The world is changing, and the team here at Zimbio is all about it. Now, more than ever, the concerns of women are being heard, respected, and valued through movements like Time's Up and Me Too. And, now more than ever, it's up to us to embrace and empower each other if we want these movements to stay soaring. That's why the month of March — Women's History Month — feels extra important this year. To celebrate, we're calling out awesome young actresses you'll be seeing much more of in the future, the rising stars who excite and inspire us. Whether we were touched by their courageous onscreen performances, brought to tears by their relatable characters, or captivated by their thoughtful posts on social media, we think every one of these actresses is on the road to becoming a household name.
Earlier this month, we featured Emma Kenney, best known as the spirited Debbie Gallagher on Shameless, then 16-year-old Talitha Bateman, who you'll recognize from the new drama Love, Simon. Next, we put the spotlight on Shannon Purser, who readers will know as Ethel on Riverdale and Barb on Stranger Things, followed by Sophia Lillis of It.
As we near the end of our rising stars series, we're pleased to introduce Mouna Traoré, a face you'll recognize from shows like Shadowhunters and Hemlock Grove. She's also recently been announced as a series regular in BET's In Contempt.
What career accomplishment are you most proud of thus far?
Mouna Traoré: I think working on In Contempt on BET. It means so much to me to be able to work on a show that deals with social injustice and racism and the systemic oppression minorities face. I felt really validated because I always dreamed of being able to work on a project that fused my work with my personal political beliefs.
Are there any shows, movies, or on-screen book adaptations you’d like to be part of in the future?
MT: There are two specifically that I have on my vision board. One is a film adaptation of Octavia E. Butler’s incredible novel Kindred. The second adaptation I would love to be part of is Pierce Brown’s novel series Red Rising. I would be thrilled to play one of the villains. I literally have my own fantasy cast written out for each project... oh, and also, I would love to play any role in an adaptation of Yaa Gyasi’s novel Homegoing.
When did you first realize you’d fallen in love with acting?
MT: When I was three, maybe? I saw people on television and I was angry that I wasn’t inside the television with them. I can’t remember my first moment performing but I knew very, very young that acting was always what I was supposed to do.
What other actresses inspire you? Is there anyone you’d like to meet in the industry?
MT: There are so many actresses that inspire me! Whoopi Goldberg, Gina Torres, Angela Bassett, Viola Davis, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira. The list goes on! I’d like to meet each and every one of them. But if I had to choose one person to meet, it would actually be Oprah.
Have you ever faced a hurdle so big you wanted to give up?
MT: Oh, yes. I’ve wanted to walk away and implode many times. The only way I got over the biggest challenge I've ever faced was working moment to moment. I needed to be as present as I could be in all of my interactions, and every aspect of my work, and be disciplined in how I manage my relationships, and my spirituality. I needed to start my day with a clear vision of what I wanted to accomplish and do my best to maintain my integrity throughout the day.
What’s one thing you want viewers to know about you?
MT: That I’m trying to be of service to humanity and this is the only way I know how. That I really want to contribute to global social change and my goal is to be able to do that through my work.
Tell us the most important lesson you’ve learned since you began acting.
MT: People just want to see your insides. They just want to see you, not an idea of you — pure and unadulterated.
Rejection is a huge part of the entertainment industry. How have you learned to deal?
MT: I’ve stopped seeing it as rejection and more so as being redirected toward something that’s a better fit for me. And I try to trust that the right project will find me.
What’s your best fan memory so far?
MT: There’s a woman who is a huge fan of my character on the show Murdoch Mysteries, and she comes to every event I do, whether it’s for a short film or feature. At my last premiere, she bought every piece of merchandise available and asked me to sign it. I really appreciate that support and I find it to be very endearing.