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HUMANS WE HEART: WRITER AND PERFORMER ZIWE FUMUDOH

Whether she’s writing songs about universal healthcare, challenging guests on her weekly Instagram live show about race or pulling off pink power suits and white eyeliner like simply nobody else can, Ziwe Fumudoh is all about making a statement. We caught up with the comedian and writer to talk about her recent successes, how to stay creative, the books on her nightstand and more.

Hi Ziwe! Mind if we start with a few “getting to know you” questions?

Coffee order:

I famously don’t drink coffee. But I will drink an iced chai with an asparagus croissant.

Favorite neighborhood spot(s):

My kitchen, my bedroom, my living room and my bathroom in that order. It’s a global pandemic so right now the neighborhood is just my apartment.

Go-to outfit:

I love a matching set, so if you give me a pants-top combo that makes me feel like the Pink Power Ranger, I will cherish it forever. Alternatively, I am a super tactile person, much like a baby (goo goo gah gah!). I love textures like velvet, silk, faux fur and latex. I have a black velvet slip dress that is a staple for dates, shows and glamorously lounging on my pull-out couch. Also, I love a bodysuit because I’m always trying to live out my Britney Spears “Oops I Did It Again” fantasy. Basically, I love looks!

Books on your nightstand:

Sula by Toni Morrison
Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
Chronic by D.A. Powell
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote—Whenever I read this book, I think why would those guys kill those people? But... that’s the whole point of the book. It’s called “In Cold Blood”... because they killed those people... in... cold... blood.

How are you feeling with everything going on lately? And by everything we mean: quarantine, the huge popularity of your live show and your book deal (congratulations, by the way!).
I’m really thankful that the art I’ve been creating for years is finally starting to break through. I’m worried about our country and how we are affected by this deadly virus, Americans having to miss housing payments, the defunding of the USPS and this high-stakes election. I hope that my art inspires people to mobilize in their community, advocate for the most marginalized, fight for democracy and vote.

Yeah, we’re definitely in intense, surreal times right now. What role do you think comedy plays in it all?
Good comedy makes people laugh. The best comedy makes people question power structures and social norms while also making them laugh.

You’ve been on such a creative roll—do you have any advice for people who feel stuck?
Toni Morrison spoke about how she writes even when she doesn’t feel like writing. Often the writing is bad. It’s just the “cat in the hat sat with a bat.” But it’s part of the process. You have to create a lot of very bad things before you create anything worthwhile. Feeling stuck or less than creative is natural and happens to every artist but you have to push through rain, sleet, snow or sunshine. Give yourself permission to be imperfect and create anyway. That’s how you become a professional artist.

Since this is our “Humans We Heart” series, is there someone who inspires you personally that you’d like to shout out?
Shout-out to Ida B. Wells.

Thanks so much, Ziwe. Wanna meet more Humans We Heart? Check out past interviews here.