1.) Basic, simple question: who are you and what do you do?
I'm Naima! I am an internationally recognized model, singer, actress and author. I'm also a Buddhist—I strive towards success in my career with strong determination to really show actual proof that living your dreams is and can be reality.
2.) Where are you currently based?
My career takes me all over the world, which is incredible! But, I'm currently based in Mexico City. I wanted to base myself in Mexico because part of my family is from there. My grandparents were both incredible world renowned visual artists part of the Mexican muralist and print-making movement in the 1940s. Through art, they helped to empower and dignify marginalized working class and people of color during the time. As an Afro-Latina, there is a great legacy there that I need to be connected to as part of my culture and heritage.
3.) Where is your favorite place to work?
I find myself having to work wherever I can. I don't stop. If I have a break between running to castings, I am reading the next script, studying Buddhist theology or writing song lyrics in a local park or cafe. But my favorite place to work has to be on a plane. There is something about looking down into the clouds, with my headphones on, excited about where I am going and the adventures I have that inspire me to create and feel fulfilled.
4.) How do you bounce back from a tough day at work?
Depends really where I am in the world. But, usually I go for a short one to two-mile run uphill to release the stress and rebuild those endorphins, followed by some strong and determined chanting, good dinner and a movie.
5.) What’s one thing that really excites you about work right now?
I think that life is a continuous work in progress at being truly happy. Discovering new levels of that is incredible, and implementing that into my work is the most exciting thing for me. Because I get to share that feeling of happiness with people through my art, which in turns feels the most authentic, satisfying and complete.
6.) What led you to your current career path?
I was actually discovered by casting agents while working at a coffee shop in NYC to star on America's Next Top Model. Winning the competition launched my career as a model, but pursuing and becoming an author, singer and actress came from my heart and need to create and inspire. My whole family are artists, so it felt only natural for me to fall in line and inspire people the way I was taught by my parents, siblings, and grandparents.
7.) How do you remain motivated, inspired?
I chant. My Buddhist practice with the Soka Gakkai International offers me limitless encouragement to live my life to the fullest without fear. It is an obligation to myself to feel joy and be fulfilled, and who would I be as a person if I didn't share that joy with people around me? I have the fortune of having a supportive fan base of thousands of people around the world. In some way, I feel an obligation to them as well. As a poetic person, everything inspires me.
8.) What's your favorite app and/or piece of tech and why?
My favorite app right now is MeisterTask. As my career is multifaceted, I have to keep track of multiple to-do lists and priorities amongst the day-to-day schedule for castings, photoshoots, traveling and recording. The app is seamless between my laptop, tablet and smart phone. It has been life changing from the endless 'to do' lists that I've made in the past that have had no order what so ever.
9.) What does your morning routine look like and why do you keep one?
I am beginning to love mornings! I wake up, make a pot of coffee. Then I chant for an hour to focus my life condition. Then I work out, usually running for about 30 minutes. Then shower, smoothie and head on with the day. I keep this morning routine because it helps me to feel strong before approaching the world and the rest of life. It is my time of meditation, inward determination and healing.
10.) What's on your reading list?
I'm currently reading "Kosen Rufu, Our Mission: A collection of essays" by Daisaku Ikeda.
11.) Who's your woman in tech/business icon?
I have two; one is Tracee Ellis Ross. Not only does she have her clothing collection with JC Penny, but it was something that rolled out with grace and style and accessibility to all women. I can so appreciate that as a fashion insider. She is always authentically herself and celebrates the people around her, and I see this gives way to her career success as an actress and business woman.
The other is a good friend of mine, Tatiana Lee. She is leading the way in tech development and entertainment industry for women with disabilities. She's been received by Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, for the work she's doing in breaking barriers. Her blog is truly inspiring!