Naomie Harris is one of those actresses who you fall in love with not only for her beauty, but also for her talent, kindness and her energy.
I fell in love with her a couple of years ago. Shortly after she had finished her studies at the elite and prestigious university of Cambridge, Danny Boyle casted her to appear in 28 days later, a highly recommended film that shows a post-apocalyptic London. She then appeared in two installments of Pirates of the Caribbean embodying a cunning and captivating sorceress with voodoo powers. However, it was in 2012 when Harris reappeared on my radar: this time playing Moneypenny, former field agent and M’s secretary, in Skyfall. In 2015 she accompanied Bond for the second time in Spectre and she will do it again next year in No Time to Die, supposedly Craig's last film as 007. Harris has the honor of saying that her Moneypenny is the first one to be honoured with a name (Eve!) instead of being just Miss Moneypenny, and it was also she who encouraged the press to stop using the term "Bond Girl" and use "Bond Woman."
Harris's success, however, was late and did not come until 2016, having already turned forty. Not because she hadn't worked hard enough until then. It was thanks to a moving independent and low-budget film, Moonlight, which won the Oscar for Best Film (literally snatching the golden statuette from the Hollywood blockbuster La La Land) and earned for the Londoner (among many awards) a Nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Naomie perfectly plays a heartbreaking drug addict mother. The most admirable thing is that due to visa problems Harris had to film hef scenes in just a couple of days. The second most admirable thing is that because her very healthy and enviable lifestyle, she neither drinks alcohol nor smokes. That result if that movie is pure interpretation and a lot of research and documentation. In Moonlight Harris proved she is one of the best actresses of the current international scene.
The actress has always had offers, but since that nomination, the change was radical. The nomination itself was, along with an OBE granted by the Queen of England that same year, a true dream. It is almost ironic to remember that before Moonlight she had only been to the Academy Awards on one occasion, in which she wore a Vivienne Westwood dress made of recycled candy wrappers as a protest against climate change, and surely that night she did not imagine that she would be on that same red carpet with a nomination years later
This same week, on October 25th, her new film has been released: Black and Blue. And this is her film because it is the first time that Harris plays a leading role: a rookie police officer in New Orleans, Alicia, who has to balance her identity as a woman of color with her police role when she witnesses how other colleagues kill a dealer.
Directed by Deon Taylor and Tyrese Gibson (Fast & Furious) among the cast, Black and Blue has a something to teach. And that’s why the actress decided to accept the project in the middle of a professional break in which she was determined to to open nail salons in London as she felt that she had had enough of the film industry. Harris hopes the film inspires people to realise that they have much more power than they think to make a change. And most importantly, that power is within us, so when we want to change something in society, in our family, in our circle of friends or wherever, the first thing we have to do is change something in ourselves because “many changes on a personal level mean a global change that nothing and no one can stop”, said Harris during our conversation. That is the message: you are the change, get up against the bad, the corruption, the injustices. On a personal level, Naomie tells me with her sweet voice that this movie has taught her just that: to be more powerful.
Could Moneypenny be the new 007? Black and Blue proves that yes, although when I asked her, she stammered and laughed. Time will tell, I imagine. Meanwhile, don’t miss Black and Blue.