“Am I Good At Keeping Secrets?”
Actor Teyonah Parris repeats the question, her voice taking on a conspiratorial tone. The South Carolina native’s next role is starring opposite Elizabeth Olsen in Disney Plus’ upcoming Marvel series WandaVision, so although we’re supposed to be talking about the show, there’s not much she can reveal. “I am—but only because I just don’t say anything,” she says. “It’s been quite maddening. When I got the role last year, I had to hold it in for three months. But it was worth it.” Parris first broke out on Mad Men as Don Draper’s secretary, Dawn, before going on to star in Spike Lee’s 2015 satire Chi-Raq and in the intimate James Baldwin adaptation If Beale Street Could Talk. With WandaVision, all eyes are on her as Monica Rambeau. It’s a character that movie fans first met as a boisterous child in Captain Marvel and who comic-book fans know as the eventual leader of the Avengers—although Parris is quick to remind us that her onscreen counterpart doesn’t necessarily hold the same fate.
A Marvellous Surprise
“I didn’t know [what role] I had auditioned for in WandaVision, and when I found out I got the part, I was like, ‘You better not say it’s Monica Rambeau.’ I was so excited, I tried to jump off the stairs in my house. My family had to say, ‘Sit down and breathe.’ It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to be a superhero.”
“I grew up watching badass women in action films, but none of them looked like me. I’m humbled by what I’ve been allowed to do. With my roles, I want people to connect with the humanity of Black people and to understand that the Black experience isn’t a monolithic one. I want to find material that makes you question your beliefs or the beliefs of those around you but that can also make you laugh and feel relief from the world and [feel seen].”
Michaela Coel in I May Destroy YouCOURTESY OF HBO/BELL MEDIA
“[Embracing my natural hair] was such a mental shift for me. I realized I wasn’t comfortable with it; I didn’t see myself as beautiful in my natural state. I thought I had to fit into a very Eurocentric standard of beauty. When I stopped relaxing my hair, it made me confront my own biases. I was being so unfair to myself and not loving myself for who I am.”
“I use Ronnie’s Oil. It’s really hydrating but not too heavy. It’s my go-to product.”
“This T-shirt and no bra situation is kind of lit. I’m not looking for- ward to putting heels back on. I’d love to get braids—I’m so tired of doing my hair myself—and keep my sweats on.”
“Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You. I didn’t know what I was getting into, but the way it centres the conversation around the intersection of Blackness, queeners and sexuality is so good. She’s so smart and so brave to speak out about her entire experience as a creative both behind and in front of the camera.”
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