Student Spotlight

Kayla Trail

 When life gives you lemons, you are told to make lemonade. When life gives you a once in a lifetime shot at being on a big television show, you skip the lemonade and go straight to business.

  Diamond Watkins, a 23-year-old senior at Western Illinois University is not your average student. Majoring in psychology and minoring in broadcasting, Watkins already has more opportunities in her senior year than most graduates do.

  A few months ago, Watkins grabbed the attention of Grammy winning musician and music producer, Timbaland.

 Timbaland, who has worked with artists such as Aaliyah, Ginuwine and Justin Timberlake, took interest in Watkins once he discovered what she stood for and how she carried herself.

  “I was on Instagram and I was inspired (by others dancing),” Watkins said. “I was dancing and I finally sent him an email and basically I was telling him my situation.”

  Watkins, who refers to herself as “thick,” was tired of people not fulfilling their dreams based on their looks and became a ruler of her own fate and took the plunge.

  “Everybody feels like you just have to be skin and bones and that is not the case because I dance like I am 100 pounds,” Watkins said. “Timbaland saw the videos of me dancing and was really impressed and he asked me to send another one. He said I had great control over myself and had great facial expressions, he sent me his number and then we started talking.”

  Watkins and Timbaland then started discussing the endless opportunities that Watkins can be faced with and Timbaland asked Watkins what her plans and ideas were.

  “I told him that I had this idea about coming onto the set of the show ‘Empire,’” Watkins said. “I was basically telling him that I think it would be a good idea if they were doing a video and it was all of these girls, like skin and bones, no shape to them because everyone knows I am thick. Then I would come in and everybody would look at me like ‘Who the hell is she?’ and then I just take flight, like ba-boom!”

  Watkins has been dancing since she could remember growing up in Chicago. Watkins, who is a Big to 17 Littles in the dance fraternity, House Arrest II, teaches choreography as well as dances with the team to not only help the group, but to stay on her game.

 Close friend to Watkins, Shay Redmond, who is majoring in anthropology at Western, looks up to Watkins and understands why so many students chose Watkins to be their Big.

 “Diamond is an inspiration to her little’s because she always works hard during the preparation and gives her all during the delivery,” Redmond said. “As a fellow Big, I believe that a good Big sets the example for not only their behavior but how they should treat others and themselves, and she is an excellent example of that.”

  As confident as Watkins is, she is also very humble when it comes to her mother and her religion.

  “The reason I got into dancing was my mom,” Watkins said. “I think I was foot working in my mother’s womb, I was really petty, I put my big toe on my mommah’s water bag, I did not kick her – I put my big toe on her.

 “I think that deep down in my soul, it was just embedded into me (to become a dancer). God said he was going to give me a little bit of dance, ‘just a pinch, I’m just going to give her a little bit’ and then the top fell off and it just kept going and then ‘oh no!’” Watkins laughed.

 Watkins said that she dances to anything and everything, and if someone walks by her singing a song you can bet on her to start dancing right then and there.

 “I dance to everything, seriously, everything,” Watkins said. “But I like up-beat and fast songs and even slow songs to actually showcase the moves.”

  Watkins is graduating this year and will move back to Chicago and keep in touch with Timbaland in hopes of joining the show “Empire” as a dancer.

  “I do have Timbaland’s number, but I keep it professional,” Watkins said. “I just prefer to email, I feel that we are not there yet. But when I get on the set for ‘Empire,’ I will text him and be like ‘Can you bring me some Starbucks?’”