Intelligent, purposeful and passionate in her craft, and an undeniable talent are all ways Antoinette has been described over the last few years.
She has quickly emerged in the entertainment business as “one to watch,” consistently booking high profile projects, and she isn't slowing down anytime soon.
Born to immigrant parents Antoinette’s childhood was spent between Florida and her parents native island Jamaica. She attributes her intense connection to nature and her heritage, with her frequent trips back to Jamaica.
This year Antoinette can be seen starring in the Netflix comedy series “Dear White People.” Based on Justin Simien’s acclaimed indie feature, the series chronicles the lives of several black students at a predominately white, Ivy League university as racial tensions spike, and is a send-up of “post-racial” America that weaves a universal story about forging one’s own unique path.
Antoinette is a scene stealer as Coco Conners, an economics major at the university (and bombshell) who is baffled by Winchester’s hierarchy of blackness that favors natural hair over the “good hair” she bought. “Dear White People” was premiered on April 28, 2017 and joins “Orange is the New Black” as Lionsgate’s second original series for Netflix.
Additional credits for Antoinette include major recurring roles on the CW’s “Hart of Dixie,” OWN’s “The Haves and the Have Nots,” and a guest star role on the award-winning FX series “Atlanta.”
CEM got the chance to chat with Antoinette Robertson about her role as Coco” Conners and what the future holds for her.
What inspired you to become an actress?
After taking my first theatre class in college I felt an overwhelming desire to pursue acting. I'd never felt that kind of freedom of expression before and I knew that was a feeling I could no longer live without.
Your parents are both Caribbean immigrants, where are they from?
Both of my parents are from Jamaica.
How was it growing up in a Caribbean household?
With an atmosphere of constant love and support, I was raised in Jamaica by a single mother. My mother's fortitude and encouragement are the reasons I believed I could do and become anything I could imagine. She was super strict though and looking back on it, I'm forever grateful because without a firm hand I wouldn't be who I am today. She taught me there is no substitute for discipline and hard work and that is the only reason I have the work ethic I do today.
You play the role of Colandrea “Coco” Conners on Netflix’s Dear White People, how did that come about?
I was obsessed with the character from the movie and would have loved an opportunity to play her. As fate would have it, I was given an opportunity to audition!! I was super excited and I knew it was a role I was destined to play. So I auditioned for the role and the creator and executive producers appreciated my interpretation of who I believed Coco was at her core and the rest is history.
Tell us about this character and what excites you about this role?
Coco is a real young woman struggling with her identity. This character was so well written that I was so overjoyed to be entrusted with bringing her to life. Being able to have such a multidimensional character with such a dynamic arc was indeed a dream of an opportunity for me.
The initial trailer for the TV show has attracted controversy, what are your thoughts?
People fear what they don't understand. So I feel that the misguided uproar was nothing other than ignorance. Bless their hearts. That was a testament to how ridiculous you look when you judge a book by its cover.
What is your hope for viewers to take away from Dear White People?
I hope viewers take away these stories with the understanding that we are all more alike than we are different and people of color are not monolithic human beings, but rather multidimensional, complex individuals.
You have had recurring roles on the CW’s “Hart of Dixie,” OWN’s “The Haves and the Have Nots.” In reality, are you similar to any of those characters?
No, lol. I gravitated to ALL of the roles I portrayed because they gave me an opportunity to explore a point of view outside of my own. I feel like that's the only way to grow as an artist.
Who has influenced you?
In life, my mother. She is an amazing giving woman of God. In art, Meryl Streep. She simply is the best.
So far, what has been your favorite acting role and why?
I've always wanted to play a woman who is a force to be reckoned with. Coco Conners is that force. So, playing her has been by far my favorite role. Having conversations about colorism and racial identity. Going along on this journey with this unique, yet relatable black woman who is struggling with accepting herself. Seeing how she learns to embrace her individuality and reject society's limitations is such a gift to the art. That representation needed to be seen on this scale.
If you were not acting what would you be doing?
If I wasn't acting I would probably be a professional beach bum. Just kidding. I'm absolutely in love with the ocean. Seriously, probably a marine biologist.
What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to become an actress?
Study and constantly pursue growth in every area of your craft. Integrity, disciple and consistency will take you far in this business and in life.
Are there any upcoming projects and/or events that you would like to mention?
I created my own series and I'm currently getting all of pre-production done so I can finally make my producing debut. I'm so excited about learning and growing behind the camera as well.
Photo credit:Bobby Quillard