Mouna Traoré is acting, producing and if you ask her; becoming a stunt woman isn’t completely ruled out either. Jute Fashion Magazine got to know the In Contempt actress better and learned a lot about who this French Chic loving woman is. Read about her fish-pond-metaphors, her dream movie with Liam Hemsworth, and her commitment issues:

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First of all; who is Mouna? What do you do and what is there to know about you?

My name is Mouna Traoré. I’m an actor, writer and producer born and raised in Toronto, Canada. I’m a sci-fi fantasy & Afrofuturism obsessed nerd and an avid book reader. I also love donuts.

As I understand; you are also a producer. Has it always been your plan to do both (acting and creating)?

It was never planned! I’ve always done both. Since I was a kid, writing has always been an interest of mine. I wrote my first play in high school when I was 16. I never aspired to become a “writer”. It was just an inherent part of my self-expression along with a natural desire to create content I felt excited about performing.

 

Is there another profession that you would love to try out sometime?

Stunt woman!

Do you prefer acting or producing?

Acting is my first true love, but writing and producing are my side piece if you know what I mean. I have commitment issues! I prefer acting because it gives me the most pleasure. I love the visceral feeling of connecting with another human being, breathing life into script, and exploring the deepest parts of humanity. I can’t imagine my life without it. I would be absolutely miserable if I wasn’t performing on a regular basis.

Then we are glad you are not miserable! About performing; what are your current projects?

I’m currently on a very provocative television show called ‘In Contempt’ on BET. It’s a one-hour legal drama that follows several characters working at a New York City public defender’s office. I’m also on a really exciting show called ‘Condor’ on ATT Audience Network. It’s a CIA thriller based on the 1975 political drama “Three Days of the Condor”.

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When did you started acting and how did you get started?

I started acting pretty young. I must have been at least 7 or 8 when I started taking classes at a studio in downtown Toronto. I begged my parents over and over to enroll me in acting classes. From there I went to Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan, studying 8 weeks a summer, and then I attended the Etobicoke School for the Arts for high school. I also trained privately with coaches at various studios in Toronto. Right before my 16th birthday, I typed out a resume and used my allowance to pay for my first set of headshots. I mailed my package into agencies around the city and the rest is history!

So, you have pretty much always known that acting was what you wanted to do?

Yes. I’ve known since I was maybe 3 years old. I saw people on TV and instinctively knew I wanted to do what they were doing even though I didn’t really know what it was.

 

When I think of actors I usually think of Hollywood. Now you are based in Toronto. Would you say that there are differences between Toronto and Hollywood? 

Well, Hollywood is a town where almost everyone works in the industry at some capacity. You really can’t get away from it. Toronto is more of a melting pot. Most of the people I interact with on a daily basis are completely disconnected from the film industry. The industry in Toronto is also significantly smaller. Very often, I work with the same people over and over again. In Hollywood, it seems like there’s a never-ending influx of people working in the film industry. I’m sure it would take decades to meet all the casting directors and producers. In Toronto, it’s easier to become a big fish in a small pond, versus Hollywood, where you might always be a small fish in a big pond!

And would you consider swimming in the big pond?

I would definitely like to move to Hollywood when the time is right! If work brings me here and it feels like the right move, I’ll take the leap. With the push for diversity, I know there are so many more opportunities for someone like me out there. I think I could make a great life for myself. But, like I said, I have commitment issues!

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Talking about your plans, what are your goals for the next few years?

To work on more feature films and to work almost exclusively on content that has some kind of meaning for me. I want to feel a deep connection to the projects I work on. I also want to get to a level where I can actually start helping people and create meaningful change through my work. I’m not sure what that looks like, but I’m excited to find out!

Obviously, your work has not just meaning to you but also to others! You have already won the Montreal Black Film Festival in 2016; are these the moments that you became an actress for?

Winning an award at the Montreal Black Film Festival in 2016 was such a wonderful surprise! But what I became an actress for is the moments behind the scenes, on set where I completely forget that this is my job and I’m just having fun. I live for the experiences on set where all of the actors are just riffing and completely in love and surrendered to the characters and the world they’re in.

Is this the best part of your job?

The best part about my job is that it almost never feels like a job. It’s such a privilege. Honestly, I would pay money to be an actor.

With becoming an actor, you also become different characters. How easy/ hard is it for you to change the characters that you have to play?

When a character has a big shift in a story arc, it can be hard to let go of certain aspects of that character’s personality and physicality. It’s like any old habit you have to unlearn. You get comfortable in a certain way of being and then you suddenly have to change it AND make it make sense. It takes a few reminders before those changes settle in and become second nature.

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So, do you prefer playing characters that are super similar to your real one or totally different ones?

I think it depends how close the character is to me in the script. In the film ‘Acquainted’ directed by Natty Zavitz, my character Alana is basically me. And it was probably the most fun I’ve ever had because I almost never get to improvise dialogue or say things that are my real thoughts verbatim. Intellectually, I love the challenge of playing a character that is totally different than myself, but I usually have way more anxiety and stress around the actual performance because I’m so concerned about it being believable.

If you could produce your own movie and cast every single actor you would like for it; what would this production look like?

It would be an adaptation of Octavia E. Butlers novel ‘Kindred’ starring myself, Liam Hemsworth, Domhnall Gleeson, Mike Colter, Winston Duke, Isla Fisher, and Jamie McShane. There’s a few other roles I need to cast in my fantasy. And it would be directed by Ava DuVernay. It’s one of my favorite novels. It’s about a black woman who is mysteriously transported back to the past, in the Antebellum south, and how she has to adapt to very traumatic conditions of southern slave society, as well as not knowing how or why this is all happening. Riveting!

I would definitely go to the movies for that one! I guess she has to learn some things the hard way. What’s something that you had to learn the hard way?

It was hard for me to learn that asking for help isn’t an admission of inadequacy. I’ve messed up a lot of things by being stubborn and trying to figure things out on my own. For so long I thought that not being able to do things by myself meant that I was incompetent. Asking for help and collaborating actually enhances and supports you as an artist. I wish I’d learned that years ago.

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What would you recommend young ambitious actors that look up to you?

Study, study, study. Go to classes. Study the masters. Learn about the people who inspire you and find out what they did, and how they got to be where they’re at. Take the information that works for you and leave the rest!

As a young woman I guess you are also at least a bit into fashion. How would you describe your own style and do you have a style role model?

I don’t have any one role model, but there’s a few Instagram girls I like. Aimee Song (@songofstyle), Olivia Culpo (@oliviaculpo) and friend Nadine Mossalam (@nadinemos) inspire me the most. I’m mostly influenced by French brands and streetwear trends. I’m sure there’s a catchy phrase somewhere for that?

Editorial fashion, fashion magazine, fashion magazines, fashion magazines that accept submissions, fashion magazine submissions, fashion magazine submissions, fashion publication, Jute Fashion Magazine, Jute Magazine, Jute Mag, online fashion magazine, online fashion publication, online magazine, submissions, submission magazine, submission fashion magazine, style, fashion, editorial, model, New York, NYC, New York Magazine, NYC fashion magazine, New York fashion magazine, Central Park, Conservatory Gardens, Mouna Traore, Lynzi Judish, Sydnee Paige, Li Murillo, Sandy Nicha, actress, In Contempt, Amur, Steve Madden, Gold Philosophy, Hellessy, Dtrespa, Lulus, Loft, Sachin & Babi, Argento Vivo

 

photographer: Lynzi Judish

stylist: Sydnee Paige

hair: Li Murillo

makeup: Sandy Nicha

story: Marie-Christin Tripolt

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