This story on Lovie Simone first appears in V119, our Music Issue. V119 is available for sale now at vmagazine.myshopify.com.
Even when fending off a cold, Lovie Simone’s bubbly personality courses through the phone. She’s in Atlanta, filming the fourth season of OWN’s Greenleaf—a soap about the family behind a controversial Memphis megachurch. “I watch almost every episode,” she says. “I like seeing what the other actors were doing when I wasn’t on set. And I haven’t seen any other shows about a church family [like this one].”
As ebullient as she is offscreen, Simone has a knack for playing rebellious and defiant, both on Greenleaf as Zora and as Jenna in Share, one of Sundance’s most talked-about films, also starring fellow V Girl Rhianne Barreto. And as the tough-as-nails leader of a drug-slinging, vindictive clique in Selah and the Spades, another Sundance favorite, Simone says she was able to find a toughness she didn’t know that she had.
“I learned a lot about myself while playing Selah, and I feel like I’ve become a little more like her; I’m really stern now about setting my boundaries,” says Simone of playing the whip-smart, antiheroic Selah Summers. “And about having people come to me with respect. That’s the vibe that Selah gives off: If you don’t like me, at least you respect me. I mean, I don’t know if I would do something as crazy insane as drugging someone just to get people to respect me, but I do like how upfront and open Selah is. You will never question where she stands, ever.”
Having grown up in the Bronx watching Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie movies, Simone always had her parents’ support in her pursuit of acting—some- thing of a blessing, she’s come to realize. “My mom is from the Bronx, and my dad is from Kumasi, Ghana, and came [to the U.S.] when he was 10,” says Simone. “African parents are generally really big on education, but [my dad] actually really supported me when I didn’t want to go to college and do Greenleaf [instead]. They’ve both always been very free in letting me be my artistic self. [Now] we— my parents and my twin sister—all live together in Georgia.”
Though Simone is just 20 years old, she says she’s in the process of writing a novel. “It’s going to be about finding self,” she says. “I eventually want to turn [it] into a movie.” With her luminous confidence on and off camera, there’s little doubt Simone’s literary debut will pack a punch. But until we’re able to read Simone on the page, we’ll gladly be staying tuned for more of the strong, firey characters she brings to life on screen.