Looking ahead to a more inclusive future, being in the ‘now’, and using meaningful exercise to keep her mind and body healthy are the top three goals of newcomer Netflix star, Precious Mustapha.
The London-born actor’s talents first aired on our screens earlier this year in the new young adult drama, Fate: The Winx Saga – an action-packed series involving mystical creatures, a Hogwarts-like-school, and journeys of self-discovery.
Millions of views and a colossal 250,000 followers later, I spoke to Precious to find out just how she prepared mentally and physically for such a job. To do that, we went right back to the beginning.
“I honestly was so ready for it,” she told Anna Vitality. “I was enjoying working part-time in a local cinema and I was paying more attention to my personal wellbeing by going to the gym and creating healthier habits.”
Auditioning can be mentally exhausting for actors. Not only do you need the mental space to think about your role and character’s personality, but also how the character moves and feels.
“I was in such a good mindset, and because I’d taken some time out and wasn’t focusing all my energy on auditions, it was so much more exciting when the opportunity eventually came through!”
There might only be one swimming scene in the show, but this character claims she swims ‘twice a day, every day’. For Precious, this meant getting back into the water for the first time since her childhood – not a thought she relished.
“I had to basically learn how to swim again,” she giggled. “But seriously, in order to get into character, I started swimming regularly and even had some coaching – then I started to really enjoy it and found that, like walking, it’s really good as a meditative tool.”
The 23-year old identified with her character in ways other than just their mutual appreciation for swimming. She explained that both personalities are guilty of putting unnecessary pressure on themselves, and always striving for the best results.
“But, Aisha is still growing,” explained Precious. “She doesn’t really know who she is yet, and a lot of the time she doesn’t think before she speaks, so I guess we differ in that sense.”
Another distinction between the two is that Aisha is always looking out for her friends, trying to steer them along the right path. Precious, on the other hand, admits that, while she too looks out for her friends, she is a firm believer in learning life’s lessons for yourself, not relying on handouts, and that being your own authentic self is the only way you’re going to grow.
Being more present
While for most of us lockdown has been a stressful, challenging time, for Precious it almost came at a good time.
“I really love being by myself,” she said. “Lockdown has actually been great in a way, as I’ve had this alone time, which you don’t always get a lot of.”
“Although, lockdown has made it a lot more difficult to be present because we’re always surrounded by our phones and screens,” she added. “Being more present is something that I’m working on – that’s why walking is so important, because I can actually take in everything around me.”
“I’m also starting to think more about mental health. I’m only just figuring out things about my own mental health that I would never have thought about years ago, so lockdown has allowed that too.”
Spreading the love
With a new-found social media presence and an awareness of mental health, Precious has decided to use her platform wisely.
“I’m quite outspoken online, especially on Twitter,” she noted. “I mainly love promoting black joy and joy in general – I just want to spread love.”
For some young girls, seeing Precious starring in this new Netflix series and using her voice on social media platforms will mean so much more than a water fairy with changing-colour eyes and magical powers. She will become their idol and will inspire them to aim high and have big aspirations.
“It’s so important to have a mentor, to have someone you can identify with and feel like you can relate to,” said Precious, recalling how mentorship was so important to her growing up. “It’s also important having someone who you know can support and guide you.”
On screen diversity
Diversity and inclusion is something that is so important in this industry. While there’s still a lot of work to do, Precious believes we’re on the right track and can foresee herself playing a big part in this equality evolution.
“My end goal is to be able to produce,” said Precious. “There are a lot of young people who work in the industry who aren’t really being recognised for their work and given any opportunities, so I’d love to be able to help provide those opportunities for people.”
“There are so many books that are written by people of colour that aren’t celebrated as much and people don’t really know about – how cool would it be to be in a position where I could amplify those voices and create work for other people.”
Precious’ passion for change really hit a chord with me. We all need a voice to reflect our beliefs and opinions, and it’s saddening that somehow, even today, it doesn’t come as easy for some.
The East London, Hackney-born actor is also exploring themes of diversity in her own scriptwriting.
“Now that filming has quietened down, I’ve started writing again and I’m currently playing with some ideas for TV,” she said.
“Something that’s really interesting to me is living in a gentrified area. Having lived in [and witnessed such an area] my whole life, I think it’d be cool to do a TV series that really explores this.”
Looking ahead, Precious has visions of featuring in a movie… a little further away from England.
“I’ve always been obsessed with the idea of being in a Western film! That’s probably my dream!”
But that’s another story…