Actress Imani Hakim is proud of her role’s visibility on Apple TV + Mythic Quest gives women working in video games and technology. “I identify as a pretty cheesy woman,” says Hakim, 27, who plays comedy-drama video game tester Dana, located at a company that produces a multiplayer role-playing game of the same name. “I like the role because it’s a woman in this space that you don’t necessarily see often. These types of women need more representation.
Hakim has been acting professionally since the age of 11, when she started playing the role of Tonya Rock, the TV series’ younger sister. Everyone hates Chris, a role she won after convincing her father to travel in their van from the family’s hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, to Los Angeles to further his career. She spoke to Hollywood journalist on the evolution of Dana Mythic Quest character (including a budding on-screen relationship with Rachel, a fellow game tester), what it was like to start the business at such a young age, and the hobbies she practiced during the pandemic.
How did you get your dad to drive from Ohio to Los Angeles when you were 11 trying to get into Hollywood?
I guess my parents would probably say that I always had a creative instinct about myself and that I was one of those kids who would rather spend time alone writing in my bedroom than on dates with my friends. . My dad couldn’t take me out to play with my friends. It became a sign for my dad to take a leap of faith to see if we could do this thing for real. We packed all of our things in our van and drove across the country.
How was the trip ?
Our van broke down every five seconds. We were like “We’re going to get there.” We came here without any experience in the industry. We didn’t know anyone here. We didn’t know what the season for the drivers was. We really came out blind. I booked Everyone hates Chris less than three months after being here. I was very lucky and lucky to make this dream come true.
Fortunately, you did not take the broken down van as a sign of abandonment.
The broken down van was the least of our concerns. Once we got out of here we lived in our van chasing that dream and it was a lot to wear at 11. I was so passionate about acting and motivated, but my dad was like, “Hey, if that’s too much, I totally understand – we can go home and be with the family.” And I said no, I’m ready to stay here.
Did the rest of your family stay at home in Ohio?
Yes. It was just my dad and me [in L.A.]. I have two older brothers and three younger brothers. Dad and I were engaged.
When did you finally switch from living in your van to a seater in LA?[The Everybody Hates Chris] the production was like, ‘We can’t let one of our prospects stay in a van.’ And so they put us up for the rest of the pilot shoot, and once we got picked on the show, obviously we were able to get a house and we had a really nice apartment in Woodland Hills.
What was it like for you to enter Hollywood at such a young age?
When I got here it was a culture shock for me. It was very different from the country I knew. Being surrounded by Hollywood culture was overwhelming for me. We have tried to make it as normal as possible. I was homeschooled and was part of this community of other young artists who were homeschooled as well.
What helped make the experience more normal?
All these young actors, singers and dancers, this community of young artists, would come together. We would go to Universal CityWalk and hang out, and we would go to the mall and watch movies or go skating. We tried to find ways to stay grounded and create, I guess, a childhood experience because neither of us were in school. It was a little hard for us to make friends outside of our industry, but I wouldn’t change that. For me, I felt homeschooling really matched my personality. I don’t know if I could handle going to high school with normal kids. Children – they can be cruel, and I think that was the way for me.
Do you have any advice for young people new to the entertainment industry?
There is a kind of natural competitive effort in this industry. So my advice is find your community if you can, make it a really cool acting class where there is some kind of support system. You need to have a safe space where you can be vulnerable and open. But also my advice would be to have friends outside of the industry. One of my favorite things is having friends outside of the industry and they don’t really care what I do. It’s really humbling, and it keeps you grounded.
What interests do you have outside of work?
I really like to paint. My partner and I are going to blow up some music and buy a really giant canvas and we are going to paint together. I got into chess, and I’m sure you can guess how I got into chess – The Queen’s Gambit. It was really fun. We also have rendezvous evenings in the park. We will bring our chess board and we will play chess in the park. I really love being outside, whether it’s staying somewhere or going to the beach or going to the park. It is really important for me to tap into this playful spirit. I just like to be active. Anything that helps me find that playfulness and innocence, I really appreciate.
What was it like trying to shoot the show amid the COVID-19 pandemic?
We shot the first season before the pandemic, and then we were ready to start filming the second season, and we started shooting the second season on lockdown week. And I think we’ve been through the first week and [Mythic Quest co-creator] Rob [McElhenney] Delivered a speech. He said, “We’re going to shut down production for two weeks. Don’t worry, we’re coming back. Then those two weeks went by, then another two weeks, and then all the news came in and we kind of got put on hold, but we were still in constant communication with [the producer] on how we can get production going again. At one point there was talk of going to Hawaii to shoot and then going to New Zealand or Australia. Months went by until we were like, ‘We’re going to shoot in LA, back home to CBS Radford, and we’re going to get there with new COVID protocols. “
What was it like to have this break from production?
It kind of gave us time to get back to the drawing board and gave us time to reconfigure the season and further flesh out character development.
So what’s up with your character Dana in season two?
She is incredibly passionate about being a game tester. Even with this passion, she is aware that game testers are at the bottom of the totem pole and they don’t get paid much and they sit on that couch all day and have back pain, but it does. is Dana’s dream. People think you can play games all day as a game tester – and you do – but that’s not what it seems. Basically the role of a game tester is to break the game. It is about finding all the bugs in a game and recording all the bugs in a game, so the moment it is released in the game. world it came out smoothly. In season two, we see Dana find herself alone. I mean this figuratively and literally because she is no longer on the couch. We can see this passion that we created in the first season take the next step. She has found that there is more to the gaming industry. She wants to level up in the business and see what else is up there. She trusts herself.
And she’s also exploring a new relationship.
There is a romantic love affair with my fellow game tester Rachel, played by Ashly Burch. What’s really good is that we put them in place in the first season. [with this] together, “Are they going? Is not it ? [situation]. They share these romantic looks and the tension is high. “Oh my God, are they going to kiss?” And in season two, we got into it and Dana is going, which I really like. There is no longer “Are they going?” Is not it ? We kind of unified them.
What else has changed with the character?
Her physical appearance has also changed, regarding the way she dresses and her hair. In the first season, we see Dana chewing her hair a lot like a physical quirk. In season two, we don’t see it as much. I think it’s because she’s a young woman and she’s also evolving, taking her career in hand. It shows in his body language. You can see that she is really growing up the way she is.