While Dawn Richard is from New Orleans, she was displaced by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and her family was forced to move to Baltimore. Before that, she was already an active performer from the time she was a teenager, performing with a group called Realiti before being "discovered" and performing under the name Dawn Agelique and signing development and recording contracts. During that time, she was also attending college at the University of New Orleans and was a cheerleader for the NBA's New Orleans Hornets. In 2005, she was selected to compete on Making the Band 3.
Richard comes from a family of performers. Her father, Frank Richard, fronted funk/soul band Chocolate Milk, while her mother is a dance instructor who teaches to this day.
Richard has also been active in fashion, launching a line of sunglasses in 2013, a shoe collection in 2014 and a USB necklace in 2016, all to accompany record releases.
In addition, Richard has worked with Adult Swim since 2016, initially producing music for the network but more recently as a creative consultant in connecting the network with black animators.