How Brittani Warrick Convinced Her Auntie Dionne Warwick to Join Twitter

Bianca Betancourt
·10-min read
Photo credit: Ingrid Fraham  - Getty Images
Photo credit: Ingrid Fraham - Getty Images

From Harper's BAZAAR

The world has always recognized Dionne Warwick as a living legend, thanks to her beloved hit songs such as "That's What Friends Are For" and the theme from Valley of the Dolls. But the tail end of 2020 has revealed new dimensions to her talents. Not only is she the Dionne Warwick—musician, actress, television host, permanent pop culture fixture—but she's also now @dionnewarwick, bona fide Twitter sensation.

Warwick's commentary is not the kind that can be optimized via algorithm or concepted by a social media consultant. The public frenzy over her tweets began with a simple question she posed to the Twitterverse. It read, "Hi, @chancetherapper. If you are very obviously a rapper why did you put it in your stage name? I cannot stop thinking about this." She asked Abel Tesfaye, a.k.a. The Weeknd, a similar question.

It was a simple and earnest inquiry that was so quintessentially auntie-esque, it instantly opened the public's eyes to the inherent wisdom of Ms. Warwick—and left the masses hungry for more.

In the midst of her hilarious questions (a couple favorites being, "Why do you all keep saying 'purrr' to me? Do I need to call your parents?" and "Does Idris [Elba] have a Twitter?"), Ms. Warwick has also spent her time #online chatting with her younger set of fans, asking them for music suggestions while shutting down all other manner of suggestions. ("I do see your comments about my camera angles," she wrote, referencing fans' critiques of her video skills. "The answer is still No ❤️.")

Though Ms. Warwick's inherent Twitter genius is all her own, the icon was encouraged to join the platform by someone dear to her: her longtime social media consultant and niece, Brittani Warrick. Below, Brittani explains to BAZAAR.com how she convinced her aunt to join the app in the first place and why she's never heard her aunt say the word hussy outside of her television screen.

Ms. Warwick revealed recently that you were the person who helped jump-start her Twitter presence. How did you decide, "You know what, Auntie Dionne? You need a Twitter."

This is such a good question, because I have actually been Aunt Dionne's social and branding director for years, and I am the president of my own digital agency. So, I really looked at her like a client relationship, but also she's my aunt, so it's a little different. I take the time to sit with her and teach her things, because I love her and I want her to be in the 21st century. So she sees me doing things and she's like, "What is that?" And I'm like, "It's blah, blah, blah." And she'll either say, "I don't want to know anything more about it," or, "Can you show me?" And Twitter was one of those things, she was like, "Oh, what's that?" And I'm like, "You know what, let's just sit and do it."

It's hilarious, because she's perfect for Twitter. She's organic. She is herself unapologetically but also everything that she does is with love, even if she's putting you in your place a little bit. It's all out of love. Twitter is the perfect place for that—that's where she best resides.

Instagram, and all of those other platforms, are awesome for showing people what's going on with her career. But for someone with a lot of inquisitive thoughts and who says she's nosy—she likes to explore a lot—I think Twitter is the perfect platform to get her integrated on. It wasn't too hard. It just took a lot of patience.

Photo credit: D Dipasupil - Getty Images
Photo credit: D Dipasupil - Getty Images

I love that she admits she's nosy.

She'll tell you in a heartbeat. So funny.

Introducing our families to social media can oftentimes be a stressful process. Did she naturally pick up how to use it and what it's for? And do you have any advice for people who are teaching their family members how to utilize these crazy apps?

It wasn't easy, but I think consistency is key—but that's with everything. You've got to be there for the questions, [even if] they're tedious. I think it helps because I'm a millennial—we grew up with this stuff. We know how to do it. But their generation doesn't really know. So we need to have a little more patience. That's what I tell people. We'll get frustrated, because we're like, "This is so easy. Why aren't you understanding this?" But it's because it's foreign to them. We have to remember that and just be able to have ample patience.

How has the rest of your family felt about her newfound social media presence?

Everybody thinks it's hilarious. I mean, we already knew that she was so funny. We would call her a comedian and tell her that she's in the wrong business. Once she got integrated with Twitter, now that's all my family will watch, because we were like, "Oh, my gosh, what is she going to say today? Is she going to clap-back at somebody? What is she going to do?"

She's very unpredictable as well—which, again, makes Twitter the perfect place for her.

Have you taught her about Twitter trolls? Twitter can be a very mean place.

Yeah. The Internet is such an eclectic place. I'm not worried about her handling herself with Twitter trolls. She has dealt with a few of them, and I tried to coach her through that, but she's a person that doesn't need the coaching when it comes to standing up for herself. Either she'll ignore it, or she'll face you head-on. I've already seen her stand up for herself a few times, and I'm like, "Oh, you got it."

She's also utilizing the app to shout-out this current generation of talent and giving praise to people like Zendaya, Chance the Rapper, Teyana Taylor, et cetera. She's asking questions like, "Who should I be listening to?" and showing that she's very eager to listen and learn, which is so refreshing.

Aunt Dionne listens to her peers when it comes to music. She's very much old school in that way. But she also follows the careers of our generation. She's very fond of Taylor Swift's career and how she handles herself. She looks to her grandchildren, her nieces, and her nephews, and we all fill her in on what's going on, and then she'll follow those careers. It's a "if we like it, she loves it" sort of thing. Or if we like it, she hates it. There's no in between with her.

As she gets on Twitter, she's poking around and seeing what people are up to. I think that's how she's been learning more about people, snooping on their timelines and their feeds and seeing what they're talking about, and learning more. She and Jimmy Fallon had an exchange, which she is just over the moon about. He said he's sending her a Christmas sweater, and she is just so excited about that.

What was it like growing up with Ms. Warwick as your aunt, and what have been some of the greatest lessons you've learned from her? I'm learning from her just by reading her tweets.

One of the biggest takeaways in our family is that fame doesn't matter—to the point where I grew up and I didn't even know she was famous for a good chunk of my life. My cousin is also Whitney Houston, and I didn't know she was famous, because we don't really talk about it like that. We would just say, "Oh, that's Cousin Whitney, and that's Aunt Dionne, and that's it." On my mom's side of the family, my uncle is John Witherspoon from Boondocks. I think when it's coming at you from both sides, you don't really think about it.

Growing up with Aunt Dionne, it's just like any normal aunt to me. We would go to occasional shows of hers, and she would always get food for the kids in the green room. We would have pigs in a blanket and things like that while she went and did a show. And then, she'd come back and we'd go to a family dinner. That was my normal life. As I grew up, I realized, "Oh, that's not a normal thing. That wasn't a normal occurrence." So I'm having these aha moments as an adult.

Photo credit: Ron Galella, Ltd. - Getty Images
Photo credit: Ron Galella, Ltd. - Getty Images

Do you remember the first time you heard your aunt use the word hussy?

Oh, my gosh. I didn't until I watched The Apprentice. I was dying laughing about it on the phone with Aunt Dionne, because I was like, "I don't know you, I guess, because I'm learning about you too. What's going on?" I had never heard her say the word hussy.

She's very good about watching her tongue around the kids, even though we're adults now, but we're always kids to her. She did say it on the phone. I was talking to her about what people were saying on Twitter. I was talking about hussy, and she was dying [laughs] and said, "Well, that lady should have never said what she said to me." I was dying.

Obviously, she's found her stride with Twitter right now. Do you ever think we will have a Dionne Warwick TikTok in our future?

I get this question so many times. I'm thinking about it, because she's not going to be on there doing dances with her granddaughters. I have been studying the algorithm to see how she might fit into TikTok, so it's not off the table. I just need to know how she would fit best in there.

What do you think is something her fans and followers will learn about her now that she's showing us all this new side of herself through Twitter?

It's a common misconception that she is a diva. She's really just like you and me. She's always wearing some casual sweatshirt and jeans. She loves her fanny pack, the baseball cap. She's very casual all the time. And the way that we work, it's a family affair. If we're speaking to you in person, you'll get the sense that you're a part of our family. That's something that organically I think she'll introduce over time. I think she's already been doing a good job of it, including everybody in our family, because that's what it's all about. Connection, being organic, and empathy.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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