It may seem like Ayesha Harris is an overnight sensation, with a role in the hit series Daisy Jones & the Six, and one in Netflix’s gleefully fun new work dramedy Glamorous, about a gender non-conforming queer man who's life changes when he goes to work for a makeup mogul. But she’ll be the first to tell you just how long it took to achieve.
“It takes 10 years to be an overnight success,” she declares. “I've always dabbled in acting, but because of the ebbs and flows of the craft, it can be hard to be completely full-time. I am relatively new to the success I've had in the last few years. But I've been at it for a while.”
In her new series, she plays Britt, a makeup packaging designer. “She’s one of those people that you always want on your side. I just really love how she digs in for the people that she loves.” Britt is part of the LGBTQ+ community, which allows Harris to bring an authentic part of her life to the role.
Here, Harris talks about her career path and why we need more mundane stories depicting LGBTQ+ life.
EBONY: This show is exactly what we need right now, something fun and light-hearted that just happens to represent LGBTQ+ community.
Ayesha Harris: I was just speaking to someone else about that! Sometimes it's fun just to have a feel-good story, especially LGBTQ+ stories. I have a great and fun life, everything is not all dread and woe. It’s nice to see a nice light story that highlights it in that way.
This series is a coming-of-age story. What's your real-life coming-of-age moment?
It was relatively easy because I never lied to myself. But it was harder for some: one parent, my mother took it well enough. For my father, my coming of age—my coming out—was a little hard for him. He’s Muslim, an old Black Panther; he’s an old neighborhood guy. It started young; it wasn't too exciting. I never had any boyfriends and if we're talking about me coming into my sexuality, I didn't lead anybody down the rabbit hole thinking I was one thing and then it was another. It was pretty cut and dry. I've always been this person and could be because of how strong my tribe was and how I was raised.
How well do you think TV and films are reflecting the LGBTQ+ community and stories today?
I think there's a lot more visibility. So I think that there is good representation, but I do think it needs to be more layered. I do feel like we're the pendulum that swings. It's either something really traumatic or very whimsical. What I would like to see highlighted, in addition to all the great stories, is the middle where gay folks are just folks and we're living our lives because being gay is not the biggest part of my life. We're paying taxes, we're getting up and taking out the trash and we're arguing about who's walking the dog, just like everybody else. So it would be nice to see that normalcy at times.
What were you doing when you weren't acting?
I was a barber. I was running my business and watching all these archetypes walk through the door. It was like I was in an acting class every day.
What's the secret to a great fade?
You gotta start with your barber, because the barber is 90 percent of it. And the products, whether you're an oil or pomade girl, it doesn't have to be anything fancy. And people really overlook this. Make sure to brush your hair in the direction which your hair actually grows.
Glamorous' lead character Marco has a tagline. What's yours?
I was hoping I could come up with a tagline. But, um, no. So just live and be merry.
Glamorous premieres on Netflix on June 22, 2023.