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Actress Samora Smallwood "The Kings of Napa" on the OWN Network”

Actress Samora Smallwood "The Kings of Napa" on the OWN Network”

Photographer  Robert Obumselu

Actresss Samora Smallwood "The Kings of Napa" on the OWN Network” /ouch magazine

Can you tell Ouch! Magazine readers  more about the new show “The King of Napa “ and your role as Maddi Brewer

The world is in for a treat with the Kings of Napa! It’s a primetime drama about a wealthy black family that owns a vineyard in California’s famous Napa Valley. After a tragedy in the pilot episode, the family is pitted against each other as they vie for power and control of the vineyard. Its got scandal, suspicion, betrayal, beautiful shades of melanin poppin’, stunning fashion, family secrets, lies, and lots of hair and makeup inspo. My character Maddi is a chic, cool, insanely funny gynecologist. She is besties with both the head of the King family, August, and Bridgette Pierce. We are “the crew.” Maddi was a HUGE blessing to me. As I mentioned, characters always come bearing gifts and I believe they come to you at the right time. Maddi allowed me to be bold, unapologetic, sexy, playful, and powerful. There are so many amazing characters in the world our creator/showrunner Janine Sherman Barrois created. The representation in this show is expansive, nuanced, and inspiring. I cannot wait for people to see it. This is the stuff of the ancestors’ dreams.

What is your favorite part about playing Maddi Brewer? Any personal traits you do (or do not) like about her? 

Maddi is the friend we all need! Outspoken, hilarious, playful, loyal, fashionable, and she always tells it like it is. What I love about Maddi is her unabashed appetite for life. She really goes after her goals and believes in “having it all!” She is a well-educated, successful independent woman who still believes in love. Her zest for life is contagious and was so fun to embody! You can bet on Maddi having a great time while she’s looking for a man who is her equal!!

 Where was the show filmed? Did you enjoy filming on location? 

We filmed in Toronto during the summer. My home is right in the center of the city, so going to set was easy and Toronto is beautiful in the summertime. It was a joy to hang out with our cast after wrap and have a chance to relax and explore the city together. Toronto is a huge hub for production: many shows in the Star Trek franchise shoot here, Guillermo Del Toro shoots his films here, and even Netflix is building a studio here to meet the demands. It’s amazing!

What was the off-set experience like? Any stories that come to mind? 

Kings of Napa was a truly special experience because the cast is like family. I love them all. The characters jump off the page when you read the script and my fellow cast mates bring these characters to life in vivid color. It’s inspirational, and very, very fun. We hung out, laughed, and got to know each other. 

How do you get into character? Any tips for aspiring actors? Why do you select or turn down a role? 

My preparation varies depending on the project. When needed, I work with a dialect coach or stunt trainer. Sometimes you need to immerse yourself in a community to understand the story. For an upcoming project, I spent time working with community organizations that help survivors of sexual violence and sex trafficking. 

I always need to know a character’s origin story, so I use my imagination and clues in the script to create a backstory that goes back to their grandparents. Where someone comes from: there class, education, culture inform everything they do so it is crucial to me to know and explore that to really interpret a character. 

I also eat very cleanly when I’m working, I exercise, drink loads of water and meditate.

How long have you been in acting and what is your favorite part about the entertainment industry? 

I earned a university degree in theatre, but I was playing characters and ‘putting on show’ for as long as I can remember. One of my favorite parts is the rush of booking a coveted role but my absolute favorite part is crafting a character and story that will make people feel, think, challenge their ideas, and open their hearts. Going forward emotional resonance and work that matters to the community and encourages healing is what I’m aligning with. 

What's your dream role? Who’s your perfect co-star? 

I have three dream roles I am manifesting! One, an action role playing a badass that requires in-depth stunt training. Two, a character in a musical that sings and plays an instrument, and three, an emotionally resonant, heart expanding role in an indie like ‘Room” are all dream roles. 

A perfect co-star is someone generous, open, warm, and who takes the work but not themselves seriously. Actors I am manifesting work with are Angelina Jolie, Denzel Washington, Mahershala Ali, Christian Bale, and Tessa Thompson. 

Are there any other projects you are working on you care to mention? 

What I’m most excited about is a series I have created that is currently in development. It’s a crime thriller called “Gone.”  It's a story about a disgraced female cop on the hunt for a mythical sex-trafficking kingpin.  In the process she uncovers repressed childhood memories that may lead her to not only to him, but to the truth about her family and the decades old mystery of her missing sister. It's an intersection of race, gender, and the generational effects of trauma. “Gone” is a deeply personal story of mine and, it’s a story of healing. 

What's your day to day healthy/beauty routine like? 

I eat a plant-based diet because animals are my friends. A nice benefit is that it really helps my digestion, skin, and overall well-being. If I’m not working or doing virtual meetings, I don’t put on makeup to let my skin rest. I am a big fan of Gua Sha massage and oils. I also steam my face and use a variety of masks. When I am working, I keep eye masks and creams in the fridge as the cold has a great tightening effect. The days are long on set so keeping the skin fresh and glowing is a job in and of itself! I also exercise and meditate most days as well as drink lots of water.

How can fans reach out to you via social media?

 I am @SamoraGloria  on both Instagram and Twitter. I love interacting with fans, sharing empowering messages of positivity and my “Manifest Yo Shit” mantra which is about the power each of us has to manifest our dreams. No matter where you come from, or what happened to you, you have a right to pursue your dreams, and the ability to make them come true.