The first time we saw Kiersey Clemons, she was a socially awkward and outcasted high school rocker who was a part of a high profile cryptocurrency drug gang in the feature film Dope. The now 25-year-old actress recently garnered a lead role in the upcoming movie, Hearts Beat Loud about a high school senior torn between going to med school and and pursuing her true passion of singing in a DIY band with her dad.
Kiersey Clemons has made it an effort to pursue roles that most would consider abnormal for young women of color, but it's not on accident. The young actress recently opened up to VIBE about how the pressure to fit into a box of what a "black girl" should be just didn't work for her anymore. Kiersey said that she and the rest of mainstream America are ready to see "Asian women, Latino women, brown girls and women, any women other than a white girl, getting to make the movies that white girls make."
The actress mentioned that part of her inspiration to seek out innovative roles was the number of depictions of strong black women that we are fortunate enough to witness not just in film, but in real life.
"We are in the position where we know that black women are strong and smart; it's 2018. We know that. We have Beyoncé and Michelle Obama and f**king Oprah Winfrey."
Because of these powerful depictions, women of color in the spotlight are often put on a pedestal and expected to be extraordinary. Kiersey says that she is exactly the opposite, but her story is just as important to the conversation.
Rich Fury/Getty Images
"I don't want to have to be polished, because I feel like for black girls, you're only allowed to be earth-loving hippie or rebellious, stick it to the man or polished. Like I will politely tell you how I f**king feel, like America's sweetheart. But how come I can't be all of those things? And then if you're the hood girl, everything that you do is extraordinary because we have low expectations. It's the shadiest sh*t."
Shows like Insecure and Dear White People are a part of the culture pushing to portray the three-dimensional aspects of black women, which is a major stride considering that we've been repeatedly locked into a handful of stereotypes. She continued:
"Asian women get no opportunities. Latina women, where are they? I just want to be like, we can f**k around, too. We also freely have sex and it's not because it's a political statement. We also go to parties and drink at the bar and chase guys and girls and do stupid f**king sh*t and regret it the next day. How come we don't get the opportunity to tell those stories? Why do I have to live up to some expectation?"
The Dope actress said that it's important to remember that depictions of ordinary women of color are essential to our narrative as a society simply because these women exist. She said that after her performance as a queer, biracial woman in her first film, these expectations followed her beyond the screen and into her personal life.
"I realize that after Dope, I've just been put into a position of, 'She's strong and pretty and she's young, she's biracial and she's a woman and she's queer, she must be an activist.' I realized that I was being called this thing that I don't want to live up to what we think an activist is because I'm an artist. Activism and art do go hand in hand, but I am an artist and an 'artivist' within that."
Despite outside pressures of what people told her she "should be," she understands that there is only one her.
"I will never be a Yara Shahidi. She is so special and eloquent and forms sentences in a way that I will never be able to and we have separate strengths. I'm not saying she's not an artist, but she is doing something that we all desire that we could be that way and we're just not."
Staying in your own lane will get you to your destination says Kiersey, and we can only do that by being our individual selves. The actress said that the key to surpassing the expectations of the majority, is to discover that we are all truly exceptional together.
"That's the thing about women being exceptional. Love is not exceptional. Care, intuition is not exceptional. People hold all of these great things and what's exceptional is when we get to be together."
To read the full interview, click here.
Featured image by Rich Fury/Getty Images
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This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Russell and Nina Westbrook are one of those low-key, unproblematic couples we don’t talk about enough. They met in college and got married in 2015. They also have a beautiful family with three kids. While Russell is an NBA star, Nina is a licensed family and marriage therapist and a mental health advocate.
She recently launched the podcast The Relationship Chronicles with Nina Westbrook, and in the latest episode, she had none other than her husband on as a guest. The college sweethearts dived into important topics from marriage to children and how they navigate it all.
One of the topics they touched on was dealing with resentment in your relationship. The former MVP highlighted the sacrifices his wife has had to make in order for him to pursue a career in the NBA, and that’s why it’s also important for him to support his wife whenever he can.
“For me is respecting and understanding what your partner do and the time it takes,” Russell said. “Not kind of downplaying what they do, understanding the time and energy and effort they're doing to make sure whether it’s their job or making sure home is taken care of, and understanding that, I think that is the challenge of not being resentful.”
Nina agreed and also shared her thoughts on resentment. According to her, one of the best things couples should do is have their own identity and passions outside of the relationship in an effort to be fulfilled.
“I also think that when you’re in a relationship, that’s why it’s so important that each individual kinda pursue their own passions and follow their own dreams as I feel like it only becomes or leads to resentment when one person is not feeling fulfilled in what they're doing in their lives,” she explained.
“And so, they will start to look at the other partner who’s happy or excelling or promoting or moving along in their journey, then they’re left feeling stuck like they sacrificed themselves, their happiness, their career, their future and have not pursued it in the name of the relationship or their partner. So, it’s so much easier to avoid those feelings of resentment when you’re each equally pursuing your passions.”
The couple has many passions that they work on together and separately. Outside of basketball and his family, Russell has become known for his eclectic style and started the fashion brand Honor The Gift. Nina has her podcast, and she also started the mental health website Bene. Together, they run the Why Not? Foundation, which works with kids in underserved communities.
“I’m a firm believer that one person can’t be everything to you, so you have to sort of seek out those different friendships or groups or hobbies or activities that help to fulfill you,” Nina concluded.
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Feature image by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for Religion of Sports