Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the December issue of Townhall Magazine.
“People said to me, ‘You know, Stacey, you need to keep your mouth shut, because you’re not going to work again in Hollywood.’ And I told them, you know, what to do with their words.”
“Obviously, I did not keep my mouth shut.”
It all started because she changed her mind.
On the evening of October 7, 2012, Hollywood actress Stacey Dash—forever famous for her iconic role as Dionne in the 1995 classic “Clueless,”—sent a tweet after what she described was a turning point in the last presidential cycle.
She didn’t know at the time that it was about to completely change the trajectory of her life.
The actress, whose Twitter account has more than 455,000 followers, expressed her support for candidate Romney, tweeting, “Vote for Romney. The only choice for our future. @mittromney @teamromney #mittromney #VOTE #voteromney.”
“I literally did the tweet at about 10:30 at night,” Dash explained. “I was going to bed, and it was after I had watched a speech … and I tweeted it, because that’s how I felt. I finally decided, ‘Oh my gosh, this is ridiculous, and [Romney] is the only hope for our future, or we’re screwed.’
“When I woke up the next morning, my assistant called me and said, ‘Oh my God. Get up.’
“And I said, ‘Why?’ And she said, ‘I’m coming over.’
“The next thing I knew, I mean, there were over 100 phone calls. I had all these tweets. It was insane.”
The initial response was immediate and shocking. Some of the kinder remarks referred to Dash as “a poor beautiful idiot,” an “Uncle Tom,” and “clueless;” others suggested that she kill herself.
Celebrities took their swing in the public bashing as well. Actor Samuel L. Jackson tweeted, "Wait, did Stacey Dash Really endorse Romney today?! REALLY????! Is she CRA...........??!"
From the sentiment of a tiny tweet grew a conviction of which the actress was never before aware—a passion that would not only transform her career, but create a powerful, outspoken force for the conservative movement.
Furious at the Reality
Whether it was the confidence that comes from being comfortable with fame, incredible personal fortitude, or some combination of both, Dash skillfully defended her position in the backlash that ensued. The loudest voices couldn’t understand how a single woman of African-American and Hispanic descent would ever be able to vote Republican or hold conservative values.
“I started to see how the president was demonizing people with money; and that really angered me, especially because I come from nothing,” Dash explained. “I come from nowhere, and it made me furious that people were believing that they could not achieve the American dream because of what he was saying.”
During a 2013 interview with Sean Hannity, the actress admitted that she had “naively” voted for President Obama in 2008 “purely because he was black." When speaking with Townhall, Dash explained that her change of heart in 2012 was prompted, in part, by her growing disgust with race relations in the United States.
“I saw it happening. All of a sudden, race started becoming something that I’ve never seen before. And it was because of Obama. And I thought to myself, ‘This is insane. How could this be happening?’ It was surreal, a little bit.
“It made me furious that he was the first black president,” Dash continued. “That should be a wonderful thing, right? He had an opportunity to unite us in such a profound way. And he did the exact opposite. … He took advantage of the disenfranchised, the uninformed. He knew that they would vote for him because of the color of his skin. And he used that. He used that.
“That to me is immoral. It’s wrong.”
Knowing How to Hustle
Shortly after the media frenzy began, top GOP players reached out to her in support and thanks. She visited Republican National Committee headquarters, was introduced to RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, and then decided she would start making “real” moves as a player in the political arena.
“I started to realize how much politics impacts everyday life and no one realizes it, because most people are so uninformed,” she said. “That’s what really bothered me, and that’s what I wanted to try and fix.”
Stacey began studying—doing her “due diligence,” as she referred to it—and the more she learned about history and political processes, the more she realized that she wanted to become a catalyst for change.
“[Before 2012,] I had not paid much attention to politics. My family was not in politics. My family was more concerned about what we were going to eat—no one else had been in politics. So I had no background in it, nothing. From where I am now, I would have never imagined. … I started to do my research … my homework, and I just became fascinated.”
In making the effort to inform herself, Dash realized two things: First of all, she was a capitalist; and second, she was, without a doubt, a Republican. Her gender, background, and the color of her skin did not predispose her to allying with Democrats; Obama did not represent her, despite being told that he would, and moreover, that he should.
“I’m a conservative Republican. I’ve had people tell me I’m more right-wing than they are, but that’s fine. It’s what I am, and it’s what I believe.”
Dash said that she hoped the country could return to a place where morals and traditions are valued and upheld.
“What I want back are the values: People working hard—and being happy and proud that they work hard—patriotism, being proud they have a family, taking care of your children, working for your children, thinking of your future, thinking of your country, thinking of your neighbor. … I don’t judge anyone for their belief, but I think that people need to have a belief that there is a God. That’s important.”
The more vocal Dash became in sharing her beliefs, the more she continued to break one of the ultimate taboos of American culture: Being a successful Hollywood celebrity who’s unafraid of publicly associating with the GOP.
“I would like to be able to inform,” Dash said matter-of-factly. “That’s what [the Republican] Party needs to do. We need to become more on the offense. We need to get out there, like the Democrats do. We need to get more celebrities to talk. We need to get more people to go out to the disenfranchised to talk, to include them—to make them understand what it means [to truly be conservative].
“Because, I’ll tell you what, where I come from in the South Bronx, to be on welfare was not a good thing. If you were on welfare, you were a lamb for slaughter. That meant you were lazy and you didn’t know how to hustle.”
The beauty of Dash’s transition into politics was that she spoke candidly without the calculated reservations of a campaign professional. She was able to both expose the lies of the liberal agenda and criticize the flaws of the GOP, all while maintaining a cultural relevancy that brought political messages to a different audience.
“[People think] we’re racists, we’re homophobic, we don’t care about people, all we care about is money—and this isn’t true,” she explained.
“So, [conservatives] have to prove it. We have to put our money where our mouth is. And if we have to do it publicly, do it publicly. Let the world see. Put it on TV, because that’s the way the world will know. It’s not enough just to say it.”
Everything she said was creating buzz, whichFox News capitalize on, signing Dash as a contributor for the network in May of 2014. With her new platform, Dash amplified her cultural and political commentary and turned it into activism.
Reaching Out to the Rapper
As a regular contributor on the network, Dash speaks openly on everything from guns, to modern-day feminism, to being conservative in Hollywood. And she made headlines for her brazen comments about fellow celebrity and infamous liberal Kanye West after he compared paparazzi following his family to unwarranted sexual assault.
“If I can reach people that other Republicans can’t reach, that’s what I want to do. And I feel like being on Fox is the best place to do it.”
Dash’s cultural appeal gives her a unique perspective on how the GOP can relate to a broader base.
“Republicans need to reach out to the people who are popular to the younger generation. They need to have meetings with them, involve them. And then they need to go into the neighborhoods and talk to them, like we used to. Candidates used to go out into a neighborhood and talk, and say what they believed and see what they needed to do.
“They cannot be afraid of the rapper or the actor. They need to include these people. Because I’ll tell you what, they’re capitalists. All of these people, they want their money. They make their money, they work hard for their money, and they come from where I come from. Trust me. I know. They want to keep their money.”
Dash conceded that the Obama campaign, and liberals in general, have been better at marketing and finding famous allies to help them sell the idea that the Democratic Party represents real America.
“People have been bamboozled through propaganda and made to believe that Republicans don’t like them, which is not true. We have to prove it. We have to be on the offense, and we have to get out there and come up with innovative ways to include everyone. We can’t leave anyone out. We can’t afford it.”
The failure of the last election, particularly within conservative outreach to minorities and youth, highlighted the challenges the party faces as a viable option to a 21st century electorate.Candidates, Dash said, need to have a more aggressive approach moving forward.
“It seems like [Republican candidates] are trying, but are still walking on eggshells. I want somebody to walk with strength, with their head held high, and do it. Put the gloves on, get in the ring, and fight. That’s what I want. That’s what I’m looking for.
“Conservatives are just bad at explaining themselves. On social issues, conservatives have let liberals define them. That is weak. There are as many pro-life Democrats as there are pro-choice Republicans. There are a ton of gay conservatives who are conservative because they are more concerned with economic issues than going to rallies.
“[Republicans] will become culturally relevant, when [we] show young people that it is the only party that believes in their ability to be successful.”
Putting Money Where Your Mouth Is
Dash believes recruiting other conservative celebrities to serve as ambassadors to the American people could rejuvenate a lagging GOP movement, and she said that her peers would want to help out—if they knew they could win.
“People who are successful or people I think we should we reach out to—they don’t like doing something for nothing. They will fight for something they know they’re going to win.
“I’ve gotten more people stopping me, coming up to me, celebrities, not celebrities, [saying] ‘thank you so much, I am so proud of you, you’re so courageous, thank you, we really appreciate it because we’re sick and tired.’ … In Hollywood, people are saying this.”
Dash said Hollywood is ripe for political change, but only if conservatives start investing strategically.
“Selling isn’t going well in Hollywood at all. They only shoot 8 percent of films here, and that’s because the taxes are too high. They’re hypocrites. But there is room for change, and we do have the money to back it up. That’s what I mean when I say put the money where your mouth is.
“Put the money in Hollywood. Give [filmmakers] money to make a movie that’s going to show us in the light we want to be portrayed and give us the popularity we want—that’s where you put the money, that’s how you do it.”
Despite her constructive criticism, Dash remains optimistic about the GOP’s future. She also hopes to continue making her own distinctive impact on the movement.
Over the course of the last two years, much of Dash’s success has come because she made no excuses for her beliefs. Whether people loved or hated her, she sparked national debates on contemporary issues by owning her opinions and speaking her mind.
“I have a very strong faith, and this is where God has put me. Throughout this whole journey, I’ve just said to God, ‘OK. If this is the direction You want me to go, then You will clear the way for me to walk in it.’ And He has. And every day I just pray to Him, please just give me what I need to do it in a way that is inspirational and empowering and helps people to see. That’s what I hope.”
The mother of two has started an additional project that will allow her to add “author” to her already impressive resume. “Not Black Enough” is her memoir-in-the-works, and she said fans can expect to see it released in about a year. The book will chronicle her political journey and address the racial criticism she’s faced for being a conservative.
“I’m one that believes everything is possible, and you can do all things through God. And so I want to. I want to be a contributor, maybe have my own show, and I will still be an actress.”
Could political aspirations also be in store for Dash?
“Possibly,” she laughed. “I cannot say no to anything anymore, because like I said, I could have never imagined me being in this position now. So, if that’s what God wants me to do, then that’s what I will do.”