I was the jokester, the one who made the family laugh.
I was kind of a bully, even though I'm tiny, 5' 2". As a child, I'd boss other kids around and dress my little brother up, just putting on shows, singing and dressing up.
Stone Mountain, Georgia, still had Ku Klux Klan marches, and I had a wild and courageous mother who'd put us in the car to watch them. She wanted us to know those things existed.
There are expectations in how you play your character as a black woman, to be sassy and the same kind of feel, as if there are no quirky black women. I struggle with those things constantly, trying to add dimension to my work, and that's the goal, too.
When I was younger, my father was in the Foreign Service and we lived in Nigeria, Panama, and London, but for the most part I grew up in the South and D.C. I got the travel bug as a little person and I've bounced around a lot.
Everything about us black people is complicated, us being here, being a minority, being a woman, all those things are complicated.
I went to Juilliard in New York and used to do cabarets just for fun. Occasionally, I would get together with a jazz musician and play at a restaurant for cash. And I've done some background vocals for recording artists.
I've been fortunate to work with Alfre Woodard and Jeffrey Wright; people who are artists, have careers, longevity and full lives. That looks good to me.
My mom has an English accent, so we always referred to the trunk as the 'boot.' And then, suddenly, we moved to Georgia and I would say things like 'open the boot' with a bit of an accent, and I quickly realized I had to adapt; that kind of thing will get you beat up!
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