Monday, August 10, 2009

What is a Diva?

Monday musings...

We throw this word around so much...what does it mean, really? Who should use it? Who should be deemed thus?

According to the Latin origin - diva or masculine divo - means deity, goddess, god.

Diva has then been bestowed on opera singers,  then other exceptional singers in other genres and eventually has been used to described BEHAVIOR.

With the behavior, "Diva" has often been used to describe a negative thing. Bad behavior, unacceptable behavior.  This is just wrong.

First, one cannot bestow "Diva" on oneself!!! Someone else bestows that on you - after you are achieved a certain level of professionalism and prowess and artistic maturity.  You do not assume "Diva", you EARN it.  You earn it with your work, your commitment, your passion and your ability to translate these factors into your art AND your behavior.  

Behaving badly, treating people rudely et al is NOT "Diva behavior".  It is rude and ridiculous.  There is NO EXCUSE to treat others in your business - other singers, actors, dancers - including directors, producers, stage managers, lighting and sound people, props people, dressers,  AND ALL THOSE WHO LIVE IN THEATRE - like they are LESS than you are!   THEY ARE NOT!

A true Diva acknowledges the work EACH person does and how it affects the outcome of a show and performance.  Each person has an important part in this process.  A true Diva treats those around her with respect and kindness.  Nothing less.

A true Diva pays attention to those around her.  She is a team player.  She works for the TOTAL production, not for the ego of self.  

She may be tough, but she's fair.  She may be demanding - for the highest standards that will make a positive difference during rehearsal, production, preparation et al.  

She has built her craft.  She acknowledges others who do the same.  She is still growing.  She is still discovering.  She is about CREATING not pulling focus. She doesn't make excuses for herself, and therefore, takes no excuses from others.  She realizes EVERYBODY is responsible for their part in a production and EVERYBODY must do their part, including her!

She demands respect because she GIVES it!!  She demands perfection, because she wants that from herself!  She is mature, forthcoming, generous and focused.

She is about something REAL and CLEAR.  She is not about strutting around and appearing as if she is important! She is about the work and about the creation of art.  She brings positive energy into a room - she doesn't suck it out.  She is  straightforward and beyond games.  

We all know these real Divas - and we also know the fake ones.  If you want to be called a Diva in the purest, most real way, THEN EARN IT!!!! 

There is nothing more disgusting than the fake wannabe diva that behaves poorly and cannot bring any artistic merit to a production or process.  Often, they are the only ones who call themselves "diva".  Self-deception is alive and well!

The wannabes are simply rude, small-minded people who wish they were someone else.  Perhaps if they claimed what they have and develop it completely and concentrate on the WORK, they would develop a more positive reputation overall!

If everybody is a Diva then nobody is.  Use the term wisely.  A Diva is wise and true and generous and real.  Anything less is not.  


  1. Yes! I have often thought about the two meanings of the term. It seems to me, in opera, it's a compliment, but in other genres it's an insult. The performers I have known, who I and others have thought of as divas, are talented, hardworking and friendly. I'm lucky in that I haven't run across the rude and self-centered type since high school.
    Thanks again for another insightful post.

  2. I have long viewed divas (and divos) in the negative; rude, egotistical, and temperamental, but your definition has clarified things. Maybe it's time for me to reconsider things.

  3. It is like how there are good witches and bad witches in Oz... There are good divas and bad divas in Opera! :)