Having a job is a good thing. Carrying on multiple jobs is hard work. Doing what you love and doing it professionally, now that is a gift and a blessing. One woman has that desire and dream come true. A multitasker who is making her dreams come true every day and in her own way. That woman would be Dawn McCoy.
Ms. McCoy has redefined making her own status. Having her own show while taking on other projects and being a solo parent of a special needs baby boy, this woman can certainly do it all. For those who say women can’t have it all, Dawn has definitely proven them wrong. Now Dawn McCoy will tell us all about her story.
Q: Hi, Dawn, thank you so much for joining me today. It’s a pleasure meeting someone who does so many jobs and both in front of the camera — travel, food advocacy, you do it all. Thank you so much for joining me.
A: I’m happy to be here. Thanks for having me!
Q: Awesome. So I have a few questions to ask you. And I am very excited to get started. So you are a multitasking woman. Is that correct?
A: I think you could say that for sure.
Q: How did you get involved in everything you are doing today? That includes acting as a social media influencer and your own Instagram dining show?
A: Oh, goodness! Well, back in 2012, I broke up with my then-boyfriend, who is actually still my best friend today. We dated for seven and a half years and we were songwriters together in Nashville, and when the relationship ended, I was just so sad. I was 34 years old, and I was like “What do I do now? What’s next?” — now that the dream I thought I had had died.
My music career hadn’t taken off the way I dreamed it would. Top of that, my relationship hadn’t ended up in marriage and kids like I thought it would. At the time, I was working for for Barbra Streisand as her shopper & runner in Malibu. In my downtime and on my lunch breaks, I just started to write and soul search, I suppose, asking myself, “What makes me happy now?”
So I would make lists of things that filled me with joy: “Inspiring people. Baking for people. Helping people. Sharing new recipes. Beauty and skincare tips and products. Food. Wine, Cocktail concoctions. Interior design. Vintage decor. Pastels.” It was really that simple.
Looking back, it makes me laugh — how simple it really was — what got me to my next chapter. It was simply me asking, “What makes me happy and fills me with delight?” And, out of that soul-searching, my blog Beauty Frosting was born (because I liked both beauty products and cake frosting), and it just kind of took off.
Then, PR peers I was working with would say, “Have you thought of hosting TV? Would you do this segment for us? Could you do this Academy Awards segment? Could you do a red carpet?” And I was flattered and SURPRISED! I always thought you had to be a journalism major or a pageant queen to be a host. But then I started hosting and I loved it! It was like, “Ohhhhh! THIS is what I’m meant to do.”
In the social media space, it was a new frontier for us all at that point in 2012. I love writing and always have — so long before it became the “cool” thing to do, I started writing these long captions from the heart on Instagram.
I even had some friends make fun of me for it, saying, “No one wants to read all that! We just want to see the pictures!” But I couldn’t share photos of my life without sharing honestly from the heart to tell the story of the picture.
Around 2014, I decided to host a bake sale for No Kid Hungry. Afterwards, they reached out to me because we raised just about $600 hosting this little bake sale on Third Street in front of my friend Marni’s store, Milk. I continued to partner with No Kid Hungry, and they invited me to go on a trip to see their activated programs in person.
Then I became an ambassador with them. Working with No Kid Hungry quite a bit, and that led to emceeing with Step Up Women’s Network. That and hosting events for Dress For Success, NAMI and more.
Q: Have you always been involved in being of service?
A: As far back as I can remember! In high school, my most cherished award that I won was the Community Service Award. I was SO proud of all of the hours I dedicated to service in high school — both at Presbyterian Hospital and at Bryan’s House, a nonprofit for babies and children living with AIDS. But to be able to make a living now by being of service? Growing up, I didn’t even know that was an option for a career.
Then the events I hosted for nonprofits ended up leading to emceeing and hosting LA Food & Wine and Pebble Beach Food & Wine events, the James Beard Taste America Los Angeles dinner with Curtis Stone & Dave Bernahl, the No Kid Hungry Telethon with Busy Philipps & Curtis Stone, and #DawnsDestinations trips with press and influencers to Four Seasons Maui Wine & Food Classic, Palm Springs Modernism Week, Palm Desert Food & Wine, and many more. And, not always — but many times, there was a charitable component where we were able to give back to the community with these events.
Q: That is amazing to hear Dawn! But of the acting, social media and baking you’ve mentioned you do, which one would you say is your favorite?
A: Gosh, I can’t pick just one… but I can tell you what they each mean to me. I love acting. I always say whenever I get to act, I say “yes,” as long as it’s ethical and doable schedule-wise, because I just love it! And I’ve worked with Jake Helgren & Autumn Federici in their films almost every year for the past 5 or so years, and I’m just always so grateful every time I’m on a set! I’m in a perpetual state of gratitude — like “Thank you, Thank you, thank you!!”
Thanks to my voiceover agents, I also get to consistently work in the world of voiceover . So right now, I have Subaru commercials running for the Subaru Outback. I love doing voiceovers! Some of the most fun work in the world! And, again, I just always feel SO grateful when I get to “play” as I call it — when I book a role in a film or a voiceover in a commercial or show.
As for the social media chapter in my life, social media for me is less about other people. It is more about an outlet for me to help me process my life and share those common human experiences with others. So when I share a post, it’s kind of like my little diary.
At times I’ve felt that it almost didn’t really happen unless I share it. I want to share the struggles, the ups and downs, the joys and the grief. As well as the triumphs and the traumas in hopes that it might help someone else. Or at least let them feel less alone on this journey.
And for hosting and emceeing — hosting is just like breathing to me. I mean, I always joke and say that my mom would say to me, “You can’t grow up and host parties and cultivate friendships for a living,” but really that’s kind of what I’ve done! That’s the one thing that really sustained me during quarantine because we couldn’t host big charity events or even small dinner parties or even be around people — so deciding to produce my podcast & event series “Dine & Dish with Dawn” as an IGTV series was just a beautiful way to connect with everyone.
Q: Tell me about “Dine & Dish with Dawn.”
A: “Dine & Dish with Dawn” began as a podcast on iTunes and then turned into more of an event series and social media outlet. Then in 2020, I decided to house it as an IGTV series on Instagram.
Around the time I started the podcast in 2016, I also was asked to be a social media ambassador of sorts with Rodeo Drive and the City of Beverly Hills. Hosting their BOLD summer and holiday campaigns for 2 years. It was so fun! And I was able to integrate everything I love with a city I love so dearly. I would be hosting events with Beverly Hills at Louis Vuitton on Rodeo Drive. Then I would have to run downtown to host an event with LA Food & Wine, and it was just one of the best times of my life.
And, then in November 2019, my dreams came true when I gave birth to my baby boy, Waylon. I was in heaven and being a mother taught me to slow down and live in gratitude that I was given the gift of being a mother, at age 41, to this miraculous boy.
Waylon changed everything in the best of ways. It felt like he was always meant to be here, and that it was always supposed to be me and him. Then Covid infected the world and the world as we knew it, both personally and globally, turned upside down.
And I had so many former guests and creative friends with projects who needed a place to promote them, and I thought that bringing “Dine & Dish with Dawn” to a wider audience would be a wonderful way to connect to both my friends and the world.
Our first IGTV episodes featured Danny Trejo, who had a cookbook & documentary coming out, and Tori Spelling who had a show out at the time. Soon I realized I just had so many friends that weren’t able to get the press the way that they had before because of the pandemic.
And what better place to shoot it than in my own “Sweet Suite” right off the kitchen — the most colorful room in my home because it was designed to look like frosting on a cake? I started lining up more guests and charity partners and sponsors, and it just felt like a beautiful way to both promote my creative friends and do some good in the world when the world felt very dark, very lonely and very small.
I’m so excited for Season 2 of “Dine & Dish with Dawn” on IGTV that will be premiering on June 25th! This time, we’’ll be spotlighting not only celebrities and creative guests and thought leaders, but also restaurants, chefs, hotels, and travel destinations.
And, I am SO excited about that! I’m so excited to travel again, and to get to travel with my favorite adventure partner — my son! His doctors and therapists and I agree that there is nothing better sensory wise for him than to be introduced to new places, people, and experiences, and I am so grateful that I can give that to him.
Q: That is amazing to hear. Can you tell us what your favorite restaurant is to dine in in LA?
A: I love Jon & Vinny’s — especially their gem lettuce salad and ham & yeezy pizza and homemade banana bread with salted butter for breakfast. Joan’s On Third is a classic and I love Joan and her family. When I got home from the hospital after Waylon’s birth, they brought all sorts of food for us to enjoy! They just treated us to everything under the sun. And they have been so kind over the years.
Fun fact: My first job in LA was being a cater waiter for a few events for Joan’s On Third. That was including the Gilmore Girls cast & crew holiday party back in 2001. So I have this long history with Joan’s.
And, El Coyote is an eternal favorite. Their spicy red salsa is my favorite! I also love Village Pizzeria on Larchmont (some of the best pizza in the world), Fellow in Westwood, and this little neighborhood Italian place called Bella Roma Trattoria.
When my family was having a tough time, my mom was in LA, and we would go there and have spaghetti and cheesecake every night. It was such a joyful spot during a difficult time. I also love The Peninsula Hotel bar for meetings and get-togethers (especially their gluten-free pasta — and I’m not even gluten-free!) and their afternoon tea. Whenever I take meetings, I try to get people to have afternoon teas with me. I’ve loved them since childhood.
Q: And I am now coming to my last two questions. Is there a guilty pleasure activity that not a lot of people know about you that you love to enjoy?
A: I love singing. Actually I was a singer in Nashville. While there I got to sing at the Grand Ole Opry a few times, and I had a band out here in Los Angeles in the early 2000s called Hawkeye that did pretty well in the Americana music scene.
But I’ve never appreciated having a voice more than when I get to sing to my son and to see his smiles when he hears me sing or see the power of song as it lulls him to sleep or to peace. I was given my singing voice not to be a star with it, but to be a guiding star for him. I’ve never been so grateful to have a singing voice because music is Waylon’s favorite form of communication.
Before bed, we take a bubble bath or a salt bath and I call them our “concert baths.” It’s either me singing or us listening to classical music or movie soundtracks or showtunes or icons like Elton John or The Carpenters.
It is the most healing thing for both of our bodies and souls. It is. And, it’s a daily indulgence that costs nothing but is worth everything because it just relaxes us so completely and makes us so happy, and fills my cup so fully.
Q: That is great to hear, Dawn. And very interesting. In fact, I never really knew that. And now I’ve come to my last question. If you could go back 20 years, what would you tell your younger self?
A: Well, I couldn’t love that question more. Actually I started a social media movement back in 2015 and I would ask celebrities that question, “What would you say to your 15-year-old self?” I actually was asked to appear on the daytime TV show The Real and the audience had all answered the question before my segment.
Seeing their answers on poster board being held up above their heads was one of the most beautiful moments of my career. And it all was inspired when I was at my dad’s house and I saw a picture of myself at 15 years old with braces on my teeth. But I didn’t know it was me at first because I thought she was gorgeous! I remember saying, “Dad, who is that?” And my Dad said, “That’s you.” I didn’t recognize that girl. She looked like a little supermodel! And there I was back then, thinking I was so ugly and fat and too much in every which way.
And, yet to be in my 30s and look at this girl I was with the gift of hindsight, I just wished I could go back and tell her, “You are perfect the way you are and you can do anything you want to do! ANYTHING!”
I think now — where I am in my life — after going through, you know, success, failure, love, heartbreak, trauma, tragedy, and grief, all of it, and now, I would go back and tell myself, “Be confident in anything you want to do. Believe in yourself and believe in magic more than you believe in the possibility of defeat and failure.”
Believe in yourself more than you believe in anyone else or in anything anyone can ever give you. Don’t be scared to act. Never let somebody tell you to lose 15 pounds to be an actor. Don’t you dare!! Do not let someone tell you that you can’t eat food or you should diet because you should try to be a supermodel instead of just being who you are.
I think I wasted so much time worrying about dieting and food and body image and shape, and I just look back and think, “What a waste! All that wasted beauty and youth and energy!” It was such a great time. Everybody’s beautiful at that age, no matter what they think they look like — they’re so beautiful — if for nothing else than for all of the possibility still up ahead of them.
Along that same line, I always say in quick conversation that my music career failed, but it really didn’t. Really, I never was able to give it a full chance. I cut it short myself — no one did it to me. It was just my fear and insecurity and lack of confidence at that age.
I really wish I could go back and tell myself just to claim my confidence and really pursue my dreams whole-heartedly. Not with this monkey on my shoulder that was constantly like, “You’re not talented enough. You’re not pretty enough. You’re not good enough.” That monkey is long gone now, but the whispers rear up sometimes. I’ve just learned to quiet them more than I used to in my teens and twenties.
Q: As a new mother, do you have any advice out there for women thinking of becoming mothers?
A: I LOVE being a mom — more specifically, I love being Waylon’s mom. It is the single best thing I’ve ever done in my life. I’ve never felt like I was meant to be something — or know someone — more. Nothing has ever brought me such joy. And in Waylon, I see that I bring him more joy than I ever knew was possible to bring to someone.
My mom says to me, “You never knew you were this funny before, did you? He thinks you’re the funniest person on the planet.” Hearing his laugh? It’s the best feeling in the world. So I’ll say that if you have the dream and desire and want to be a parent, do anything you can to be a parent.
Whether it’s through birth, adoption, or being a foster parent, there is no greater gift you can give to both someone else and to yourself. We need good parents out there to raise good people!
Q: And, I saw you were on KTLA recently, working with 4 Moms to donate 200 mamaRoo infant seats to NICUs across the country!
A: Yes! I can’t think of a better way to have spent Mother’s Day morning than being on KTLA. Sharing my partnership with 4moms in their 4moms Cares #PayIt4ward Program.
The 4moms Cares Pay it 4ward Program allows you to donate your gently used @4moms_hq mamaRoo through Good Buy Gear, where 4moms will then donate a NEW mamaRoo to hospitals across the country (up to 200 units).
The mamaRoo is instrumental in the NICU and can be an effective non-pharmacological intervention for babies experiencing symptoms of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). It is a valuable tool in helping to calm and soothe these fragile patients when their families can’t be there. Whether it’s due to Covid, work, or other children they need to take care of at home. The mamaroo, along with loving and nurturing staff, can give babies the care they need. The mamaRoo is in 600 hospitals across all 50 states, but we have more work to do!
I am so honored to be part of this initiative as my baby, Waylon, spent some time in the PICU and the love, comfort, and care he received there from the staff was invaluable. So I have donated Waylon’s old mamaRoo to Good Buy Gear. In turn, 4moms has donated a new mamaRoo, in Waylon’s name, to the PICU at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital where the staff took such good care of Waylon during a traumatic time. Once you’ve experienced your baby being in the NICU or PICU, you understand the trauma the babies and their families go through in a way that few can.
Q: Any advice for the current you — or anyone reading out there?
A: One mantra I’ve been saying to myself a lot lately is, “If the worst can happen… then certainly the best can happen, too.” I really believe that. I’ve got to.
I’ve experienced both the best and worst in the past few years. And it has become very clear to me that 90% of things in life are trivial, and they’re things you can’t control. Also I’ve come to realize that the best things that happen to you are usually out of your control — and, likewise, the worst things that happen to you are usually out of your control, as well.
So I’ve learned that you just have to manage what exactly in the moment you can control . Like what time you’re going to get up, what time you’re going to go to bed, making your bed, returning emails, exercising, and spending quality time with those you love.
Ms. McCoy is on a roll with what she wants in life, both professionally and personally. She is proving herself to be the one-woman show we all desire or hope for. Dawn is on a mission that has no ending anytime soon. You call follow Ms.McCoy at the following places below. They say you can’t have it all. Dawn McCoy is one woman who shows us you can.
Dawn’s IGTV show & event series: @DineAndDishwithDawn