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Nzingha Stewart Explores the Ups & Downs of Single Life in “Love by the 10th Date”
Hollywood Director and all-around-fly-girl, Nzingha Stewart’s new film, “Love by the 10th Date” debuts tonight at 8/7c on Lifetime and it’s must-see TV. The story line takes us into the lives of four gorgeous, successful women navigating the ups and downs of dating. It’s a narrative that many know all too well, so we HAD to get the inside scoop from Nzingha on this project and why it’s a movie we’ve got to support in large numbers:
In Her Shoes: Congrats again on “Love by the 10th Date.” Let’s get straight to the good part, shall we? How much of your writing for this project came from personal experiences?
Nzingha: I would say a 100%! Some of the dates that are the funniest to watch, I just changed the names of guys I’ve gone out with to protect the innocent. The concept of the 10th date – and Meagan’s character trying to get there, came from me and different friends who would go on 3 or 4 dates with a great guy and then poof! He disappears. How do you not take that personally? I wanted something that showed if you’re still “out here in these streets” just enjoy the ride – and laugh at the crazy moments, because they really are worth laughing at. Also, it’s kind of energy zapping when you have a broken heart, sometimes you have to will yourself to push through and move forward with your dreams. I’ve learned many lessons, and hopefully they come across in the movie in LOL moment after LOL moment.
In Her Shoes: Which one of the characters would you say is most like you and why?
Nzingha: Ha! They’ve all been me at some point – well, not Billie (Keri Wilson) who is in a sexually open relationship with her husband. And I suppose I’ve never fallen in love with a bisexual guy either. But I’ve tried the celibacy experiment like Margot (Kelly Rowland) – although I wasn’t as strong, God help me. I’ve had my share of insane dates, and realized at times I was settling in love and in my career, and was motivated to change both like Gab (Meagan Good). I think I’m also the closest to Gab because if you notice during the film no matter how bad a date gets for her, if there’s a good meal in front of her, she always stays and finishes her food.
In Her Shoes: If there was one key message that you’d like viewers to take away from this film, what would it be?
Nzingha: Every relationship is the wrong one, until you meet the right one. But even the wrong ones are the right ones in that moment to teach you something, give you some companionship, or maybe like the characters say, you just need to “have fun and get some” don’t take it too seriously. Enjoy the ride. Enjoy the unpredictably. And keep laughing.
In Her Shoes: What are some of the biggest obstacles you face as a Black woman in Hollywood and how do you overcome them?
Nzingha: The biggest obstacles we face are preconceived notions – and those notions are we don’t walk in the door – and sometimes, they assume we can’t do the job (at least on big features.) All the time you see stories of huge movies (I mean like Tron budget movies) and you hear “from first time director” and you’re like “white guy.” That NEVER happens with Black women. The way we overcome preconceived notions is through self-generating material. All of the success stories you hear about Black women in Hollywood – those are women who created their first projects, wrote them, fought for them to be born. Even this movie is an idea that I had, wrote, and brought to the network. Other directors (and by that I mean non-Black directors) are allowed to just direct. You don’t have to be a double or triple threat. They give you a script and you direct it. MOST of the directors in Hollywood aren’t also writers. We often have to go the extra mile and be content creators as well. Silver lining, what wonderful stories in our own voices have come out of that.
In Her Shoes: You’ve had an opportunity to work with a “who’s who” roster of actors and music artists throughout your career. Who’s on your wish list of talent you’d like to work with in the future?
Nzingha: Jay-Z. I’ve worked with him before in music videos, but it was the first name that popped into my head. I think he’s producing and becoming involved in really ground-breaking, provocative stories like the “Kalief Browder” documentary and even the animated feature in the NY Times about the real impact of the drug wars on the black community. Plus, my heart is always with Brooklyn.
In Her Shoes: What is a day like in Nzingha Stewart’s shoes?
Nzingha: Lately, I’ve been waking up really early – which I normally hate – but it’s the only way to get ahead of the day. I jump on the computer to write and answer emails, set goals for the day, drink my coffee – a must. And if it’s a day that I’m shooting, I like to read the days pages in the morning before I get in the shower so I have some time to let my subconscious mull it all over.
If it’s a day that I’m not shooting, I try to get to writing as soon as possible before I get side-tracked. I take little breaks – usually practicing my French, or reading the news, or a few pages of a book I love, and then dive back in. At some point I try to do at least 10 minutes of exercise (more than that and I won’t be back to do it the next day, but hey, it’s better than nothing). And MOST IMPORTANTLY, I try to have dinner or drinks with friends at least several times a week. You have to eat, so you may as well do it with someone you love.
In Her Shoes: What are the top three tips you’d share with a woman who wants to follow your career path?
Nzingha: They’re all more esoteric in nature than hard and fast “industry” tips, but they’re better.
1. Get in alignment. That little extra time praying in the morning, meditating, and most important remembering to list the things that you’re grateful are so important in attracting what you want – or what wants you.
2. Don’t complain.
3. Just stop and ask yourself throughout the day “Am I doing my best?” It’s weird so many times I actually answer, ‘no, put down the phone,’ or ‘no, you’re falling asleep go drink some tea and reboot,’ or just “well, you could be more present.” So I write it everywhere so I remember “I always do my best.” Those three things will make everything else just fall in to place.
In Her Shoes: If there was just one reason why we should all tune in to Lifetime this Saturday to watch “Love by the 10th Date,” what would it be?
Nzingha: The country has had a ROUGH f*cking couple of weeks. And I think we’re in for more. Take the weekend and LAUGH. Be with friends and have a good time, then Monday, we get back to work with a little extra sparkle!