If there’s anyone who understands, even embodies, the importance of community and connection, it is model, actor, and overall creative vessel Dilone. When on the clock, she delivers the required stealth coolness of high-fashion runways, but shines a joyous, child-like light in BTS interviews—a light I can feel through the phone when I call her whilst she packs to leave her home in Los Angeles and head to Rome.
Born Janiece Altagracia Dilone in New York to a family of 12, (she’s the eighth of 10 children) she considers herself lucky to have a built-in support system, calling upon herself to spread that same love and support to the world around her. She’s appeared in Ryan Murphy’s miniseries Halston, 2021’s thriller The Novice, and most recently The Good Mother.
Along with her performance roles, at her core, Dilone prefers to occupy her time in service of others. She taught a dance program and later became an ambassador for Urban Dove, an organization that provides education, sports, and leadership programs for kids in Brooklyn and the Bronx. She’s intent on fulfilling her life by extending compassion outwards to others, a skill she says she’s inherited from coming from such a large family that allows her to understand and connect with various, complex personalities.
Between the runway and the jetway, FLAUNT caught up with Dilone to discuss the importance of service, presence, and finding your people.
What are your biggest takeaways from studying dance when you were younger?
Feeling. Sometimes when I’m having a hard time on set and I’m trying to embody a certain image or pose, I remind myself it’s the feeling first. You have to feel it, and there’s such confidence in that. The feeling will take over the pose, it’ll take over how you look...It’ll take over what is expressed. For me, that’s God. You take up space and you feel yourself expanding. It’s really amazing. And I would say the same goes for life as well. You know, I can be really grumpy, and I’m not saying that life’s not going to get you down, but we can tap into these moments of comfort, of stillness, of peace, and really capture it.
There’s a saying that it takes a village to raise a child or just to be a person. What does your village look like, and where do you find your support from?
Yeah, it does take a village to raise someone. I’m so grateful. I have nine brothers and sisters; I literally have a village. I receive a lot of love from my siblings. I receive so much love from my 18 nieces and nephews. I’m also sober, so I have a wonderful community of sober folks that I feel grateful for.
How do you spend quality time with the people you love?
For the past few months, my favorite thing is to spend Sundays with my friends. We have a very spiritual day. I mean, every day is spiritual, but it’s quite intentional and we’ll attend a service and then go to a farmer’s market. I just moved back to Los Angeles, so cultivating a community here is really important for me.
LA is infamous for being a city where it’s hard to harvest community. What’s your take on that?
Anywhere you go, it’s who you’re with. People are people. If you come to Los Angeles and you’re looking to be in a scene, you might attract a very sceney type of person. I’m much more lowkey. I have plenty of friends in the industry, of course, but the ones I hang out with all tend to be really lowkey. I think likeness attracts likeness. If that’s your experience, I would encourage you to change your environment.
In what ways do you think modeling and fashion has changed since you started?
Social media and not using the traditional model. Not everybody has to be 5’10 or taller, super skinny. We have different shapes, sizes, a lot more diversity. It’s been really beautiful to see the diversity. A lot of street casting, everyday people.
Your job is very public-facing, yet you are nearly impossible to find online. Is that intentional?
Yes. In May, I got off Instagram. I feel like I’ve been taking a step back from modeling and I just do jobs that I think will feel good and are in alignment with myself. That part of the industry where you need to sort of display your life... Let people peek into your life is a little–not a little, it’s very overwhelming for me. I’m thinking about coming back, but it has to be very intentional. I really enjoy my life, I really enjoy being present, and I feel like I’m learning so much about myself, not being influenced by social media. It’s interesting because people are like, ‘Did you hear about that?’ And I’m like, ‘Oh my God, no I didn’t.’ And everyone looks at me like I’m a crazy person. They’re like, ‘How do you not have social media?’ And then on the other side, there’s just such peace. I can be present right here locally and still experience the highs and lows of what it is to be a human being in this society.
It’s been proven that social media is an addiction and that it causes depression, anxiety, all these things. I’m someone who, by the grace of God, I’ve been able to overcome depression and every once in a while I still feel very anxious. If you want to foster peace and compassion and love, you need to put yourself in environments and places and look at things that will do that, and then remove yourself from the things that are causing you anxiety, are causing you depression. You can’t always do that, but you can filter it. For me, this was just a way of taking back my power. I don’t want to feel like I have to do this for this industry. Granted, I’d probably be working even more if I was back on social media, but I’ll take my peace. Any day.
What do you hope for when you think about your future?
Things changing. I think if you would have called me earlier this year, I would have said something regarding music or acting. And those desires are still there. Now I want to be of service to God. I want to be of service to my community, and if that’s through those avenues of music and acting, then I will feel so blessed and highly favored, but I feel that way anyway. It’s so easy to think about ‘me, me, me,’ ‘I, I, I,’ and being of service is such a great way to get you out of that. I think it’s very obvious that there’s a lot of healing that has to be done for the planet and for all of us, for the animals, for the environment, all of it, and I don’t want to be numb to that. I’m not saying I think I can fix all the problems in the world, but I would like to make a small dent. I hope for the future that the desire [to help] trickles out for us, like a global conscious, and that we care more about being of service than we do about likes on Instagram.
Styled by Christopher Campbell
Written by Franchesca Baratta
1st Assistant: Tommy Blanco
2nd Assistant: Winston Kingstro
3rd Assistant: Allison Lopez
Digital Tech: Kevin Leupold
Flaunt Film: Isaac Dektor