Exclusive: Lovie Simone On ‘Greenleaf,’ Her Image As A Young Black Actress & Her Beauty Favs

Lovie Simone is shining bright as the precocious and witty Zora Greenleaf on OWN’s megachurch drama series Greenleaf.

The 18-year old is carving out a space for herself in her first major acting role, and from the looks of it, she’s just getting started. This season on Greenleaf we’ve watched Zora rebel against her parent’s rules, backstab her cousin and fall for a potential bad boy.

When the New York native isn’t on set or getting advice from some of her legendary co-stars, she’s kicking back with Netflix or making YouTube beauty videos with chic tips on skin and hair care.

With a turbulent second season of Greenleaf well underway, caught up with Lovie Simone to chat about her character’s teen angst, how she decides to present herself on social media and the forthcoming project that she’s super hype about.

JET: Where were you and how did you find out that you booked the role of Zora on Greenleaf?

Lovie Simone: I actually remember that day clearly. I was in my room because my friend had come over for the weekend. It was me, my friend, and my best friend, we were all in my room sitting and relaxing, and my mom came in. She was like, “Did you check your email?!” I was like, “No.” Then she said, “So, they’re saying that you most likely got the part for Greenleaf.” I was like, “No, that’s not right.” But I thought I guess we’ll see. Then like fifteen minutes later my mom was like, “Lovie! You’re going to be in a show called Greenleaf.” I was just in shock, so it didn’t hit me until I was on the plane headed to Atlanta. Then it was like, “Oh my gosh, I got it!”

JET: That’s such a wonderful story! Speaking of Zora, we saw last season that she is a little bit rebellious and she walks to the beat of her own drum. This season, she’s getting even more defiant. So as much as you can tell us, where is she going to end up this season, especially because her actions are causing tension with her cousin, Sophia (Desiree Ross).

Lovie Simone: Zora is going to go through a lot, it’s just going to be an emotional rollercoaster of her finding her way, especially because of her cousin and this boy. She’s just trying to find her way and what she wants. She’s just a teenager going through it.

JET: Are you similar in any way to Zora, or is she completely different from you?

Lovie Simone: Zora and I are almost the same in terms of being really fun. When she walks in the door you know she’s there. She’s very social and very funny and spunky. I like Zora, so Zora and I, we’re kind of the same but the drugs and stealing cousin’s first loves (Laughing), those are things I would never do. But, I think personality wise and humor wise we’re eye to eye.

JET: Was there anything about Zora’s journey this season that really shocked you?

Lovie Simone: This season what shocked me the most about Zora was the love triangle between her, Sophia and Isaiah. I think it’s funny that she was able to just tell Sophia, “Yeah, I’m texting Isaiah.” She said it like it was just normal. So, I don’t know, that was hilarious to me. I just couldn’t believe that she said that.

JET: You really light up the screen as Zora, you’re so witty and fun. But, as a young Black actress, do you feel like you have to overanalyze how you present yourself, particularly on social media? Do you feel that because you’re on Greenleaf that your life is now under a microscope?

Lovie Simone: I feel like being a Black girl in this industry, you have to always respect yourself and post things that you are passionate about so that people can understand you when they go to your social media accounts or when they meet you in public. I feel like self-respect is essential and knowing who you are and being aware of your surroundings and the people you are around and what images you want to show the world. I feel like that’s what I try to do on my social media.

JET: What is your favorite thing to do when you aren’t busy on set?

Lovie Simone: When I’m not on set I actually record YouTube videos. I have a channel called Lovie Simone. From a lot of girls, and Black girls, in particular, I get questions about makeup for brown skin, and I get questions on hair tips. So, whenever I have the time, I record those type of videos. I have a video on how to lay your edges, and I have others that are natural makeup looks for girls of my complexion or for girls who have a similar hair texture to me. I like to reach out to them and help then when I can.

JET: What are your favorite hair and skin care products right now?

Lovie Simone: My favorite hair product right now would be my Olive Oil Edge Control because right now, my hair is dreaded up. But usually I use Carol’s Daughter, Cantu and As I Am products for my hair like on a wash day or if I’m doing a twist out or a braid out, that’s what I would usually use.

JET: Very dope. Now, what about for your skin?

Lovie Simone: For skin, I use this pomegranate cream, I have dry skin, so I never thought a thin moisturizer would work. So, that one I love. Also, MAC has a strobe cream and if I don’t want to put on makeup, but I still want to have a glow to my face, I just put that on as like a lotion on top of moisturizer so I can still have a nice subtle glow.

JET: Are you currently obsessed with any films or TV shows right now since there are so many options to choose from?

Lovie Simone: I watch a lot of Netflix. I watch Criminal Minds, and I watch a whole bunch of movies. I don’t really watch TV that much, but I usually watch anything that comes out on Netflix. I like Stranger Things; The Get Down, Bob’s Burgers, so pretty much anything that is streaming on Netflix.

JET: You’re next really big project is Monster, which is based on the critically acclaimed novel by Walter Dean Myers. Could you give JET a bit of insight about the film or talk about how different that set was than Greenleaf?

Lovie Simone: That set was completely different than Greenleaf! We filmed Monster in New York, and I’m from New York, so I kind of know everything (Laughing). The director Anthony Mandler would ask me where the cool spots were to go and I’d tell him. We also had a lot of scenes where we would just need to get the chemistry down between characters. So, I thought that was really cool. I like that I got two very different experiences. And, meeting A$AP Rocky… Oh my God, my heart dropped. So I was really star-struck, but I was also keeping it professional. (Laughing)

JET: (Laughing) Of course! Can you tell us the best advice that you’ve received from any of the legends that you work with on Greenleaf ?

Lovie Simone: When we were filming earlier this season, it was me Desiree and Keith David just sitting down. Desiree and I were talking to him and asking him, “How did you get so good at acting? It comes so naturally to you.” And he told us, “Acting, shouldn’t seem like you’re acting.” Ever since then, I put myself in that position, I think, “How would I feel if this were happening to me?” After I put myself in that perspective, I just act it out. So it was a small piece of advice, but it really helped me a lot.

JET: Thanks so much for chatting with me Lovie, this was great!

Lovie Simone: Thank you!

Greenleaf airs on OWN Wednesdays at 10 PM ET.