Actress Malia Baker @maliabakermsb talks to Vanity Teen online about her professional career, about the action she takes using her platforms to talk about environmental and social issues and so much more!
Vanity Teen: What would you like to share about your origins and how you became an actor?
Malia Baker: I grew up with the arts being something that my family considers sacred, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the exposure to the arts at such a young age. I have always loved the arts, whether listening to music, playing piano, painting, dancing, or theatre. I ventured into acting when I was eleven years old, and I fell in love with it right away. It is a never-ending journey that I still can’t believe I’m on!
VT: How was the experience of being part of a legendary show like Are you Afraid of The Dark?
MB: It was indeed an incredible experience. I watched the show when I was younger and remembered it being so spooked. Now being able to carry that spooky factor onto the next generation is beyond cool. Being passed the torch will forever feel like a dream come true! The project was full of amazing people that I formed so many meaningful connections.
VT: You also play Mary Anne Spier in the hit Netflix show The Baby-Sitters Club. Therefore, what can you tell us about being a part of this series and the upcoming season?
MB: Mary Anne Spier was my first big role and my first job working with kids my age. Let me tell you that experience is something I hold as my standard for every project. It was truly such a passion project because I love the book series so much, and working with such talented women behind and in front of the screen was empowering. My castmates have turned into my chosen family, and the lessons I’ve learned while working on that set are lifelong. I am so excited for audiences to see the next season because it is indeed such a special show!
VT: One of the things people love the most about you is that you do not miss any opportunity to talk about environmental and social issues that, sadly, have been normalized in our societies for ages. Thus, how did you get involved with advocating for others and the planet?
MB: I try to use my voice for causes I care about and continue to use my platform as a place to do so. Honestly, the passion has come from experience. Either by witnessing friends and family dealing with the world’s troubles or me as a young Black girl growing up in today’s society. I hope I’ll be able to reach a place where I can talk about these issues in the past tense, but there is so much work to do that I am just trying to do my part to get us closer to seeing that place.
VT: Considering what you just said, what do you think about plurality and media representation nowadays?
MB: Although we have come so far, there is still so much to do. As Zendaya expertly said, “I’m Hollywood’s acceptable version of a Black girl,” and those words are the truth. I, too, have been given a seat at the table, and I choose to use that not only for myself but for all those people who aren’t being shown and not being heard. It is so powerful seeing yourself represented with media’ for the girls watching me. I hope I will be that representation and make them proud. I think that there is an increase in representation from a variety of voices, and this is so important. However, I understand there is more work to do. You cannot be what you cannot see, so I hope this increases and expands in scope.
VT: Who are your biggest inspirations, and what do you admire of them?
MB: I am really inspired by Viola Davis, Emma Watson, and Yara Shahidi. Each of these women utilizes their voices while still spreading their love for the film industry. I aspire to be amongst them one day!
VT: Please, talk to us about #hashtagsand. What is it, and which are its values and goals?
MB: #Hashtagsand was a community my mum and I have thought and cared about for a long time now. I always brought up that we need to go beyond the hashtag to create change because as meaningful as spreading awareness is, it can be accompanied by doing more. I also realized that perhaps doing the research yourself on how to help can be overwhelming, so in an attempt to help make it easy to educate yourself and take action, my mum and I created #Hashtagsand. I hope more people will find it helpful in making even just a slight bit of change and that it is an accessible resource for all. It is an ongoing and unfolding passion project of ours, so we will continue to evolve as we do! All resources can be found here: https://msha.ke/hashtagsand or on Instagram @hashtagsand
VT: Which words would you like to share with those who would like to help others or get involved with any environmental organization but think they are too young or do not know how to start?
I would say I was there too! I thought I was too young, or it was just too overwhelming even to start. What I would share is to do your research to learn as much as you can about the subject, increase your passion and build confidence in your ability to act. It doesn’t matter your age, appearance, or gender when you want to make a change. Change doesn’t happen by itself, and if you’re going to see things happen, then be the person to make it.
VT: How about those who feel underrepresented or who may be facing any types of discrimination? What is your message to them?
MB: I think this is important for people who want to help, who want to be allies, to make sure that they are taking action and showing their constant support. Feeling underrepresented and facing discrimination alone can be exhausting.
Sometimes taking a stand can be scary, and maybe you’re not in a position where you’re even safely able to, so what I would say is know you are not alone, that there are those of us who see you and we are trying for you too… and that I do believe we are getting somewhere. It may feel like nothing is happening and it’s not worth it, but please continue to hope because that is something that no one can take from you.
Photography by Noah Asanias @noahasanias, styled by Leila Bani @leilareira, makeup by Zabrina Matiru @zabrinamakeup, hair by Tonia Becker for NOBASURA Clubhouse @nobasura_clubhouse using Oribe @oribe. Exclusively created for Vanity Teen online!