What else did you do to make sure this romantic connection would be believable?
Before we started we all had to go to Chicago to meet the family and [Hampton’s son], and my jacket wasn’t good enough to withstand the Chicago weather. Daniel said, “Take mine.” So already, when we first met, I am wrapped in his mind, wrapped in something that is his. And on a personal level, I shared things with Daniel and Daniel shared things with me, so we really learned to trust each other. We knew why we were doing it, that it was bigger than us.
Confidence is an underrated part of film chemistry. In many ways, love is about having each other’s back.
When you have that confidence in someone, you don’t need to be defensive or on your toes, and that’s what I’ve learned personally with Daniel. We went bowling once, and this white guy decided he wanted to get a fry off my plate. I don’t know him at all and he takes a fries on my plate! And before I can speak, Daniel and Ian [Duff, another cast member] snatched the fry from her hand and said, “What are you doing?” They all gathered around me, and it was the first time I could say, “Oh wow, that’s what it feels like when you don’t have to advocate.”
Coming from New York and navigating an industry that often overlooks black women and women, I don’t want to be tough, I don’t want to defend myself – I want to lean more into my divine feminine, where I receive. So it was really cool to have them around me, and it was automatic! I didn’t have to turn to them and say, “So you’re not going to do anything?”
Do roles like this stay with you after filming or are you able to easily move on?
This one was particularly difficult. I don’t know if she left me and I really don’t want her to, because I feel like I’ve learned unconditional love in a certain way and how I want to navigate it. world and how I want to treat people. I went in search of freedom. Self-determination is something the Black Panther Party talked about, so when I left Cleveland [where the film was shot] in 2019, i made 2020 my year of freedom – or, my “free dom” year.
I thought I was going to travel and do X, Y, and Z, and ended up being quarantined. But I started to meditate so much, to write more, to know myself, to know my triggers, to know why and if or where I was afraid in love and how I wanted to function to move forward. And I realized that freedom was in the mind.