COACH X THE LATERALS
Outfits all by COACH | Pre-fall 2019
At 15 years old, Storm Reid is a young actress working in one of the most shaky and quick-moving times in recent decades. At 5’8, she stands a sophisticated, poised professional, acting alongside contemporary greats and acquiring much knowledge through her journey. We chat about family, rights and wisdom, and I have to remind myself I’m conversing with a teenager. Certainly at her age, with dreams of my own—I lacked the discipline to execute them. Storm is different it seems.
Born in Atlanta, Georgia to local parents, the Wrinkle in Time actress will next be lending her talents to Netflix’s When They See Us—A series based on the 1989 Central Park Jogger case that came to be known nationwide as the Central Park Five scandal, altering the lives of five boys during a time of racial turmoil in a case of true profiling. 15-year-olds Yusef Salaam, Antron McCray and 14-year-old Raymond Santana were tried first and subsequently convicted. 14-year-old Kevin Richardson would be tried with 16-year-old Korey Wise, both would be convicted of multiple counts, on the basis that they and the three above— were responsible for the actions that led 28-year old Trisha Melli clinging to life in the North Woods of Central Park on the late hours of April 19, 1989. Melli had been raped and nearly beaten to death, left for dead in a bed of mud and blood off a ravine by the 102nd street crossing. Throughout the park, other individuals had been savagely attacked too.
Reid plays Wise’s love interest at the time, and although her character Lisa, doesn’t have much significance in the “grand scheme of things” as she puts it, Lisa will help in showing viewers Wise’s life before one night changed his story.
Although well spoken and armed with the mind of a Zentennial, Reid is young, and I can’t help but instantly asking her, given her age, when the first time she came to know about the case. “Last year” she quick responds, and continues, “The first thing that grabbed my attention was that Donald Trump paid a lot of money for ads in the NY newspapers for the boys to receive the death penalty.” It’s a fact I wish was not so, as this very man stands as the current 45th president of our United States. “However, I did not know the full story until I started working with Ms. Ava,” she recalls. Referring To Ava DuVernay, who Directed and co-wrote the 4-part series. “I had to do some reading on my own, so that I would be able to have a proper conversation, like this one,” she admits. “We will learn of the facts that we were told then, and the events as we know them now are very different.”
The subject matter and story is heavy, but she can only describe her experience on the series as “incredible” when I give her a one-word limit to sum it all up.
This is the 16-years-old’s second time working with Ava DuVernay; a leading voice in female-directed stories. Her first? 2018’s A Wrinkle in Time which I softly mentioned earlier, where Reid stars alongside Oprah Winfrey, one of if not, THE true American sweetheart.
“You’ve been around so many great minds and creative forces,” I tell her with curiosity and innocent envy. “What have you taken from that? What Lessons? Tell me something in particular, something specific,” I urge, all the while already wondering what inspiring anecdote she’ll drop or quotable line she’ll say. She doesn’t disappoint. “Ms. Ava has instilled a sense of giving 100% to everything I am involved in, anything I do. Miss Oprah, has taught me not to waste time on things I have no control over. But instead, to pull my positive energy into things I can change.”
She pauses before continuing her thoughts. “I myself have learned to constantly stay humble through observing these amazing people I’ve been blessed to work with,” she says in the most sincere manner. “Their way of being humble blows me away, something that was taught in my household as well.”
Being on the call-sheet with these contemporary greats has allowed Reid to live her dream while telling important stories in history and humanity—but the real lessons come at home for her. Through the bond she shares with her mother, she speaks so beautifully about. “My mom is marvelous. She is my best friend,” she says excitedly. Completing the sentence, I can only imagine every mother yearns to hear from her children. Her praise continues. “ To be able to experience this journey with her and see all of our hard work pay off is a blessing. I’m so fortunate to have her in my corner, because I know she has my best interest at heart. Never having to guess her intentions or opinions about my career.” It’s a nice way to live, surrounded by the support of your peers and your closest connections with an eye on what’s important. “At the end of the day, before and after all of this, she’s my mother, a relationship with her is what’s most important to me.”
Being “woke” is also important to this young lady. Who claims it’s “important to be woke and express how you feel to evoke change in the world.” She backs up her statement, worrying it sounds too sure of herself, even though I think she should be. “I’m not saying I know everything I need to know, but I am a very active learner, thinker, and listener. I make an effort to absorb as much as possible to help those around me.” It’s a philosophy we can take note of, as not everyone is readily aware or curious about human, civil rights, and all the causes present today. What Storm is saying is it pays to study and read a bit more when it means helping others.
We’ve covered an array of topics already, but I’m still so curious and eager to continue picking her mind. I linger onto the topic of emotional intelligence, after observing the way she’s held herself during this conversation—and if she believes herself to posses it. “Your skill as an actress is up there with your adult co-stars. How does a young person acquire that?” Expectedly her answer is humble, yet refreshing. “I feel like God gave me a gift, and I think that my training has prepared me for each role.”
Wise and polite beyond her years, Reid is accompanied by a line of magical black girls doing inspiring work all over the entertainment industry. Naming Naomi Wadler, Mari Copeny, Yara Shahidi, Zendaya, Halima and Noor as some of her current inspirations,—it seems there’s no shortage of young women making new stands and carving new paths for Storm Reid to look up to.
Lucky for her, HBO’s Summer teen series Euphoria gave her the chance to work directly with one of her inspiring peers—Zendaya. “Euphoria is about teenagers in the real world, the content is graphic, and the show may be a tough pill for some people to swallow.” Possibly, but one thing is clear, this young actor does not shy away from the graphic or hard-hitting. One still from the series features Storm in a low dimmed room with an expression of sheer heartbreak on her face. On Instagram, DuVernay jokes about the expression. She’s seen it before, and it’s crushing. Much to HBO’s fashion, little is known of the stories Euphoria will explore, though by the looks of Reid’s expression, they’re sure to be dark in nature.
In closing, I saved a question that usually serves as a conversation starter rather than an ender— and perhaps that’s because I don’t want our exchange to end just yet.
“For many people, the first big news event they experience impacts their personal stories. They can remember what they felt during this time, always. No matter the years that have passed. For older people, baby-boomers it was the Kennedy assassination. What is yours?”
She pauses before answering, “When Mr. Barack Obama was elected. I remember feeling so excited to have a person in the office that looked like me, let alone be president. But I also remember thinking about why this couldn’t have happened sooner.” I take a breath, and can’t help but wonder the same thing.