Hilari Younger and Danielle Colding

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going to be stereotypes, because it’s not real.”  We came in and decided that we didn’t want to be depicted on television as angry people with attitudes, “b*tches,” or pot-stirrers that can’t get along with anyone.  That’s not my personality anyway in real life, so I definitely didn’t want that label put on me. We were tired of the generalizations and the stereotypes and we made a pact that we were not going to single-handedly take the Black community down, whether we got along off-camera or not.  But thankfully, we all do really get along! We are really friends. I called Danielle up this morning and I look forward to working with her in the future.

DC: As a culture in general – and I’m really experiencing this now, being in the spotlight -- people are are snarky and mean. We come from a very judgmental culture and we are very hard on each other and our TV world reflects that. Ratings come with negativity.  It’s frustrating for me. I have so many positive amazing Black women who have my back and I wish those kind of shows were more frequently on the air and getting high ratings.  That’s why I love HGTV.  I am so happy they showed me and Hilari hugging at the end of the challenge we worked on together, because that’s what it was really like. There’s definitely an issue with showing Black people as complex. The complexity of our culture is not shown, and that is a shame.

EBONY: So how do you deal with these negative stereotypes?

HY: Well, when we were shooting the first episode, [one of the contestants] said to me, “I thought you were going to be the b*tch.”  I thought, “Wow! That’s really ignorant. You just met me and you instantly decided I was crazy.”  But, I have a really strong foundation and a very sound sense of self. I’ve  been around long enough to realize that some things have not gone away and they’re not going to go away that easily. I’m not quick to anger.  I realized that instead of getting angry, you can make progress a lot sooner if you take everything as an opportunity to teach and shed light when you can. And when you can’t, you step away from it and you pray that they find the answer they’re looking for.

EBONY: What’s your biggest take-away from being on ‘Design Star’?

DC: The number one take-away for me is just going with my gut. This show forces you to make decisions in an instant I usually work on projects for at least a year.  There’s something to be said about going through something so devastating as losing my mom, my number one supporter that just allows you to lose all of your fear. There’s no more fear, there’s no more editing yourself. You can throw caution to the wind and whatever happens, happens, because the worst has already happened.  So, I have confidence in my skills and I know I’m a sound designer. And If I can wake up in the morning and do what I love doing, like my mom always taught me, and just be happy, then I’ll always be successful.

HY: ‘Design Star’ was an amazing experience that was so much like the excitement of freshman year of college. You leave home and go live in a dorm and you never know what to expect, but you end up making these wonderful life-long friends and develop and cultivate your craft.  I lived with 12 grownups and we went through this crazy transition in life together.  So, I’m definitely taking away from this experience friendships and the knowledge that the world is always going to be my oyster and whatever opportunities arise, I should optimize, pounce on it and roll with it as far as I can. I’ve just got to make it happen.  I know interior design isn’t curing cancer, but to be able to create a space for someone that truly reflects who they are and brings them peace and joy, that is amazing and fulfilling.  I’m blessed.

You can watch Danielle and Hilari compete on HGTV’s Design Stars every Tuesday at 9/8c on HGTV.

Brooke Obie writes the award-winning blog DistrictDiva.com. Follow her on Twitter @DCDistrictDiva.