Sometimes, when you’ve been putting positive vibes out in the universe, you get everything you’ve ever dreamed of. Tall Girl actress Anjelika Washington did just that, and it led to her feature film debut. The California native has had guest spots on hit shows like Showtime’s Shameless and CBS’ Young Sheldon. However, her role in Tall Girl has provided her with the opportunity to shine and sparkle in front of a much larger audience.
Tall Girl follows a 16-year-old girl named Jodi (Ava Michelle). Though we all had our trials and tribulations during our teen years, Jodi’s 6′ 2″ stature means that she automatically stands out. Things take a turn for her when a Swedish foreign exchange student transfers into her school–capturing Jodi’s attention and maybe even her heart. In Tall Girl, Washington stars as Jodi’s pint-sized no-nonsense BFF Fareeda.
Passionate and intensely protective of her more thin-skinned bestie, Fareeda isn’t about to take ish for anyone. Sporting her gorgeous fuschia box braids and more savage clap backs then Rihanna–Washington embodies her spunky character perfectly. Ahead of Tall Girl’s debut on Netflix–STYLECASTER chatted with Washington about the film, why she connects so well with Fareeda and her upcoming magical project with DC’s Extended Universe.
“I’ve been following director, Nzingha Stewart on Instagram for years,” Washington laughed. “When I heard about Tall Girl–my agent reached out, we got a response, and I just keep thinking–‘I can’t screw this up.’ Working with Nzingha has been on my bucket list for years. When I finally met her, she said, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re perfect for this, have we met before?’ I told her, ‘No, I just follow you on Instagram.’”
Once the role of Fareeda was in the bag–Washington’s focus became on making sure she got all of the nuances and cadences of the character down pact. While Jodi is very insecure about her height and the size of her body–Fareeda is very self-assured. “I drew inspiration from my own real-life experiences,” the Runaways actress revealed. “When I was 12 and 13, I didn’t know who I was. I was one of my first friends to go natural, and I was super insecure about my hair. However, I came to love myself and my natural texture. So there have been points in my life when I’ve been Fareeda and points when I’ve been Jodi.”
In addition to having Stewart at the helm and Ava Michelle at her side as Jodi–the Tall Girl cast is vivacious and robust with everyone from The Office’s Angela Kinsey to Girl Meets World’s Sabrina Carpenter in major roles. “Working on Tall Girl was 100% the best experience,” Washington reflected. “We genuinely love each other as a cast and like being around each other. Sabrina literally just sent me the sweetest most encouraging message. She has millions of followers, but she’s such a wonderful down-to-earth person. Ava and I bonded over food, and we all just hung out all the time when we were filming in New Orleans. We would go golfing, bowling, out to eat, and we would explore the city together. It was so genuine–like one big slumber party.”
It was also important for Washington that Stewart–a Black woman was manning the Tall Girl ship. “Being a Black woman in certain spaces, you definitely stick out,” she explained. “I also think Nzingha brought her own experiences to the movie because she’s very shy, and people have made assumptions about her because of it. I think she was really able to showcase in the movie that our society is made up of all different components and they’re all beautiful. In my opinion, we all need a ‘tall girl’ in our lives.”
Up next–Washington is still on a mission to tell stories about boss girls. “I will be starring in DC’s Stargirl,” she revealed. “I’m really excited about that. Also, I don’t even know if I’m supposed to be saying this yet, but I’m also working on an upcoming project with Lena Waithe. I’ve been following her on Instagram for years too, so I feel like I’m manifesting these opportunities for myself.”
Tall Girl begins streaming on Netflix, Friday, Sept. 13.