Since the 2019 debut of Freeform's Good Trouble, actress Zuri Adele has been giving audiences something to talk about. Her poignant portrayal of Malika Williams, a bartender and Black Lives Matter activist, wrings you out from the bone and builds you back up in each episode. The character, inspired by real-life BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors, navigates the waters of Black liberation, colorism, and respectability while leaving space for the vulnerabilities of life like falling in love and healing childhood wounds. Adele's honest eyes and soulful presence bring a pulse to the show that has made her a fan favorite. Following Zuri on social media, you realize she's no stranger to talking about the real issues in her own life—something she shares in common with her character—-and her transparency is refreshing in the age of meticulously executed perfection. 

Iman Milner: Congratulations on Season 3 of Good Trouble! What can we expect from the new season and your character, Malika Williams?

Zuri Adele: For anyone who hasn't seen the show, I really recommend going back and watching it from the start because there is just so much beauty in seeing the activism in those first two seasons. What you can expect from this season is to see a lot of self-choosing. We see Malika start to ask herself what she wants, and that's such an empowering place to be in. A releasing of people-pleasing and more daring to just go for what sparks joy and curiosity in herself. From the show as a whole. I'm really proud that what you can expect from all of the characters is standing up for self. If there's a theme for the season, everyone is really tapping into diving into their needs and standing up for them no matter the consequences. 

IM: For your character, the show can be pretty heavy as Malika goes through things that we are all experiencing as Black people in this country. How do you prioritize taking care of yourself throughout the process?

ZA: Moving my body and treating my body as the instrument that she is has been my number one weapon while filming. That can be a very gentle thing even. I notice a huge difference when I am sticking to my morning routine or taking the time to plug my phone across the room at night—just treating my space and myself as a sanctuary. Yoga, martial arts—things that allow me to move emotion through my body. And listening to affirmations. I love taking care of my plants and gardening. Letting myself be imperfect at all those things. Also, just experiencing joy, having space carved out to laugh or not do too much, and saying no.

IM: You're open about your journey to embracing your body. As Black women, we are forced to be either overly sexual or nonsexual. How did you break out of those boxes?

ZA: I do feel like I am in the middle of the spectrum. For me, as I love my body more, it feels more authentic in showing it. There are definitely parts of my body that I feel are more sacred and that I don't show. But I love that we're each allowed to do what is authentic for ourselves. When posting or sharing something, I really ask myself whether I am saying "look at me" or "look at God"—which can be God, spirit, truth, or love. I only share something if it's the latter one. Like, look what this love for my body can do. I don't feel that my body is perfect, if I were to design or draw my body, there would be things that I would do differently, but I love it. I don't want to hide any parts. I am out here showing my natural booty that I love. Although, I'm still working through how I am sharing it. I've let go of any voice that would shame me for "doing too much," and I'm also sure not to seek validation. 

IM: I want to talk a little about loss and healing. How have you been moving through these ideals in your own life lately?

ZA: Grief has been a major part of my life. Even from when I was younger, I experienced a lot of death. Peers committing suicide at young ages, and family members dying unexpectedly. And also grief in terms of romance—some really painful ghosting that I've experienced. Most recently, with my father's death, I realized it's been the one I was being prepared for. It was a very traumatizing experience to lose my father during the pandemic. He was living in New York, and I live in Los Angeles. I never imagined our goodbye would be via Facetime. It's been the most challenging one thus far but what I am really grateful for about all of those experiences is that I am continuing to develop an understanding of impermanence—also, eternal life and the eternal energy of love. Even if something doesn't end by physical death, there is a chapter that is closed. What all of those experiences have in common is that there is an energy of love that lives in me forever from each of them. That is something that really fuels me—learning to see death, change, and impermanence as a graduation, something to be celebrated, especially when it comes to being an artist and creating things that will last a lifetime.

IM: Do you move through these things alone? How is this part of your overall self-care?

ZA: No, I have a team. You know? I go to therapy. I know that I am not meant to move through any of this alone. I go to acupuncture every week. I have guidance spiritually and friends around me who fill me up and make my nervous system feel really good. Taking space from any energy that does not add to my ease has been a form of self-care and healing. Speaking up and not holding on to any harmful emotions and affirmations, and moving with ease are big for me. I also love listening to Toni Jones lately. Listening to music and allowing myself to get into a space of knowing my strength and remembering who I am by putting my ease first. Even if I'm executing, I'm executing with ease.

IM: When you hear the word beauty, what comes to your mind?

ZA: Authenticity.

IM: When you hear the word wellness, what comes to your mind?

ZA: Ease.

Tune in to watch Zuri Adele on Good Trouble on Wednesdays at 10p/9c on Freeform, next day on Hulu.