Shein Mompremier doesn’t believe in luck. “I think it’s really simple’” she tells the AFRO, “Luck happens to people who work really hard. You need to be brave, bold, not take no for an answer, you need to have balls and you need to be focused.”
That attitude is perhaps why at such an early stage in her career, she has landed a major role on the CW network’s Mara Brock-Akil (“Being Mary Jane”, “Girlfriends”) produced “Black Lightning.” Based on the DC comic book character, the series centers around “retired superhero” Jefferson Pierce, aka Black Lightning, a high school principal who becomes a vigilante. His daughter Anessa also has superpowers. “Black Lightning” is the CW’s first drama with a predominantly Black cast.
An only child born and raised in Miami, growing up Mompremier says she was “awkward and a dreamer.” She was also a preacher’s kid who “spoke fluent Creole” and loved the array of gustatory choices her hometown offered. “There are Caribbeans galore down here,” she says. “That’s why the food is so good.” She has made peace with her strict, sheltered upbringing. “My parents were protecting me from a lot of the crazy things happening. I completely understand now.” She also remembers being a good student who loved dance. She took, “ballet, modern, jazz, tap, and African dance”
Mompremier is currently back living in Miami after wrapping shooting on “Black Lightning,” which filmed a few states away in Georgia. “That’s where the real southern hospitality is,“ she says. After a delay due to her father’s illness and recent passing, she is making plans to finally move to Los Angeles.
Of her character Chenoa, the five foot nine beauty explains, “I was drawn to her because I really just saw someone in love. I understand she’s queer and that’s different but is it really though?”
Chenoa plays a queer character with a love interest. “They are just two people who love each other. People are people at the end of the day.” Of the qualities she admires in her character and why she thinks viewers will like her, she says, “I really like Chenoa because she loves hard, she’s unapologetic and she knows what she wants. She is this really fierce spirit. You have to really be a grounded and strong individual to deal with her.”
The significance of a Black female queer relationship on a superhero series is not lost on her. “I feel like I rarely see that on TV; Black, queer women. When I am filming, I don’t think about that because it’s so big. Doing something that I think is important for a lot of people to see. I feel blessed to do it. It really is an honor to be able to tell that story. It’s definitely needed.”
“I always knew I wanted to act. Any other time, I always cared who was watching except when I was performing,” Mompremier remembers. However, she only minored in Theater when she went to University of Florida out of respect for her parents. “I did Pre-Med, I majored in Psychology at the University of Florida. I hated it but I worked really hard because my parents paid my whole way and I had to make sure I finished my studies in something that seemed sustainable.”
It took a lot of shoring up of her courage to tell her parents when she decided to pursue acting but the gnawing desire to act helped her push past the fear. “There was that breaking point where I wanted to be free and not care about expectations. I realized at the end of the day my family wanted me to be happy so eventually they will support and accept me. “I knew I might not make it, I knew I might end up starving, and I still wanted it. I knew I just had to trust God.” Her parents eventually came around.
After college, she signed up for acting classes in Miami. Mompremier also trained at acting intensives in schools all over the country. “I had to piece together my training the best that I could and what I could afford at the time,” she says.
Luckily, technology makes it possible to audition on tape while she stayed in Miami. She also, after much persistence, found the Applegate Agency. “There was one person who believed in my talent. I went there and did monologues for Susan Applegate and so she sent me out in the most film and acting work.” In short order, Mompremier landed “Black Lightning” and the rest, as they say, is history.
Black Lightning debuts Jan. 16 on the CW and the CW app.