By Nadine Matthews, Special to the AFRO

At an early age, Navia Robinson has already gotten the opportunity to learn from two actresses with longevity. One of Robinson’s first jobs at the age of 9 was working with Gabrielle Union in the popular series “Being Mary Jane.” Robinson played D’Asia, Mary Jane’s niece. “It was single camera and very dramatic and I loved working with Gabrielle Union,” she tells the AFRO.

It was a set that made Robinson, as young as she was, feel very welcome. “Especially with me being the only kid on that set you would think I wouldn’t have that many people to talk to but they were always very sociable and kind.” It seems that Union, who has been on films and TV screens for over two decades, and who was the star of the steamy nighttime drama, set the standard. Robinson recalls, “The way she carried herself on the set and treated everyone the same and treated cast mates with such importance. I think that’s so honorable and I hope I do that as I grow as an actor. What makes you respected is being humble and she definitely exuded that.”

Navia Robinson is one of the stars of Disney’s ‘Raven’s Home’ and Netflix’s ‘Free Rein.’ (Courtesy photo)

Now 13-years-old, the preternaturally mature Robinson also honed her craft at the feet of another acting vet. Raven Symone has been in the business since she was a child. Robinson starts as Nia on Symone’s new Disney Channel comedy, “Raven’s Home.” On this particular set, Robinson keyed in on some of the more technical aspects of acting. “Of course I learned a lot about comedic timing with her,” she says. “I have a natural humorous ability but there are things that you have to learn for a different type of show; a different pace. Raven taught me little details that shift an emotion from one thing to another, you wouldn’t notice just looking at a script that shift.”

“Raven’s Home” centers around Raven and her friend who are roommates also raising their children together. Nia plays one of Raven’s children. Robinson explains, “I love Nia’s independence and activism. Of course I love that because I think I’m very independent and am an activist. Nia has gotten a lot girlier than my overall clothing style but I still think we’re similar and I love that Nia is really relatable for the kids Nia’s age who are watching the show.”

Robinson also considers herself someone who is politically and socially aware and active. “It’s easy to get wrapped up in your own world especially when there are things going on that stress you out. I love to remember that there are bigger things that you can advocate for and try to make a difference.” Robinson goes a lot farther though. “I’ve also visited terminally ill kids which I absolutely love. It’s amazing how much joy it brings them. I just love, love doing that.”

The Netflix show “Free Reign” was filmed all over England though mostly in the town of Shropshire, about two hours from London. Robinson also stars in “Free Rein,” this time as the younger sister to character Zoe (played by “Shameless’” Jaylen Barron).

“That was my first time traveling outside the U.S. for a job,” Robinson says, “and I was so elated. It ended up being a wonderful experience of growth and learning. We ended up traveling from there to Milan one weekend and it was so incredibly beautiful. Two years ago, I wouldn’t have thought I’d be able to do that so I’m so grateful.”

Free Rein just released its second season on Netflix and a third appears to be in the works. Robinson plays Rose, a Los Angeles resident who is very much a city girl. Along with her mother and older sister, she travels to the English countryside to spend time with their mother’s side of the family.

“Rosie is a city girl and sometimes she’s very uppity, which isn’t really me,” Robinson explains. The setting is not just in the country, but in horse country. Though city slicker Rose and horses don’t exactly get along, Robinson confesses to having a lot of equine love. “I love horses.” Robinson says. “What I love about the horses we worked with on Free Rein, is that they were treated so well. In the making of a show like that it can seem like we do use horses a very large amount of time, but we use doubles for the horses so they get their rest and food and everything that they need.”