Interviews

Tiana Warren on Meeting a Career Milestone and Giving Birth in the Same Week

13 min read

Essential Takeaways

  • The fact that she was due to give birth any minute wasn't going to stop radio host and model Tiana Warren from entering the next phase of her career as a DJ—she graduated from a time-consuming 10-month course mere days before giving birth.
  • Warren's success can probably be traced to her willingness to break through moments of doubt. "When I show up to do something that I'm really passionate about, that light is brighter than anything anyone could assume or try to put on me, any box that someone would try to put me in," she says.

The greatest tool in a woman’s toolbox isn’t a cosmetic or a brush. It’s self-determination—the daily commitment you make to yourself and your future, and the hard work and rituals that create the foundation for that journey. Make Your Self is a series that spotlights the stories of women who fiercely embody this relentless pursuit.


"I want to be that grandma that DJs the parties," says Tiana Warren. It's a future that technically might be awhile away—when we speak, the model and radio host is 9 months pregnant with her first child—but then again, Warren has an uncanny habit of willing her goals into existence.

Consider, for example, the start of her radio career: She found herself at a studio, fell in love, and as she tells it, refused to leave until she was offered a job. When she knew that she wanted to become a DJ, she enrolled in a 10-month course despite some fleeting doubts about the investment of time and money—and graduated late this summer, days before giving birth to her son.

If anything, those moments of uncertainty—which definitely surface, by the way—only seem to ultimately fuel the fire. "In these latter of weeks and months of my pregnancy I've been welcoming the help, but in the beginning it was like, 'Don't tell me what I can't do because I have a person inside my body,'" she says. "I can do everything. I'm still DJing. I'm still modeling. I'm not tired. I'm good."

And it kind of seems like she does do "everything"—in addition to her work as a model, radio host, DJ, and most recently, a new mom, Warren also periodically returns to Ladies First, a community project she created in Los Angeles to distribute menstrual supplies to underserved women.

It seems like Warren is moving fast on a path to conquering the world—and the more we spoke with her, the more we learned just how she leverages her own obstacles into something amazing. See for yourself below.

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On willing her dream career into existence…

"I love talking to people. Ever since I was a very small child, if I saw a camera, I was on. A million questions, doing dance moves. I just wanted all of the spotlight. I just declared it: I said, 'I want to get into radio; this is what I'm going to do.' And maybe two weeks later a friend of mine reached out on Facebook and said, 'Hey, I'm a part of this new radio show.' So I ended up doing an interview segment at this radio show, and I fell in love.

"I told them at the end of the interview, 'I'm not leaving. I'm coming back every week until you guys give me something to do.' That's really where it started."

On learning to get a little gritty…

"If I had a romanticized view about anything, it was about myself. 'Oh, you know, be cute and charming. That's gotten me this far. It can continue to get you somewhere.' That got shut down really quickly, because it wasn't about that. I was actually going to have to do the work, to continue to progress and really get ahead in what I was doing."

"There were times where I totally messed up, and to me, that was the best way for me to learn."

Did you know?

It's worth talking to yourself the way you'd talk to a friend. Studies have found that when participants speak to themselves using their own names (instead of "I"), they may be able to feel encouraged and improve their sense of wellbeing (1).

On facing self-doubt head on…

"I really can't hide my reactions physically, so sometimes it would be very obvious that I was nervous or shook. My face would get red, or my hands would get sweaty. But it always for me is about my conversation about myself with myself. So in those moments, it was like, 'I have a choice. I'm either going to push forward. Yeah, I'm really embarrassed and red and sweaty right now. Or I'm going to go in the bathroom and I'm going to hide.'

"There were moments where I did sit down and I did cry. And there were moments where I showed up and just said, 'Alright, give me a napkin, wipe the sweat off. Put the camera back on. Let’s go.'”

On defying expectations as a woman in her field…

"I could tell at times when I would walk into the radio studio and get behind the board, people would be looking at me like, 'Oh, you're not here to get interviewed? You're not here to take pictures or something? You're the engineer?" And I'm like, 'Yeah. I'm the engineer.'

"You go to Vegas, you see Steve Aoki, you see Diplo—you see these big names, and they're men. Where are the women? Why would I even have this thought that I might not be able to do this, or that this is going to be hard? It's because I don't see anyone, there's no example. That definitely pushes me, because I want to be that for somebody. A little girl sees a DJ with big, curly hair and she’s like, 'Oh my God, I could do that too!'"

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"When I show up, I'm here to give you everything."

Did you know?

Your favorite music (no matter what it is!) stimulates brain activity in the same neurological circuit that researchers associate with empathy and self-awareness (2).

On making a major commitment to herself…

"I am about to complete DJ school, and it's been a 10-month program. When I entertained the idea of doing it, it was a pretty big financial investment. I’d never paid this much money for something, and I was scared. 'Can I do this? Can I commit myself for 10 months to this thing that I say that I want?'

"That was last July. And I did it. I'm two weeks from graduating my DJ school, but it took something to show up every week and pay for this school. I don't know. I've never really invested in myself like this, and it is scary, because there's no guarantee. There's no guarantee of return on investment. But I had to give that up. Why I'm here is because this is something that I say that I want.

"I have this desire to keep music in my life for the rest of my life and share it with my son when he comes into the world. I had to give up my own fears of failing, for not doing it the way it's supposed to be done. I just had to give up a lot of negative self-talk and fear and I'm proud of myself as I approach my graduation because it's something that was going to happen anyway. It was bigger than the money. It was bigger than the time. It really took something for me to push myself and show up every week while being pregnant during the last nine months of this program."

"I'm expecting to grow my family and my career."

On making an impact in her community…

"Maybe three or four years ago, I was in a leadership program in which the objective was to create a community project, and I couldn't really decide what is it that I want to do. And then, as we do monthly, I got my cycle, and it just hit me like a brick. I was like, 'This sucks. I have a home. I have a shower. I have money to buy supplies to deal with this. What if I didn't? These women who live on the street who are homeless—what do they do?'

"Ladies First was just like, 'Oh my God, this is why I'm here.' Bringing women together to impact other women who are less fortunate or in unfortunate circumstances."

On the small habits that get her going…

"Every day when I put my feet on the ground and I get out of bed, I say thank you. I take my vitamins and I sweat—whether I'm dancing in the mirror or doing 30 crunches. Then I take my gallon of water and I go out into the world."

References:
1) Kumar, K., Singh, V., Kumar, D., Asthana, A. B., & Mishra, D. (2018). Effect of yoga and meditation on serum cortisol level in first-year medical students. International Journal of Research in Medical Sciences.
2) Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. (2017). "Music has powerful (and visible) effects on the brain." ScienceDaily.

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