Amber Pickens‘ vibe can be felt from a mile away. Her bright smile lit up the red carpet at the 2022 NAACP Image Awards in Los Angeles as a host for her “Kickback and Chat with Amber Pickens” media platform.
The young author and entrepreneur was fresh off of her dance directing debut in Netflix’s Passing. The 2021 film, for which she choreographed the dance scenes, stars actresses Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga.
Rolling out spoke with Pickens about the importance of being positive in a time when young Black treasures like Cheslie Kryst have lost personal battles with depression.
How does it feel to be at the NAACP Image Awards?
I am super excited to be here at the 53rd NAACP Image Awards. I love coming out here, chatting with dope artists, fellowshipping, celebrating, uplifting; I am so for it. My background is in dancing and acting, but I also love hosting. Having that conversation about what dope Black artists are doing in the world is so inspiring and so uplifting for me on my journey.
The NAACP Image Awards has been a weekend of Black people spreading love. With the recent tragedy of Cheslie Kryst losing her battle with depression, what is the impact of love on mental health?
In every field of work, especially in entertainment, we need so much love and support. It’s so easy to be happy and glad when we are on stage, … but when the lights go out, you need somebody sometimes to encourage you. If they can’t hug you, even a virtual hug or vocal hug just saying, ‘Everything’s going to be okay. You got it. You’re going to make it. This is a dark time, but this too shall pass.’ It means so much. Love is so important. Especially right now.
How do you feel about the project you just wrapped, Passing?
I’m super excited about it. Some of my fellow thespian artists were nominated for that. You have Rebecca Hall, [who] was nominated for her directorial debut. You have Tessa Thompson, who was nominated as well for her amazing performance in Passing. They’re both women that I have loved and looked up to over the years. So I’m so excited for them. They’re also women that speak up and stand up for change.
What are three tips you’d give to young Black girls?
Number one, keep God first. Number two, believe in yourself. That is so important. That’s most important because when nobody else believes you, as long as you’re centered and you believe in yourself, you got it. Number three is to move fearlessly. I believe in that phrase, “Fake it ’till you make it,” sometimes. You can be a little afraid, but you don’t want to miss that opportunity. So prepare. Then when you get a little nervous about something, you’re still prepared and ready for that opportunity. So go for it.
Watch the video interview after the break.