If you look up queer, you’ll find it most often defined as anything that goes against established social norms.
With the queen of heteronormative traditions, Valentine’s Day staring us in the face, we are reminded of the difficulty of finding another human to shower with love. Yet we need to first look in the mirror and remember we have our damn selves to cherish, gush over, and love. We need to allow our individual selves to find what makes us truly happy. After all, sexuality is a journey and love shoots in all directions.
Entangled in the netting of a society that loves stereotypes, I often struggle in the search for a partner I want to be romantic with. As you may also have experienced in your own life, being queer isn’t easy, even in the LGBTQ world. Media shouts at us from all different platforms about how we should act, dress, live, and love.
It is time we break tradition of (the warm fuzzy feeling) by moving forward past antiquated ideas and embracing the endless possibilities of love. Be it platonic, romantic, or most importantly singular with one’s self. Loving ourselves starts by owning the masculine/feminine energy that we all possess. Finding the beauty in what makes each of us unique, on the inside and outside, will boost our confidence and strengthen our self-love.
In January fate would cross the paths of two strangers at the Madonna Inn. Leila, a golden curled lass covered in silk and feathers and myself, a blue haired boy with horns and hooves. What would follow this wild creation is a blossoming friendship. Phones calls and hang outs in sun drenched LA would bring up topics such as dragon women sperm eaters, celibate monks, sexual frustrations and what it means to be “queer”.
Shared annoyances with sexual stereotypes along with histories dotted in miserable intimate moments sparked an awareness for us to delve deeper into what it means to be entirely who we are.
Leila and I embarked on a visual journey of what ‘queer’ means to us. Breaking the molds of “boy kiss boy” and “girl kiss girl,” we showed each other our vulnerable selves, radiating our innate feminine/masculine energy. In so doing we discovered when we own who we are, explore the possibilities of love, and evolve sexually that is when we will feel the most happy, satisfied, and fulfilled.
Carlacia Grant, also known as Cleo on Netflix’s Hit series “Outer Banks”, gives us an exclusive interview, dishing on the fourth season of the series, her ever-evolving character, and more.
Tell us about your growth in the role of Cleo on Outerbanks throughout the seasons
When we first met Cleo she was very mistrusting of everyone and always on guard in survival mode. It’s been so cool to play the full dimensions of her where she’s vulnerable and gets to let her guard down. It shows there’s more than one way to be strong.
Cleo is a bad bitch from Nassau, what word describes her best in this season?
Wise, Loving, and Loyal
The love story with Pope is the definition of Bonnie Clyde’s ride-or-die love. What is your current romantic relationship status and how do you differ from Cleo as a girlfriend?
It’s very different as I’m single [laughs] but we’re the same in that we’re very loyal.
What can we expect in the fourth season?
More Action, new treasures, and hopefully more Cleo in ways we haven’t seen before
What is your daily beauty ritual to prepare for the role of Cleo?
Wash my face, of course, and put on some black girl sunscreen and Burt’s Bee’s tinted lip balm, clear mascara, concealer, and Milani’s dewy skin-setting mist gets me right.
What beauty product do you swear by?
African Rock Soap from the beauty supply store
What do you do on off days when you have free time?
I love going to the movies, eating all the seafood I can, working out, hitting the beach, and shopping
How would you describe your style and what fashion brand are you currently obsessed with?
Electric. I just love fashion in general from streetwear to couture. It just depends on my mood and where I’m going. Off White, Prada, and Dior me any day.
What was your first acting role ever, and how does that differ from the actress you have become?
My first role was in the play Treasure Island at acting camp when I was 13 where I played the lead character Robert Louis Stevenson a guy [laughs] But I was new then, I’ve grown a lot since and learned a lot more about the craft. And who I am not just as an actor, but as a woman.
You have insane stunts and action-packed moments how do you prepare for that are you a fitness enthusiast?
No! I would not consider myself a fitness enthusiast. [laughs] But when I finally got the role, I did get with a trainer to get my body and mind in shape. On set though we have a team of stunt coordinators that go over the choreography with us.
How is your creativity disrupting culture and pushing boundaries?
Well, I’m not necessarily actively trying to push boundaries, but I do try my best to be myself which oftentimes feels like a revolutionary act personally [laughs] but I think by doing that it hopefully allows others to be themselves too. Also, as a dark-skinned black girl on a show that reaches such a broad demographic, I think that not only disrupts the culture, it adds to it.
How do you deal with mental health after taking on such a taxing role?
I have a therapist [laughs] and it’s been beneficial, especially with all of the changes the last few years have come with. Having that outlet has been essential.
What song is on repeat for you at the moment?
Snooze by SZA and Misunderstood by Corey Champagne
Are there any Netflix shows outside of OBX that you are binge-watching?
I just finished Beef which was definitely a press play.
Who are your idols?
My grandmother, Halle Berry, Angela Bassett, Zendaya, Charlize Theron, Queen Bey, and Rihanna.
Dream dinner date?
A sit-down dinner with Nelson Mandela. I read his book and found his story so fascinating. All that he was able to accomplish despite being locked up for 27 years, I think he would be someone I could learn a lot from.
What is your dream role to play?
Being Haitian-Jamican American, what foods are your favorite?
Legim avec diri ak sos pwa blan which translates to Legume with white rice and white beans is my favorite Haitian food. It’s an eggplant vegetable stew that my grandmother mixes with seafood. Loooove it. As for Jamaican, gotta go with brown stew fish with rice and beans and plantains.
What is one thing your mom has taught you that you live by?
To whom much is given, much is required.
What advice would you tell your 16-year-old self?
It’s gonna happen. Not when you think it’s gonna happen, but it’s going to happen. Your dreams will come true, just keep following that instinct inside of you, it’s valid and leading you where you need to go. Just trust it.
It’s summer what are your travel plans going anywhere fun?
Vacation to Jamaica
Filming in a tropical climate what are the pros and cons to this?
The pros are because my family is from the islands it feels like home as well as the food and the people. The cons are places aren’t open late so it’s hard to get food at night [laughs]
What can we expect next in any upcoming films?
How has Outerbanks impacted your life as a person?
You know sometimes it takes a really big thing to happen for you truly appreciate the small things. Like having the time to spend with family and friends and not having the same level of anonymity. But it has also allowed me to start the foundation toward a long-lasting career. Hell, I was driving Door Dash and Uber just a couple of years ago.
Tell us something we may not know about you.
I love to collect “mini” things. Like those tiny bottles of hot sauce or ketchup, condiments from hotels. Or just little things in general, I think they’re so cute.