Imagista catches up with the rising force-to-be-reckoned-with, Amirah Vann, who has never forgotten that her heart belongs in Queens. Amirah currently stars on WGN America’s “Underground” which airs Wednesdays at 10/9c.
INTERVIEW & STORY BY: KATINA GOULAKOS/PHOTOGRAPHS BY TINA TURNBOW
Imagista: So, where are you originally from?
Amirah Vann: I grew up in a diverse neighborhood in Far Rockaway, Queens. One of my greatest memories of home is being in a hooded sweatshirt and shorts at the beach with my light green, extremely soft, bed sheet wrapped around my legs.
Imagista: Where are you currently based?
Amirah Vann: I still live in Queens, but closer to Manhattan. I’ve always enjoyed the balance of working in the busy fast-paced city and going home to my beautiful quieter neighborhood. Queens has always provided a family centered environment surrounded by water (I love nature). After all these years, I’m still in love!
Imagista: How did you get into acting?
Amirah Vann: I was a sophomore at Midwood HS in Brooklyn and they had an event called Black Heritage Alliance- A Tribute To Those Who Paved The Way. As a JOKE, a ran down to the front of the auditorium and shook my very long and thick hair declaring I was Tina Turner! I was cast, immediately terrified, study every move Angela Bassett did (she was Ms Tina to me at the time), and performed with every piece of my heart and soul. To this day, I love studying a person’s history, getting to their core, and sharing their voice with the world.
Imagista: What are you working on currently that you are most excited about?
Amirah Vann: Living life. That means (lol) volunteering to build homes and serve food, working on music, supporting my friends’ projects now that I’m back from filming. I find I better represent the world the more I participate in it.
Imagista: What is the best advice you have ever been given in regards to acting?
Amirah Vann: “Sit on the gun!” Janet Zarish declared to an amazing actress as we all sat in scene study class in NYU Tisch Grad Acting. Sometimes we can overthink a moment and, in an attempt to “genuinely discover”, miss the moment entirely. Sometimes there’s no pre-discovery to be had just action. SIT and see what happens.
Imagista: Who has been your biggest inspiration as an artist?
Amirah Vann: Nina Simone. Her art was so purposeful, determined, powerful. She had no veil—she lived in the truth of her experience and reminds me constantly of how vital it is to do the same. Stunning! And then there’s mom. My mothers ability to tell a story and immediately be transported with complete investment and compassion is unlike anything I’ve ever seen! She reminds me that it can be that simple.