Modern Girl
Lorenzo Agius

If you Google Teyonah Parris, the next word that will be suggested is hair. When told that her enviably versatile tresses are her number one search topic, the actress laughs. “I totally get that,” she says.

“It doesn’t bother me. A lot of people ask me about my work too.” The Juilliard grad’s big break came in 2012 when she joined the cast of AMC’s hit drama Mad Men as its first Black employee in the ad agency. With the show in its final season, fans can now catch the twentysome-thing in the new Starz series Survivor’s Remorse (produced by LeBron James) and the already buzzy film Dear White People. But when the cameras are off, the Columbia, South Carolina, native says, “I have to maintain who I am and walk in my own truth. I’m trying to be in this world but not of it.”

This article was originally featured in the September issue of ESSENCE magazine, on newsstands now!