*Before she ever set foot on a Hollywood set, actress Imani Hakim was destined for stardom.
At just 22 years old, Imani is living the life that many women dream of. She’s young, talented, beautiful, and has Hollywood in the palms of her hands.
Since starring in the critically acclaimed, award-winning TV series, Everybody Hates Chris, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, ER, and The Lifetime Original Movie, The Gabby Douglas Story, the former child star has grown into an accomplished, in-demand actress who is calling her own shots.
Although Hollywood can be extremely competitive and comes with its share of temptations, Imani set a strong foundation for herself at an early age that continues to help her rise above any challenge life throws at her. Making it big in Hollywood can be both a blessing and a curse, but the Chocolate City actress is living proof that having the right mindset is the key to achieving lasting success and accomplishing your dreams. Much like Gabby Douglas, the Olympian gold medalist she portrays, Imani is creating exciting opportunities for women of color and is creating her own niche in Hollywood.
Never allowing negativity to overshadow her faith, Imani is living proof that determination, gratitude and unshakable faith can turn big dreams into reality. We recently interviewed Imani to not only give her kudos for her awesome work as an actress, but to find out what her secret to success is, how she handles dating, and how she stays spiritually grounded and empowered in Hollywood.
Q: You are an accomplished Hollywood actress. Who would you say Imani Hakim is outside of Hollywood?
IH: Just a normal girl in her twenties still figuring it all out. Striving to be a better person, a better actor, a better sister, daughter, friend, etc. Learning and growing along with my peers. Also, remembering to be young and enjoying this life that I have (smile).
Q: You’ve had to overcome a lot of challenges to become a working actress in Hollywood, including living in a van with your father when you were waiting for an audition opportunity. In what moment did you finally realize that your hard work and sacrifices had paid off?
IH: Well, I don’t think anything has really “paid off” yet. When I say that, I mean I am not even close to being finished or reaching my goals. I am blessed and honored for all that have already accomplished so far but for me, this is only the beginning to a new journey that I am so excited to venture on.
Q: Is your life as a Hollywood actress the way you envisioned it? If not, how it is different than what you expected it to be?
IH: I think everyone always sees their life being a certain way and most times, it turns out to be completely different, sometimes way better. I definitely imagined myself being successful which I already am- I am blessed in so many ways. So that was definitely something envisioned that came true. I have met so many awesome people and worked with so many talented actors that sometimes when I think about that aspect of my career, it’s a bit mind blowing.
Q: In a previous interview, you said you are very picky in terms of dating, and that you want someone who can take care of themselves. Have you attracted men in the past who were looking to take advantage of your fame or wealth? How do you protect yourself from men who are looking for a quick come up by using your Hollywood status?
IH: I have, but that just comes with the territory. Not only for the men who are seeking to date me, but also for people who are looking to befriend me just to use me as a “stepping stone” to get them to where they want to be. I mean, I get it; we are all trying to get somewhere, but I am all about people being completely genuine and honest about your intentions and obviously people aren’t going to do that, LOL. Trust me, I have put people through some tests when I first meet them ha-ha! I’m like, “okay, what are they really all about?” Sometimes you have to be a little skeptical of others. Most people have turned out to be frauds. But some have not, and they are still in my life.
Q: You’ve been taking care of yourself since the age of 15. Do you think raising yourself has prepared you for long-term success in Hollywood?
IH: I didn’t really raise myself, I was lucky enough to have my manager for 10+ years to take me in and help raise me. I have just been financially independent since the age of 15. I was responsible for buying my own groceries, pitching in to pay some bills, etc. It has definitely taught me some valuable lessons. Living out here and being in this industry naturally forces kids to grow up a bit faster.
My situation was a bit different because I wasn’t forced to grow up because of things I was exposed to in the “Hollywood” life. I grew up faster because I was almost like my own parent with the exception of my manager being there for me physically. I think it has definitely set me up for longevity with my career.
Q: Your latest project is Chocolate City. What attracted you to the film? In what ways did it challenge you as an actress?
IH: Well, I met with the director and he just seemed really passionate about his project. I also had just seen Magic Mike right before that and I was like, “it would be nice to do a version of that film with some flavor.” It was my first role where I actually played close to my age ha-ha! My entire career I have always played way younger than I actually am, which is a total blessing. (Thanks mom for the good genes!) But yeah, Chocolate City is something that was completely different from everything else that I have done already and I’m open to exploring and trying new things! PLUS, there were some great people attached to the project and that’s one of my favorite things about what I do. I get to work with new people and learn from them.
- Q. In what ways have you grown as an actress since the success of Everybody Hates Chris, The Gabby Douglas Story?
IH: Oh man, I think I am just more aware of my skill and talent honestly. I don’t doubt myself as much. I’m not as afraid in taking risks. I am evolving as a woman. I am more focused and determined.
Q: What steps do you take on a daily basis to stay conscious and overcome negativity in Hollywood?
IH: Well, one of the first things I do in the morning is to remember to be grateful. I have this gratitude journal that I keep that I list 10 things that I am grateful for and why. It’s a reminder to be in the moment and appreciate things that we have NOW. I also try to meditate. Surrounding myself with people who make me feel good, that makes a huge difference. You don’t want to have a bunch of “negative nancy’s” around you. They are no fun; got to keep that light bright. You don’t want someone with a dark cloud floating over them around you because it will eventually catch you too. I listen to a lot of Abraham Hicks; she talks a lot about keeping your spirit in alignment and the law of attraction.
Q: What are two spiritual lessons you’ve learned since breaking into Hollywood?
IH: Work on your energy! The energy you exude and put out is what you will get back. I try to be pretty positive and when I feel myself drifting into a negative thought, I switch it to thinking happier thoughts and think about the positive side of every situation. I also remind myself of the definition of my name. Imani means FAITH, so I have to remember to keep that faith, hope and belief alive.
- Q. In what ways do you want to change Hollywood? What do you want your legacy to be?
IH: Oh man, I just want there to be more opportunities for people of color. I want others to see that YES we CAN play those leading roles. We are more than someone’s sidekick or ethnic friend. We can play the leading super hero or villains. We can play the leading attorney; we don’t always have to be the ghetto criminal or victim.
We don’t always have to be the next door neighbor to the “main” family. I want us to be seen in more leading roles in movies like Hunger Games, The Fault in Our Stars, LUCY,” etc, the list goes on. I will ALWAYS bring up Viola Davis’s speech at this year’s Emmy’s. It needed to be said and things have to change. I want to be able to be that young face in feature films and hit T.V. shows. I want to show young girls and boys of color that I am a representation of what they can accomplish.
I want them to feel EMPOWERED when they see me on their T.V. screens. Hopefully, the powerful characters that I portray on their screens can help them go out there to achieve the real life goals of becoming doctors, lawyers, athletes, scientists, martial artists… or even the president.
To find out more about Imani Hakim, please visit the following websites:
EUR BONUS COVERAGE
Imani Hakim talks about her portrayal as Gabrielle Douglas, the Olympic Gold Medal Gymnast, in the Lifetime Original Movie, “The Gabby Douglas Story,” and more: