Without This Woman

Storm Reid On How Her Mother Taught Her To Have Faith

“As an actress in the limelight, that’s what keeps me grounded and sane.”

Courtesy of Aerie; R. Diamond/Getty; Caroline Wurtzel/Bustle
By Storm Reid

My mom, Robyn Simpson, has been in my corner since the day I was born. Literally. She’s also been my traveling partner for my entire career. We love looking back and saying, “Oh yes, we visited South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, London, Paris, Italy, and all these amazing places.” Experiencing a different culture is such a blessing.

Every time we talk about our travels, we end up talking about South Africa. It was just so magical. The culture is so rich, from Durban to Johannesburg to Cape Town to all these little towns a lot of people don’t know about. We’re itching to go back.

My mom is also my business partner. She’s guided me through all the opportunities I’ve been afforded in my career. We have conversations about our production company, how to look at a contract, and how to work with my accountants, attorneys, and management team.

One of the most valuable qualities she’s instilled in me is the courage to be unapologetically myself. I don’t let anyone make me feel small. I don’t let anyone tell me I don't belong in certain spaces.

But she’s definitely not a “momager.” She is selfless. She is graceful. She has the best sense of humor. One of the best things about her is that she always wants to have fun. Of course business is business, but she doesn’t make it feel that way all the time. She’s going to turn on music, and we’re gonna dance around the kitchen.

Last night, we were about to jump on a Zoom to edit this project that we produced, but before that, we were taking a dance break, scrolling through TikTok, and trying to learn new dances. It’s always that balance of work and play with her and I really appreciate that.

One of the most valuable qualities she’s instilled in me is the courage to be unapologetically myself. I don’t let anyone make me feel small. I don’t let anyone tell me I don't belong in certain spaces.

On both the acting and producing sides, I strive to be a part of projects that have progressive messages. We’re working on a string of projects where we’re telling stories that aren’t being told, and we are referencing situations and people who are underrepresented.

She's also taught me to have faith and keep a relationship with God. On my 17th birthday, I got a Bible scripture tattooed on my arm, and that really came from her, because she always said, “If you have faith [like] a mustard seed, God will move mountains.”

As a young woman, but also as an actress in the limelight, that’s what keeps me grounded and sane. I have a sense of humility. I know my career is bigger than myself. I have a bigger mission as an actress, producer, and storyteller. We have projects from animation to features to television that are positive, inspiring, and that represent the real world. We are trying to let people know there is a broader view to everything, and you can’t tell a story from a one-sided perspective.

But I always go back to my faith. I know if it doesn’t match up with my morals and values, it’s not something I want to be part of, whether that’s a friendship, relationship, or project.

I’ve been a part of the Aerie family for a while now, and I recently partnered with them for their Kindness Hotline. It’s really important because we need kindness right now more than ever. The current state of the world feels so divided. So, to give people a bit of happiness and a pocket of peace during this time — especially in a year that is so full of uncertainty — it’s incredible to be a part of this campaign.

And it really echoes the basis of what my mom has taught me: to be kind to everyone and treat everyone with respect. Even though I am her daughter, she respects me. She’s open to having conversations if we don’t agree on something, which rarely happens. She’s willing to talk things out. That equals kindness in my heart.

There are so many ways to show and share kindness. I try to make everyone feel as comfortable and as seen as possible. Everyone on set is important. I make sure I learn their names. I say hello to them every morning.

If I’m on the street and I see a stranger I want to compliment, I’m not shy about it. I’ll say, “I like your shoes!” or, “Your hair is poppin’!” You’ll never know how that will affect someone’s day. Stepping outside of yourself to be kind [is] also something I learned from my mom.

But you also have to be kind to yourself. You have to reaffirm yourself and look yourself in the mirror and say, “Hey, you’re beautiful, you’re smart, you’re worthy of being seen and heard. You’re perfectly imperfect. And you can take the world by storm.” No pun intended.

As told to Mekita Rivas. This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Bustle’s "Without This Woman" is a series of essays honoring the women who change — and challenge — us every day.