Photographer: Brendan Uegama
How does it feel to be a minority woman in Hollywood in this racial climate?
It truly feels like we have a lot of work to do.....Women make up a little more than 50 percent of the US population, only about 6.3 percent of films are directed by women, and only 17 percent of film studio senior management are women.
Racial minorities directed just 17.8 percent of theatrical films in 2013 and represented only 8 percent of film studio senior management.So we have A lot of work to do to make sure that everybody is represented fairly in films and televisions worldwide. I feel everybody should be able to watch a film and see a person that looks just like me and feel equally represented. No matter what their background is.
As a woman of color do you feel it’s earlier or harder to get work?
To be honest, I truly try not to think about this. I hope that the producers & Networks are always hiring me for my talent, my vision and my passion for my projects.
With your company Black Tree Pictures You recently executive produced and starred in a film called Black Chicks, can you share a little bit about this film and what you are hoping to do with the piece?Black Chicks" is based on a play that Neil LaBute wore title
"Black Girls." Neil Labute is one of my favorite writers of all times and I am very honored that I was able to work with him on this project. “
It is my hope that "Black Chicks" might also eventually become a feature film.
Our film unveils an important story, addressing huge issues in an understated yet emotional way, as racial stereotypes are "brought to light... and questioned. David Cubit co-stars in this film with me. And I am very proud of his brave work in Black Chicks. We wouldn’t have been able to make this project without him. We had the amazing cinematographer Brendan Uegama on this one with us as well.
Honestly it was a total dream team!
When did you realize you were an actress? Do you have any other hidden talents?
I made the very hard choice at a very young age to leave home and make a way for myself. I only just recently found my biological father, who happens to be Tanzanian, and it was such a powerful moment. Finally learning my ancestry was very important. I share this to encourage people. In the words of Barack Obama, “it doesn’t matter what you start, it matters where you end up.” That is one thing you have complete control over. So...Knowing where I come from keeps me fueled. Knowing what the worst looks like keeps me moving forward.
I wholeheartedly believe this career path chose me, I didn’t choose it. I feel called to tell stories for the people who can’t, stories that make the world a better place, stories that educate, and stories that help people in unique situations see themselves represented.AND......…I have this very funny talent of being able to burp on command. LOL, oddly enough I’ve had to use this talent in a few films!
Who or what inspires you?
I am forever inspired by all of the amazing artists that have come before me. I’m very inspired by traveling to new places and learning new things.
Ava Duvernay is someone I have always looked up to. The films she makes always make a difference and I hope I can do this with my films.
Recently I have been reading a lot on Stanley Kubrick..And his work and life as a director. It’s amazing and truly inspiring the way he worked and lived his life.
I am also a huge Spike Lee fan, I truly hope I can work with him one day.
Any advice for a new actress?
For new actresses, I would say — never, never give up & always follow your gut. You will know what is right for you. Enjoy the collaboration and the process!
If someone wants to describe your personality in 3 words, what would they be?
It’s always very interesting describing oneself in one’s own words....I hope that people would say I am - Bubbly - energetic — compassionate.
What projects do you want to mention in 2021?
Romance At Crystal Cove - this is a very exciting project for me as it will be my directorial debut! I am so excited to share this film with the world in 2021! I had the wonderful honor to cast the very talented actress, Stephanie Bennett in the Lead role of my film.
How can fans follow you via social media?