Photo Credit: Julio Duffoo

Introduce yourself! Who are you?
Oh hello! I'm Nadia Gray, a human woman, and actress living in Southern California. I’m a lover of animals, good movies, great food, and alone time.

What is one thing no one really knows about you?
Something superficial is that I’m ambidextrous- which is cool I suppose, until I tried snowboarding for the first time. I spent the whole day in chaos trying to make my way down the mountain trying to figure out which foot goes forward.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Don't take yourself too seriously! Still the best advice to this day.

What would you say to 16 year old you?
Ugh, I would hug 16 year old me. It’s so hard coming into your own at that age, starting to realize your sexuality and seeing the power it gives you and also the fear and danger that comes with it. It’s a scary and often shame filled time for a lot of girls. I wish I could tell myself that it’s okay to stand up for yourself every single time; to call someone out when they're making you uncomfortable, no matter who it is. When I think back about a lot of interactions I had when I was young, and honestly still today, it fills me with rage. Even now I have to be cognizant to not be paralyzed by the shock of a comment, and instead take a breath and call someone on their shit.

What is your greatest fear?
An unexpected knock at the front door in the middle of the night. Horrifying. If you're not expecting company and there’s a knock, don't you dare open it or even look through the peep hole! 

Have you ever had anyone doubt you? How did that make you feel?
Oh definitely. Even my family thought I was nuts for awhile. I was struggling pretty bad to make ends meet and to find work when I moved to LA and there was a period of time where my family said, "ok, this didn't work out, time to come home". I understand they were just worried about me but still I wasn't having any of it, I was too determined. I also remember before I made the decision to make the move to California, I told an ex boyfriend my secret dream of becoming an actor in Los Angeles and he laughed in my face. I think he literally said something like "well you're pretty enough to be in a tabloid shot I guess" - like dude what the hell are you even talking about, that has nothing to do with acting! So senseless and superficial. Honestly, it fueled my fire. Still to this day every time someone outwardly tells me 'NO, this thing isn't going to happen', I’m like, 'Ok, you just sit tight, I'll brb’.

What message do you think every woman should hear?
So many things. Obviously now is a great time for women, not because of the growth we've made culturally but by the fact that everyone is talking about women right now. For as long as I can remember, the boys get to be the stars of the show and the girls get to cheer them on. I grew up with a Muslim father and an older brother, and was very lucky they're both progressive, wonderful men, but even still I always felt I mattered less. I had people telling me since I was young that my contribution to society was my looks, which is such a dangerous way to talk to girls. I think what every woman needs to hear from everyone in their lives, especially the men who love them, is that everything they say and feel is valid. It’s hard telling a man about my day, little things that happen all day long that scare and oppress me, and of course they can't understand because they can't know what it’s like. But it’s important for them to acknowledge and say, 'even though I don't understand, I hear you and I support you and I want to be a part of the change'. 

What is your favorite thing about where you live?
Everything! I’m so in love with California. LA specifically, I get to live in this magical place where the weather is perpetually 75 and sunny year round, and legit there are NO BUGS here! I grew up in swamp land Florida and I swear to you the lack of mosquitos and spiders here was a welcome change. I'm also deeply in love with my job, and getting to drive around town amongst the studios and movie billboards all over town is intoxicating. I have my moments sitting in endless LA traffic where I'm like 'dammit stop romanticizing this!' - but seriously, it makes me smile waking up here every day.

What do you love most about yourself?
I think what I love most about myself is my soft heart. My way of coping with my childhood and painful moments was to create boundaries to protect myself. I do this in all aspects, relationships, and especially my social circle. I really like keeping few close that I can trust unequivocally and keeping the rest at arms length where I can see them. All of this makes me sound really closed off but I swear it’s all an attempt to even out the playing field because I genuinely care so deeply about people and am greatly affected by things around me. I like that no matter what happens or what has happened, I remain open to a fault. 

Do you remember a specific time you overcame adversity?
One of the greatest ways I overcame adversity, looking back, was adopting my dog. I was having a really rough go of it my first year of college and was living alone and I remember feeling awfully miserable and isolated. I wanted to worry about something other than myself, and I started looking to foster or adopt kittens, and somehow I stumbled upon my first child, Mary Jane. That little 8lb mini doberman totally saved my life. She saved me from turning inward, and instead I had this amazing little creature that needed me to get my shit together and take care of her. I'll always be grateful for the way she gave me perspective during that time.

What is the biggest thing you’ve learned along the way?
To hold yourself accountable. It’s too easy when you get bad news or you're having a rough day to lose patience with people. Politeness is always the first thing to slip when you feel like the world owes you something and I think its really important to check yourself along your journey. If we all walked around knowing that every other human is going through their own thing, and you should have empathy and just simply be nice, we'd all be so much better off.
 

Photo Credit: Julio Duffoo

Why do you love to travel?
I love everything about it! The exposure alone is invaluable. It’s amazing discovering somewhere new and seeing how other people live. I also married the most fun travel partner in the world, so regardless of where we end up, I know we'll have the best time exploring a new city and trying new things in a way that makes me feel brave and safe at the same time. I’m a big believer in investing in moments, not stuff, and I always find our travel time to be a really bonding, worthwhile way to spend money.
 
What motivates you most?
That’s a great question. I think nurturing my relationships, striving to stay healthy, and kicking ass at work are all things that make me feel good. I think maybe what I’m saying is that I'm super selfish! I'm most definitely my own worst critic, so when I’m feeling lazy or complacent, I don't feel great about myself at the end of the day. And trust and believe, I hate feeling bad, whether it’s from over indulgence or not studying hard enough for an audition, I’m honestly too selfish to go to bed at night feeling like I could've done better.
 
How do you manage your work-life balance?
That’s an easy one! I’m obnoxiously happy and grateful when I get to go do my job, and it makes me insanely satisfied but I’m even happier on my drive home at the end of the day! And you're talking to an introvert, so it’s a no brainer for me to disconnect from Hollywood and just be home. Sometimes my job makes me feel like I’m living on another planet, so it’s really important for my sanity to come home to my safe zone, and be my weird, quirky self without feeling self-conscious. 
 
What is your favorite meal?
Mmmm, so many things. I call myself the soup master because I've always been a very soup-y girl for as long as I can remember. But I've got to say my absolute favorite has got to be tabuli. I make it so often because it’s incredibly flavorful and it makes me feel good eating it.
 
What do you do on a daily basis to grow and move forward?
Real talk- checking in with my best friend every day. My best girlfriend is someone I can count on to hold up a mirror to me at all times. Of course she lets me vent and talk through what I’m feeling and let me come out the other side on my own, but she does it without indulging me if I’m trying to be lazy about being better. I joke that my husband is forever indebted to her because she's the one who gets the call when I’m being reactive or irrational, to bitch it out so that by the time I bring a grievance to him, it’s in a succinct, sane way that I know he'll actually hear me. In all matters, relationships or otherwise, having someone who knows all of your strengths and weaknesses and cares enough to listen every day and encourage growth is such a gift. I’m very lucky to have someone who loves me so much that she expends time and energy holding me accountable. Shout out to Courtney, I love you woman!
 
What is one thing people would be surprised to hear about you?
I’m not very girly, but I do love makeup! Maybe it sounds silly, but it feels like an artistic outlet I get to do every day. I genuinely get excited to make myself up for an audition or a red carpet because it feels like a creative challenge every time to paint something new but also in tune with what I know compliments me. In all situations, I insist on doing it myself because, helloooo - control freak - but mostly because it’s so much fun!
 
If you weren’t doing the job you have now, what would you be doing?
I have no idea! I love cooking so much, but I’m way too weird about meats to be a proficient chef. It is wholly possible that if I weren't an actor, I'd be off on a farm somewhere in the middle of nowhere, completely isolated with a hundred dogs running around, selling their pictures on Etsy.
 
What is something on your bucket list?
I’m dying to scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef. I know it’s not as healthy as it once was, so I definitely want to go before it gets completely bleached by global warming.
 

Have you ever had an extraordinary experience? Describe it!
This is going to sound really cheesy, but my last day filming Bright was extraordinary. First of all, I completely lucked into this job because of my director, David Ayer, and from the beginning I couldn't believe I actually got hired. So much had happened between the first day on set to the last that it all felt kind of surreal. My last day, of course, was the longest and I remember getting in my car to drive home from set for the final time. It was like 3 o'clock in the morning and I was punch drunk happy/exhausted and the second I pulled onto the highway I burst into tears so bad, I had to pull over. I was suddenly so overwhelmed with elation and pride, I had to cry it out before I could even drive home! Like I couldn't believe I pulled it off or something?! My brain does this really annoying thing where I’m weary when good things happen to me, and I guess I had been waiting for the other shoe to drop during filming. I honestly can't remember the last time I was so caught off guard by my own feelings. That was a wonderful moment I'll never forget.

Where do you find inspiration?
In all things! Truly everything around me. Mostly though, my interactions with people affect me the most. 
 
What are your biggest passions?
My biggest passions are my dogs and my relationships. I’m always hyper aware of the health of those two things, and I care deeply about nourishing them. Also, my job. I’m so grateful I get to make a life out of the thing that fulfills and challenges me so much.

More About Nadia

Actress Nadia Gray can currently be seen in the Netflix action-thriller film “Bright”. Originally from Florida, Nadia began modeling at the age 17 and later moved to California to pursue acting.