Profile : Dominique Tipper
I first spent time with Dom when I invited her to join me to Quote Unquote Collective’s newest play “Now You See Her” at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre in Toronto. This play moved us both deeply. After the curtain call, we both sat in silence while everyone filed out to the lobby and openly wept. She declared it was something that people needed to see and proceeded to buy the cast of her show tickets for the following weekend. Her generosity, kindness and enthusiasm is something I’m always profoundly grateful for in a leading lady. Her character of Naomi Nagata, a fierce and massive hearted engineer/explorer on Amazon’s “The Expanse” seems to embody a lot of Dom’s inherent charisma, courage and curiousity. She is often surrounded by her ship’s crew of men aboard the Rocinante and I was immediately curious how a woman like Dom is also able to navigate a very masculine world with such an undeniably feminine power.
Growing up, did you have anyone in your life or did you look to anyone in the media that modeled a “powerful woman” to you? Can you describe what their power looked like and why it attracted you?
I’d say the most powerful woman I knew growing up was my Mother. I never found myself in the media. Mixed race black/white women were highly sexualized if they were there, especially in black narratives and I couldn’t relate to that. I always looked up to my Mum for inspiration and outside of that wherever I could find it. I always felt I didn’t fit into any kind of box so therefore I just took it from everywhere. I saw the power I liked in everything I wanted, and then applied it to myself. There were no boundaries. Men, women, fairytales, musicals, cartoons. I’ve always had a wild imagination so the world was my oyster. That has become harder to maintain as I’ve gotten older but I still try.
What does power mean to you now? Has it shifted in the past few years?
I think power has to be the things that give you true agency and so therefore it is ever changing for me. Most currently I have found the most power in really getting attuned with what I put into and on my body. I don’t think there is anything more powerful than a healthy woman who knows how and why she is healthy and then in turn the things that truly make her unhealthy. I know that sounds weird but we are constantly overwhelmed with false information regarding our health and to get to a point where you know that a+b=c is a really hard place to get to these days. So researching what I should eat and why. What skin products and make up I should use and why. The effect pharmaceuticals, antibiotics and the contraceptive pill have on my body, and how to avoid them has all greatly contributed to my power. I guess its a branch of self love and there is nothing more powerful than that.
Has playing a bad ass female character ON “The Expanse” changed how you move through the world? Do you find you summon Naomi in your real life?
It's funny because I don’t think I’m fully aware of how playing Naomi has effected me but she must have rubbed off on me somehow. Character wise it may be better for someone else to comment on how I’ve changed because I can’t see myself but there has definitely been a change in how I approach my work and a set. It's been the biggest lesson for me to learn how to effectively conduct myself on set as a woman. This is my first big show and I’d only been acting for a few years before I got it. It was quite the struggle initially and along with just learning the ropes as everyone has to, there is that added element of being the only woman around a lot of men all the time. I’m not exactly a wallflower either so there is the added element of being a forthright, blunt at times, curious, and excited woman.
It didn’t go down well with everyone but I feel I’ve finally got to a point where I know how to negotiate the space I occupy and that it is correct and I have every right to be there and my voice and ideas are valid. Shit, sometimes they’re even really good.
Do you have an example of a hard lesson or a failure of yours on a quest to source power?
I’m trying to think of an exact example as there have been so many. I cant think of one off the top of my head but please know there have been many. I don’t quite know how anyone would learn without error. I think the thing I will say is to not be deterred by the hard lessons or failures or get too butt hurt. Sometimes we all need a little humbling in our quest for power and the Universe will send it your way exactly when you need it. The point is to take it; hard swallow; adjust and then crack on.
If you could give your 25 year old self one piece of advice what would it be?
Eeeeekkk, one piece of advice is hard! There’s so much I want to tell her….
So at 25 I was at the peak of my dance career. I would have been dancing on X factor in the UK. Wow. That feels like a lifetime ago. It was the year I done a few of the most memorable performances of my dance career.
Ok so the advice is this. Keep on listening to your gut, she’s always right. Get off the contraception you’re on its making you a psycho. Drink less alcohol please, it batters your immune system. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else, you’re always gonna be a unicorn. Everything you need you already have, don’t look outside yourself for validation. Your Sisterhood is something you must always maintain. I love you.