5. Nina Simone One of the first songs that I consciously felt was one that had a huge impact on me “Four women.” I remember the first time I heard this and I was dancing to it. It’s not just about the music and it’s not just about the sound. It is about truth. You feel his pain and his human self. It is also the femininity and power in womanhood and her indifferent attitude to her blackness and what she represented during her time. Of course, there are other artists who do the same. But I don’t think Nina Simone makes it beautiful, and it draws me to it.
6. “Zzzy Dance Le Metro” My name is “Zazie dans le metro”, a French book by Raymond Cuneau, and [Louis Malle] created a movie His. I grew up watching this movie. The film is about Paris relatively soon after World War II. The story is about a 10-year-old girl named Zazie who visits her uncle and her aunt in Paris for the weekend, and shenanigans ensu. Even though I would watch the German version, I always felt like I was his and it was me. I felt inspired to read my name and watch the film in its native language. So I was a French major in college and then I lived in Paris for a year.
7. “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth” I’m obsessed with midwifery, up to the point I noticed in school. I wanted to be a doula. A few years ago, David gifted me this book for Christmas because I’m very interested in this transition and in a way this complete surrender of power. I think women are looking death in the eye when you give birth to a tiny creature that is still connected to the universe. I’ve never given birth, so maybe I’m romanticizing it all, and it’s terrible. But I want to help women feel empowered in their journey.
8. Knitting When I was 8 years old, my mother taught me very basic stitches. I could knit in one style for a long time: rectangle. Then four years ago, I took it seriously. I watched videos on YouTube and bought all these books and taught myself a craft and a trade. And now I’m like: “I learned a skill. I can make things that are useful to people.” I take great pride in this.
9. Period Clothing One of my most transformative moments in acting is when I put on a costume. It tells a lot about the character. It changes how they move, it changes how they engage with the world and who they are. I am enamored of Jane Austen’s world. one of my favorite movies “Marie Antoinette” by Sofia Coppola and a big part of it is everyone’s costumes and beauty. On the red carpet, my inspiration for hair is honestly Marie Antoinette, and my hair looks like it in my head — though clearly doesn’t look like it in real life.
10. Lian La Havaso I discovered her when I was in college, and I felt this immediate kinship. She is almost the same age as me. She is also of mixed caste and her hair was like mine. At the time, the natural movement of hair in America was just getting its feathers, and I recognized what it looked like. Every album she comes out with, she’s grown up, and that’s how I grew up. I feel this cool dude who’s like, “I know you.”