Growing up I definitely, definitely had a bunch of things of, ‘Um, am I black enough?’ – and I guess specifically, ‘Am I German enough?’ Why are we measuring blackness?
My father is German; my mother is African-American. Growing up, I visited my grandparents in Berlin a lot. I would not see any other person of color for three weeks. People would stare. They would say things like, ‘Oh, you look like chocolate – I want to eat you up!’
One day, I’d like to tackle a biopic. I grew up very influenced by Josephine Baker, Billie Holiday, and Nina Simone.
Walking in the street, particularly in a city like New York, every single day, I am reminded of how objectified women can be. Being catcalled every day, multiple times a day, all the time… it just constantly happens.
The truth is all kinds of people exist everywhere. So let’s tell their stories, too.
I think what happens with a lot of writing and art is that specificity ends up being relatable while universality becomes vague.
I wish I was a morning person.
I worry about not being able to be myself day to day. But I know people way more famous than me who have been able to do that.
I remind myself that, though there was a time anxiety might have stopped me, today is not that day. And so, by checking in with myself, minute by minute, I push myself through.
Growing up, my aunts would always put in hair ties and bows and all kinds of stuff, and I always hated it.
I feel like, every six months, I learn my hair or my skin anew and find a new thing that I like to do, and then I abandon it and move on.
I’ve had acting teachers say, ‘If you want to do anything else but act, that means you’re not an actor,’ which I think is stupid!
For me, fear manifests itself in snoozing and inactivity. I just become so sleepy, any time of day, when something needs to be done. I sometimes go days without responding to texts or reading books or being able to process much of anything beyond the sun slowly creeping through my living room windows.
I used to work at Cafe Mogador in the East Village. I love Mogador, but I feel like working almost anywhere will kind of ruin it for you. There was a lot of panicking while being a waitress there. I don’t like to think about that. But I love the food.
I feel like I pull inspiration, in general, from how I feel on a day.
In the United States, if you’re African-American, it can be assumed that your family has been here for generations. In Europe, colonialism is much more alive, and it’s assumed you’re from Nigeria or Senegal.
When the Berlin Wall came down, my dad left to visit the U.S. He met my mom at this summer camp where they were both working, so I grew up between Washington Heights and Germany speaking two languages.
At home in my room, I’m funny, but if I’m commissioned to be that, I don’t feel very funny.
Despite my career, so much of my life has been dictated by what I’m afraid of: fear that I am not talented. Fear that people will finally realize that I am a boring individual who doesn’t have many ambitions beyond starting a family ‘at a good time’ in life.
I do wonder if it’s my responsibility to spread a message of environmental awareness or political awareness or just, like, don’t be racist or whatever, but I don’t want to be the person who’s like, ‘Everyone be vegan forever!’
I used to cry on planes. I don’t anymore. It probably took almost a hundred agonizing flights to get there. Now, when I take off, a smile quivers on the corner of my lips.
I was an only child until I was 15, so I was able to reap the benefit of that.
What I crave, and what I want to see on television, is when you see a minority character, not to have it being about them being black or Asian or Latino. If you watch ‘Friends,’ for example, it’s not about a group of people being white. It’s about a group of people being friends, you know? You should just let the characters exist.
It is so frustrating to feel in danger. People have followed me around at 2 in the morning and have literally said, ‘Don’t make me follow you. You’re not responding to me.’ It’s incredibly degrading.
For me, a big thing growing up was naturalness – both in being and appearance. My mom never let me relax my natural hair. For so long, I thought I was ugly, and I still sometimes struggle with that. But now I’ve come to feel like this is me.
I love babies. I also have this very deep desire to become a mother. I always thought that motherhood was my highest calling.
The version of me on the Internet, it’s not me. It’s one portion.
Bad bread is the one thing I refuse. I need good bread.
I don’t know how people say exercising is addictive.
I identify with my womanhood before anything else because that’s what I deal with when I am alone.
It’s fascinating working with young children. You have to improvise around them, and they’re moving around and doing stuff, and you have to be real with them.
Agriculture is one of the biggest causes of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Cars? Planes? Trains? Nope. Cow farts.
I always thought my alternative life, if I wasn’t acting, would be to become a midwife. I love women. I want to help them exist.
I’ve begun feeling that my responsibility is to the Earth. Our generation’s war is climate change, so I’ve really been modifying how I eat and what I eat.
I actually didn’t think I was going to do TV because I don’t really watch TV. I’m a little bit pretentious, and I do these little indie movies, so I envisioned that more as the path for myself.
Some people feel like women should dress in a way that doesn’t promote attention-seeking. But this is just my body. My body in itself isn’t only sexual.
I like representing different kinds of black people – showing they exist.