If there’s a stereotype about young Hollywood being out of control, Imani Hakim blows it to pieces. The former child actress, who cut her teeth on the hit series Everybody Hates Chris, grew up in the public eye but speaking to this well rounded young woman you would never guess. There isn’t a trace of the young Hollywood we have come to expect, Hakim presents herself as a consummate professional with a laser focus to the future. She credits her parents and maintaining a tight circle of good people with helping her stay balanced. Now 23, Hakim is a role model for young women everywhere but she doesn’t let this change her. She says it is important to remember that celebrities are also human beings. Hakim believes it is necessary to look at who a person is, not just what it is they do.
Since her days on Everybody Hates Chris, Hakim has gone on to take on quite a few inspiring roles including a portrayal of gymnast Gabby Douglas for “The Gabby Douglas Story.” Douglas was the first African American gymnast to be named Individual All-Around Champion in artistic gymnastics at the Olympic Games.
Now Hakim is turning her talents to a very different, and much darker subject matter. In the upcoming Netflix film Burning Sands, Hakim plays Rochon, the girlfriend of a fraternity pledge (played by Trevor Jackson) at an all-black university where the hazing ritual is particularly and notoriously violent. Hakim describes her character as “a strong, powerful, young, independent fashionista” and notes with pride that the film balances the male energy with powerful female energy throughout.
Extreme hazing is a subject that has been in the news quite a lot over the last several years. Hakim says she fell in love with the script and with Netflix’s willingness to bring the film’s vision to life and shine a light on this difficult topic. In the film, one pledge must choose between his longing for acceptance and brotherhood within the fraternity and his belief that he must stand up against the dangerous hazing process.
For Hakim, a love of acting took hold early in life. At seven years old, her love of writing led to the pursuit of other creative outlets. She never looked back. To this day, her passion for acting fuels her. Hakim draws inspiration from the arts as a whole, often finding an unexpected muse from other art forms. After watching the recent Grammy presentation she found herself once again filled with awe and fully in love with the arts. She counts herself lucky to wake up every day and work in the creative field.
As for the women who inspire Imani Hakim, Jada Pinkett Smith and Kerry Washington sit at the top of her list. She recognizes that we live in a moment when women in film and television are changing the game and she aspires to play a part in this history. In Pinkett Smith, Hakim sees a woman who is at base just a girl from Baltimore but who has nevertheless accomplished remarkable things throughout her life and career. Hakim herself, as she puts it, is just a girl from Cleveland. She speaks modestly about her own accomplishments and with hope for the future of her career. With her roots in firmly, she is well on her way to finding her place in the Hollywood firmament of powerful female voices.
Burning Sands will stream on Netflix March 10.