Empire’s Grace Gealey Talks Relationships, Fashion And Empowerment

Grace Gealey has been gracing our Wednesday nights with her beauty and brains by portraying the fierce fiancé of Luscious Lion on FOX’s Empire. Her character, Anika Calhoun (also known as Boo Boo Kitty), deals with the many perils that come from dealing with a man who has a family and a multi-million dollar empire.

While Anika seems to struggle with finding a balance, Grace Gealey knows exactly what she wants for her real life and real relationships.

VIBE Vixen chatted with the actress about her take on life, relationships, and some of her biggest inspirations.

Vixen: Describe what life was like for you as a young girl growing up in the Cayman Islands?
Grace: Amazing. I have a sensational family so I am happily laden with memories of close-knit bonds and island fun. My cousins, sister and I played sports in the backyard, went exploring in the bushes, stained our clothes with mangoes, created treasure hunt maps in the sand, swung in hammocks, climbed trees, had countless beach birthday parties, sold fruit on the side of the street and thanks to my phenomenal grandparents, learned the importance of a good education. I had a ball.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received from an influential woman in your life?
My mother is a rock star. She always told me to focus on God. It was so annoying to hear growing up because she said it all the time and I’m like: “Yeah I know, Ma. Geez.” As the years went on, I learned just how important that was and how everything aligns once you do that. My spiritual foundation fortifies and carries me through every single situation in my life. So, yup. Ma’s pretty dope.

In the show, we see Anika having to deal with an “ex” wife. What’s your take on dating a man who keeps in contact with his “exes” (because of children or business)?
Men have to take the responsibility of establishing the kind of environment that is conducive to everyone’s well-being. Compromises must be made on all parts in a fair and mature manner. Once the male backs away from that and you let the power struggle occur between the two women, it can become messy. The same, of course, goes for females if ever in this situation as well.

Anika has some great fashion choices too (along with Cookie). Who are your real-life fashion inspirations?
I love all kinds of styles and I can appreciate anyone who expresses themselves in their own splendor. Every day I dress differently. Sometimes sporty, sometimes edgy, sometimes funky, sometimes boyish. Sometimes glam! Just depends on my mood.

You, along with Keke Palmer and Shanola Hampton, are a part of the “Saving Our Cinderella’s” initiative. What do you hope others can take away from it?
Bullying is so destructive; both for the one doing it and the one being subjected to it. To highlight that is a top objective. But more than that, empowering our young women is vital. Once empowered, it is a tool that will continue to sharpen you for years to come – which is not only irreplaceable but necessary in this world.

What’s your favorite:
Song? “Nothing Can Change This Love I Have For You” by Sam Cooke
Food? Cayman stewed beef
Hobby? Ballroom dancing
Book? The Shack by William P. Young
Designer? Gucci

With all your recent success, what are your plans for the future? Any upcoming projects or events?
I’ll keep you updated!

Photo Credit: Gilles Toucas