You Know Her From: The Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave; 2016’s street-magician-meets-drug-world drama Sleight, in which she starred opposite actor-musician Jacob Latimore
What’s Next: Playing YA heroine Meg in A Wrinkle in Time (opening March 9), directed by Ava DuVernay and co-starring Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, and Mindy Kaling; appearing with Danny Glover and Napoleon Dynamite’s Jon Heder in the dark comedy Killing Winston Jones; joining David Oyelowo in the sci-fi thriller Only You.
It’s a Wunderkind Life: “I’ve learned to have patience and dedication, and I’m always trying to better myself as an artist. I feel like, in this industry, there are a lot more nos than yeses, but you have to have faith in yourself and know that your time will comeespecially if you’re taking the time to study your craft.”
Learning on the Job: “Being a part of the cast of 12 Years a Slave was my first introduction to slavery and racism. At that point, those concepts had not been taught to me in school. Being in the movie opened my eyes to how neglectful schools are in teaching us about every aspect of our history. 12 Years a Slave became my personal history lesson: I learned that all men aren’t treated equally under the law.”
The Tao of Oprah: “Working with her was amazing, magical. She has so much love and passion for acting, and she’s everything you could ask for: down-to-earth and a great human being. One piece of advice she gave me was, ‘Don’t waste energy on things you can’t change. Use that energy for something positive in your life.’ It’s now my mantra.”
The Persistence of Memory: “One of my all-time favorite books is The Giver by Lois Lowry. To me the book symbolizes the gift of memory—remembering where you came from, remembering the pain of what society went through, and, mainly, remembering to create more memories. It’s about living life to the fullest no matter your surroundings, being able to grow as a person, and striving to leave the negative things behind.”
Photography: Brian Higbee
Styling: Alison Brooks
Hair: Preston Wada at Opus Beauty using Kevin Murphy.
Makeup: Melissa Murdick at Opus Beauty using Chanel Les Beiges.