Have you ever stumbled upon a photo of celebrity and immediately wondered what they were thinking in that very moment? In Elite Daily’s series, I Can Explain…, we’re asking celebrities to revisit their most memorable photos and tell us exactly what was going on in their heads. Whether they open up about an iconic look or a hilarious red carpet incident, we’re traveling back in time to find out what really went down.
Finding relatable aspects of a character is a must for any performer, and Greenleaf actor Lovie Simone is no stranger to this. Although her resume includes several roles with rebellious streaks, Simone handles these sometimes-drastic personas by finding herself in her characters.
In OWN's Greenleaf, the titular family, the Greenleafs, run a megachurch in Memphis as family members balance complicated relationships with one another. Simone's character, Zora Greenleaf, is considered the black sheep of the family, and she turns to drugs to deal with the pressure from her ambitious mother. In addition to portraying teenage stress and an abusive relationship on the Oprah Winfrey-produced series, Simone also played a similarly troubled queen bee named Selah in the 2019 film Selah and the Spades, which is expected to be developed into a TV series on Amazon Video. In the film, high school senior Selah leads a group of students who sell drugs on campus and begins a quest to find her replacement. While Simone doesn't know anything about plans for the series, her character remains close to her.
"I identify most with Selah, because I’m 20 years old, so I’m growing up and I’m in that age where I’m trying to figure everything out," she says in an interview with Elite Daily. "As I’m figuring it out, I’m realizing that Selah was like me after all [with] the whole control thing and just trying to figure out what’s next. Because she’s about to enter this whole different setting and it’s, like, real life. Me leaving Greenleaf and about to go into this real life is like, 'OK, I think I can do this.'"
Thanks to her role in HBO's Share, where she plays the friend of a girl who gets taken advantage of while unconscious, Simone also picked up a valuable lesson about friendship. "I was able to take from Jenna, my character, [that] it’s OK just be a friend," she says. "It's OK to not want to force anybody to do something; it’s just OK to be there for someone because that’s all that you can do sometimes."
Currently working on a novel called Hummingbirds and Dragonflies, Simone has shifted her study of characters into an analysis of her own life and how it may work in this ongoing story.
"It’s about myself, like me finding myself," she says about the book. "I’m writing the book as I kind of go on with my life, so if an event happens, I’m like, 'OK, I know exactly how to make that like a scene in this book.' Or I’ll see certain things about my past and just want to put it in there, so I’m just kind of growing with my book."