What do Netflix, Oprah Winfrey, and The University of Georgia have in common? I’m sure you can come up with a few commonalities, but the main one I would like to point out is actress, Keekee Simpson. I sat down with the girl who lives a double life as a 4th year, Entertainment Media Studies student and actress. She has had major roles in the CW’s “Black Lightning”, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” alongside Oprah Winfrey, “Ma” staring Octavia Spenser, and many more (you can check her IMDB if you need to). When Vanity Fair asked Oprah, “Who should play you in your biopic?”, she wasted no time in saying “KeeKee Simpson should play me.”
At that point, I would have deemed my life as complete, but KeeKee continues to take this industry by storm. When I spoke with her, these are a few questions I asked:
T: What are your favorite projects that you have worked?
K: “I have so many favorite projects, I cannot even narrow it down to one, but there is a project that I just finished that is called ‘Chambers’. It is a Netflix show that is coming out later this year. It is a super cool Sci-Fi, thriller, teen show, that I cannot wait for everyone to see. I am really excited about that one.”
T: What made you choose to continue your education when you knew that you had a promising acting career?
“I knew for sure that I wanted to become a producer and director, as well. Though I am already in the industry, I wanted to learn the mechanics of it all and… I wanted to have a degree and be certified so I could practice (to become) a producer and director. I really thought it would be great for me to graduate from college in that area. Also, my mom was very serious about me experiencing the college life because it is a great experience in so many people’s lives. She encouraged me to enjoy college even if I had to go work and to just try to make both of them balance. That is what I have been doing the last four years, and it has turned out pretty well.”
T: How do you balance this lifestyle?
K: “It gets pretty tough. I try my hardest to stay on top of my work whenever I get it… and I only take Tuesday Thursday classes. I have only taken Tuesday Thursday classes my entire college career. It really depends on how the class it put together. If I have to go out to LA over the weekend, I am able to leave right after class and go. I have some professors that are very supportive of me, and a lot of professors that are just the opposite… The professors that have helped me, made this all possible and I thank them a lot for that.”
T: Who is your inspiration in the industry?
K: “I love all my ‘blacktresses’ of course. Mrs. Winfrey is a great mentor of mine and I am just so blessed to have her in my life. It’s OPRAHHH!! She helps me keep my head on straight because she balanced college and working when she was my age too. I also have other mentors like Ms. LaTanya Richardson Jackson who honestly has kept me on track ever since I filmed a TV show with her when I was in high school called ‘HBO’s Show me a Hero’. She played my mom. She has seen me grow from graduating high school to going on to college. Having her in my corner has been very beneficial. Having her as a friend and a mentor has kept me stable in my career and my college career.”
T: Any advice for other people in college trying to balance another career or any other actors out there?
K: “I really want you to understand that you are in college in order to work your dream job. That is what college is for. It took me while to understand that. I really urge you to prioritize and understand that both are equally important, but make sure you are following your passions and knowing what is going to progress you in your life.”
With Oprah as a mentor and a legend in the making, I am sure you can see why KeeKee deserved to have a spotlight shown on her. Speaking with KeeKee was an honor and all her fellow Dawgs are rooting her on. She is definitely an inspiration for us to keep going at our own pace and to strive for our dreams. You can catch her on the big screen, on your TVs and your laptops all this year as she continues to push boundaries for black women in entertainment.