Actor and singer Deborah Joy Winans is no stranger to the spotlight. As part of one of gospel music’s most beloved families, Winans understands the power of the gospel in song and onscreen. In her role in the new Lifetime movie “Color of Love,” she plays Monica Henderson, a widow who fights to adopt two White children despite opposition from family, friends, and the foster care system.
Henderson confronts racism and discrimination, similar to Winans’ real-life encounters. In this exclusive interview, she reveals how acting (not singing) became her true love; how racism in the foster care system affects Black children; how she deals with race in her everyday life; and how she finds joy — which happens to be her middle name— when she needs it most.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Deborah Joy, thank you for giving Faithfully Magazine this interview.
Thank you for having me.
I originally thought your first name was Deborah, and that your middle name was Joy. I didn’t know that your first name is Deborah Joy… Can you tell us about the meaning behind your first name and even your middle name?
You were right the first time. Deborah is my first name. I have two middle names: Joy and Imani. I just go by Deborah Joy because there are so many Deborahs in my family that I get confused with: mostly with my auntie Debbie, my dad’s baby sister, who is from the group Angie and Debbie. People always assume that I’m that Debbie. And so I’ve always had to go by Deborah Joy so that they understand which one I am.