TNC LITRATURE 2021
Supreme Actresses: Iconic Black Women Who Revolutionized Hollywood
Hey Marcellas, it's great to have the opportunity to talk with you again. How have you been keeping during these strange times?
I know things have been odd since the spring of 2020. Yet somehow, I managed to flourish. I sold Supreme Actresses, my second book in two years, during the height of the pandemic and the start of the BLM protests.
Besides writing and publishing a new book, have you been able to use this time to explore any long-dormant hobbies or interests?
I pivoted from fashion styling to casting television shows. I worked non-stop during the pandemic, casting Supermarket Sweep, Small Fortune, and HBO Max's streetwear competition, The Hype. I found the winning designer!
Your debut book Supreme Models was a huge success. I let out a little scream when I saw it on the shelves in Barcelona & Madrid. Did you imagine you would get the type of response you got for the book?
From bookstores, the models, the press, and of course, the readers, the accolades for the book have been nothing short of glorious. I never imagined the book would do this well. I had hoped, but I had no way of knowing!
Congratulations are in order as your latest book SUPREME ACTRESSES: Iconic Black Women Who Revolutionized Hollywood, has been released. How does it feel to see your new book on the shelves?
I'm incredibly proud of myself. I wrote two books in two years celebrating the accomplishments of incredible women whose lives and work redefined how we see people of colour. The books are my legacy and a part of the legacies of the women inside.
When did you know you wanted to do a book on Black actresses?
The idea for Supreme Actresses came to me as I finished Supreme Models. I knew it was a great idea that honoured what I created with Supreme Models.
Why do you think there hasn't been an art book before Supreme Actresses celebrating and honouring Black Actresses and their contribution to cinema?
There have been other books that broadly discuss Black women in entertainment. But they were written by people outside of the fashion world. Before I began writing, I was an art director and fashion stylist, which informed my eye and my approach to writing. I also think my timing is right. It's a time when people of all races are interested in stories about each other.
Black Women have always played an incredible role in every aspect of our lives, cultures, and politics. Will you continue your Supreme book series to explore the role of Black Women in Literature, Music, Science, Politics, and Fashion?
Oh, you know, I have something else up my sleeve. Supreme Models: The Documentary comes out in Fall 2022. I have another idea for a third book, and it's beautiful.
Tell us more about the tie-in series?
I partnered with Iman, the legendary supermodel. In early 2021 we began pitching Supreme Models: The Documentary. I'm thrilled that after a bidding war, YouTube purchased the series! This documentary is going to beautifully tell the story of the Black model's journey in fashion. The people we are interviewing are icons in the industry. This documentary is going to be an over-the-top gorgeous spectacle!
One of the first things that hit me and made me a little sad and angry was the Oscar Winners section. It is hard to fathom seeing Hattie McDaniel's name in the 1940s yet knowing it would take over forty years before another actress, Whoopi Goldberg, would win an Oscar. Did you imagine that this page would have such a powerful impact on our readers?
I knew The Trailblazers section would have an impact on readers. You see the scope of the Black actresses' journey in Hollywood. I also love that I list the winners and the nominees. It's startling to see how few Black Oscar nominees there are and to see who this handful of winners triumphed over!
How did you research Supreme Actresses? Was there a particular time period or actress with whom you wanted to start?
As a longtime film buff, there were three places I wanted to start—the Golden Age of Hollywood. The Hays Code, which impacted how filmmakers depicted people of colour in films. And with Josephine Baker, a legend who was the first Black woman to star in a motion picture. From there, I read a lot of biographies, devoured interviews and accounts of lives lived. I also spent a great deal of time on imdb.com.
"I created a list of potential subjects and got to work proving why they were noteworthy."
Was your approach to Supreme Actresses different from your debut book Supreme Models?
My approach was the same for both books. I created a list of potential subjects and got to work proving why they were noteworthy. Did this person make an impact on her craft? If she did, she made the cut.
And finally, what would you like your readers to take away from Supreme Actresses?
The main themes of Supreme Actresses are belief in oneself, dedication, discipline, and humility. These women are in service to something bigger than fame, each opening the door for the next. It's about uplifting themselves, each other, and their race.