“More than ever, young women deserve to feel celebrated, loved, and seen. “
Describe your approach to acting.
I love to take on roles with deep meaning. I want to expand the stories that we tell about black girls in our society, and I try to ensure that the roles I play are a reflection of that. I’m passionate about showcasing the dynamic and nuanced existence of what it means to be a young Black woman. We hold so much power, and our lives are filled with a vast richness that isn’t often explored in the media. I want to challenge that. I want to shed light on the abundance of our stories are the resilience of our spirits. When I approach acting, I always ask myself, “How will this expand the narrative? How will this set others free?”
Describe your approach to writing.
I enjoy having a ritual around my writing process. It’s a deeply spiritual experience for me because I often call on the Divine and Source for assistance. I don’t always know what the story is I’m being called to write will be, but I try to listen and trust what comes through me. I often pray throughout the process, and I ask God to use me to tell the story that needs telling. I ask God to give me the courage to go deep enough into myself to discover what the medicine is. I believe words have the power to heal, transmute, and free people from their limitations. I take that very seriously – it’s a deep honor to be a writer. For me, it’s a creative connection between me and Source.
How has your Jamaican heritage informed your art?
It’s been so integral, and it’s kind of funny to think about it like that. As a child, I would have never imagined that I would be telling Jamaican stories. But truthfully, it just comes so naturally to me. It’s in my blood. I love my people, and I’ve been immersed in my culture my entire life. My family takes great pride in our heritage and being Jamaican because the overall message of our culture is the freedom and emancipation of Black people. Jamaicans have a culture of resiliency and rebellion, and it’s given me so much courage in my career. I feel like there’s nothing I can’t do because that’s what I was taught. We are worthy of our dreams. Being Jamaican ensured that I never questioned that. It makes me feel worthy of taking up space.
If Jamaica was a single fragrance, what would it be?
Whenever I smell burning firewood, I immediately think of the countryside. I loved the smell of burning wood in the morning from cooking outdoors, or brewing coffee. It’s so nostalgic for me.
For someone that has never been to Jamaica, what is one place they should go?
I’m still discovering Jamaica, but one place that I would love to go to is the Blue Lagoon. Many people think that I’ve been there because I wrote about it in my book, but it’s one place I haven’t visited yet! I had a lot of fun writing that scene in Hurricane Summer, and it is definitely one of my favorites because I got to use my imagination for what I thought the experience of the Blue Lagoon would be.
What does writing mean to you?
Writing means everything to me. It’s a massive vehicle for self-mastery because it’s a complete exercise in using the throat chakra. Speaking up for yourself and having the courage to create the narrative is one of the best things we can do for ourselves. We take our power back when we tell our stories; we speak bravely and courageously. I’m constantly learning that lesson over and over again every time that I write. We have the power to heal ourselves and each other through our honesty about our lives.
If you could have dinner with any writer, on this side of the afterlife or not, who would it be and what would you have to eat?
I would love to have dinner with Maya Angelou. I’ve been drawn to her ever since I was a child, and I think she was renaissance woman in so many ways. I’d love to experience Jamaican food with her in the islands. I think that would be so magical.
Can you discuss the importance of the intersectionality between art & activism?
For me, art and activism go hand in hand. My art is my activism, but it’s also my expression and my divine birthright. It’s such a sacred thing when we start tuning into the things that drive us: the things that make us move, dance, and feel. Our freedom is rebellion, and that in and of itself is activism.
What do you want readers to learn from Hurricane Summer?
I want Hurricane Summer to cause readers to reflect on the ways that we as a society value young women. Much of this story is about the sexual and spiritual wounding that can happen on the journey into womanhood. I want society to re-evaluate the ways in which we shame young women and teach them to abandon themselves. More than ever, young women deserve to feel celebrated, loved, and seen. They are deserving of their autonomy and pleasure, and I want readers to understand the sacredness of that. I hope that this book encourages them to release shame and set themselves free from the opinions of others. I want them to know they are their own heroes, and they have everything they need to save themselves.
What advice would you give to yourself at 10 years old?
I would remind myself of how beautiful I am. I think ten years old is such a tender age, and for many young girls they begin to struggle with self-esteem. I would tell myself how exceptional I am and how worthy I am of the dreams that live inside of me. I would give her the biggest hug and let her know how loved she is by Life.
Describe your dream role?
My dream role would be to play Tilla in ‘Hurricane Summer.’ I’m excited about it because I think it’s a story that we haven’t seen yet on the screen. I think it would change the way a lot of young black girls see themselves. I think it would make a lot of people feel seen and heard – that’s the goal.
Do you enjoy watching your acting work on tv? Can you describe the experience?
I love watching my acting work. I will say that it never feels like I’m watching myself, but I think it is just because I’ve grown so much by the time I watch it – I feel like I’m already a different version of myself! But I love to see the progression, and I love to my inner child live our her dream.
What is next for you?
I’m currently writing my next book, SONGS OF IRIE, and I’m SO excited about it. It’s a huge story, and I think a lot of people are going to enjoy it because it’s never been told before. I just also starred in the Riverdale episode for the ‘Pussycats’ which comes out September 8th! And I’m currently finishing up filming the 3rd season of Locke and Key. Next up, I want to produce and create a book-to-movie empire, where I star in the adaptations of my books. I’m excited for it all to unfold, and I look forward to the journey.
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