Sometimes inspiration shows up at just the right moment. Growing up, Kimberly Herbert Gregory was fortunate to have “an embarrassment of riches” when it came to strong and inspiring women around her.
“My mother is,” Gregory says. “She just is. There’s nothing that goes after that.”
But it was her fifth-grade teacher, Miss Leveria Johnson who made the biggest impact on the actress who, this fall, has not one but two television shows making waves.
For Gregory, Miss Johnson was the model of a strong woman. She exemplified excellence, creativity, and a female voice. She cast Gregory as Rosa Parks in the school play and instilled in her the notion that if you have it, you shouldn’t hide it.
The lesson clearly took. As season two of Vice Principals gets underway on HBO, fans are waiting to see where the journey of Dr. Belinda Brown, the much-maligned Principal, will turn next. At the same time, there is the highly anticipated arrival of the new ABC series Kevin (Probably) Saves the World.
In both series, Gregory portrays strong characters who are, at the same time, far from perfect. Dr. Belinda Brown excels in her role as an educator and Principal and yet does so with heavy blinders on. She fails to see the sabotage going on right under her nose and struggles to hold her personal life together.
Yvette, Gregory’s character in the upcoming series, is a celestial being who blindly follows her own mission to a fault. Gregory describes her unyielding belief in the cause as “pushing against the universe.”
These sort of strong, complex characters are what’s been missing in entertainment but Gregory sees a shift taking place in the industry.
“I’m excited as a woman and as a woman of color about where I see our industry going in terms of storytelling and voices, and the capacity to have us take up the space…we should have always been in the conversation. That 50% of humanity are viable, are vibrant, and interesting! We want to see ourselves and inspire each other even if it’s not a story of perfection. I have been honored to play Belinda Brown who I hope inspires at least in some way even if to say, wow, it takes a lot of guts to be that messed up.”
Kimberly Herbert Gregory can be seen in Kevin (Probably) Saves the World premiering October 3 on ABC and in Vice-Principals on HBO.