Lovie plays the leader of “The Spades”, a powerful high school clique at a prestigious boarding school.
The Knockturnal: Talk a little bit about how you got here. What got you into acting?
Lovie Simone: Well I feel like I’ve always been a curious storyteller I would say. So I’ve always been interested in perspective and all sides to the stories. A lot of the time when I was younger, I would try and reason with the bad guys and say, ‘well, they had a really bad childhood.’ So I feel like ever since I was young, I was curious and I feel like as I started to grow up, I was like, ‘ok I feel like I want to display all of these emotions and all of these things that I picked up on.’ I feel like I’ve been an actor naturally. That’s my personality so it was easy for me to kind of just go into it. And then my family set me up with an acting class that I went to for a little and that’s how I found my manager. And then ever since, I’ve been going on auditions.
The Knocturnal: Do you have a certain type of character that you like to play the most?
Lovie Simone: No, I don’t think so. I feel like all of my characters are showing different sides of humanity and I feel like I’m open to exploring everything. So I don’t look to one specific role. I’m okay with comedy, drama, and horror. All of it, really.
The Knockturnal: Have you done any horror as of lately?
Lovie Simone: No I haven’t but I would be really interested in getting into that realm. Like I said, I’ve been curious since I was young. I always asked myself, ‘What would it be like if I was on a horror set?’ I’m wondering if I would really be scared and all this other stuff because I’m usually frightened.
The Knockturnal: The Director of Selah and the Spades, Tayarisha Poe, is also a black woman. What was that experience like for you?
Lovie Simone: I feel like it was a beautiful situation to walk into because Tayarisha has become like my big sister. I see so much of myself in her because she’s a creative and she’s independent and she knows what she wants. She has a vision and I love seeing that. It’s so powerful to look up to because that’s also how I’m kind of walking in my craft right now, I feel. So she has a big influence on that. And also, it was fun filming because it just felt really relaxed. That’s another thing. Tayarisha was really relaxed, but things got done and I feel like it was fun filming with her because a lot of the time on set, it’ll be a hurry up and wait situation or it will be an extremely long process, but with Tayarisha it was quick because she knew exactly what she wanted. It made everything flow so nice and she made it make sense!
The Knockturnal: She definitely seems like that type of person, very direct in what she wants. Was it inspiring to see her work and would you like to sit in the directors’ chair one day?
Lovie Simone: It was very inspirational for me and yes I would because I also have a vision of my own. Seeing the film for the first time was very pleasant because I finally saw what Tayarisha saw. Everybody has their own lens on life and when you experience someone fully, you can kind of see how they’re looking at the world and it affects you a certain way. So when I saw that, I was like, ‘Wow, I really am gravitating towards the way she sees the world.’ I was really excited to be a part of that and the creation of that.
The Knocturnal: This was your first-ever leading role in a movie. How was it taking on such a big role?
Lovie Simone: At first, it was a bit intimidating, not going to lie. When I got the news, I was like, ‘Wait, what?’ But when I got to Boston where we filmed, and I met Tayarisha and I met Celeste and Jharrel and everything started happening, it didn’t really feel like I was carrying the weight of that movie. It felt like it was a group project in a way. In the film, at the end I think it says it’s a film by us for us- I can’t exactly remember but, that’s really what it was. It’s not like, ‘Oh she’s the star of that movie.’ I don’t feel like I was the star. I felt like I was a piece in that story we were all telling.
The Knocturnal: In terms of being the ‘star’ in the movie, do you think it will change how people see you in your real life?
Lovie Simone: If anything, with whatever thing comes my way, I don’t want people to look at me like a celebrity. That has always been weird because people have this fetishized version of what celebrities are in their heads and it’s godly. I don’t want to be seen as godly, but as human as they come; just a girl that’s expressing her emotions on TV. With every role that I go into, it’s never that I need to- When I’m acting with someone, it’s never that I need to outact this person or I need to shine. It’s more so, how can we accomplish this one mission for this one scene that we have in front of us right now.
The Knockturnal: In recent interviews, Tayarisha has also talked about your character’s development and possibly being seen as an angry black woman. How do you relate to that and do you believe that you’ve ever been looked at in that way?
Lovie Simone: People have probably thought that before only because I know how society processes information and it’s very quick and I don’t know. The first impression is the impression in a way and it leaves little room to exist in fullness. So I feel like Selah just is and she has this is-ness to her that’s so attractive to me because she can just be and exist as she wants. Everything that she does comes from a place of, ‘What do I want right now?’ And I feel a lot of people try and shame that quality, but that’s the quality that Selah is bringing to light. It’s really different especially because she is a black girl. A lot of the time we have to be extra happy, and smile and whatnot, but Selah is not going to be that girl.
The Knockturnal: Are you and Selah anything alike?
Lovie Simone: At first I didn’t think we were alike because she’s very aggressive and whatnot and she’s a control freak. But when I finished filming, I realized how much I needed to be in control and it wasn’t that much different because it would cause violence. I would become aware of the cycle and it was very similar to Selah on a different side of the spectrum but the same thing. So that’s why I would say that we’re similar, but other than that, I would say that we’re really opposite. I am not about that life! I never have been, never will be. I’m very passive-aggressive- well, I’m aggressive but I’m kind. I care about people’s feelings. I don’t think Selah did, at all.
The Knockturnal: Had you ever seen a black person on TV attending a boarding school? Why do you think that it’s important to show?
Lovie Simone: I’ve never seen it, but I do think it’s important to see it because that’s the case for some black kids and you never get to see boarding school through their eyes. Seeing them be in a space that they don’t usually occupy is very satisfying to me and I feel like them having this whole life that they create for themselves is so interesting because you never see that. I’ve never seen that on TV, ever. If anything, the closest I’ve gotten is Zoey 101 and it’s about a blonde white girl and there’s probably like one black boy, but you don’t ever experience his life if it isn’t around one of her stories.
The Knockturnal: That’s so true! Zoey 101 is the closest thing we have!
Lovie Simone: Yeah that’s pretty much it and I really wanted to go to Pacific Coast- whatever school that was! I wanted to go there and I would have loved to see how I would have experienced being there with people like me in Philly, you know?
The Knockturnal: Which clique would you be a part of if you attended Haldwell?
Lovie Simone: It changes by the day or the hour just depending on how much strength I have that day, but mostly it’s the Spades. I feel like they’re the coolest and they are the best. If you were to get in trouble, you would want the Spades to help you out of all of them. But today, I really am feeling like the Skins. The Skins had everything to do with the betting on every game during every season and all of that so I feel I would be them. They also seem really laid back. The leader for that one was Amber and she was very cool and chill. It would be nice to be in The Skins.
The Knockturnal: In the film, your friendship with Paloma develops over time. How important are friends in your life?
Lovie Simone: I feel like friends are extremely important because- there’s this saying that says something like, ‘You’re the average of your 5 friends. If you’re not inspired then do something about it’, and I relate to that heavily because all of my friends push me to do my best and hold me accountable to the things I say, I want to do, or the things that I say I don’t want to do. I feel that when you have that support system, it can make or break you. I don’t have many friends. I have about 3 or 4 close friends and I’m completely satisfied with that because I feel like it’s all about quality over quantity.
The Knockturnal: Can you talk a little bit about your friendship with Paloma and whether or not you have a friend like her?
Lovie Simone: I don’t think I have a friend like her. That relationship was a lot of the teacher and student, and my relationships are kind of like teacher and student, but it goes both ways. We’re cheating off of each other. Once Paloma became advanced and she wanted to help and be that for Selah. I have friends where we are very fond of each other and I have friends that I put a lot of my trust in them in a short amount of time, but as far as the dynamic goes, it’s a little bit different.
The Knockturnal: You are Ghanian and African-African American. Do you consider yourself to be a woman before you are black, or are you black before you are a woman?
Lovie Simone: I wouldn’t say that I would put one before the other. It is everything that I am in a way. I’m a bunch of things. Everything I hold high. Like me being a woman, I hold that very high and me also being black. I’m also black so it’s not even that I’m black before or I’m a woman before. I’m black and I’m a woman or I’m a woman and I’m black. Whatever way it comes out my mouth really. So whichever way it goes because at the end of the day, I’m going to experience the world as a black person but I’m also going to experience the world as a woman. And sometimes with the both of them together as a black woman. That’s a completely separate category as well.
The Knockturnal: Are there any secrets you can share with us about this film?
Lovie Simone: There is one thing that I think is very funny. There is this monologue that I posted on my social media and I’m talking about being a 17-year-old girl and having control over your body and all of this stuff and fun fact, the day before I filmed that, I didn’t know that I had that scene for that day and I was like, ‘Wow, I have a day off and I have an easy workday tomorrow. I’m going to take a shower, I got in bed and it was like 10 pm. I was like, let me go and just check one more time. I go and check and then I see that it’s like two and a half pages of me talking and I’m having a breakdown in the hotel room. ‘Oh my God!’ I literally sat there and was like, ‘Lovie. Of course, this would happen to me.’ I sat there and was like, ‘Ok, you have to finish this.’ And by the grace of God, I had it down pat! They were like, ‘Are you ready?’ And I was like, ‘One second. Ok, I’m good!’ It was wild because it was like a minute and 46 seconds of just me speaking
The Knockturnal: It’s crazy because I would not have known that had you not told me right now. That was one of my favorite parts!
Lovie Simone: I read the script before so I knew, but I did not know that this was the day for this! And I was like, ‘Let me get myself together.’ It was wild.
Selah and the Spades will be streamed on Amazon Prime April 17th!