What was your idea of what it means to be a successful actor when you were a kid?
Being on a Disney Channel TV show. I really wanted to be like Rocky Blue in Shake It Up or Raven in That’s So Raven or China Anne McClain in A.N.T. Farm. I was like, this is the pinnacle of acting! This is success! But I didn’t really know it was a career path until I came to Canada and was like, oh, I can do this.
What is it now?
I love, love, love, love, love, love, love Viola Davis. I think she’s such a powerful actress and presence and human being in general. You can feel her. I think she’s really, really incredible. If I ever got to work with her, I’d probably dropped dead.
What was your audition process like for Gossip Girl?
It was a pretty ephemeral experience, honestly, because I got lucky. I got the long end of the straw or the stick or whatever because I did the tape and they really liked me and then they made me Zoya. It was pretty surreal. It was pretty fast.
How you celebrated getting the role?
I don’t think I did because I didn’t really believe that it was happening. And then, of course, COVID happened and I was like, well now it’s definitely not going to happen. So, it was sitting in the anticipation of what the next move was. I never really had like a moment where it sunk in. I’ve had multiple little moments of, like, wow, this is my life right now. It’s really humbling.
How do you relate most to Zoya?
Past me relates to her, and I think the future me is gonna relate to her very different experiences. Obviously, I have dealt with the whole new school, new country, new world…being the only light-skinned girl in Uganda at a boarding school and the attention that comes with that. But then coming to Canada and receiving a different type of energy was very weird—it’s kind of like an amplified idea of being an outsider looking in.
I think future me is gonna relate to her because this is my first major recurring role in television. So the reaction that’s going to come with that is really scary, which I think Zoya feels when she goes to Constance and the Upper East Side is this fear of losing herself in all of it.