What advice would you give to a young aspiring actress?
Know that you’re enough. A lot of time you get out to LA or NY or wherever you are and you start to tell yourself “I’m not good enough.” What it takes is innately in you. It’s not who you know or how much experience you have. You have to realize that you are destined for greatness. If you feel like it’s your life’s destiny, then its got to work out. I’ve learned to view my “losses” as “victories”. Nobody can ever steal your blessing. If you were to look at the percentage of projects booked next to those I’ve auditioned for, it’s probably frightening, but I’m thankful that I didn’t get those jobs because I wouldn’t be in the position that I am in now.
I think a good thing about creating your own work is that you have control over what you want people to see. If I didn’t take the initiative to co-create Hello Cupid and collaborate with Lena Waithe & Black & Sexy TV, I don’t know where I would be right now. Know that are more capable than you think. I think the coolest thing about being an actor is that actors have brilliant imaginations, but we get so caught up in our talents. We then limit our selves to just doing that one specific thing.
I would not be where I am today in my career if it weren’t for the most loving, creative, innovative, talented people around me daily. I love awards shows because I love how emotional people get when they talk about the people they’ve worked with because they known them for years and I just cant wait to the point in my career when I get to feel that way.
Lastly, have some type of spiritual foundation. Be connected to something that’s bigger than yourself. Because in this town it’s easy to lose yourself and I’ve seen a lot of people do it.
Who is someone you are inspired by?
It’s so brilliant what Spike Lee did, which kind of ties into what our Dear White People director Justin Simien did: take chances. We didn’t know who those actors and actresses were when Spike did She’s Got to Have it or School Daze or Do The Right Thing. These were all people who were introduced to the scene and they’re all people that we still know today.
What has your natural journey been like?
I went natural in 2008, my senior year at Howard U. Being at Howard you see a lot of beautiful women and growing up, I wasn’t around a lot of women who were natural. I had a relaxer like my whole life. I just remember being inspired by the beautiful Black women on campus. I remember thinking like, ‘I’ve never seen my hair like this.’ I wonder if my hair can do that. I made a vow that I’ll never go back, that I’ll never chemically process my hair. It’s a really empowering thing. As black actresses, we have to do a lot with our hair. I hope that as a people we continue to really try to embrace it. I’m obsessed with African Queens and I feel like I was a queen in my past life. I feel connected to them through my hair and I wouldn’t want to change that. I feel like there’s something very beautiful and very regal about that.