The Tomorrow War is a thrilling watch from start to finish. What attracted you to this film out of the gate?
When I’m reading a script, I really lean into how it makes me feel initially. I can’t remember a script where I’m going “ooh!” and “oh my gosh!” and “ahh!” within two pages of each other. That was one thing that really drew me in. I am also a huge extraterrestrial lover and fan, and [the aliens] seemed so original to me. To have an original alien on top of this incredible script that was also super funny and really heartfelt, I loved. And then, you have these badass female characters holding their own weight, standing in their power, and it’s not a threat to the men. There is no power struggle happening between the two sexes, which I thought was super refreshing. And Lt. Hart, to be a Black woman and to be in full power and with permission to be vulnerable and a leader at the same time without the threat of racism or sexism looming in the darkness, was incredible. All of those [things] combined made me want to audition first and foremost. When I found out I got it, I nearly passed out.
Who were some of the inspirations for your character Lt. Hart?
Angela Bassett is just an inspiration for me, period, so definitely her. And it might sound weird, but Angela Davis was as well in terms of strength and presence and how to command a space. And [X-Men’s] Storm. Storm is definitely one of my favorite characters as well. If I’m being honest, I really just sat in meditation with this character, and I asked myself, “If I did not have any restraints and could be free to be me and stand in my power, what would that look like? Without doubt, without fear, without worry about what the next person will say, what would that look like?” I got a really clear picture of it, and it was so inspiring to me as an image. Every day when I came on set, I really just tried to step into that and honor that part of me. It was so freeing, and I learned so much in doing that. I am that. It’s not something that I have to strive to be. I am that right now. It’s beautiful.
I love that! I am always interested to hear how actors get into character.
My playlist was spot-on, if you ask me, and so diverse. I had My Chemical Romance on there, and then I had Nina Simone on there. Just so many things happening in that playlist.
What kind of training did you have to do for the role?
I have a sports background and an athletic ability, but there was no way I could have prepared for what was to go down with this training. I had a personal trainer beforehand, and right before we started shooting, we had about a week of military tactical training. That was everything from learning the terminology to how to move as one unit, how to clear an entire room or floor moving as you would in combat, and how to hold and shoot a gun properly. I’m in this training session for six to eight hours a day with this heavy gun slung over my shoulder. Needless to say, I had many chiropractic sessions after training. But it really did prepare me in order to be able to hold up against the physicality that this role demanded. It also helped me get in touch with the character. I found my character’s walk when I was in training. Because of all the gear she has to wear, the walk just came naturally to me. As did the fact that you really have to be so mentally aware. I very easily could have slipped into this mental fatigue of just going through the motions, but you can’t do that in combat, so I really had to keep bringing myself back to the present moment and stay grounded, just as my character would. It was great, but it was hard.
One of my favorite things to film was the opening scene that you see in the trailer with her coming down into the soccer field. It was a personal triumph for me because I’m scared of heights and I had to fly in from 30 feet in the air. There was this overcoming of a fear that I had, which wasn’t unlike my character. This is the first time anyone has ever time-traveled, and for her, there is a fear of, “What if these people don’t hear me? What am I going to do if I can’t get through to them?” But she had to overcome that fear and deliver the monologue anyway, just as I did with my fear of heights. So that was incredible, and to be able to command the space to 150 extras in one of my first scenes in my first film ever and just to be able to hold my own was so rewarding.