Actress, singer, and creative, Zuri Reed, is seizing her moment. With every passion project, she creates or is a part of, she gives it her all until there’s nothing left. Hailing from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the 25-year-old star is not waiting for the opportunity to come to her. She is making the opportunity. She wants young Black artists to look at her and realize that they can do it too. You just have to have a plan and go for it. Zuri is a multi-talented Black woman whose presence is exuberant on and off-screen. She is truly a star in the making. I talk to Zuri Reed about her love for being a creative, her Youtube series Roomies 3F, her character Dami on Flatbush Misdemeanors, and much more.
Where did your love for being a creative start?
I always say that “I didn’t choose the life. The life chose me.” I was always singing from the time I could talk. I was just that kid with a huge personality that you knew was going to grow up and entertain. Being an only child, I can remember putting on shows for my family at home. Just me, in a pullup with a tambourine in my hand. My first job ever was The Lion King on Broadway (as young Nala) when I was ten years old, so the fact that my mom had the confidence in me to take me to an open call audition with 1000 other kids showed how much confidence she had in me.
Most people may know you as a talented actress, but you’re a talented singer as well. When did you realize you were able to sing? Also, who were some of your favorite artists growing up?
I knew that I always loved to sing, but I didn’t realize I could sing until I did school plays. I grew up in the church so I was constantly singing, but you know everyone that goes to church can’t sing. They wanted me to sing and they started asking me, so I figured I had a little voice in there. Some of my favorite artists growing up were Musiq Soulchild and Jasmine Sullivan. But now, I’m obsessed with musical theater. Les Miserables and The Color Purple are two of my faves.
You released your first official single on your 24th birthday last year called “Look for Me” What was the recording process like for that song and could we expect an album soon?
You can expect a body of work soon! However, albums take time so I’m looking at a few years from now. “Look for Me” is my first and only single that’s on actual platforms. Shout out to Moni DelGado who is an amazing producer from Brooklyn. She’s worked with so many amazing people and she’s super talented. I also co-wrote the track with singer and songwriter Quam Kent, who is an amazing person and artist. I give my props to them for helping me. It couldn’t have been done without them.
How did you meet Moni DelGado and Quam Kent?
I know Moni from being around the music scenery in New York; you meet different people all the time. She plays several different instruments and she’s a beast in the booth. Quam is one of my best friends. We went to the same high school and have been glued together ever since.
At the beginning of 2021, you created a YouTube series called Roomies 3F: The Color Pencil Series. How did this show come about and why did you choose to create it in this format?
Roomies 3F took so much work! Although it has imperfections, it further adds to the originality of the show. We’ve never seen a “colored pencil series” before so I felt like I could make my own rules. It’s about three young Black artists living in New York City and an older white woman with her dog is chosen to be their fourth roommate. I went through a similar experience and it did not go as planned. So the show is my take on what would happen if it did go well. It’s just a really funny project. I wrote it during quarantine and I drew all the people and sets. Also, I wrote the script and animated it myself. I ran myself to the ground trying to make this. It was so important because as an artist, especially during the height of quarantine, I feel like you need something to do. If we’re not creating, we just go crazy. It was something cool for me and my friends to work on because auditions were super slow and nothing was happening.
Has the old white lady that you roomed with ever seen the show?
I hope she hasn’t! I thought about it too, but I don’t think so. She was older so maybe she will just never see it and we’ll be okay haha.
Will we have another season coming soon?
I’m working on Roomies 3F season two right now!
You’re currently on the Showtime series “Flatbush Misdemeanors” as Dami and season one just ended a while ago. What has the experience been like for you and how helpful have Kevin Iso and Dan Perlman been for you?
Shout out to Flatbush! Those two are so talented that it makes no sense. This experience has been beyond amazing and I feel blessed every day to be a part of such a great project. I remember my first callback for Dami and I went on Youtube to watch the series. I don’t think it’s there now, but it was there when I first auditioned for it. I watched one or two episodes and I was cracking up! Also, I had just finished making Roomies 3F, so to see Flatbush go from a web series to the screen was and is still such an inspiration! Kevin and Dan are amazing. From making sure that we’re comfortable on set, giving advice off-screen, and being two real stand-up guys. I have no complaints. They are so talented and a huge inspiration. They carry that show on their backs! Kevin also helped me a lot with the Nigerian side of Dami. He’s Nigerian himself so he was able to offer lots of insight that helped me take the character to the next level and up the authenticity.
Dami, the character, is a real one and I fuck with her hard. She was dealt specific cards because obviously, her parents are a little obnoxious. But, I think they do the best that they can and they do what they know how to do. Dami does a good job of maintaining a regular life. She still has friends, problems at school, and just normal teenage things. She is A1. A real stand-up gyal.
There were moments in the show where Dami was able to showcase her Nigerian roots from the interaction with her parents to the food that she eats. I related to that a lot being Nigerian myself. Why do you believe that was important to have on the show?
Representation is everything. One of my biggest goals in the industry is to have younger Black artists look at me and the work I produce and see that if I did it, then they can do it too. To see something that you eat that your parents have been making all your life, and their life, on-screen in an authentic way matters. It’s not something that we see very often and it’s important. Everyone deserves to see themselves on a big platform. It goes a long way.
What is your favorite moment or episode from the series?
My favorite episode is one that I’m not in. It’s the one where Kevin’s sister, Sam, comes to town and Jasmine is at the bar. There is a hookah scene in the episode that makes me laugh a lot. Kerry Coddett, who plays Jasmine on the show, actually wrote that episode. She did her thing!
You’re a talented actress, singer, and overall creative. How have you managed to balance all of these different mediums these last couple of years?
Focus. The pandemic has been so crazy in itself. At the beginning of it, Roomies3F was the only thing that kept me sane and alive during it. The pandemic shut a lot of auditions down and stopped everything abruptly. People often ask me if I like singing or acting more and I get offended when people ask me that question. You can’t make me choose. These two grabbed me from the time I could think for myself, so to choose between the two wouldn’t be fair to me. To balance out everything, you need to know what you want to do and just do it. As simple as that may sound, it’s facts. You need to have a plan and set it out for yourself. Literally, anything is possible if you work hard enough.
Check out her official single, “Look For Me,” here
Check out her Youtube color pencil series, Roomies 3F, here
Check out season one of Flatbush Misdemeanors on Showtime