Interviews / Movies

Musings on the Potency of Art and Emotion with Sharar Ali-Speakes

It takes just a spark for an artist to change the world. Sharar Ali-Speakes finds the deepest nourishment in both treasuring herself and advocating for others. “Multiple things light your soul on fire as an artist,” she says. “The majority revolves around my identity and ever-growing self-love in what that means and looks like for me. As I am inspired by various forms of social justice and raw, authentic storytelling, I love becoming the voice of the voiceless. I like creating stories and finding ways they can connect to people. Art is a beautiful thing and invites you into someone’s soul.” Her voice is most clearly conveyed through her poetry. “The style of poetry I mainly write is Spoken Word. I love the cadence and rhythm in it. I love how I fuse music into it as well. For example, in my piece Complexities of a Black Woman, the beat is set to highlight and inspire the emotion behind the words meant to encourage women of color and educate the masses:

intro: the perplexity/ complexity/ of the complexion of a black woman

so we ask

whose gonna love us 

My dad asked /whose gonna love his daughters 

We are Black Queens/ torn/ from the complexities what your skin brings 

hated/degraded/ even segregated 

Am I too dark? /  is my hair not the standard for beauty/ am i not exotic enough 

maybe it’s the misinterpretation and miseducation /of aggression for my passion 

say we’re too loud / screams and shouts/ from the grave my sisters are crying out/ what about me?/ still falls on deaf ears/so i ask/ whose gonna love me/

we are built with authenticity/ faced with adversity / driven to resiliency/ so i ask/ whose gonna love me 

young black girl you are pivotal to the world (repeat) 


Your black women need the uplifting and gifting of black love 

we are done being crippled by the misrepresentation of over sexualization

Black women are slain because they sit and think that we can bear the pain 

the over maturation of our young black queens 

some led to destitution 

so I ask the revolution 

whose gonna love us 

there are multiple beautiful shades of black 

but what dark skin girls think they lack is lighter skin 

just ask my kin/in Nigeria why they constantly bleach their skin/ colorism a system passed down to win/ the devaluation of black beauty 

whose gonna love us 

we need you to love us 

we are black queens without a crown/ because america has torn us down 

we are taught to survive and live behind a facade to thrive 

Black women are burden and feel deeply too 

so I ask you/ when will we be loved 

Brother Malcolm knew/ we are the most disrespected

If we don’t fit what’s expected/ we are inspected/

to see what’s wrong with us  

the deep and embedded self hatred 

from the death of statement/ i wish i wasn’t black/ we weren’t taught to have each other’s back 

young black girl you are pivotal 

you are a black queen that is vital

don’t let this world have you stay idle 


you birth tribes 

it’s time to /collectively defy the agenda 

from the beginning this was their plan 

young black girl you are pivotal to the world (repeat) 


outro: perplexity/ complexity/ of a complexion of a black women 

love us

Acting and poetry communicate the self in its most distilled form. Sharar is honored to be that conduit. “Before I started acting, I used my poetry as a healthy way to get the numerous thoughts running rampant in my head out,” she says. “Now, my poetry is used to inform and to create the various roles I take on. Writing and acting serve the same purpose; they are used to get people to feel and think. As an actor, the characters I take on have and evoke emotions from their unique perspectives, whereas as a poet, I aim to trigger the reader’s untapped perspective. Both creating poetry and acting are complex and require me to be authentic to assist the intended audience in finding the answer on the journey.” 

Her latest delving into that authenticity is captured in her role as Tia in her new film, Missing. Tia is a source of steadfast stability for the main character, June, as she embarks on one of the most traumatic mysteries of her life when her mom, Grace, disappears. “The film Missing takes place within the same world as the prequel Searching. It’s not exactly a sequel, but it’s in the same universe. The film is about family and the love between a kid and a parent. While June’s mom leaves on vacation, June decides to get lit and live it up while she is away. My character Tia, one of June’s close friends, joins in on her fun adventures. Throughout the movie, Tia and the rest of her friend group periodically check in on June while her mom is missing. Tia is part of June’s emotional support posse, there to help her get lit and to support her in a time of need.” The cast also features Storm Reid and Nia Long. “Working with Storm Reid was super fun and a natural experience. Nothing was forced or faked on screen because of the chemistry created on and off set. Because most of my scenes were mainly with Storm, I have yet to have the opportunity to work with Nia Long [who plays Grace]. However, being in Missing still presented a crazy and surreal moment, for Nia Long worked alongside my mom Bernadette Speakes years ago in the film Love Jones, and now, years later, I’m in a movie with Nia Long. These are the nuggets where acting is pretty cool!” 

The premiere gave Sharar her first red carpet moment! Apprehension aside, it was an overall magical experience. “This being my first red carpet premiere event, I was super nervous thinking about it all day, but I was also super excited to see everyone again. Having exceptional people around to support me helped me feel less anxious. So when I stepped on the step and repeat, it felt normal and like I had done this before. Of course, seeing the movie was great, even if some of my scenes ended on the cutting room floor; we all know that’s just part of the business, so you learn to roll with it. It was great seeing Storm do her thing; she seriously brought it throughout the movie. I also loved having the opportunity to mingle and meet directors, producers, other actors, and executives in a non-working event; it humanizes the whole process. To put it all in one sentence, My first red-carpet event made me hungry for more, and I can’t wait.” Grace’s disappearance brings clarity to the often muddled relationship between teenage girls and their moms. “The power of a daughter’s love is intense, and in the film, Missing, June’s love for her mom is tested. As a typical teenager feeling every emotion, trying to figure out who she is, desiring independence, and questioning her mother’s love,June is dismissive of her mother’s presence and takes her for granted at the film’s beginning. The power of June’s dismissive behavior causes her mom noticeable anguish. However, when June’s mom goes missing – June’s love for her mom causes her to do anything in her power to find her. Seriously no limits. She goes beyond everyone’s wishes to do so, and never seeing her again is not an option. Without spoiling the movie, like June, if anyone were to take or harm my mom in any way, I would do everything beyond my power to rectify the situation.”

You can also see Sharar in an appearance on Truth Be Told. She was in awe of starring opposite such incredible industry trailblazers. Funnily enough, the plot may sound familiar. “Another surreal experience I had was working with Octavia Spencer in the Apple TV+ episodic Truth Be Told. One, because she is a fantastic actor to watch work, and the experience of being on set as she transforms and becomes Poppy Scoville-Parnell is beyond real. Like Nia Long, my mom also worked with Octavia Spencer, so it is incredible to share the screen with another Black woman who not only shared space with my mom but also paved the way for me to do what I love. I also enjoyed working alongside Gabrielle Union. The experience of working with the two women who’ve broken boundaries for me as a Black actor is inspiring and scary at the same time. Inspiring because I know I no longer have to be pigeonholed to do what I was meant to do, yet scary because them being on set with me reminds me it wasn’t long ago that that wasn’t true. I am honored to have had the opportunity to add to the Truth Be Told writes and the director’s vision as Tanya, the friend of a girl who goes ‘missing’ who assists Poppy in finding her. I tell you, it is a full circle.” Sharar cradles each new doorway with gratitude. “My acting experiences have reaffirmed that I have found my purpose in life and what I have to offer this world. Each has added to who I am as a person and a creator. I do not take any job for granted, and I treat each job as if it is my first, with a little more wisdom and depth but with the same tenacity, energy, and willingness to be molded and bring a vision to life. Whether in front or behind the screen or pen, I am an artist with a voice. That is why I remind myself to keep going.” Her passion blazes on. 

Read more Celebrity Interviews on
Musings on the Potency of Art and Emotion with Sharar Ali-Speakes. Photo Credit:  Kim Preston.