Elise on Life
Posted On Jan 14, 2014
BY Ruchel Louis Coetzee
Celebrated actress kimberly elise, who has captivated us in Beloved and on VH1’s Hit the Floor, insists on peace and simplicity within the tumultuous world of Hollywood. Delving deep with her daily yoga practice and staying ever youthful with a vegan diet, she gracefully glides into the future and accepts life’s bumps as they come in a calm, meditative manner.
NEW YOU: Where did your passion for yoga come from?
KIMBERLY ELISE: I remember getting a book about yoga from the library when I was about ten, and it just seemed interesting to me. As I got older, it became a way to exercise my body and keep myself toned in a mind-body practice. My general philosophy is that everything happens in my best interest. I am less resistant to things that happen that I don’t understand, and that relieves me of a lot of stress.
NY: Two years ago you became a vegan. Why?
KE: First, I became a vegetarian for twelve years, and then went full vegan two years ago, so I haven’t had flesh in fourteen years. I found that when I ate meat I would have these bad stomachaches. If I ate a hamburger, an hour later I would have these horrible cramps, and I never made the connection. I was bloated—like I was four months pregnant. Now, all of that has stopped. It’s like my system is quiet.
NY: Being a vegan, how do you maintain a nutrient-rich diet?
KE: I take liquid supplements to fill in those holes that I can’t always get out of plant products. I also have at least one protein smoothie a day, which consists of kale, spinach, some fruit, berries, and my favorite—Vega protein powder. I am well vitamined up.
NY: What are some of your most prized trade beauty secrets?
KE: I don’t like the taste of alcohol, I don’t smoke, and I drink tons of alkaline water. I have an alkaline machine at home. And no matter how tired I am, I always clean off my makeup and moisturize my skin.
NY: What is one beauty product you cannot do without?
KE: I am an “eye person,” so I like to enhance my eyes with mascara and pretty eye shadow. I’m still exploring good, natural lines for women of color. I did see some things I liked in the Mineral Fusion line.
NY: What is your best makeup tip for maintaining a natural look?
KE: Less is more. I try to use foundation only in the areas that need it. Maybe my cheeks are splotchy, or my forehead is darker or lighter than the rest of me. But I am not one to put it all over my face. For photographs and the red carpet, I try to have as much of the natural me show through.
NY: What are the challenges you have experienced with your hair?
KE: I wear my hair natural. I don’t use any chemicals in it. It’s not relaxed and I don’t use any heat in my hair. The biggest challenge was learning my hair. In the African-American community, we start pressing and straightening our hair—doing things to our hair at a very young age—and we don’t really know our hair outside of “pressed” or “relaxed.” That’s through the generations, but many of us are now going back to our natural hair. I finally understand that our hair needs lots of moisture. We need lots of oils and lots of water, otherwise our hair will get very, very dry and break off. Our hair is much more fragile than people realize.
NY: Who inspires you to be the kind of actress you are today?
KE: Cicely Tyson, on a lot of levels. As a young girl I saw her films like Miss Jane Pittman and then, years later, we happened to both be working in Toronto. She said, “You’re in the same hotel. Let’s have lunch.” We took a boat ride and we talked and talked.
NY: What was the one major take-away from that lunch?
KE: With someone like that, you just listen and they offer. She told me to protect my spirit, protect my light, and always follow my own truth. She said I was doing great work and to stay on my path. I just listened. Today she is still very significant in my life. She’s a meditator, and when I’ve gone through challenging times she asks if I am doing my yoga. She encourages me as an actress and in life in general. As a person, as a spirit, and as a woman, she is a major force.
NY: Do you think that all women need somebody to walk next to in life?
KE: Yes. It has to be the right energy, the right person who has found truth and who knows him- or herself. Then, yes, we bring out each other’s powers. My mother is extraordinary and is one of my best friends, who walks very closely next to me and makes me feel my power. In my show Hit the Floor, we have a lot of young actresses who are new to the business. This is their first big break—like Taylour Page, who plays my daughter. I encourage her to walk close to me, and I see she has started coming in every day with her green smoothie like I do, and bought a book on becoming a vegan. She is trying to improve herself. I think if she can pick up some of these skills for herself it will help her survive in this industry. Just as Ms. Tyson has reached back to me, I’m reaching back to Taylour. We empower each other. No one can understand it more than another woman who has found her way.
NY: What is your philosophy for life?
KE: I accept things as they come, and know that I am protected. Everything that happens to me is in my best interest. I’m really excited about being alive. I don’t want to leave this world and then realize what a great opportunity I had and missed because I was feeling bad, or I was overly worried, or I was chasing the rabbit. I enjoy this life experience and I am excited to participate in it. I am grateful for everything that has happened to me.
Kimberly’s Vegan Brownie recipe
1½ cups raw walnuts or raw pecans (unsoaked)
? tsp salt
16 pitted medjool dates
? to ? cups cacao powder
½ cup chopped dried cherries
2 tsps water
1. Coarsely chop nuts in food processor.
2. Set aside ½ cup of the chopped nuts.
3. Add salt to walnuts in processor until finely ground.
4. Add dates in processor until mixture sticks together.
5. Add cacao powder to processor until well integrated.
6. Add cherries and lightly mix in.
7. Pour mixture into baking dish and press down with hands. Refrigerate for an hour then cut into squares.