UP CLOSE…WITH ANNA DIOP

Her beautiful pouty smile and perfectly cocoa skin, make Anna Diop impossible to take your eyes off of. The striking Senegalese born and Texas-raised artist is charting a path all her own, scoring a juicy role in the new CW series, The Messengers. We talk fashion, roles and ambition with Diop, a woman who knows exactly what she wants.

THE ESSENTIALS…

THE TEXAS WAY: Houston was a great place to grow up. I was raised in a neighborhood that was extremely diverse. My closest friends growing up were Indian, Nigerian, and Caucasian. I loved that about my upbringing.

DESIGNER CRUSHIN’: Stella and Jamie are my favorite at the moment and actually have been for the past couple of years. They’re feminine, sexy, edgy but sophisticated all at once. They have something perfect for every occasion.

CLOSET FAITHFULS: I seriously love my workout gear. I don’t even work out as much as I wear my workout clothes…haha! They’re just comfortable. My Nike capris and Nike razorback tops are my go-to on any given day. And who knows, I may even throw in a workout!

LAST TO-DIE-FOR FASHION FIND:  I have 3 pairs of these gorgeous turquoise earrings I found in Albuquerque while I was filming The Messengers. They’re Native American, hand-made, and are just stunning. I love finding unique, timeless pieces that I can pick up 10 years from now and still be classic and beautiful.

TEE AND BOYFRIEND JEANS OR SKINNY JEANS AND HEELS KINDA GIRL: Both! Depending on the day and depending on my mood.

CELEBRITY CLOSET YOU’D LOVE TO RAID: Bad Girl Rhi Rhi. She’s so bold, edgy, and sexy. I love how she can go from Met Gala to Berlin dance trance party – it’s all stunning.

#1 BEAUTY SECRET: I try to never go to bed without washing my face and moisturizing. Water works wonders too.

LATEST OBSESSION: Married at First Sight – I came across this show a couple weeks ago and I’m now obsessed. I’ve seen every episode.

THE GREAT ESCAPE: My older brother lives in this neighborhood in Hawaii called Kailua. It’s right next to the water. It’s so peaceful and beautiful there, like a small piece of paradise. I love it!

BEST BAND RIGHT NOW: Sia. She’s amazing. I really love FKA Twigs right now too.

DREAM DINNER GUEST: I recently learned that my great great great grandfather, Late Dior Diop was a solider and King of one of the three territories of Senegal in the 1800’s. Apparently he’s considered a hero in Senegalese history because of his valiant fight against French colonization. So I think he’d make a very interesting dinner date. Plus he’s family 🙂

THE INFLUENCER:  My mother and father. They’ve taught me so much – how to be generous and how to never give up and to work hard, always keep pushing forward. And most importantly, to do it all with grace. Everything good that I am, is because of them.

FRIDAY NIGHT, I’D FIND YOU…In front of my TV watching The Messengers!

TREASURED POSSESSION: I spent New Years in London this year and went to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. One of the vendors there sold these gorgeous hand -made leather journals. I got one and haven’t written in it yet because it’s so beautiful and ethereal looking. So I’m waiting until I have the perfect thing to write.

YOU, IN 3 WORDS: Crazy, Sexy, Cool? 🙂

HYDROGEN MAGAZINE: You have such an interesting background being born in Dakar, Senegal and raised in Texas. How would you say your roots inform who you are today?

ANNA DIOP: I think first generation children always have a unique life experience, different from kids who come from families that are American. And especially first generation children from undeveloped or third world countries. Obviously, I definitely consider myself an American, but I also consider myself Senegalese.

Our parents raised us the same way they were raised, with the same ideals and expectations but then, out of the home, we went to American schools, had American friends and just had a different reality than they did. So, I think we were always navigating through the world in a different way than other kids.

I wouldn’t ask for a different upbringing. I grew up in two countries that are polar opposites of one another. It’s a blessing to know both. I think it’s always just made me more aware of the fact that the life I have here is starkly different to how so many people elsewhere live, so I’m grateful for every small thing and I don’t take things for granted.

HM: Tell us a bit about the path that led you to acting…

AD: I fell in love with acting when I was 12 years old. I got a hold of a short play about two women; a social worker who was committed to her job and a woman desperate to get her son back. I fell in love with each of them. I wrote bios for them, memorized their lines, and was just amazed that these were real women that could be brought to life.

After I caught ‘the bug’, I begged my parents to let me pursue it. I joined a local theatre group in Houston and started becoming involved in theatre productions at school.

When I was 17, I made the big move to Los Angeles. And the rest is history. LA was the beginning of everything. But I always feel like I’m experiencing a new beginning. Always learning, growing, and being inspired.

HYDROGEN MAGAZINE: When you think of performers out there today…Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o, Meryl Streep…who inspires you?

AD: Definitely each of the women you’ve mentioned. Lupita’s success has opened so many doors for women of color. And she’s done it all with such grace and beauty. She’s remarkable. And Meryl is a god. I’m also inspired by Viola Davis, Charlize Theron, Oprah, Ava Deuverney, Forest Whitaker, Denzel Washington, I could go on forever.

HM: Ambition is something that drives us all, in different ways, and in different directions. How does a sense of ambition manifest with you?

AD: I’m a pretty laid back person but when I want something, I’m extremely head strong about it. I go after it with everything I have. I also get turned on by challenges. The moment something becomes a challenge, I become excited to try to take it on.

HM: First impressions of Hollywood…

AD: Agghhhh!!! Haha. No, Hollywood is really an amazing place. It’s where you can meet some of the most talented and brilliant people from across the world.

HM: Best career advice so far…

AD: Eddie Murphy, “Don’t take anyone’s advice.” What that means to me is, ‘Listen to yourself and trust yourself.’ I think we all have the answers if we dig down and we’re honest with ourselves. And if we’re brave enough to trust those instincts.

HM: You star in a new CW series, The Messengers. Give us an overview, what do we need to know?

AD: The Messengers is about five strangers who are brought together by destiny to save the world from the impending Apocalypse. Unlike many other series, our show takes place before the Apocalypse occurs and gives these strangers the power to stop it from happening. It’s a series about choices; if you had the chance to save humanity from itself, would you?

HM: When the role of Rose came your way, what did you think of this character? Tell us about her.

AD: I’ve loved Rose since the beginning. She’s phenomenal. She’s the leader of the other Messengers. She’s the one that keeps everyone on track and focused on the task at hand.

HM: What was your approach to playing Rose?

AD: I tried to recall times in my own life where I had to step up to the plate, when I had to make hard decisions. Times when I had to put my immediate desires on hold to accomplish something bigger or more important.

HM: Do you identify with her in any way, and is that important when inhabiting a character?

AD: Of course, it’s remarkably important when working on a character that you connect with them. And with Rose, I did. She’s remarkably empathetic which is something I could connect with. She doesn’t always know how to push forward, but she knows she needs to, so she does her best. Sometimes she fails and sometimes she succeeds. I can definitely relate to that.

HM: You have a movie coming out this year called Something About Her. Tell me about the project and the character to play…

AD: Something About Her is a film about an unlikely friendship that develops between a young struggling single mother (me) and a wealthy Santa Barbara socialite that’s suffering from ALS. In it’s essence, it’s a love story between these two women and I was so happy to be a part of it.

HM: Rumor has it you are a huge Muay Thai enthusiast. Do tell…

AD: I started studying Muay Thai two years ago for a film and I just fell in love with it. It’s a beast of a workout and it’s a great way to relieve stress. It takes a lot of concentration at times and it just makes you feel like a badass.

HM: What are some of your other passions when you are off-the-clock?

AD: I love seeing plays. I love to eat. I love to read. I love my girlfriends. I’m really good at hanging out and not doing a single thing. I love spending time with my family. I try to travel as much as I can. Love seeing new places and meeting different people.

HM: Tell me something we’d be surprised to know about you…

AD: I just finished reading ‘Wild’ by Cheryl Strayed and am now seriously contemplating a two-month long hike across the PCT.

HM: What does your family make of your success? What do you make of it all?

AD: My family is so supportive. My little brother Kareem is on Vine as REEMTEAM and on the eve of the premiere of Messengers, he made this hilarious Vine video in support. He’s so funny, always cracks me up. He’s my best friend. As far as me, I just love what I do so every moment I’m able to do it. I’m grateful and elated.

HM: Giving back is something near to your heart. Tell me about some of your charitable efforts with organizations like AiPB…

AD: I started working with the AiPB three years ago after meeting Dr. Patricia Bath, a world renowned optometrist and president of the organization. I’ve been fortunate enough to work alongside her to provide assistive technology to blind children at the St. Oda school in Kenya. It’s innate for me to want to give back. Coming from where I came from, it’s just what I know I am meant to do.

HM: What’s the long game?

AD: I always want to keep growing. As far as my career, I trust everything will fall into place. And personally, I want to continue growing as a person. I’d love to be married with six kids someday AND a phenomenal career. It’s all possible and I’m always looking forward.

‘THE MESSENGERS’ AIRS ON THE CW, FRIDAYS, 9/8C

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ANNA DIOP PHOTOGRAPHY: RODNEY RAY
‘THE MESSENGERS’ POSTER: THE CW

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