If you grew up in the '90s, you've inevitably come across a Fatima Robinson production, and if you're like me, you have tried to recreate at least one of her pioneering dance sequences. From working on movies such as Dreamgirls and most recently Coming 2 America, and with artists like Michael Jackson, Rihanna, and the late-singer Aaliyah to retail brands including Old Navy, her resume is immeasurable, extending to award shows, television, commercials, and music videos.
After nearly 30 years in the game, she continues captivating the world through the lens of dance while serving as a voice for the culture. Her influence has proven to be both everlasting and inspiring because, let's be clear, no one does it quite like Fatima Robinson. She has left her mark and continues to do so while sprinkling some Black excellence with each project she takes on.
Dontaira Terrell: Since choreography is a form of storytelling because you can tell stories through your bodies' movement, what would you say is the best way to fall in love with your own body?
Fatima Robinson: Dance is an amazing way to fall in love with your body. Staying in shape and listening to your instincts and what your body tells you because your body doesn't lie. It's a very well-tuned instrument when you listen to it, and it'll take care of you as long as you're taking care of it.
DT: In terms of taking care of yourself, what does self-care look like for you, and how do you practice it daily?
FR: I do Chinese tea ceremonies, and sometimes I take walks. I enjoy nature and gardening. So that's my lane right now. I just bought a beautiful greenhouse that will be coming in a couple of weeks, and I'm excited to get it together.
DT: Life is a journey filled with ups and downs, love and loss. What have you learned about self-healing through this journey of life?
FR: I've learned there's a little girl inside of me that I have to make sure that I take care of and not ignore. Sometimes that little girl shows up, and you just have to take care of her, especially when you're used to being the boss and a very strong woman in life. It's nice to recognize that there is a little girl who needs support and allow that support to come into my life and help take care of me.
DT: What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger in pursuit of your dreams?
FR: I feel like, at every point in my life, I definitely learned and grew a lot. But in a way, I would probably have been a little kinder to myself and not so hard on myself. I've learned in my older age that it's really good to take care of Y-O-U and to give myself a little bit of credit for some of the things I've done.
DT: What piece of advice did your mother give to you that you have carried on in your journey?
FR: To be kind, and she also taught me the golden rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." That was a big lesson in life. Understanding that as many doors will open up to you as you open up for other people.
DT: 2020 has been an emotional roller coaster for us all. What are your reflections on this past year, and what are you hoping for in 2021?
FR: I enjoyed the beginning of it and just slowing down. I live in the country in Ojai, so it was so beautiful to be able to stop, relax and take it in. I think my goal is to continue to do more of that. I have some other movies and lots of other work coming up, but just always taking some time in those moments to live in the present and enjoy life.
DT: Let's discuss Coming 2 America! What were you most excited about with being a part of this?
FR: How could you not be excited about the sequel of this movie? We've all been waiting for this. When I got the call to meet with Craig [Brewer], I was super excited about it and excited to work with Eddie Murphy again, who I worked with doing "Remember the Time." We also did Dreamgirls together, where he was nominated for an Oscar. It was one of those things where the planets all aligned, and it all worked out, and I was super excited to be a part of it all.
DT: So, how would you describe your creative process?
FR: It's reading the script, identifying the different dance elements, and then meeting with the director. It sometimes involves help with choosing songs, and sometimes they already have exactly what they want. With this movie, sometimes we created the beats in rehearsal with the drummers. But overall, it's a collaborative process in working on it.
DT: While watching the film, I noticed Wesley Snipes mastered a few dance moves. How was it working with him?
FR: Wesley was so much fun on set! I could not believe how well he could dance. Every take, he would add something new to it that made it so much fun. The guards had such a hard time not laughing, but we laughed so much on those sets. The land of Zamunda was amazing.
DT: When audiences see a Fatima Robinson execution, what do you hope to capture in their minds?
FR: I hope they are thoroughly entertained and that the dance brings them joy when they watch it. I hope to inspire joy in people. And I always want people to get up and do the moves.
Be sure to watch Coming 2 America now streaming on Amazon Prime.