The 15 Most Inspiring Moments From Our Interview With Danai Gurira

We’re always on the hunt for new, meaningful ways to approach self-care — and turning the topic into a conversation with others never seems to let us down. What’s the latest workout class our work wives can’t get enough of, the meditation app helping our roommates unwind, or, say, the political newsletter keeping our siblings informed? Whatever it is, learning about other people’s habits for a healthier, more active lifestyle can be super informative — not to mention, pretty inspiring.

That said, at the recent New York opening of 29Rooms, we got the chance to sit down with none other than critically acclaimed actress, Reebok brand ambassador, and general badass Danai Gurira to talk all things fitness, activism, and the many different forms of self-care. Not only did we learn some fascinating trivia about the global icon herself (did you know she was a psychology major?), we also walked away with more than a few motivational tips on everything from learning how to unplug to becoming a better activist to finding the right workout gear. So do yourself a favor: Check out the 15 most standout moments from our interview with Gurira, here.

On Reebok’s “Be More Human” campaign:
“The Be More Human campaign is about allowing us to celebrate ourselves and find our strength — mentally, physically, and spiritually — through fitness. The joy of fitness, the power of it. We’re not often encouraged to do that as women — [find] our physical power.”

On the brand’s new PureMove sports bra:
“I could not be more of an advocate for women finding the things — whatever they may be — that really make them feel stable, supported, and able to do their thang. Because that’s the whole point: You want to be able to do your thang with ease, with comfort, and really feel like, I am where I’m supposed to be. Being in your skin allows that, and PureMove feels like your skin.”

On the importance of fitness:
“I know that if I get a workout in before I go to work, I will have a better day after I’ve given my body that jumpstart … I will feel better, I will feel fuller, I’ll feel fitter, I’ll feel stronger, I’ll feel more ready, and I’ll feel more present. It’s real in that sense.”

On prioritizing working out:
“People ask the classic question, ‘How do you find the time?’ How do you find the time for anything? Everybody makes time for what they want to make time for. It’s a choice. It’s about prioritizing. And it is sacrificial, because you are sacrificing other things you’d rather do, but [working out] is going to pay off in ways that those other things will not.”

On taking the time to unplug:
“I try to take Sundays off, and taking Sundays off means that you trust the universe to function without you for one full day. It’s hard to unplug! And I think regenerating that way is very important to me … taking a day to be a daughter, a sister, a friend. You can actually start to do less of that as your life gets more full. Focusing on those outside of my own life is a way of self-caring, ironically.”

On knowledge as self-care:
“Expanding what I know and understand about the world around me is [also] a form of self-care, because I want to be a participating citizen of the world. I’ll pick up a book, read an important publication, watch a documentary, or learn something about the world. I try plugging into the things that I can do, so that I am participating as much as possible.”

On the importance of awareness:
“What I find is that you cannot be an advocate or an activist without awareness. Once you get aware, once you are actually informed about issues that are happening in very specific, clear ways that are not disputable, then you are actually able to garner a passion around it and want to participate.”

On when she first became aware of gender inequality:
“Since I was a little girl, when I saw the disparities between gender treatment across the world, I always thought , This doesn’t make any sense. From the age of about 8, it just didn’t make sense to me on any scale.”

On the power of information:
“A lot of the time, women can’t name other women Nobel Peace Prize winners. We have to be able to know other women, our heroes — our sheroes — who are out there and have done amazing things against astounding odds. We have to know who they are, reference them quickly. When we’re in a world that combats our greatness, we have to know where to pull from to say, ‘I know that so-and-so did that under those circumstances, what would stop me from doing this under mine?’”

On her early love for the performing arts:
“I was a part of the Children’s Performing Arts Workshop in Zimbabwe — which still exists — which helped me understand that this is a craft, this is an art form. You have to treat it with reverence, with respect. And I loved that we were encouraged to create stories. That was something that I garnered a hunger for and an understanding of initially from that age, and it just became a bug that stuck.”

On choosing a psychology major:
“I grew up right next door to South Africa, in Zimbabwe. Throughout my whole childhood, South Africa was under apartheid; I couldn’t go next door, but my white classmates could. That was something that was always kind of interesting to me, so I really wanted to pursue social psychology and really look into dynamics around race, gender, nationality, all that.”

On her “Aha” moment to pursue the arts:
“When I went [to South Africa], I had an experience there. I met artists who had used their art to combat apartheid … and there were so many different ways that that was done — through photography, through poetry. People were being arrested for speaking out against the injustice. That really convinced me. They had those stakes against them, and they pursued their craft and their passion. What is my excuse for not doing the same?”

On her mission to tell women’s stories:
“The passion I realized I had to pursue in Cape Town was really to tell African women’s stories, to give African women their voice in a way that was as complex and rich and multidimensional as many others get. We so rarely heard from the African female perspective, and that was something that, again, made no sense to me.”

On how she intends to use her platform for good:
“For me, it’s about how we can bring a voice to the things that do not get to be heard. How do we amplify those voices as much as we can with the platform we’ve been entrusted to?”

On what she hopes visitors take away from their experience at Reebok’s The Support System room at 29Rooms:
“Get out there and get active, as much as possible. That’s the whole goal — let’s get active. Let’s find the best gear, the best support system, to get us to our fittest selves.”

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Click HERE to read more from Refinery29


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