possible. My vision for DAO Academy is to operate a national online school bringing creativity and the digital experience to the homes of families all over the country. I look forward to the continued pursuit of utilizing my platform to encourage and inspire young people who aspire to impact the world with their visions and dreams.


  • The Business Of Acting – Free Youth Workshop
  • Virtual Reading Round-table – Free Youth Workshop
  • Jurnee to Poetry – Free Youth Workshop

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