Empowering Style – Special Feature: The Celebrity Wishmaker Simonetta Lein Meets Actress Karimah Westbrook

16 Oct Empowering Style – Special Feature: The Celebrity Wishmaker Simonetta Lein Meets Actress Karimah Westbrook

**Head-shot by Nate Taylor Jumpsuit- Verdad, Necklace- Sequoia Sky

 

Our world is made up of many stories.  We hear them every day: most simply serve as our daily background noise, yet the few that catch your ears are made to stand out. Certain tales are here to stay, some even inspire us so much that they inevitably change the course of human history. I am a storyteller and I have always been fascinated by people and what they can do to impact others. Today, I have with me a woman with a special blessing at the moment: to carry on one of those stories. The woman I have the honor of presenting to you today is an actress by the name of Karimah Westbrook. The unforgettable story is called  Suburbicon.

 

Hailing from Chicago, Illinois, Karimah Westbrook is an American actress who never looked back after crashing an audition and making her big screen debut in the Paramount box office hit Save the Last Dance.

Karimah at first earned recognition for her roles as Ginnie, in the critically acclaimed Sony Classic biopic Baadassss! opposite actor/director Mario Van Peebles, as Claudia Johnson in American Violet opposite Alfre Woodard, as Papa Nebo opposite Johnny Depp in The Rum Diary and as Mrs. Meyers opposite Julianne Moore in the upcoming Coen brothers feature Suburbicon.

Amassing an impressive list of credits, Karimah has appeared in 12 feature films including American Fusion, where she learned to speak Mandarin Chinese. She has guest starred and recurred on over 25 TV shows including  Aquarius, Masters of Sex, The Fosters, and Mad Men, as well as produced several award winning short films.

She also started by writing, producing and starring in short film Best Kept Secret. The film aired on television in the US and garnered international attention. Well received by the arts community, Karimah was nominated for “Best Actress” by the African American Arts Alliance of Chicago, for her work in the film. Karimah Westbrook also produced award-winning short films A Fire In A DovecotWatts & Volts, and Pastor Stuart. 

 

**AMAZING.

 

 

Tell me a bit about yourself, where you are from, what’s your background?

 

My name is Karimah Westbrook, I’m originally from Chicago, and I currently reside in Los Angeles, California. I’m an actor, but I also write and produce. I got my first big break in the industry by crashing an audition for the Paramount box office hit Save the Last Dance. Since then, I have been cast in a number of feature films, working with such iconic actors like Johnny Depp, Alfre Woodard, Giovanni Ribisi and Mario Van Peebles, and I’ve worked on 25 plus TV shows including Shameless, Girlfriends, The Fosters, Mad Men and Masters of Sex.  I have been incredibly fortunate in my career.

 

 

Your upcoming film Suburbicon is based on a true story correct?

 

Yes, my character’s story line based on the true life account of the Meyers family, after their move to Levittown, Pennsylvania in 1957. They faced parallel struggles to what is portrayed in the film – racism, hostility and intolerance. Their neighbors would not accept an African-American family moving into their community, and treated them with extreme disdain and hostility.

 

 

In the film, your character Mrs. Myers is based on acclaimed author, and civil rights icon Daisy Myers.  How did you feel when you found out you were cast in that historic roll?  

 

When I booked Suburbicon, I was obviously incredibly excited, but as I had not yet read Mrs. Myers’ book, I was only vaguely familiar with her persona and story.  As I began to study and prepare for my character, it was during my research that I learned about the incredible and inspirational woman that she was. Learning that she, and her husband William, were civil rights pioneers and that she was known as the Rosa Parks of the North truly humbled me; I knew that I needed to approach the role mindfully in order to respect her legacy.

 

**This is one of those stories I had mentioned before: a tale of a simple and ordinary woman who stood up, risked, fought, inspired, and left a legacy. When at first I heard about Mrs. Myers I immediately felt goosebumps as she was from a place right outside my beloved Philadelphia. I can only imagine what it means to be the only “different one” in your community and feel rejected. We still have a lot to do yet we can be proud of those true stories that changed the course of human history. I find it very important to share, and thanks to this movie Mrs. Myers’ actions will finally receive the long overdue reward that they deserve. Civil Rights advances are a fight towards justice for everyone, and these are the stories I am proud to look up to.

 

 

What is your personal mission?

 

My personal mission is to be a light in this world. I strive to be of service, to inspire, entertain, inform and to bring positivity and balance to situations, not only in my personal life, but also where ever I am lead.

 

 

As you are a part of my Empowering Style series, it means that you have an affinity for fashion. Why?

 

I have a great appreciation for fashion as I feel that it reflects one’s individuality in character and persona.

 

 

Your film is set in the late 1950’s and reflects beautifully detailed and historically accurate period costuming by Jenny Eagan.  What is your favorite era for fashion and why?

 

Jenny Eagan is so great at what she does, and she captured the late 1950’s beautifully in Suburbicon.  I really love the fashion eras of both the 1960’s and ‘70’s, but if I had to choose, I’d say my favorite era was the 70’s. I love all the patterns, the bold shapes and colors and the durability of fabrics.  The 70’s were funky!

 

**Here is my “Empowering Style” collection for Karimah Westbrook: classy, fierce funky and feminine.

 

Photo- Michael Bezjian for The Artists Project, Blouse and shorts- Verdad, Boots- Michael Antonio, Necklace- La Fiancée Du Facteur

**This is a modern yet vintage inspired look. The colors are perfect for the Fall, it is definitely fierce and can classy up many situations – from a walk in the park to a cocktail with friends.

 

Photo- Michael Bezjian for The Artists Project, Dress- Verdad, Shoes- Michael Antonio, Earrings- La Fiancée Du Facteur, Sunnies- Black

**This is an amazing funky dress, perfectly accessorized with the right shoes. Definitely a knock out for whomever sees this beauty. Karimah, you slay.

 

Photo Michael Bezjian for The Artists Project , Jumpsuit- Verdad, Earrings- La Fiancée Du Facteur

**Love the pattern of this jumpsuit: again vintage vibes brought into an ultra modern context make this look contemporary yet boho chic, sophisticated yet inviting, elegant yet simple. I adore your style Karimah.

 

 

What’s your key, can’t live without, piece in your wardrobe?

 

I’m all about comfort and honestly can’t live without my favorite sweatpants.

 

 

What is that magic word that reflects you?

 

Sunshine.

 

Photo Michael Bezjian for The Artists Project , Jumpsuit- Verdad, Earrings- La Fiancée Du Facteur

**A smile is a how to make this world a better place, and this smile is pure sunshine to me.

 

 

What is a wish that you would commit to granting this year to someone as a chance to pay it forward?

 

As an actor, I’m pro actors and I really love helping aspiring actors in any way I can. I wrote a book back in 2012 entitled A Plan of Action for the Aspiring Actor. It was a part of my commitment to share and always give back. I remember how much help or guidance I desired when I first started pursuing acting. A wish that I would commit to granting this year would be to a mentor an aspiring actor trying to find their way in this industry. I have over twenty years of experience and I am more than happy to lend my time to share everything I know and to give the best advice I can to an aspiring actor who wish they had someone in their life that can help them in that way.

 

**Giving back to the community, Karimah Westbrook served as a mentor and board member of the Leadership Council for a Place Called Home, a youth center in South Central Los Angeles that helps young adults in the inner city find success and self-reliance. During her tenure, Westbrook helped to produce Stars & Strikes, an annual fundraising event to support the center’s mission. I am very proud to have had the possibility to cross paths with Karimah, and it would be an honor to create something meaningful together.

 

As always, make your wishes come true.

 

From Philadelphia, The celebrity Wishmaker Simonetta Lein

 

 

 

 

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20 Comments
  • Cheval John
    Posted at 18:39h, 16 October Reply

    Great post. Learned something new about the 1950s and the civil rights movement.

  • Dr. Baker
    Posted at 18:40h, 16 October Reply

    Wonderful! Such a positive and inspiring piece from such positive and empowering women!

  • Michael
    Posted at 18:49h, 16 October Reply

    2 Inspirations for the price of 1.
    Thank You ladies.

  • Darlene
    Posted at 19:01h, 16 October Reply

    I love this post! It’s very positive and inspiring for mostly women trying to make statement in the world! So empowering.

    Thanks for writing this!

    xxx
    D

  • Brian Dennis
    Posted at 19:25h, 16 October Reply

    Super cool interview #headshots #helping others be kind and smile

  • Thomas Falkenstedt
    Posted at 20:03h, 16 October Reply

    What a resumé and what an interview! She truly is a source of inspiration and in her answer to your last question “paying for an aspiring actor’s headshots” is just too good. I mean, someone else would come with some crap such as “I’d want to help change the climate issue” or lord knows what, but this is actually doable and something she has personal experience of not being able to do (as those shots ARE expensive). Truly inspiring and a great interview!
    Thomas xx

  • LAFOTKA
    Posted at 10:25h, 17 October Reply

    Oh my goodness! She’s so inspiring AND gorgeous! Love that she’d like to help other aspiring actors and it’s amazing that the pay it forward question was asked! Not many really care…

    Tatyana x
    LAFOTKA

  • Candace
    Posted at 16:33h, 17 October Reply

    I knew she looked familiar, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Karimah Westbrook sounds like an extraordinary person and she is super talented in the movies and shows I’ve seen her in. I’m also more inclined to check out Verdad too for those jumpsuits she is wearing, She looks so amazing!
    http://www.thebeautybeau.com/

  • Meg
    Posted at 01:25h, 18 October Reply

    This is such a great post! Thank you for interviewing such an amazing and inspiring woman. This is so cool!

    http://www.meghanlaurie.com

  • Rachael Sia
    Posted at 10:43h, 18 October Reply

    This is great! Loved getting to know you more girl! Also the photos are AMAZING!! Keep em coming
    ps i’m also the same, i’m all for a good pair of trousers or trackies for comfy times hehe

    xx
    Ray
    http://www.yourbaeray.com

  • Valeria
    Posted at 16:13h, 18 October Reply

    Amazing feature Simonetta! I remember Karimah from Save the Last Dance and Mad Men. She is very talented and charming, a truly empowered woman. I wish her huge success for her upcoming movie Suburbicon! Much love, Valeria

  • Jennifer Lee Quattrucci
    Posted at 14:54h, 19 October Reply

    I am so glad you choose her! Such a phenomenal woman and Save The Last Dance is actually my all time favorite movie! She had been such an important and positive role model in the lives of so many and you captured her beautifully!

  • candi
    Posted at 07:52h, 20 October Reply

    I loved reading this post. I’ve seen her recently when I was binge-watching Mad Men and what a coincidence I find her here today, SUch an inspiring role model 🙂 Loved getting to know her more!

    Ps I also love all the outfits, especially the Verdad Jumpsuit – omg I want it in my wardrobe nowww!

    candi x
    thelollychase.com

  • candi
    Posted at 07:52h, 20 October Reply

    I loved reading this post. I’ve seen her recently when I was binge-watching Mad Men and what a coincidence I find her here today, Such an inspiring role model 🙂 Really enjoyed getting to know her more!

    Ps I also love all the outfits, especially the Verdad Jumpsuit – omg I want it in my wardrobe nowww!

    candi x
    thelollychase.com

  • Toyosi
    Posted at 06:17h, 22 October Reply

    Love reading your interviews with people as it opens up a lot of inspiring thoughts!!!Karimah is such a breath of fresh air plus her willingness to give back and support New and upcoming act is such an endearing act and she’s super stylish too ..love all of her pictures!!!!!

    http://toyosigregoryjonah.com/best-deal-criticism/

  • Kamen Kamenov
    Posted at 07:21h, 22 October Reply

    Wow as usual really cool and informative interview my darling. Love ur work and keep shining

  • Dom Baza
    Posted at 06:19h, 23 October Reply

    Hello my friend! I always love coming on here and getting inspired by the woman you feature! Karimah is a beautiful inspiration and I love her soul that shines through this interview! I also love Save The Last Dance! One of my fave movies!
    Thank you for another beautiful feature and interview.
    Love, Dom

  • kallie
    Posted at 17:18h, 23 October Reply

    I love the positivity here, such an inspiring post for women trying to make a statement in the world! So empowering.

    Kallie
    kallieflexman.com

  • Del D
    Posted at 02:20h, 24 October Reply

    This is such a positive article — especially for women who are trying hard to make a difference. Love it and thanks Simonetta.
    Del
    delduduit.com

  • Rachael Sia
    Posted at 02:35h, 01 November Reply

    YESSS She is PHENOMENAL!!! loved this little interview 🙂
    xx
    Ray
    http://www.yourbaeray.com

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