Anna Diop (‘Nanny’) on her deeply personal role: ‘The character had so many parallels to my own mother’s story’ [Exclusive Video Interview]

“The character had so many parallels to my own mother’s story,” reveals actress Anna Diop about her character Aisha in the thriller “Nanny.” “So it was a script and a story that one, felt deeply personal, and two, was executed so well.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Diop above.

“Nanny” tells the story of a Senegalese immigrant, Aisha, who takes a job working for an affluent white family so she can afford to bring her son to the United States with her. But along the way she is tormented by visions of African spirits Anansi the spider and Mami Wata. “It’s tense, and it’s magical, and it really captures you,” Diop says of writer-director Nikyatu Jusu‘s screenplay. Its otherworldly visitations are “symbols of resistance and of rebellion, and they’re chaos agents. And … when she starts becoming imbued by them, we see her behaving differently. She becomes less apologetic, she becomes more stern, she becomes bolder, we see her stand up for herself.”

The character’s growth throughout the film “taught me a lot,” she acknowledges. “I sometimes get quite shy about sticking up for myself and defending myself in that way. And so I think every role we do … I think It really does teach you a bit about yourself.” No matter who you’re playing, “you have to find it first within yourself. And so yeah, it was quite, in a way, a growing experience to play Aisha.”

That experience has already brought the actress accolades. The film won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in January, and then Diop picked up a Gotham Award nomination for Best Breakthrough Performer. “We’re still breathless from it, to be honest. We’re still wrapping our heads around that,” she says of the Sundance victory. As for the Gothams, “I’m excited. I’m really honored.” And concerning the overall impact of the film, “For audiences that aren’t used to paying attention to these individuals like Aisha, I hope it inspires a greater empathy within them.”

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