Actress Noree Victoria is no stranger to the TV screen. In addition to her current role as Simone on The Rickey Smiley Show, she has also played roles on The Game and Single Ladies. But being an entertainer isn’t her only passion. She is an advocate for fitness and health, particularly the health of Black women. Noree’s philosophy is simple – “fitness is a lifestyle, not a choice.” It is just as important to her as showing up to her job and knowing her lines. Black Fitness Today chatted with the multi-talented, intelligent and insightful Noree on just how important health and fitness is to her and why we can all benefit from a healthy body and mind.
BFT: You developed a passion for the arts at a young age. What do you love about being an actress?
NV: I absolutely love that every time I walk onto a set, I can pick up right where I left off ‘playing’ as a child. Although film and television are very much a business, and I work very hard within it, I adore that I never have to abandon my imagination. That is so valuable to me as a creative person, and it makes me SO very happy.
BFT: Have you experienced any pressure to adhere to certain standards and look a certain way?
NV: Absolutely. I regularly receive roles with descriptions that specifically ask for “extremely fit” and “lean” actors, or refer to “an amazing body”. When you’re constantly reminded that that’s what productions want, it becomes impossible to ignore your own body image within the context of that. But for me, it’s more motivation than pressure. My own vision of how I’d like to be, along with those not-so-subtle reminders, will make you think twice before you put certain things into your body, or let your regimen slip.
BFT: What’s it like being on the cast of the Rickey Smiley Show?
NV: SO much fun! Everyone, from cast, to crew, to our office staff is “in on the joke.” We work hard, and play just as hard. It’s important to work with people you genuinely like AND LOVE when you’re on a set from sun up to sun up.
BFT: Growing up in Baltimore, were healthy habits passed on to you as a young girl or did you learn more as an adult?
NV: Unfortunately, like many metropolitan neighborhoods in America, fast food restaurants, corner stores, and all-fried-everything was the norm. It wasn’t until well after I left home,that I started to put a lot of thought and emphasis into what I actually ate. I honestly thought that as long as I was thin, that I could eat whatever I wanted. It wasn’t until I had a blood sugar scare after college (and luckily it was simply a scare), that I made an effort to eat for quality of life, and not for sensory satisfaction. I still have my guilty pleasures in moderation, but there are things that I used to eat nearly every day, and when I think back on them now, I can’t even call most of those things food.
BFT: How often do you exercise during the week? What are your go-to workouts?
NV: I exercise every day, even if it’s just a 20-30 minute yoga sequence in the morning and a quick march around the house in ankle-weights. But at least 3 times a week; I definitely get a full workout going. I like to switch things up so that neither my mind, nor body, gets bored or comfortable. And the beauty about working out, is that it’s FREE! People tell me all the time that they wish they could get started, but can’t afford a trainer or gym membership. While I’ve had wonderful trainers, have utilized gyms, and currently belong to a great yoga studio, when I get busy, my saving grace is YOUTUBE! I find everything from yoga videos, to Pilates workouts, to ab, glute, and leg workouts – even fun cardio routines. There’s something out there for everybody, you just have to find what suits you and let your motivation come from within. With the technology we have today, and all the fitness apps available, there really is no excuse to not be active in some way.
BFT: What impact has your dedication to healthy living had on friends, family or people you work with?
NV: I know that I’ve turned quite a few people onto yoga and meditation, which feels so good. I’ve also gotten a few people to just start MOVING, even if they don’t go all the way ‘hard’ with it. I’m like, hey, spread the love! My mom also tells me that I inspire her to be better and exercise more. I’m SO passionate about what’s in food, what we feed kids, and especially the health of Black women. 4 out of 5 of us are obese. That’s a CDC stat. A ridiculous stat. I’d like to help change that. I’d like to change our reputation as sedentary group of people.
BFT: How does living a healthy lifestyle affect your career?
NV: On set, the hours are long, and many times, the work is physically demanding. Off set, the hours are hectic, and the work is mentally demanding. If your body and mind aren’t healthy, if your immune system isn’t strong, the entertainment industry can eat you alive. You hear about so many entertainers succumbing to exhaustion, and while over-exertion can’t always be avoided, the impact can be lessened by how you treat yourself overall. I’d like to think that by staying physically strong and fit, I’ve given myself a great advantage in this business– one of the few things in entertainment that I, WE, can absolutely control with no uncertainty.
BFT: How do you balance your schedule(s) with maintaining healthy habits?
NV: I consider living a healthy lifestyle just as much a part of my job as showing up and knowing my lines. I schedule and adhere to my workouts as if they’re mandatory meetings, because for me, they are. Sometimes it bugs me a bit when people might view that part of my life as an option, or think that I should be able to stop or postpone what I’m doing for a phone call or an outing. In our society, it’s unfortunate that health is looked upon as something you can always put off until later.
BFT: What are your favorite foods/meals?
NV: I’m a FANATIC for authentic Indian and Mexican cuisine when I’m feeling like a full lunch or dinner — homemade guacamole from fresh avocados, veggie samosas, chicken tikka masala… And while I usually just have a chocolate protein shake for breakfast, I’ll never stop loving the occasional waffle or pancake. I also eat tomatoes like apples, that’s one of my favorite snacks.
BFT: You earned a Master’s degree in Information Technology with a 4.0! Very impressive! Many of us however, know all about the importance of pursuing education, but still may feel a tug in another direction. How important do you think it is to pursue your dreams?
NV: Thank you! And why not do both?! I’m of the firm belief that dreams and education can, and do, go hand in hand. I wouldn’t trade any of my life experiences for the world, because I’m passionate about all of them. The key is passion. If one thing moves the needle for you, GO there. If it’s something else, go THERE. It’s never too late to pursue anything you’re interested in learning about or doing; and changing your mind or focus doesn’t equate to failure. I have a new epiphany every year about something I’d like to learn or pursue. Last year I learned how to surf in surfing school. Next year I’d like to learn fluent French. I simply enjoy the pursuit of knowledge and happiness, and luckily for me, the more diverse my academic and cultural experiences, the more depth and richness I’m able to bring to the characters I get an opportunity to play!
BFT: How can the BFT community find out more about you?
NV: (and I DO speak back, by the way!)