I’m originally from Cape Town but I now live in Los Angeles where I love to dance, eat at restaurants, cook with friends, go on long walks, geek out about wine, learn more about art, watch films, read books and daydream. I’m an actress, so each day looks quite different for me depending on what I’m working on. Lately, I exist in a parallel universe where I live and work in London, with a bit of time in Brooklyn sprinkled in for even more variety—or chaos?
I count myself very lucky to have been born into my wildly loving family. My mum, dad, brother and sister all had a very particular hand in shaping who I am. My brother died a couple of years ago, and his battle with drug and alcohol addiction was a dominant force in my childhood and young adulthood. I am who I am, in no small part, because of the pain we all carry from this—but I was also shaped by the foundational moments of joy, playfulness, adventure and love that were abundant and constant in our family throughout these challenges.
I started acting at a young age. It was always just a part of me—this impulse to perform, to express my inner life through dance, and then song, and then acting. I now realize, as a kid, it was just me trying to do something with all of the big emotions I was feeling. When I was performing, I felt alive and present in a way that was so much more pure, much simpler than the complexity and ambiguity I experienced in real life.
Beauty used to seem like this singular, inaccessible, external thing, achievable only by funneling self-hatred into consistent work on improving who you physically are. Thank you, society! Thank you, Hollywood! I say that—experienced that—while acknowledging that our cultural beauty standards privilege people who look like me. Representation within beauty is essential because we have to dismantle the bullshit that was and continues to be fed to us. One of the best ways to do that is by letting all kinds of people see themselves represented in the industry.
But now… beauty is a gentle whisper of feeling inside my chest that has very little to do with what I look like—and it blooms! I find it when I’m connected to something greater than myself.
I like to think of other things—these suspended experiences—as beauty rituals. Swimming in the sea, lying in the grass staring up at the sky and the trees, summiting a hike and opening my arms really wide and taking a deep, deep breath. In terms of traditional beauty rituals, I don’t have many; I always wash my face at night, use a Gua Sha tool, wear SPF every day, use a face mask weekly—I really love the Bioactive Mask.
I’m currently working on letting go of worrying about what other people think and comparing myself to others. I would tell my younger self this is the way it’s supposed to go—you can’t control it no matter how hard you try, so maybe don’t worry so much. More will be revealed! I hope for the future that we can come to care more about each other and this planet than we do about ourselves, about money, about power. That every person is free.
I’m always calling in creative conviction, full immersion and playfulness. A decade from now, I want to be somewhere full of natural beauty. In love. Near friends. Part of a family—chosen and of origin. I hope to be working on something that challenges and satiates me creatively, building upon a body of work that has been imaginative, hopeful, and meaningful to people—one that I feel proud of. I hope to become more and more myself—without apologizing. Really enjoying my life, plugged into a community, practicing democracy, and being of service in aid of liberation, freedom and justice.
First and foremost, this is advice I give myself: move towards joy! Death is coming for us all—this is brief, painful, beautiful, and fragile. GO DO IT. BE IT. Suck the marrow out of life! And, remember to breathe.
Jodi Balfour photographed by Thea Løvstad.