Storm Reid, who starred as Meg in "A Wrinkle in Time" and plays Gia in HBO's "Euphoria," talks about what it's really like being a teenager today and whom she considers a role model after working with some of the biggest names in Hollywood.
The actress and anti-bullying advocate is being honored as a Groundbreaker for TODAY's celebration of International Day of the Girl.
I love the skin that I'm in. As a young African American girl in the entertainment industry, or basically in this world, a lot of people want us to conform to what society wants us to look like or what they want us to be. So to be able to embrace my skin color and my curls and everything that makes me, me is very powerful. And I've learned that it has inspired a lot of young girls to be confident in their own skin, which is very important to me. So, I love me.
I feel like it just comes from my upbringing, and my mom instilling in me that I am beautiful and that I am worthy of being seen and being heard. And all of my family has told me those things my entire life, so I think that helps.
To my generation, I would say don't be afraid to use your voice. Because you are worthy of being seen and being heard.
Being a 16-year-old today is amazing, but scary. I feel like the sociopolitical climate we're in can be a little frightening for a young person like me. But I feel like my generation is handling things so well, and we are powerful and we aren't afraid to use our voices. So I'm proud to be a 16-year-old today.
I can't speak for my entire generation, but we are very hopeful. And we realize that we are the present and the future. We're just trying to make change now so we don't have to make as much change in the future.
I haven't had the typical high school experience. But I do know that people go through the same situations that our characters are going through (on "Euphoria"). And I feel like that's why people love our show, because it is so real. And even though the situations can be heightened, I feel like it is a real depiction of the things we go through. So I'm excited to be a part of a show that is entertainment, but is also evoking a conversation.
To my generation, I would say don't be afraid to use your voice. Because you are worthy of being seen and being heard. And you're beautiful just the way you are. And I just want you to know that you can be amazing through all of your faults, and all the mistakes that you make. You can be perfectly imperfect.
I'm very purposeful with the roles that I choose as an actress and as a new producer and, hopefully, as a director one day. I just want to continue to evoke conversation through my art. And as a philanthropist ... I'm not too comfortable with calling myself an activist, but I feel like I use activism in my art, so "artivism" is what I'm all about. I just want to impact people, and hopefully change people's lives through my art.
I would say self-empowerment is my biggest issue. I have an initiative called B Amazing, which just tries to empower youth and young girls to be positive through self-declarations and the understanding that you don't have to be perfect to succeed and you don't have to conform to what society wants you to do or what they think you should look like.
I just really think empowerment is really important in this day and age, especially with our young people where we are so caught up in what other people think, but also trying to become ourselves and find who we are. So that's what I try to do.
I know I'm still learning. And I'm ever-changing and evolving. And people grow, of course. But I'm pretty one with the universe, and one with myself.
Social media is a very light and dark place. It's a place where we can connect with people and I can connect with my supporters and show them a little piece of me. But it is a place where people choose to be mean and put a lot of hate into the internet, whether that's Instagram, Twitter or even YouTube comments. I know people can be pretty cruel. So I just try to have a positive aspect to my social media as well.
There is a comment here and there where people don't like me. But I just try to brush it off, laugh, delete it or even just leave there, because if that's how they feel, that's how they feel.
I've worked with so many aspirational people. But I would say, Miss Ava (DuVernay), Miss Oprah (Winfrey), Miss Reese (Witherspoon) and Miss Mindy (Kaling) are my biggest role models. I feel like those are the people who I'm closest to. And to just have them in my corner to be able to pour into me, and really guide me, and guide my career is amazing and it's a blessing.
It really inspires me to see how grounded and humble they are; even though they are these giants in this industry, they don't act as though they are. And they really have passion and humility for our industry, still, and really care about the people who they're working with and the art they consume and create. So I just always want to be like that throughout my career and just throughout my life.
As told to TODAY's Emily Sher. This story has been edited and condensed for clarity.