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Dominique Fishback loves a good vision board. Career, Self, Fashion, you name it, and she has a PDF for that. The power of manifestation – to bring her goals and dreams into the universe – has served the actress well in her nearly 30 years. Take, for example, a tweet she posted at the beginning of her career in February 2011, in which she said, “I want to do theater, change my life. I want to be part of shows that are deep to people, shows with beautiful messages, writing and music. I just want to touch the heart. “Fast forward to 2021, Fishback is literally doing just that with powerful appearances in Judas and the black messiah, Project performance, and The deuce. Then there are the mood boards she created a few years ago for her first meeting with stylist Madison Guest, where she asked the questions, “What would it look like if Brooklyn had princesses and what would it look like if Tupac and Selena having a baby? "Cue their 2021" divinely feminine "fashion revolution. In the 25 minutes I spent with Fishback, it became clear that I was in the presence of a true visionary and artist.
Of course, I already knew that in the interview. The woman behind the one-woman show Undermine has kept a permanent place on my radar since I first covered them Breakout role on The deuce two years ago. But Judas and the black messiah feels like a major turning point for the actress. Written and directed by Shaka King, the biographical film revolves around the betrayal and tragic murder of Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya), chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party in the late 1960s. The role of Deborah Johnson, Hampton's fiancé, should always be that of Fishback – as King wrote it – and it is clear that she put every bit of herself into the role and even bestowed her writing skills on the emotional poem that Deborah Fred in the book reads the film. Fishback's performance is raw and hearty, the kind that stays with you long after the credits. It also left a lasting impression on Fishback, who told me about their experiences: “I've learned who I want to be as a woman and as a person who is developing. I am forever changed and I am fortunate to know these people. "
It was a two month cyclone for Fishback that conducted countless interviews and press appearances in support of Fishback Judas and the black messiah. During this time we were pampered with over 15 outstanding fashion and beauty looks. If there were any questions, yes, Fishback is just winning the virtual press game. The proof can be found in the following pictures, which were provided exclusively to Who What Wear and as the perfect accompaniment for my eye-opening conversation with the Actress.
Read many of the interviews you've worked for Judas and the black messiahIt is clear that this film had a huge, if not transformative, impact on you. Can you explain your experience in more detail?
I think one of the proudest moments [for me] was before we started filming. I have to go to Chicago to meet the family. It was Daniel [Kaluuya] and I together with [director] Shaka King and Will [Berson], the co-author, and we sat at the table for over seven hours. Chairman Fred Hampton Jr. asked us all to come around the table and say why we wanted to do this film. That was really amazing to me because it felt like they were really giving us a chance and really trying to see who we are. I think that also allowed me to trust the team more because we all just got to know each other. It was just so vulnerable and so revealing [sharing] why we wanted to do something like this, but we saw that everyone had a purpose greater than just acting or just creating this story. So that was a proud moment. And then Mama Akua [Njeri], formerly known as Deborah Johnson, came up to the set and just told me that she saw herself up there, it was a proud moment. Just honestly to portray a love like hers and elevate Chairman Fred's legacy [Hampton] With my own eyes I help show how massive and amazing it is. So not only can I bestow my body and my likeness, not just my voice, not just my eyes, but also my own words to be able to write the poem with which she shares [Fred] in the movie. It was like I couldn't pray for anything better. I couldn't have prayed for better cast or staff. I learned who I wanted to be as a woman and as a person who moves forward. I am forever changed and I am fortunate to know these people.
What were some of the conversations you had with Njeri before or during filming?
You know, she didn't really say much about their relationship. Chairman Fred Hampton Jr. says, "There are some things that must go to the grave," so they really protected personal stories. In that sense, it really allowed me to develop it the way I intuitively wanted to. That was journaling and navigating the emotional world of what it would be like to fall in love with a man as revolutionary as he is. One of the things she said is that she didn't cry when they murdered Chairman Fred which was really important so we wanted to honor that.
When researching the film, was there anything about the Black Panther Party or the relationship between Fred Hampton and Njeri that particularly surprised you?
I read them Fred Hampton assassination before and during the year I spoke to Shaka about various things we read and then in April 2019, for whatever reason, I heard many speeches from Malcolm X and Martin Luther King every morning about Tidal. I didn't know why I was doing it, but I remember feeling, "Wow, the ridiculous things these reporters are saying [about Malcolm] and try to put it in your mouth, it won't get nervous or frustrated. He just calmly corrects what they say. I said, “I want to be like this. I want to be able to do that. “And so I really have to say that the research came from my own spiritual desire. It wasn't for [Njeri]. It just felt like everything before I got on the set was intuitively imparting that knowledge to me. You know she has a book My life with the Black Panther Party. Shaka and Will got me a copy of it because it's out of print, but again it didn't go into any personal details about Fred. Everything she said later in interviews is what she says in the book, so she didn't go into those intimate details of how they got together or things like that. So really just journaling, putting a lot of Nina Simone songs on the scene and thinking about writing poetry. I have a poem about their first kiss and all these things. I was really just allowing myself, and she was allowing me, Mama Akua allowed me to develop her as I saw fit.
As I spoke of your poems, I heard that you were very much involved in the writing of the poem that Deborah Fred reads in the film. How did that happen?
I met with Shaka and he said he wrote the role for me and wanted me to read the script and let him know about my thoughts. So I read the script and emailed him about everything I loved and said, "I have two thoughts but I don't want to go overboard so just let me know if you want to hear them." And he said, "Oh, you're going to play them. You can't cross. Give me your notes." One of the first things was, "One of the first things [Deborah] says is Do you like poetry And then we never hear a poem, and the panthers were very poetic. I think we are missing out on an opportunity. " [Shaka] says: “I think you are right. Do you want to try this poem? “I didn't expect him to say that. I looked back on my email because I was always talking about this poem and I didn't really remember the process of writing it. I know I was on the set The deuce when he sent me the email that said, "How come the poem?" I said, "Gosh, I haven't written it yet." And so I just sat in the hair and makeup chair and wrote a whole long poem to get all of my thoughts out of it. Then I said to him, “You know, this part is just the intro. We can cut it. You let me know if you would like any further editing. "And he said," No. “He just took the heart of what I was saying and put it on the script.
This film is particularly relevant to the BLM protests last summer, which sparked a great moment of reflection and education for the country. Why do you think it is important to keep learning about black history and sharing those stories on a global stage?
Because theater, art and film hold a mirror up to society, right? We could always say, “Well, that was before; That was the past. "But when you see Breonna Taylor murdered in her bed and Chairman Fred murdered in his bed, you can't say it was another time. So it's really about blaming society for things, that she did. We have to admit that we were wrong and the way we treat people is wrong. And we admit that and learn too. It's okay if you say, "Mine Parents told me that, and I thought that for a long time. "I think that was last summer. People began to realize," Hey, maybe I was out and about with different glasses. "I speak in my One Woman show Undermine about dog whistle politics, what I learned from Olivia Pope in scandal. It's the idea that certain things are said on TV and on the news and I would say, "This is offensive to me and this is offensive to people who are from my neighborhood" and other people who are not from my neighborhood would it be like "What? What is it? "But that's because they use other words, like" animal "talking about a black guy they blame. Animal. Nobody else hears that. Whatever you want to use, it's dog whistle and it is insulting, but if you can't get out of this reality and be put up against a wall every time you walk to the store, or get thrown on the floor, or still be called "boy" in East New York today, Brooklyn, then you do that don't know this reality. And it's okay that you don't know because how do you know what you don't know? But when someone tells you their truth and story instead of saying, "No, that's not true "Listen. And maybe we'll start listening. I remember seeing a video of a young white boy who had the eyes shot out by the police with a BB gun protesting for black people's lives." I have on Instagr Looked at am and thought he was going to be angry that he risked his life line for something that didn't concern him and he said losing your eyes is a small thing compared to what the black and brown people do going through in this country. I could not believe it. I said, "Wow, thanks." So people open up. People say, "Your pain is my pain." We learn that we are one. I remember when summer started I was marching, but I didn't feel like this was my calling and I was upset about writing because I was writing Undermine 2012/2013 and I thought: “Am I just an actor? What am I doing? Am i just an artist? "I remember talking to Daniel [Kaluuya] and he said something like this: When we are all connected and we are all one and we are all from the same body, we don't expect the heart to do what the legs do. We don't expect the mind to do what the hands do. We all play different roles, but we all work as one type of thing and art is important. And it was okay, it's not for nothing that I'm writing these poems or writing this one-woman show because we're essentially going to be the ones who make history, the artists. We have now learned that our history books are not even accurate. So if a person comes from a neighborhood and they write a poem about what it is like to be terrorized by the police, this is the story they are jotting down. It is a fact. That's the truth. Why should we believe a textbook when we know they lied to cover up certain things? So yes, people will stop looking for the truth in the textbooks. You will start searching people for the truth.
The subject of this film is pretty heavy. Can you tell me about a particularly happy day on set?
To be honest, every day on set was happy. The assassination scene happened to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Chairman Fred, which was not pleasant. That was difficult. It was dark. We were all trying to figure out what we were filming and how to deal with this energy that was floating around. But we went bowling together. We went roller skating. Our costume designer Charlese Antoinette Jones had a birthday party so we could do that and share time together. We went to the Cleveland Boys and Girls Club and I spoke a word for them and we played basketball, soccer, air hockey and all those things with the kids. We went to the Cleveland School of the Arts and they did monologues for us and we gave them feedback. We didn't have to do that. We wanted to do that.
You recently shared a tweet from 10 years ago saying you want to create a theater, life change, and be part of shows that are deep to people and beautiful messages. Now that you do, and it's your 30th birthday next month, what are your hopes and dreams now?
Well, I definitely want the EGOT. I want a pulitizer for Undermine. That was something when I wrote Undermine. I said, "I want a Pulitzer." I wrote it on my Instagram. I have a lot of vision boards and I realize that a lot of my vision boards only cover my career. Finally I said, “Dom, what about your personal life?” I want to be married. I want to have children. I want to have a big house with a pool and a basketball court. I want to have a big house that my family can come to and we can have a good time and share space and memories. There are so many things, especially with art. I've always said I want to do one of each of them. I want to write a solo show. I want to write a book of poetry. I want to make an album. I want to do a painting gallery exhibition. A documentary. One of all. And that doesn't mean I wouldn't do another one-woman show, but I really want to try to do one of all and try to the best of my ability to use all of these media. That would be fun. The manifestation also leaves space for God and the universe to work its magic. I was starring romantically and never thought I'd play Daniel Kaluuya's chairman Fred, chairman Fred's fiancée. I never would have thought so, so I know the universe has big plans.
Who are the creators (filmmakers, writers, actors, artists) on your radar who you would like to work with next?
If I could do something with Lin-Manuel Miranda it would be really cool. I think that would be stupid. My homeboy is from Brooklyn, Anthony Ramos. I made a short adaptation of Romeo and Juliet [with him]where everything is talked about and we did it for a gala for a theater company. That was really cool and now I know he does In the heights. So if I work with Lin and Anthony it would be cool. Who else? Meryl Streep. I really want to do a movie with Meryl Streep. I don't know what we could do together, but I know it will be amazing.
I've been following your virtual press coverage on Instagram and it's pretty clear you're having a lot of fun. You're wearing a retro plaid number from Miu Miu one day and an amazing red leopard print suit from Tom Ford the next day. And on the beauty side, you've played with pearls, blue lips, and crystal eye makeup.
Well I have to say Madison Guest who is my stylist is really amazing. It is also similar to Shaka in some ways. She is such a great employee. I'm doing PDFs, okay. In 2018 I made a PDF, sent it to Madison, and said, “What would it be like if Brooklyn had princesses? What would it be like if Tupac and Selena had a baby? “I got really wild and crazy. Sunshine is something people say when I come to meetings – like, "Oh, you bring the sun with your smile." So how can we put the 1000-faced heroine in the foreground because I really feel like I have so many different parts of myself inside of me? We have a life to live that we remember as these versions of ourselves, so I want to be able to really use and share these versions of me with anyone who wants to see them, but really with me. I give a word every year. So 2019 was my spirit year. 2018 was my CEO year. Twenty was my Freedom or FreeDOM year. And so, 2021 is my divine feminine year. I would post such little things on my Instagram and suddenly Madison comes up with her own PDF and she says, "So divinely feminine!" She's just having a good time. She gets me and is offended by nothing. Monae Everett is my hairdresser and Billie Gene is my makeup artist. There are many fires [in the group]. Madison is a Sagittarius, Billie is a Leo, I'm an Aries and Monae is a Libra and Libra is the polarity of Aries so there is some balance. We really swing and have a fiery, fun time. Madison always tells this story: When I first dated her in 2017 or something, I said, “So I like what you do here. I like that, but I don't want to be boring. I want to have a great time. "
What about your personal style? Are there certain pieces that you are attracted to right now?
I do this Zara [pants]. They are a kind of boyfriend pants, baggy but high waisted. Very 90s. For t-shirts I have one on which Romeo and Juliet kiss, Baz Luhrmanns Romeo and Juliet. I have a Dirty dancing T-shirt. I have a Sixteen candles T-shirt and an Aaliyah t-shirt. Romance merch. I need The notebook. But yes, a T-shirt and those baggy pants or sweatpants, because who really goes anywhere? That's my thing, a baggy bottom and a tight top or a crop top.
Judas and the black messiah is now streamed on HBO Max.