Mouna Traoré is an actor, writer, and producer based in Toronto. The stories she's interested in explore the complexities of living in this particular cultural moment as a young Black woman. She approaches her work with a genuine curiosity to understand her character and their motivations, and by doing so, offers an authentic, meaningful performance.
Mouna carries off her style with such ease—whether it is sultry glamour or a look made for utility, there is always a touch of fun. VSP chats with Mouna about her upcoming projects, must-see films, and the artists she most admires.
How would you describe your personal style, and how has it evolved over time?
My personal style changes all the time. I’m a bit of a chameleon so it's difficult to pinpoint. I love streetwear and I usually dress for comfort. My style has definitely evolved in the past few years. I think because I know myself more. I’m not really into fast fashion, and I like to invest in pieces that are unique but interchangeable. When I buy something I always want to be able to dress it up or dress it down. It’s easy to do that with some of the Parisian and Japanese brands. I’d say my style is most influenced by those places.
What were you wearing during one of your most memorable nights?
A regretful lace crop top from LF, vintage denim shorts and some ugly white native shoes that looked like rubber converse. I was partying in Hvar, Croatia, and I decided to go out last minute and threw on a terrible outfit. Needless to say I had one of the best nights of my life. To be honest, when I look back on some of my best nights, I’m usually wearing something unmemorable and trashy.
Where do you take inspiration from in your work?
My work is inspired by those who came before me, who faced adversity and carved a way for others like me. My ancestors and strong Black women and men like Oprah, Malcolm X, Lorraine Hansberry, and James Baldwin. I want to create and contribute to work that expands the conversation around what it is to be black, and a woman. I’m inspired by the work and lives of people like Serena Williams for her vision, mastery and determination. Visual artists like Kerry James Marshall, and Kara Walker, photographers like Malik Sidibé and Deanna Lawson. Writers like Edwidge Danticat, Yaa Gyasi and Octavia E. Butler. I worship so many actresses I can’t list them all, but the big ones are Viola Davis, Whoopi Goldberg, and Pam Grier.
What do you look for in a character that you're excited to play?
When I look at a character, what gets me excited is authenticity, complexity and meaning - I love stories that resonate with my own experience and speak of things unsaid and unseen, as well as things of social, political and cultural importance. I love depictions of people that are nuanced. Blackness and womanhood are not a monolith and I get super excited when I read scripts that explore those experience in distinct ways.
What films do you recommend everyone to see?
Right now, I would definitely recommend Mid 90’s. It really inspired me as a writer and a filmmaker. I also highly recommend the documentary film Still Tomorrow about the Chinese poet Yu Xiuhua who lives with cerebral palsy. She is a revolutionary icon, and her story truly inspired and invigorated me. Also, Revenge directed by Coralie Fargeat. It’s a French film that’s incredibly violent and brutal but also thrilling. I don’t think I’ve ever been so captivated by a film!
Tell us about some of your ongoing projects, what are you looking forward to in the future?
Right now, you can watch me on a few TV shows. Most recently I played Vanessa Hastings, a rookie lawyer on the BET show In Contempt. I also appear as Iris Loramer in the ATT Skydance series Condor. You can also watch me as Alana in the new film Acquainted, directed by Natty Zavitz. That one’s special to me, because It’s a complex love story that takes place in Toronto, and so many of my friends are in it!