Her double lifestyle as a celebrity stylist and a financial scammer is chronicled through the BET + true crime docuseries.
BET+’ s second installment of American Gangster: Trap Queens explores the stories of multiple women who once lived a life fueled by the rush of criminal activity. While each had a different beginning, their stories all ultimately resulted in self-reflection. This is true for Dwen Curry, a former financial scammer who was continuously pulled into the allure of the glamorous lifestyle.
Showrunner and executive producer Jackson Nguyen has worked on multiple true crime series and shared his enthusiasm to empower the “Trap Queens” and how he became compelled by Curry’s story. Her journey is an unorthodox tale of self-understanding.
Curry identified as a gay boy throughout her childhood and adolescence before evolving into a transgender woman in adulthood. During her youth, she fought off bullies on the outside, and her own thoughts within.
“You’re talking about someone who genius level, and not only that, you know, integrated herself in the Hollywood crowd and was on television on a couple of TV shows. Meanwhile behind the scenes she was doing fraud,” Nguyen remarked to theGrio.
“There needs to be more attention focused on the LGBTQ plus community and how they make their way into the prison, and let alone out of the prison system and Dwen is a great example of someone who made it in and out, and turned her life around. Very excited for people to see that episode because you’re going to learn something that you weren’t expecting let alone looking for.”
After getting involved with drugs and becoming addicted, Curry’s mother sent her across the country to start anew. She ended up on a bus from Detroit to the Oakland area to stay with an uncle who worked with her through her addiction and finding herself. As she entered a new chapter in life, Curry became the go-to for small schemes through her new job.
As time went by, she ran a full-fledged operation with the help of her team of “gay gangsters,” using a hair salon as a front.
“Once I got here to California, once I got to Oakland, you know, my uncle being a drug counselor, and his girlfriend at the time and Auntie Marsha, I’ll never forget, she took me to Fisherman’s Wharf. When I came, we were in Castro Valley and she wanted to show me the city. he’s always been so incredibly inviting,” Curry shared with theGrio.
“She was extremely instrumental because she always knew my truth. Before I knew it. the culture shock was me being able to be free. I never knew what freedom was.”
Curry was running financial scams, however, her personality shined through it all. As she became more comfortable in who she is, her brand only grew stronger. Networking through Hollywood parties and events, she was able to gain celebrity clientele in Lisa Raye, Eve, Mariah Carey, and others. Her clients, family nor friends knew about her secondary lifestyle, until she was caught.
Through telling her story, Curry exposed not only the highs and lows that kept her trapped in the criminal lifestyle, but she also highlighted the dangers transwomen face when placed in prison by a criminal justice system that does not recognize their gender identity when locking them behind bars. Curry was forced to serve time in a male prison where she faced abuse and trauma.
Every episode of the series shed light on the systemic issues Black women face when entangled with the court system, police force and prison. Although the docuseries, narrated by legendary rapper Lil Kim, features dramatizations and is presented for entertainment, there is a greater theme weaved through each woman’s story.
“I get excited when I see comments that say this is just another series, defaming or putting Black females in a bad light. Watch the show, and I think you’ll learn quickly that that’s not our purpose,” Nguyen said to theGrio.
“I don’t think there’s a better series then Trap Queens, especially in the communities where this happens every day. Everyone’s got a cousin in his community or a family member or a friend that could have went to that side of the tracks. I think it’s a sad thing, but at the same time, you own it. It is not only an opportunity to entertain, but also share a tremendous story of social injustice or redemption.”
Now released from prison, Curry has worked to adjust to a new, less glamorous lifestyle.
“It’s humbling. First of all, when you go to prison, especially federal prison, you know, you end up losing a lot, not just the money, but the people that are pretty much surrounded by you” Curry remarked.
“Who goes to prison, a millionaire and then you get out and you’re subjected to EBT card, $192 for the food, $221 for the cash…I’ve never looked at a grocery bill before. I never used the EBT card before. I don’t even know what it was.”
For Dwen Curry, this is not the last time she hopes to share her story. There is more to come to detail more layers of the intricate lifestyle she led. Until then, she leaves bright-eyed scammers who may be inspired by current music trends ot take their chance at identity theft.
“For every action, there is a reaction. So if you’re ready for the reaction, then do what you do. Do what you’re supposed to do. I got girlfriends that got in and got out. Me, and I had too much of a responsibility. A the end of the day, no, it’s not worth it. It’s really, really not,” she said to theGrio.
“[There are] a lot of layers to this stuff. So do I regret it? Yeah, to a certain degree. Did they get the money back? Yes, but that don’t make it right at all, because don’t nobody need to be inconvenienced about they own motherfu***ng money.”
The first half of season two of American Gangster: Trap Queens is available to stream on BET+. The docuseries is executive produced by Arthur Smith and Frank Sinton of A. Smith & Co. Productions and Emmy-award winner Judge Greg Mathis.
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